Capital One BrandVoice: Deliciously Authentic German Restaurants Worth Traveling To This Fall

Forbes Lifestyle 3 weeks ago

By Natalie Burg

It's Oktoberfest season. Though the original in Munich ran from September 21 through October 6, Oktoberfest celebrations will fill event calendars through November. 

But as fun as an outdoor festival can be, there are more ways to celebrate German culture this fall. 

You can experience authentic German food in cities across the U.S. Here a few restaurants full of genuine Old World flavor that are worth packing up your lederhosen and traveling for.

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The authentic German menus of these unique restaurants can satisfy your Oktoberfest cravings this fall—and all year round.

Brauhaus Schmitz in Philadelphia 

Though only a decade old, Brauhaus Schmitz packs centuries of German culinary tradition into its menu. 

The secret ingredient is experience—starting with German-born owner Douglas Hager. He worked in a now-closed German restaurant in Philly, a job he found so inspiring that he moved with his wife back to Germany. There, they worked in restaurants and biergartens before returning to the U.S. to open their own place. German chef Valentin Bay adds his own expertise to the culinary mix, and the result is delicious. 

A lively bierhall atmosphere makes visitors feel like they've arrived in Deutschland. And the menu only reinforces the feeling. You’ll find things you might expect, like sausages, pretzels and schnitzel. But you’ll also find the house specialty, schweinshaxe—a crispy pork knuckle with meat so juicy it falls off the bone. One reviewer referred to it as "pork knuckle heaven."

Bodensee Restaurant in Helen, Georgia

If you're planning a trip around German food, you can't go wrong in Helen, Georgia. The Alpine-style village in the Blue Ridge Mountains may only have around 500 residents, but it has far more than its fair share of German restaurants. That’s because in the 1960s the town adopted a Bavarian identity. It even amended zoning laws so local buildings would look like they came straight out of the mountains of southern Germany.

The popular three-story music hall, pub and restaurant The Heidelberg gets a lot of attention for its events and entertainment. But the lower-profile Bodensee Restaurant is worth a visit, too.

Bodensee owner and chef Aurel Prodan and his wife Doina are Romanian, but Aurel cooked in German kitchens for years before moving to Helen. The Prodans' goal was to recreate the look, feel and taste of the old German guest house. 

Build some extra time into your visit to Bodensee. Waits are common since they don't take reservations. In addition to the classic schnitzels, wursts and spaetzles, "haus" specials include tafelspitz—a slow-cooked beef topped with creamy horseradish sauce—and a grilled pork loin on toast with mushrooms and onions called holzfaellersteak.

Metzger's German Restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Just over 90 years ago, The German American Restaurant opened in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. The story of how it was renamed Metzger's is just one chapter in a saga that spans Prohibition, World War II drama and a brief closure at the turn of the 21st century. To make a long story short, four generations of Metzgers have worked hard to make their family business the local icon it is today.

If you stop in Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you can also try the rouladen. The classic dish is prepared by rolling thin slices of beef with a stuffing of onions, bacon, pickles and mustard before baking it all in a tomato sauce.

The minute visitors step through the doors, everything from the cuckoo clocks to the elaborate beer stein collection will tell them that Metzger's is as Bavarian as they come. 

The Heidelberg in New York City

In the nineteenth century, Manhattan's Yorkville neighborhood was largely German-speaking. The Heidelberg (unrelated to the Helen, Ga. location) is carrying on the neighborhood’s German traditions.

"You can feel the authenticity as soon as you enter the place," one patron told The New York Times. "And the food will transport you to another time." 

And boy, will it. Old world dishes on the menu include liver dumplings called leberknödelsuppe and ochsenmaulsalat, a salad of sliced marinated beef tongue. 

But there are plenty of more common German sausages and schnitzels on the menu as well. And many of those meats come from Cow Bar-n, an upstate New York farm belonging to Eva Matischak, the longtime, second-generation owner of the Heidelberg. 

Bavarian Grill in Plano, Texas

If it's the energy and revelry of an Oktoberfest you're looking for, head to Plano, Texas, where you'll find German spirit in abundance. 

The Bavarian Grill presents a lively experience virtually any time of year, with live polka music, dirndl- and lederhosen-adorned staff and a constantly rotating calendar of events. Fall is the most exciting time at the award-winning eatery, where Oktoberfest is also known as Schnitzel Fest and the menu features no fewer than 30 schnitzels. 

Breaded schnitzel, pan-seared schnitzel, pork schnitzel, lamb schnitzel, and even eggplant schnitzel are all severed up with various gravies and toppings, from white asparagus-infused hollandaise to tart Cherries soaked in Schladerer Kirschwasse brandy. 

And you don't have to sweat it if you can't make it to Texas in time for Schnitzel Fest. At the Bavarian Grill, November brings Wildkarte, their wild game menu. Summer brings Schwammerl (Mushroom) Fest and spring means it’s time for Weisser Spargel (White Asparagus) Fest and Frühlings (Spring) Fest. Simply put, you'll always have an excuse to pull out your lederhosen. 

