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The Little Imbiss gets to the heart of German street eats 

click to enlarge Nothing hoity-toity here, just a brat and ketchup-lathered fries. - MATTHEW SCHNIPER
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Nothing hoity-toity here, just a brat and ketchup-lathered fries.
Last month, after hours of touring monuments, museums and art spaces, we slouched in low canvas sling chairs in a park outside an imbiss (German for “snack bar”) watching late-day sun highlight the gorgeous green-domed Berlin Cathedral. With mugs of Warsteiner Pilsner in hand, we contentedly picked at a plate of segmented currywurst (pork sausage under curry ketchup) and pommes (french fries) served with ketchup and mayo.

For a meal abroad, it actually felt pretty American, quite a contrast to the Old World German style on display locally at Edelweiss. Firstly, that’s because we’re talking about ubiquitous Berlin street food. Secondly, currywurst was only created there in 1949, attributed to a woman who owned a food stall and acquired the spice and sauce from British soldiers; this was four years after the end of World War II.

Before America launched our more modern war on the world’s health with our fast-food brand invasions, plenty of people were already satiating themselves with fried eats and street treats we’d commonly call comfort (or drunk) food today. Having now seen it ourselves, we vouch for the claim that there’s an imbiss “on almost every corner” in Berlin, as described on The Little Imbiss’ website.

Devoted to capturing this culture of street food, 3-year-old Little Imbiss transitioned from its food truck into a brick-and-mortar spot in late February, the former location of a Pita Pit, and Johnny B’s. But it hasn’t left behind the casual convenience of fast counter service and parchment-lined plastic baskets for plates, even though it scored a liquor license and expanded its offerings, to include seasonal specials.
Location Details The Little Imbiss
773 W Garden of the Gods Rd
West side
Colorado Springs, Colorado
434-8015
11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday; until 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday
German
The eatery’s operated by co-owners Brian and Patricia Moberly. Patricia, the house chef, grew up in Berlin — her parents operated an imbiss when she was little — and the couple met in the late ’80s when Brian, a Colorado native, was stationed there in the Army’s Berlin Brigade, at the tail end of the Cold War. So, no need to question the authenticity here; in addition to items like house-baked Turkish flatbread (for döner kebab), they source German-style products locally from Wimberger’s Old World Bakery and Deli plus Denver’s Continental Sausage, and Prost Brewing Company.

The beers pair great with the food, unsurprisingly, though with the flavor of Germany still so fresh on our palates, we do notice our scantly bitter Pilsner and banana-clove-aroma Weißbier don’t taste quite the same as in Europe — a brewer friend cites the difference in the water for capturing the truest expression.

Little Imbiss’ currywurst and pommes are pretty much read-as-written for flavor in terms of medium-spicy curried ketchup dominance, including the thick red stuff served all over the fries. The rostbratwurst im brötchen, a spicy mustard-garnished pork brat overhanging the edges of an airy, soft bun, tastes pleasingly peppery, like a breakfast sausage. (Order a side of excellent potato salad with it.) Our thick-cut schnitzel brötchen shows off juicy, pounded and lightly seasoned pork inside a crisp jacket, all made better by (not too) spicy garlic sauce.

And, eating döner kebab is more like eating at a Mediterranean restaurant, with the same heavily seasoned beef-lamb blend that’s shaved from meat logs for gyros and shawarma everywhere stuffed between a more hard/dense flatbread that would be dry if not for a wet stuffing of garlic sauce and crisp veggie garnish, including biting red onion (plus added feta). It’s messy and hard to pick up, but enjoyable as, well, kebab in Berlin. We’re grateful for the revisit without having to leave home.

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