The small store Chili & Paprika at the corner of Danziger and Greifswalder Straße is almost easy to miss from the outside. But once you find the door, a universe of its own opens up: it’s colorful and exuberant here. Piñatas hang from the ceiling, colorful skulls are everywhere, catrinas stand between fresh green tomatoes and colorful packaging. Here, you can feel the merging of Latin American food and culture. This cultural exchange is particularly important to founder Mathias Jung, who opened the store 10 years ago and has since been assisted by Karina. It all started with cooking: Mathias was introduced to chilis in various kitchens in Berlin, and his passion was sparked. In exchange with like-minded people, it quickly became clear that there was a lack of supply in Berlin. And so the store was born – Chili und Paprika has kept its name to this day, but the assortment has expanded and now includes products from Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Costa Rica in addition to goods from Mexico.

Time and again, events take place in front of the store: from coffee tastings to music performances. On traditional holidays such as Dia de Muertos (31.10.-02.11.) in particular, you can experience a touch of Mexico, but cultural exchange also comes through the palate. If you don’t know yet what chipotle tastes like or what’s behind the word “mole,” you should take the plunge. I did and since then I can’t imagine my life without the smoky flavor and chocolate/chili. It’s also healing to give tequila a second chance. Shelved in the collective memory of a 90s youth as a bottled drink with a red hat on it, enjoyable only with lemon and salt thrown in at the same time, tequila deserves credit as so much more. A real tequila is made from 100 percent blue agave, the original variant of which is mezcal, a mixture of agave that is then heated in a pit to dissolve the pulp. The flavor that emerges is faintly smoky, intense, and it immediately becomes clear why this drink was once seen as a divine compound and reserved for rituals. Another speciality of the store are the fresh tortillas. These come from the first organic tortilleria in Europe Tlaxcalli Nixtamal, which is located not far from the gates of Berlin and grows its corn without any genetic engineering. Of course, there are also classic tortillas chips with homemade dips. But if you want to get to know the diversity of Latin America, we recommend the cookbook “Taco Tales” by Ivette Perez de Wenkel, which also provides plenty of reasons to visit the store again and again.

Text: Andrea Elsper  / Photos: Robyn Steffen

Andrea Elsper lives in Berlin and works as an art director and set designer for CeeCee, among other clients. She finds inspiration on her extensive travels and enjoys bringing these culinary influences back to Germany.

Chili und Paprika, Danziger Str.118, 10405 Berlin–Friedrichshain; map
Thu-Fri 13–18h30, Sat 12–17h30