September 29, 2015

Man survives on beer and sausage during OktoberfestAll across Europe, a number of countries are touted for their culinary traditions. Spanish food – which incudes favorites like paella and pisto – is noted for lots of rich spices. Meanwhile, Italian has gifted the world dishes like carbonara, pasta e fagioli and cappon magro. Yet there is another country with an equally illustrious history of great food that often goes unappreciated: Germany. Though it often lacks the panache of other approaches to cooking, German food is nonetheless impressive. Over hundreds of years, chefs have embraced a sense of simplicity, using simple ingredients like grains and herbs and fresh meat to create sauerbraten, spatzle and buletten.

Today, the German traditions are alive and well even in states like Texas, where Austin culinary graduates continue to cook up these same deeply satisfying dishes. So, if you want to enjoy a nice plate of schnitzel without leaving the capital city, here are the German restaurants worth a visit:

1. Fabi + Rosi: Technically speaking, Fabi + Rosi categorizes itself as a European restaurant. But with chef Wolfgang Muber originally hailing from Germany, there is little doubt of the restaurant’s commitment to his home country’s cuisine. German favorites include a beef consomee called kraftbruhe that features bone marrow dumplings, maultaschen – ravioli made with mushrooms from Germany’s own Black Forest – rabbit stew with root vegetables and the custom Ich Liebe Tiere, a plate of vegetables and grains. Fabi + Rosi also sources many of its ingredients from local Austin farms, including Dewberry, Beeman and Richardson’s. Fabi + Rosi also has a number authentic German beers, namely Konig, Bitburger, Ludwig and Hofbrauhaus.

2. Easy Tiger: As far as the reputation for Easy Tiger, most visitors known it as a beer garden. A longstanding German tradition, these areas are a kind of meeting ground where people come together to share a few alcoholic beverages and hours of great conversation. Yet food is often another major part of these interactions, and Easy Tiger does offer quite the sizable menu of Americanized German dishes and other favorites. That includes the restaurant’s signature pretzels – which come covered in salted whipped butter, housemade mustard, smoked gouda or beer cheese. However, a visit wouldn’t be complete without one of the Easy Boards, shared plates that include corned beef, bratwurst, duck sausage, kielbasa, house pickles and red cabbage.

3. Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden: Much like Easy Tiger, Banger’s is primarily known for being a beer garden. In fact, the restaurant touts having the biggest tap wall in all of Austin, an accomplishment they back up with an impressive number of beers. The selection of German beers centers mostly around a collection of Pilsners, namely Pearl Snap, Live Oak Pilz and Sierra Nevada Nooner. However, there are also two brews from the Weihenstephaner brewery in Freising: the Festbier and the Vitus. Yet Banger’s is so much more than just beer, and the restaurant is also known for its sausages. Why not accompany one of the beers with the Turducken – made of ducky, turkey and chicken – or a sausage made of onions and wild boar?

4. Scholz Garden: At Scholz Garden, the diametrically opposing cultures of Germany and America seem to meet face-to-face. On the one hand, Scholz is a good old-fashioned sports bar, one where chili cheese fries and barbecue wings are served as legions of fans watch Sunday football games. Yet on those cool Austin nights, the restaurant’s beer garden pulls in a number of groups, and rightly so. Scholz’s German menu isn’t vast, but it does maintain a certain sense of authenticity. Dishes include standard wiener schnitzel, grilled bratwurst, pork and cheese schnitzel, and German potato salad. With the beer menu, both the American and German cultures find a kind of balance, with brews including Pearl Snap, Franziskaner and Spaten Optimator.