Bonn’s Uni Grill: Where Blue Falafel Rules
By: Ashley Thompson
Perhaps you’ve noticed that we’ve been talking a lot about food here recently. Here at IT, we recognize that authentic and sustainable travel wouldn’t be complete without sampling authentic national and regional dishes. While visiting Germany, I did just that. I noshed on currywurst (did I mention I’m a vegetarian? Yes, I’m that hardcore), sauerkraut, pints of local beer, apple strudel, and Black Forest cake—IN the Black Forest. But now I present you with a different, slightly skewed, type of authenticity in Bonn, Germany. In the former West German capital, just a stone’s throw away from the city’s 11th-century cathedral and market square, lies lovely Bonn’s best bargain: Uni Grill.
While spending the weekend in the youthful town, where my sister is studying at the University of Bonn (whose alumni include Karl Marx, she boasts), she introduced me to this tiny Turkish joint. Uni regularly attracts long lines of students, tourists and lunch breakers during its “happy hour,” which is actually far longer than an hour, going from noon to 3 p.m., and again for dinner hours. Eclectic crowds wait outside (no more than 10 people can fit into Uni at a time), eager to snag a falafel sandwich for—get this—a EURO. One single euro. Alas, something to spare my wallet from the currency conversion sting I was feeling. At first glimpse, I was turned off by the enormous dumpster that you had to walk around in order to enter Uni. My sister assured me that it isn’t always there, although I have my doubts. I began worrying about her health when she explained that she eats at Uni at least a couple times a week. But I kept an open mind. Really, I did.
She ordered me the specialty falafel sandwich with the works—pickled red cabbage (a decidedly German touch to the Turkish treat), tomatoes, lettuce, onions, and cool tzatziki sauce, all wrapped up in a wheat tortilla. We paid for both of our lunches with a two-euro coin, snagged a bench in the shadow of the cathedral, and chowed down while watching the vibrant Bonners pilfer through organic produce at the Saturday market. It may not have been a typically German dining experience, but it sure felt like it.
However, I began to worry when the purple cabbage began to turn my falafel patties blue. That’s not natural. I don’t want to eat a rainbow, I told my sister. She said it was part of the experience.
You’re not completely sure what you’re eating. But for a euro, who cares. And it’s damn good food, whatever it may be.
Uni Grill Am Neutor 8, 53111 Bonn, Germany
What are some of the most unique street food experiences you’ve had?
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Photo: Falafel bleeding blue in Bonn. Courtesy Amanda Thompson