What we learned on our most recent trip to Frankfurt: there are a lot of reasons to visit this German city (the museums, the business, the views, the restored old town). But one that totally came out of left field for us? The food.
It’s not that we had anything against German food, but we just hadn’t been wowed by it in the past. But then we visited Frankfurt in the height of spring and we were all about it. From the classic local Frankfurter Kranz cake and the beloved drink of apfelwein, there are plenty of notetworthy classic foods. Add to it that more than half of Frankfurt's population is made up of immigrants and it's no wonder that there's such culinary diversity.
From all that to theunexpectedly outstanding green salads and Spritzes, here’s what to eat right now in Frankfurt.
There’s so much to talk about when it comes to the German hard cider known as apfelwein. Suffice to say apfelwein is the German version of hard cider made with German apples and you should try it at least once in Frankfurt where it’s the unofficial drink of the city (as in locals drink almost 12 liters per person annually). We rec heading to one of the uber-classic apfelwein restaurants in Frankfurt’s Sachsenhausen district like at Lorbasher Thal where there are pages upon pages of apfelweins to choose from.
If we say German food, you most likely think sausages, right? Well, it's with good reason since there are nearly as many sausages as there are German regions and they're a majorly popular food. And of the popular German sausages, bratwurst have a serious history dating back over 700 years in the nearby Franconia region. Though the recipes can vary greatly, they're largely made of pork or beef and can be served as part of a sitdown meal or by any number of street vendors. Our favorite place to get it was at the Honeing stand at the Erzeugermarkt Konstablerwache.
This cake (known as “crown cake) is a local Frankfurt specialty dating back to 1735 when Frankfurt was the crown city of Germany. Traditionally, it’s made with layers of sponge cake, buttercream, currant jam, brittle, candied cherries, and gold leaf. These days you’ll not only find the traditional version but also seasonal variations like the Spring one pictured above from our pick of where to try it, ConditCouture pastry shop in the city’s old town district.
We know, you're probably thinking of those mass-produced HARIBO candies and you'd be spot-on because those are everywhere. But we're much bigger fans of the local shop Bears & Friends where they also make all-natural gummy candies with nothing but fruit juice and pectin. We tried some berry gummy candies and went back for more!
Handkäse Mit Musik
This star of this dish is handkäse, which is an aged, pungent, cylindrical cheese that hails from Germany’s Hesse region (ie where Frankfurt is located) and made with curdled milk. The “mit musik” bit is a particular preparation when the cheese is marinated with onions and caraway seeds. We know, that doesn’t may not sound very appetizing and we’ll admit it’s an acquired taste. Trust us that, when it’s made well (like at Lorbascher Thal), it’s tasty.
One things for sure: when the suns out in Frankfurt the cafes pull out their sidewalk set ups and everyone fights to get a table outdoors. And the accessory of choice is a low alcohol cocktail like a Spritz. All over at bars across the city we saw variations on the white Spritz aka The Hugo and pretty much tried everyone we came across. For the ultimate riverside dining experience on a sunny day, head to Ooosten and, of course, make sure to order a Spritz!
Green Sauce aka Grie Soß
Known as Grie Soß in the local dialect, Grüne Soße (aka green sauce) is a sauce that's hard to find outside Germany and, in our opinion that's a shame because it's delicious. Essentialy green sauce is an uncooked cold sauce made with eggs, sour cream and blended with seven herbs (parsley, chives, watercress, borage, chervil, and burnet). It's frequently served with veal, beef, boiled potatoes, or eggs and is a specialty of Frankfurt and the wider federal state of Hessen. In fact, it's so revered that it has EU-protected geographical status, meaning the herbs can only be grown in a very specific area for the sauce to be the real deal. You can find it on the menu at most of Frankfurt's traditional taverns but we also loved the version served at the chic brasserie known as Stanley Diamond.
One thing we've found to be true? That Northern Europeans seem to have a special talent for leafy green salads. Maybe it's because it's so cold there for most of the year that they make the most of it when there's good weather but on our travels we've found that Scandanavia, France, the Netherlands, and Germany have a panache at making a not-too-complicated but really fantastic salad. From high end restaurants to classic taverns and healthy cafes, we found a ton of leafy green salads at almost every spot we dined in Frankfurt.
Yes, you’re right: this dish originate in Vienna. However, it’s served in pretty much every classic restaurant in Frankfurt. There are a lot of places you can get the dish so it’s more about what to look for: traditionally it should be veal not pork, you want the breading then but even and golden brown, and the meat should be juicy and evenly cooked. One of our favorites was at the classic spot Lorbasher Thal.
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