The giant Munich Oktoberfest is underway, and so are celebrations in New York City. Here are top choices for enjoying Oktoberfest on the Hudson, the East River and inland, some with rowdy crowds and oompah bands, others more quietly. Reservations are recommended, especially for weekends.
This brewpub in Soho kicks off its month-long Oktoberfest celebration this weekend with a ceremonial keg-tapping on Saturday at 5pm, with FREE refills. There’s also an unusual first-ever family Oktoberfest event on Sun., Oct. 1st, with arts and crafts, games, and Lebkuchen decorating (traditional ginger-flavored cookies). This is a ticketed event; sign up and pay in advance on CityKinder’s Eventbrite registration page here. Paulaner is Manhattan’s only micro-brewery, brewing five beers on the premises. My favorite is hefeweizen.
- Paulaner Bierhaus is at 265 Bowery, just south of Houston St.
This Astoria fixture with a huge outdoor biergarden is pairing live music with their Oktoberfest eats for three weekends, Sept. 22-24, Sept. 29-Oct. 1 and Oct. 6-8, including a traditional pig roast this weekend. My choice would be schweinshaxel, a crispy pig knuckle. There’s also the regular menu, with German-style chicken or pork schnitzel and sauerkraut, plus such East European favorites as pierogies. Admission is free, and there’s a stein-holding contest each Friday at 7pm.
- Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden is at 29-19 24th Ave, Astoria, Queens.
This restaurant is named for the part of Germany owners Ayana and Tobias Holler are from, and normally serves local, Black Forest beer and homemade dishes, including what I think is the best Black Forest Cake on the planet. But they change the routine and the menu for Oktobertest. On Friday, Oct. 13th, there’s a $10 cover for a keg-tapping ceremony with free beer from that first keg, a mug-holding competition, a dirndl and lederhosen contest and music by Slavic Soul Party, a Brooklyn-based Balkan brass funk band – try saying that five times fast!, especially after a couple of beers. There are more than a dozen German beers. Top beer choice would be Rothaus Tannenzapfle, easier to drink than pronounce, a tangy unpasteurized pilsner from the Black Forest.
- Black Forest Brooklyn is at 733 Fulton St., between S. Elliott Place and S. Portland Ave.
This popular Lower East Side spot celebrates its 14th annual Oktoberfest for 45 days, from mid-September through Halloween, ending with a Haunted Happy Hour after 10pm. There are different beers and food items featured daily, or weekly, in the outdoor heated garden, including FREE keg tapping parties, FREE pig roasts, happy hour beer and sausage specials and more. This weekend, it’s a free ceremonial keg tapping of Munich’s Hofbrau Oktoberfest beer at 2pm, and the free pig roast at 4pm. October 12-15 combimes Oktoberfest with Sasuage Week, with a choice of a dozen sausages. Make mine weisswurst, the traditional Bavarian veal sausage served with a sweet mustard. Get the daily schedule on Loreley’s Facebook page.
- Loreley Restaurant & Biergarden is at 7 Rivington St. on the Lower East Side
This reasonably new food hall at the South Street Seaport is celebrating Oktoberfest with live music, full Oktoberfest decoration and fun games for the entire family. For this celebration, they are serving Hofbrau, Radeberger and Westphalen beers. Admission is free, and there are plenty of food vendors to choose from, although you may not find any authentic German choices. There’s also a $60 two-hour unlimited beer tasting this Friday, Sept. 22, with sessions at 3pm, 6pm and 8pm. The views of the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges and Brooklyn skyline are free.
- Watermark is at Pier 15 at the South Street Seaport.
Likely the largest and loudest Oktoberfest celebration in NYC, Zum Schneider sets up a huge tent on the East River at 23rd St. for this annual party. Original Oktoberfest beers on tap include: HB Traunstein Festbier, Andechs Festbier(both Zum Schneider exclusives in NYC) and Weihenstephaner Festbier, served in authentic Masskrügen, thick one-liter glass Steins, and such traditonal Oktoberfest menu items as Wiesn-Hendl and Haxn (Oktoberfest roast chicken & pork shank), giant pretzels, Bratwurst and Weisswurst. There’s live music with Mösl Franzi & the JaJaJa’s plus special guests playing a variety of traditional Oompah music and Wiesn hits (modern hit songs and singalongs). The tent is open Noon to 8pm on weekends, and 5pm to 10pm weekdays, starting this weekend, through Oct. 8th. Reservations are absolutely required. General admission is $28, reserved seating is $38, plus food and drink.
Full disclosure: My mother’s family is from Munich, a city I visit often, including for Oktoberfest, and I claim to know and certainly appreciate good German beer and food. I’ve also attended the Canstatter Volkfest in Stuttgart, that city’s version of Munich’s Oktoberfest. Prosit. And never drink and drive.