Was ist das?? I hear you say. The best German food in London??
Yup! As we all know, London is an amazing, multicultural city – you only need to walk down any given street to hear a variety of accents or languages, or see shops and eateries of all different nations. It’s truly a melting pot, and vastly improved because of it. Londoners have a fantastic variety of restaurants to choose from, and could probably choose a different country’s cuisine every night for quite some time (I volunteer to test this theory out).
And among all those options is one that I’m personally rather fond of: German food. Since my boyfriend (aka The Otter) and I made it our mission to find the foods you must try in Germany and Austria when we visited both those countries, I’ve become a little bit obsessed with German food. It’s filling, it’s simple but flavoursome, it has a slight feeling of naughty indulgence to it.
Plus, German food has a special place in my heart (and stomach) for another reason – it was one of the first times I truly threw away my food anxieties. I’ve always been a cautious eater abroad: don’t eat anything too unfamiliar, stick to basics, don’t take the risk of potentially getting sick. I even freaked out in Amsterdam when I had a previously-untried combination of ketchup and mayonnaise on my hot dog, and tried to scrape it off.
In Munich, I let go of that. I tried sauerkraut for the first time, and loved it. I had red cabbage, which I’d never eaten. Pretzels with unknown fillings, meats in mysterious sauces. It was familiar enough to what I was used to, whilst still being quite different. And I loved it all. So if you’re an anxious, picky eater, I highly recommend German food as a great place to start with broadening your travel tastes!
But even though I adore visiting Germany, I also like to have options closer to home, so I set out on a mission to discover the best German food in London. And I did it all in one weekend. A moment of silence for my waistline, please.
Here are my findings, based on personal experience (I’ve eaten in every single one), and a handy map to help you get there. Bear in mind that they’re mostly Bavarian-style places, probably because we’re British, and we love a beer hall.
Dust off your dirndl, and enjoy!
Katzenjammers, located just around the corner from Borough Market on Southwark Street, bills itself as London’s Coolest Bierkeller. It’s definitely the place to go if you want a bit of partying alongside your pretzels! It helpfully guides you where to go with its logo of “Upstairs For Drinkin’, Downstairs For Dancin'”, as you skip down the steps from the outside.
Your first stop is going to be the Bierkeller, which is located in the first level below the ground, and this’ll be your destination if you’re on the hunt for German food. You can expect a gloriously cool room with a vaulted ceiling, plenty of long wooden tables, and a bar with crispy German beers – it’s often fairly quiet during the day, and a perfect spot if you want an escape from the throngs of Borough Market. I personally like to take advantage of this quiet period, and grab a lunch here if I feel the need to rest my feet after a trawl around the market. There’s certainly plenty of options on the menu!
On this particular occasion, I had a spatzle (a Bavarian pasta – I had mine with cheese and bacon, and it’s very cheesy!), whilst The Otter chose a bratwurst ‘sausage in a bun’, and we were both happy with our choices. We received a good amount of food for the price, it was tasty, and we fairly rolled back up the steps afterwards!
If there is a negative to Katzenjammers, it is that the bierkeller restaurant you’ll sit in is quite small: there’s not the big, cavernous space that you might be expecting if you’ve visited a Munich beer house. However, this is made up for by the Bierhall, which is downstairs – this seats 200, and is home to the partying I mentioned! Yup, if you want to go full-on Bavarian, go to Katzenjammers on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, and enjoy a live Oom-Pah band who’ll be playing whilst you snack on sausages and knock back the beers. Dance with your lederhosen-clad lover, and enjoy the atmosphere!
Katzenjammers is open seven days a week, opening at noon.
Best for: Partying, trendy atmosphere
Been to Katzenjammers, and want to take some German food away with you? Well, just around the corner is the German Deli, located on Park Street – if you exit Borough Market on to the street and keep walking straight forward, you can’t miss it.
Unlike my other picks for this list, the German Deli isn’t a bierkeller or restaurant – instead, it’s a great little shop packed to the rafters with everything you need to do some home cooking. It stocks pretty much everything you can think of, in terms of German food, from mixes and sauces (The Otter heartily recommends the beer-flavoured ketchup), to chilled meats. Yes, you can stock up on your authentic bratwurst here. It also has an absolutely mind-blowing array of Haribo candies. You will come away with a packet.
What if you want to try before you buy, and sample those yummy-looking bratwurst? Well, good news! The German Deli has a stall inside Borough Market, where you can grab one straight off the grill, and have it lovingly cushioned in a fresh roll.