Hungry for some wurst yet? The authentic German menus of these unique restaurants can satisfy your Oktoberfest cravings this fall—and all year round.

A former downtown development professional, Natalie Burg is a freelancer who writes about growth, entrepreneurialism and innovation.

Brauhaus Schmitz in Philadelphia 

Though only a decade old, Brauhaus Schmitz packs centuries of German culinary tradition into its menu. 

The secret ingredient is experience—starting with German-born owner Douglas Hager. He worked in a now-closed German restaurant in Philly, a job he found so inspiring that he moved with his wife back to Germany. There, they worked in restaurants and biergartens before returning to the U.S. to open their own place. German chef Valentin Bay adds his own expertise to the culinary mix, and the result is delicious. 

A lively bierhall atmosphere makes visitors feel like they've arrived in Deutschland. And the menu only reinforces the feeling. You’ll find things you might expect, like sausages, pretzels and schnitzel. But you’ll also find the house specialty, schweinshaxe—a crispy pork knuckle with meat so juicy it falls off the bone. One reviewer referred to it as "pork knuckle heaven."

Bodensee Restaurant in Helen, Georgia

If you're planning a trip around German food, you can't go wrong in Helen, Georgia. The Alpine-style village in the Blue Ridge Mountains may only have around 500 residents, but it has far more than its fair share of German restaurants. That’s because in the 1960s the town adopted a Bavarian identity. It even amended zoning laws so local buildings would look like they came straight out of the mountains of southern Germany.

The popular three-story music hall, pub and restaurant The Heidelberg gets a lot of attention for its events and entertainment. But the lower-profile Bodensee Restaurant is worth a visit, too.

Bodensee owner and chef Aurel Prodan and his wife Doina are Romanian, but Aurel cooked in German kitchens for years before moving to Helen. The Prodans' goal was to recreate the look, feel and taste of the old German guest house. 

Build some extra time into your visit to Bodensee. Waits are common since they don't take reservations. In addition to the classic schnitzels, wursts and spaetzles, "haus" specials include tafelspitz—a slow-cooked beef topped with creamy horseradish sauce—and a grilled pork loin on toast with mushrooms and onions called holzfaellersteak.

Metzger's German Restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Just over 90 years ago, The German American Restaurant opened in downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. The story of how it was renamed Metzger's is just one chapter in a saga that spans Prohibition, World War II drama and a brief closure at the turn of the 21st century. To make a long story short, four generations of Metzgers have worked hard to make their family business the local icon it is today.

If you stop in Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you can also try the rouladen. The classic dish is prepared by rolling thin slices of beef with a stuffing of onions, bacon, pickles and mustard before baking it all in a tomato sauce.

The minute visitors step through the doors, everything from the cuckoo clocks to the elaborate beer stein collection will tell them that Metzger's is as Bavarian as they come. 

The Heidelberg in New York City

In the nineteenth century, Manhattan's Yorkville neighborhood was largely German-speaking. The Heidelberg (unrelated to the Helen, Ga. location) is carrying on the neighborhood’s German traditions.

"You can feel the authenticity as soon as you enter the place," one patron told The New York Times. "And the food will transport you to another time." 

And boy, will it. Old world dishes on the menu include liver dumplings called leberknödelsuppe and ochsenmaulsalat, a salad of sliced marinated beef tongue. 

But there are plenty of more common German sausages and schnitzels on the menu as well. And many of those meats come from Cow Bar-n, an upstate New York farm belonging to Eva Matischak, the longtime, second-generation owner of the Heidelberg. 

Bavarian Grill in Plano, Texas

If it's the energy and revelry of an Oktoberfest you're looking for, head to Plano, Texas, where you'll find German spirit in abundance. 

The Bavarian Grill presents a lively experience virtually any time of year, with live polka music, dirndl- and lederhosen-adorned staff and a constantly rotating calendar of events. Fall is the most exciting time at the award-winning eatery, where Oktoberfest is also known as Schnitzel Fest and the menu features no fewer than 30 schnitzels. 

Breaded schnitzel, pan-seared schnitzel, pork schnitzel, lamb schnitzel, and even eggplant schnitzel are all severed up with various gravies and toppings, from white asparagus-infused hollandaise to tart Cherries soaked in Schladerer Kirschwasse brandy. 

And you don't have to sweat it if you can't make it to Texas in time for Schnitzel Fest. At the Bavarian Grill, November brings Wildkarte, their wild game menu. Summer brings Schwammerl (Mushroom) Fest and spring means it’s time for Weisser Spargel (White Asparagus) Fest and Frühlings (Spring) Fest. Simply put, you'll always have an excuse to pull out your lederhosen. 

Hungry for some wurst yet? The authentic German menus of these unique restaurants can satisfy your Oktoberfest cravings this fall—and all year round.

A former downtown development professional, Natalie Burg is a freelancer who writes about growth, entrepreneurialism and innovation.

This article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to provide medical or legal advice, or to indicate the availability or suitability of any product or service for your unique circumstances.

Capital One does not provide, endorse, or guarantee any third-party product, service, information or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.


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