No matter how near or far you are from home, a recommendation for a good restaurant or bar is always nice to have. EATS is a collection of places that I’ve enjoyed during my travels.
Our time in Munich was short, so our dining experiences were a little sparse. When we weren’t filling up on seasonal treats at Munich’s Christmas markets (mmm gingerbread!), we were out of the city on a handful of daytrips. On top of that, the December temperatures were on the rather chilly side and I was still getting over a cold, which slightly dampened our spirit to explore. Most nights we wanted hearty food and drink and we wanted it now.
Thank goodness for Der Pschorr. This upscale Bavarian beer hall is located right off the Viktualienmarkt and is one of those places where locals and tourists alike gather for the same purpose: a good meal in a welcoming environment. It’s named after Joseph Pschorr who invented the first method of cooling beer more than 200 years ago by cutting long pieces of ice from the river in the winter and storing the barrels on top of them in deep vaults.
The night we walked into Der Pschorr, the hall was beautifully decorated for Christmas and packed with people. Reservations are strongly encouraged, as we were initially turned away and lingered to formulate a plan before stepping back into the cold, which was just long enough for the man seating tables to flag us down and direct us to an empty table near the bar. Talk about being in the right place at the right time, we had a front row seat to watch the bartender tap keg after keg of the house specialty Hacker-Pschorr Edelhell beer, a premium lager from oak wooden barrels that’s chilled on blocks of ice in the cellar before being brought up to the bar. You should order at least one of these if you go to Der Pschorr. I also recommend the Bavarian wine list, as well as a post-meal schnapps if you are feeling brave.
Our waiter only spoke German but was everything you would expect at a beer hall – a jolly old man and a bit of a jokester with just the right amount of pushy. The menu at Der Pschorr takes traditional Bavarian food to the next level and has something for everyone with a variety of meat, sausage, fish and even vegetarian options made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. We ordered an arugula salad with goat cheese baked in a flakey strudel pastry and a traditional pork sausage plate served over potato salad with chives. The food was neatly plated with a touch of elegance and not heavy like you might expect at a German beer hall.
Der Pschorr, Viktualienmarkt 15, +49 89 442383940, der-pschorr.de
No trip to Munich is complete without a visit to the legendary Hofbräuhaus. One of the city’s oldest beer halls, the Hofbräuhaus began as a royal brewery for the Bavarian Duke Wilhelm V in 1589 (hof means “court” in German) before it was opened to the public by King Ludwig I in 1828. While the building suffered much damage during WWII, it was completely renovated in 1958 and now welcomes more than 1,300 people in the Schwemme (beer hall) downstairs, 900 people in the Festsaal (festival hall) upstairs and 400 more people in the Biergarten (beer garden) outside.
The Hofbräuhaus is big and noisy with buxom beer maids, a lively Bavarian band and baskets of big soft pretzels. It’s the Germany of your imagination, where men in lederhosen sit elbow to elbow with wide-eyed tourists, and all of this is precisely what you’ve come to see. Push your way in through the front entrance and if you see empty chairs grab them, there’s no formal process to be seated (you’ll be waiting all day if you expect one of the fast-moving waiters to stop). The menu has a good variety of hearty food and drink and the prices are very reasonable considering it’s become something of a tourist hot-spot. Whether you go for a meal or just a few beers, the buzzing atmosphere will not disappoint. Also be sure to check out the free mini-museum upstairs in the festival hall with interactive exhibits on the history of the Hofbräuhaus and beer in Bavaria.
Hofbräuhaus, Platz 9, +49 89 290136100, hofbraeuhaus.de
Augustiner am Platz
Located across the street from the Hofbräuhaus and Hard Rock Café, Augustiner am Platz is an extension of the Augustiner brewery, the oldest in Munich since 1328. The restaurant has a typical Bavarian feel with wooden tables and beautiful ornamentation decorating the ceilings. Similar to the other restaurants in the region, it’s ok to seat yourself here – just take a lap around the ground floor and if you don’t see an empty table then continue upstairs. We ate at a table on the third floor and found the restaurant to be surprisingly laid-back considering it likely absorbs the overflow of hungry and/or thirsty patrons discouraged by the crowds at the Hofbräuhaus.
Many of Augustiner’s beers are still served out of wood barrels and the menu has a good selection of traditional dishes and sides, including several daily specials. Our waitress was not very attentive, but for our last meal in Munich the warm, cozy environment and hearty food definitely hit the spot. I especially loved the house made potato salad, and who could pass up apple strudel for dessert?
Augustiner am Platz, Orlandostraße 5, +49 89 2111356, augustiner-wirtschaft.de
If we had more time:
(And if the weather was nicer….) Munich’s many outdoor beer gardens would have been on our list. Some even allow you to bring your own food to eat at the wooden tables if you buy drinks from the bar. Another place for a fun and easy meal is the Viktualienmarkt where you’ll find vendors selling fresh produce and other food items. We also missed out on Lebkuchen Schmidt (Westenriederstraße 6), which is famous for its gingerbread, since the shop is closed on Sundays. In fact, all stores (and many restaurants) are required to close on Sundays, so plan your meals and sightseeing activities accordingly.