It's arguably a sin to come to Berlin and not eat sausage -- at least once -- especially if you're traveling while penny-pinched. Known in German as wurst, local sausages are available both spicy and straight-up-savory. However, all share a common thread: they're good, honest and inexpensive.
Berliner currywurst -- the city's fast food heavyweight -- was invented in the 1940s by Herta Heuwer, and consists of a curried ketchup-slathered hotdog sprinkled, as a final flourish, with curry powder. They're commonly served with fries, bread and beer, and their scent can be found emanating from stand-up, outdoor imbiss snack stands citywide.
Of course, currywurst is not the only game in town. You'll find bratwurst, knackwurst, blargenwurst, and bockwurst aplenty, too. Whatever your passion, one thing is for sure: you had better travel with your appetite intact: big, bigger, and biggest describes them best.
Here's where to whet your appetite:
Curry 36 (Mehringdamm 36, Kreuzberg; no phone; www.curry36.de)
Berliners (and in-the-know tourists) line up all-but around-the-clock to bite into these snappy currywurst sausages, which have a nice, spicy bite and come with a mountain of fries. Of course all of the other stapes -- bockwurst, krakauer, rostbratwurst -- are on hand, too.
Witty's (Wittenbergplatz 5; tel. 030/2119496; www.wittys-berlin.de)
If the idea of a sizzling-sausage extravaganza concerns you, this spot has your back. Witty's has an organic bent, so you can feel better about gorging on wieners during the wee hours. In addition to currywurst and Belgian frites, they serve champagne, making the whole affair appear almost civilized.
Ku'damm 195 (Kurfürstendamm 195; Charlottenburg; tel. 030/8818942)
The jovial crowd sips chilled bubby while munching on currywurst at this local-frequented, standing-room-only hut, which also dishes up a solid side of fries with mayo and ketchup.
Konnopke's Imbiss (Schönhauser Allee 44a; tel. 030/4427765; www.konnopke-imbiss.de)
Probably the city's most famous imbiss, this near-the-U-Bahn stall is known for its nice array of sausages -- from blutwurst to breslauer -- as well as nudelsalat (German noodle salad), bauern-frühstück (a meat and potatoes side) and schnitzel.
Leibniz-Klause Restaurant (Leibnizstr. 46; tel. 030/3237068; www.leibniz-klause.de)
If eating fast food isn't your thing, don't despair. This down-home storefront has all the German classics, such as sauerbraten and pork loin, weiner or chicken schnitzel, but it's the gut-busting wurstplatte with bratwurst, knacker, frankfurter, and aromatic nürnberger with sauerkraut and fried potatoes that'll really get your motor running. Order a glass of crisp, dry Riesling to wash it down.