So prosit and mahlzeit at one or more of these delicious and friendly destinations for food and drink and fun.
NYCOTC Publisher/Editor Evelyn Kanter is the NYC-born offspring of two German immigrants, one from Bavaria, the other from Saxony, so I know authentic German food and drink and ambiance, and the difference between what is real and what is kitsch.
I know enough about Germany to have contributed for years to Fodor’s Germany guidebooks, and I write about Germany regularly for Orbitz and others, from more visits to the land of my heritage than I can count.
That being said –
These are my choices for the best German food, drink and ambiance in NYC, including restaurants and cafes where you can have a great meal, and the party hearty places where Oktoberfest style partying is on the menu year-round.
Bitte, make mine a hefeweizen, with a weisswurst and a pretzel.
Best German Restaurants in Manhattan
This is one of the oldest German restaurants in the U.S. with a 100-year-plus history, still family run.
There’s an old-fashioned rustic atmosphere, as the interior design and recipes have been left pretty much untouched since its opening.
Try the Jaeger Spätzle, a schnitzel topped with a creamy mushroom sauce and accompanied by the German version of pasta, or the Schweine Haxe, an oven-roasted pork shank, served with sauerkraut and boiled potatoes, that is a traditional Oktoberfest food.
- Heidelberg is at 1648 Second Avenue, (212) 628-2332
This another old-fashioned German restaurant, where you go for the food, not for the beer, in part because the wine list is longer than the beer list.
Forget the American intrusions like sauteed salmon and Long Island duckling and stick to German and Alsatian specialties including Sauerbraten, a tangy pot roast, and Schnitzel a la Holstein, served with capers, anchovies and eggs.
Rolf’s is also famous for its holiday decorations, which go up around Thanksgiving and usually stay up through May.
- Rolf’s is 281 Third Avenue at 22nd St., in Gramarcy Park, (212)-477-4750
This boisterous outpost of Munich’s famous Hofbräuhaus boasts that it is Oktoberfest year-round here, and it is, with daily crowds of apres work revelers.
This is where you can get a kick-your-butt 8.4% Dopplebock named Delicator to wash down a dozen kinds of wursts and several kinds of schnitzel, including breaded “fingers” more common to KFC, and a German version of Southern-fried pickles.
Or, stick to the original, 400-year-old beer recipe, passed down from Wilhelm V, the Duke of Bavaria.
It’s the perfect accompaniment to a pair of Weisswurst, the delicate pork and veal sausages that are the traditional breakfast or mid-morning break in Munich, served with equally delicate sweet mustard. But you can break tradition and have them for lunch or dinner. I do.
It’s not Bavarian, but the Cervelatwurst, a smoked pork sausage served with two fried eggs and toast, is enough for dinner, with a beer, of course.
Whatever you order, make sure it includes a side of German potato salad, like my Bavarian mother used to make, with vinegar and oil, not mayonnaise.
- Hofbrau Bierhaus NYC is at 712 3rd Ave, (212) 867-2337
A boisterous atmosphere, a kitschy decor & massive steins of German beer make every day Oktoberfest.
There’s more than a dozen biers on tap, including a dark wheat beer, which you rarely find outside of Germany. It’s also got a kick, at 8.2%, seriously stronger than “regular” wheat bear at 5.4%
The Haxn is a special on Friday,, Saturdays and Sundays, or opt for an appetizer or light lunch of Brotzeitteller – literally bread time plate – of sliced cold cuts and cheeses with a small salad, or a wurst platter.
Save room for dessert. Apfelkuchle are apple fritters served with vanilla sauce and vanilla ice cream. One of my childhood favs.
This East Village beer hall stages a huge tent on the East River for Oktoberfest, with Oompah bands and other entertainment, which requires tickets for admission.
The restaurant also stays open during Oktoberfest, so that’s the place to go if you want to avoid loud and rowdy. Except, of course, during soccer matches on a gi-normous screen.
Note that Zum Schneider is cash only, so bring lots of it, or you’ll go thirsty, my friend.
- Zum Schneider is at 107 Ave C @ East 7th Street, (212) 598-1098.
- The Oktoberfest tent is on the East River.
This family-owned beer hall bills itself as “Munich in Midtown”. It’s filled lined with large communal tables, making it a convenient spot for large group after-work festivities, or to make new friends.
It was founded by two Germans who immigrated to New York two generations ago, with the goal to bring a daily Oktoberfest experience to the city.
For Oktoberfest, there are several varieties of high-test Dopplebocks among the dozen-plus German beers on tap, served in half-liter and one liter mugs and a two-liter boot.
The menu is all German classics, especially regional Bavarian favorites.
Erbsensuppe mit Schinken (split pea soup with ham) is a hearty warmer-upper for brisk weather, and there’s a long list of schnitzels and wursts, including a Vegan concoction for those of you who must.
- Reichenbach Hall is at 5 West 37th St., (212) 302-7744
This beer hall gets its name from a famous German poem and myth about a siren who sits on a cliff along the Rhine, serenading sailors with her singing, luring them to their deaths.
There’s nothing sad about the giant portions of classic German food, or the large, heated outdoor beer garden.
In addition to a half-dozen draft beer choices, Lorelei has a decent wine list of German and Austrian reds and whites. Try a Mulller Thorgau Trocken (trocken is German for dry), a smoky red similar to Zinfandel. There’s a daily happy hour with $2 off wine and beer. Happy hour times change by day of week.
The regular dinner menu includes German classics such as the Rheinischer Sauerbraten, the classic dish of beef roast marinated in a vinegar and spice sauce, and served with hot potato dumplings and braised red cabbage.
Please avoid the concoction called a Bacon Jalapeno Dog, with lettuce and ranch dressing. The siren Lorelei – which the Germans spell differently than the restaurant – should sing this one to its death.
- Loreley Restaurant & Biergarten is at 7 Rivington St. on the Lower East Side, 212-253-7077.
This is more of a cafe than a restaurant, inside the cavernous Chelsea Market, named for what is likely the most popular street food in Germany, a bratwurst smothered in a unique tomato-curry sauce, and served on a brot, or bun.
Here it is sliced and served with fries and makes a decent lunch or light dinner.
More, you get to pick from eight different types of sausage, including an (ugh) Tofu version, and from three different sauces in various levels of heat, including an orange-ginger concotion that has zero to do with Currywurst. Ditto the sauerkraut “salad” dotted with oranges and shredded carrots has nothing to do with German cuisine, but it is colorful.
- 75 Ninth Ave., inside Chelsea Market, (646) 827-3689