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9 of the Best German Food Experiences for Travelers

Foodie Germany's Can't-Miss Culinary Travel Attractions

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A search for the best German food takes a traveler on a journey through one of the world's most hearty cuisines. Whether you're dining at a high-end restaurant or grabbing a bite from a street vendor, you'll be feasting on countless varieties of sausage, a wide variety of noodles, breads and local vegetables -- and if it's springtime, especially asparagus. Put it this way, there's very little chance you'll leave Germany feeling hungry.

1. Sample Currywurst

Currywurst mit Pommes frites
eulenfan/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Currywurst is a German street-food specialty that started in Berlin at around the end of the 1940s. It's a wurst, or a sausage, sliced up and slathered with ketchup flavored with curry powder, which comes in varying degrees of heat.

You'll find currywurst in fast-food stands (imbiss) throughout Berlin and also in other major German cities.

Debates rage about who makes the best currywurst in town. The oldest operating currywurst stand in Berlin is Konnopke's in Prezlauerberg, under the U-Eberwalder Strasse station; or get a deeper education at the Currywurst Museum.

2. Splurge on the Best German Cuisine

Food Photo of Foie Gras Terrine at Zum Alde Gott in the Reblands Wine Area, Germany
Foie Gras Terrine at Zum Alde Gott in the Reblands Wine Area, Germany. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
While Germany doesn't have the quite the critical mass of highly decorated chefs as its neighbors, there are a number of German chefs and restaurants that are among the best in the world. For example, there's the 3-star Michelin Schwartzwaldstube, at Traube Tonbach in Baiersbronn. You'd be challenged to find a chef that makes better use of the local ingredients with classical French techniques than Harald Wolfahrt.

For creativity and enthusiasm, Zum Alde Gott, in Neuweier is worth the trip to Germany alone. Chef Wilfried Serr explores the Black Forest during the day, and incorporate what he finds into his inventive menu. For instance, blood root, a local herb, is distilled into schnapps and made into sorbet as a palate cleanser.

3. Visit a Market Hall

Photo of Market Hall or Markthall in Stuttgart, Germany
Stuttgart's Market Hall. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
Market halls, which you can find all over Germany, are like enclosed farm markets, filled with stands manned by farmers, cheesemongers, candy makers specialty food purveyors and more. Once the place where all food was procured, today, many Germans still do their shopping in a market hall, making it a great place to get your bearings on German cuisine.

One of the most beautiful Market Halls in Germany is in Stuttgart. The original building was Art Noveau, constructed in the early 1900s. It was destroyed during World War II, but painstakingly restored. The market is a bustle of goods both German and International, and there are restaurants on the second floor.

4. Explore Germany's Wine Country

Photo of a Baden Germany Winery
A Reblands Region Winery. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
Germany's wine production centers around the Rhine river, which is to say, in the southern part of the country. Still, Germany is one of the northernmost wine producing countries in Europe. Most of German wine is white, and the country is best known for its Riesling, which can be sweet or dry.

The largest and most diverse wine-making area is Rheinhessen, about 45 minutes from Frankfurt. The area region is filled with small wine producers who are often supplying their own inn and nothing more.

Anywhere in the world, wine country is reliably beautiful, but Germany's is unusually picturesque, whether pitched steeply along the Rhine or nestled in the Black Forest in the Baden-Wurttenberg region. Learn about German wine regions here.

5. Compare German Regional Noodles, Meats, Seafood & More

An array of Swabian specialties at Stuttgarten Staffele restaurant in Stuttgart, Germany
Swabian specialties at Stuttgarten Staffele restaurant in Stuttgart. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
There are a few constants in German cuisine, wherever you travel in the country: there's going to be some sort of sausage, potatoes, dumplings, bread. But each region of the country does things in their own fashion.

There's a bewildering array of wurst and meats -- including the infamous Black Forest Ham, best sampled in the Black Forest itself. Bread comes in many forms, and especially in a pretzel, and noodles and dumplings are also regionally distinct. Check out this guide to German regional cuisine, and see if you can taste the reigion, whether you're sampling Swabian kässpätzle (cheese noodles) or Thüringer Rotwurst (red sausage from Thuringia).

6. Explore Berlin's Hidden Restaurants

Photo of a hidden restaurant site in Berlin
Site of Rodeo Club, a hidden restaurant. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner

Berlin is a city that doesn't reveal all of its richness at first glance from the street -- much of life is lived in courtyards accessed through almost-hidden alleyways.

This carries over into the food, where speakeasy-style restaurants flourish, whether at the better-known Rodeo Club (pictured here), which is serves food in a former Post Office, or in someone's living room -- receive the coordinates via email. You can eat in a "rented chair" at an art gallery, or you can find yourself wandering through an alleyway. These aren't easy places for visitors to find. Hire a guide like Berlinagenten to help you find what's hidden.

7. Grab a Kebab

Food photo of a kebab by Hasir in the Kreuzberg area of Berlin
A kebab by Hasir in the Kreuzberg area of Berlin. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner
The kebab was brought to Germany by Turkish immigrants, one of the country's largest minorities, and it quickly became a staple. You'll find a doner kebab in fast food stands around the country -- slices of lamb meat, wrapped in bread, served with salad and sauce, the ultimate late-night snack. There aren't many formal Turkish restaurants in Berlin, but Hasir, whose owner is said to have invented the Doner Kebab sandwich, is a good choice for sit down kebab fare.

8. Lift a Pint of German Beer

Whether you're hitting a beer garden, or simply ordering a beer to accompany your food, you almost can't get more German than beer. The laws surrounding German beer production are old, dating back to 1641, and specify that German beer can only contain four ingredients: water, malt, hops, and yeast. Once again, regional specialties emerge. Beer from the south tends towards the malty, while beer from the north tends toward the hoppy.

9. Savor German Pastries and Desserts

food photo of Black Forest Cherry Pie at Cafe Konig in Baden-Baden, Germany
Black Forest Cherry Pie at Cafe Konig in Baden-Baden, Germany. Photo by Alison Stein Wellner

German dessert is not something to skip. Whether it's a pie that makes use of local berries, like Black Forest cake, made with chocolate, cherries and kirsch, or cherry liqueur. Or maybe you're more in the mood to tuck into the many forms of kuchen, or cake, like streusel kuchen, which is like coffee cake, or a Berliner, or jelly donut, (known as pfannkuchen in Berlin, or just some really great chocolate or ice cream.

You're not counting calories when you're eating German food, so why not do it like you mean it? Wash it all down with a eiswein, or sweet ice wine -- after all, you're in the country that invented it. And then wrap the whole thing up with a bit of schnapps. As you'll hear from many a German, it's good for the digestion.

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