718 South St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Some have called this South Street restaurant a boisterous Bavarian theme park, but Brauhaus Schmitz is the real deal. Enjoy 16 dedicated German beers on tap and 86 bottles on its impressive beer list. Its Hausbrau is a fan favorite. Look for live music, especially during Oktoberfest. Try Chef Jeremy Nolen’s housemade Nurnberger-style bratwurst and gemsesptzle made with spinach, cream, caramelized onions and wild mushrooms. Gluten-free and vegetarian items (of which there are quite a few) are clearly marked on the menu. Oh, and Brauhaus Schmitz’s frauleins wear uber-sexy dirndls that are oddly flattering on everyone.
1210 Frankford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19114
Stephen Starr, Philadelphia’s restaurant rainmaker, recently opened Frankford Hall in Fishtown. Like all of Starr’s creations, this one is eclectic and interesting: It’s a traditional German beer garden in spirit, but set in a funky industrial space. It’s great for crowds, with group seating and an easy party vibe. You’ll find a small but tasty beer menu, including Franziskaner Hefeweizen and Spaten Oktoberfest. All of Frankford’s sausages come from Ernst Illg Meats, in Chalfont, Pa., a well-respected meat purveyor. Fans love the bratwurst and weisswurst, which come on a roll with either sauerkraut or red cabbage. Don’t miss the giant soft pretzels either! Be prepared for some awesome Oktoberfest shenanigans (last year Mayor Michael Nutter helped kick off the festivities), too!
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138 S. Second St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
City Tavern has been around since the beginning of time–America’s time, that is. When the port of Boston closed in 1774, Paul Revere rode to the Tavern to deliver the news. John Adams called it the most genteel tavern in America, and some fellows from the Second Continental Congress dined there every Saturday night. Now, German-born chef/owner Walter Staib serves authentic and updated Colonial classics at the (demolished in 1854 and restored) Tavern. Waitstaff dressed in Colonial garb not only deliver delicious meals, but are happy to give you the history of the dish as well. Try Ben Franklin’s fried tofu and Martha Washington’s chocolate mousse cake. Chef Staib’s German roots shine through in the delectable wiener schnitzel, and the veal and herb sausage, Munchner style.
4120 Lower Road
Newportville, PA 19056
The Newportville Inn is the most authentic German restaurant in the Philly burbs, and it’s been helping locals celebrate important occasions or just enjoy a good meal for years. In fact, the Courier Times named it the best German restaurant three years in a row. The inn is friendly and cozy inside; outside, you’ll find a cheerful and traditional beer garden. As soon as you sit down, you’ll be treated to pretzels and Oompa’s homemade mustard (which draws fans from near and far), a perfect match for any of the more than 16 beers on tap. Save room, though, for the Konigsburger Klopse: German meatballs served over spaetzle and pork gravy with a veggie. If you’re in a schnitzel mood, the menu features nine schnitzels, from biersteiner to ziguener (Gypsy). Don’t be intimidated by the menu: There is a comprehensive glossary of German food and drink terms at the end. If you’ve discovered a beer you just can’t live without, The Newportville Inn offers a cool two-liter growler you can have filled with anything on tap.
Rieker’s Prime Meats
7979 Oxford Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19111
People come from far and wide to visit Rieker’s Prime Meats. Not just for the meat, which is excellent, but also for the fresh foods and authentic German grocery items. Founded by Walter and Ursula Rieker in 1970 (the same year they came over from Germany), this Fox Chase shop is a neighborhood mainstay. Here, you can get pfefferwurst, bacon knackwurst or home-made scrapple. Fans go crazy for Frau Rieker’s German potato salad, crab cakes and snapper soup. Enjoy a great variety of German and European grocery items and dry goods, including zwieback, Ritter chocolates and Hengstenberg jarred foods.
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Trish Deitemyer is a freelance writer living in Philly. She covers Food & Drink and has been writing since 1986. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.