Want even more convenience? Such as German food delivered straight to your door? The German Deli obliges here too, thanks to their website.
The German Deli is open from 10am to 7pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 5pm on Saturdays. Closed Sundays.
Best for: authentic German foods and ingredients.
The Bavarian Beerhouse
When you’re looking at the Bavarian Beerhouse’s menu (and if you can resist the picture of the roast pork on the front of the menu, you’re doing better than I am), you can add an extra item to those listed: fun!
Located just opposite Fenchurch Street railway station, the atmosphere immediately grabs you. The staff (many of them are actually German, or from Eastern Europe) commit fully to the theme, wearing lederhosen and dirndls with justified pride. The tablecloths are checkered, the speakers blast out German bubblegum pop. It’s just a really fun place to be, as evidenced by the big crowds you’ll get here on a Friday or Saturday evening (be sure to book in advance on these nights, especially if you’re a large group – if solo or in a smaller number, you can probably squeeze on the end of a long table, and meet some new friends).
The food is always of a very good standard, too – I only had a pretzel on my latest visit, but I’ve eaten main meals there before, and never been disappointed. It also has a decent number of vegetarian and vegan options!
The Bavarian Beerhouse has a lot that it can be proud of – a great selection of beers, the mouthwatering menu, but it’s real strength is the staff. I’ve visited the Bavarian Beerhouse quite a lot, as I frequently travel through Fenchurch Street, and they’re always completely friendly, welcoming, and chatty. They really do elevate your experience!
It’s a great place to go and watch a football match (German, naturally), and check out the photographs of visiting celebrities – when the place has been visited by that many well-known Germans, you know it must be good.
Have a look at the Bavarian Beerhouse’s site to get a taste of the atmosphere!
The Bavarian Beerhouse is open seven days a week, opening at 12pm Monday to Friday, and 11am at weekends.
Best for: Fun atmosphere, friendly staff
I’ve saved my favourite for last.
I’ve only been in Bierschenke once (when researching this article – the sacrifices I make for you guys…), but it blew me away. It feels exactly like a Munich beerhouse – The Otter and I both immediately thought of the Hofbräuhaus when we entered – and it takes everything that a beerhouse should be, and does it perfectly.
It’s underground, in a cavernous, decorated room. The staff are friendly and wear lederhosen and dirndls. The food and drink menus are extensive. The atmosphere is that of a massive, shared party. There’s live entertainment.
But given that this is an article on German food, let’s start there. The Otter and I both had a pork schnitzel (my favourite of all the German foods!), and it was delicious. I really didn’t expect it to be a patch on the schnitzel I’d tried in Germany and Austria, but it more than held its own. There was great variety, too – the schnitzel alone had about six different options (type of meat, plus selection of side dish), and there were countless sausages!
This variety also makes it a great choice for groups – you can buy a sharing platter, and split the cost. We saw a large group order the sausages and schnitzels platter, and there was a lot of food! It may sound expensive at £119, but given the amount of food delivered, it’s definitely good value. There’s also a vegetarian platter, as well as vegetarian and vegan options.
Another thing that I love about Bierschenke is that they’re passionate about fostering a sense of community. Aside from live music events and pub quizzes, they’ve also held fundraising events for mental health charities, and have introduced a LGBT “Queer-Schenke Oktoberfest”. That’s something worth applauding.
Find Bierschenke on Blomfield Street, just around the block from Liverpool Street, or have a look at the Bierschenke website for more details!
Bierschenke opens at 11am Monday to Friday, and 12pm on Saturdays. Closed on Sundays.
Best for: food and drink options, authentic experience
The Quest For German Food In London
Whilst Bierschenke is my favourite of the German restaurants in London, it’s definitely true that on the whole, the German food scene has got a healthy foothold in the UK capital’s cuisine. It would be easy to dismiss the beer halls as a novelty pub, an English-style watering hole dressed up in a lederhosen, but that would be grossly untrue – whenever I’ve been in them, tourists and locals alike have really embraced the difference, and taken as much interest in having good-quality German food as much as they do in having a few steiners of German beer.
All of the restaurants I tried had something unique to offer, and none of them had remotely substandard food. I’d happily recommend any of them, even though I think Bierschenke has the edge. London’s international restaurants would definitely be poorer without the high-quality of its German content.
And as a lover of German food, who spent a weekend eating bratwurst, schnitzel, and pretzels… I really love being a travel bloggger!
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