The Portuguese-Greek Café in Prenzlauer Berg conveys a universal sense of belonging. The retro GDR interior dates back to the 1970s, and the baked goods are made by hand on the premises in authentic south European style.
There's only one bakery in Berlin that combines Eastern German chic with Portuguese tarts and savory Greek pastries, and that's the Bekarei in Prenzlauer Berg. The geometric ceiling art, hanging lamps and massive baker's counter have been there since before the Reunification. For the past thirteen years, Portuguese native Paula Gouveia and Greek national George Andradis have been offering up a mix of German and Southern European baked treats: rustico and Mafra breads, lemon meringue tarts, and Pão de Deus are hand-baked fresh every day.
The bakery's Pastel de Nata, the traditional flaky Portuguese tarts with a vanilla creme filling are widely recognized to be the city's very best. Named after the pair's previous project, the EKA Bar, the Bekarei has been a hub for tourists, creatives, and families since 2006. "It all started with our homemade cinnamon rolls," recall the pair.
At the beginning they both worked around the clock: Paula Gouveia greeted the customers while her husband gathered family recipes from Portugal and Greece, learning to bake them on his own. All that hard work paid off. Today the couple run both the Bekarei and a second shop in Kreuzberg, while selling their Beka-Buns to a Berlin burger restaurant on the side.
When former teacher Paula Gouveia first moved to Berlin in 1997, the streets of Prenzlauer Berg weren't crammed with the kinds of charming cafés that characterize them today. "When I came to Germany, you couldn't even get an espresso," she laughs. "Luckily it's not like that anymore." She soon found that she enjoyed working in restaurants.
Paula Gouveia had always been fond of the bakery with the old-fashioned furniture on Dunkerstrasse in the popular Helmholzkiez district. Back then she told her husband: "When this place goes up for sale, we have to buy it." And then it happened; the store went on the market, and, following the birth of their son, the pair opened it back up as the Bekarei. Paula Gouveia loves talking to her many regular guests, and although the pair now have quite a few employees, she still likes to take her place behind the counter on weekends.
Author: Anima Müller
10437 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg