Yes, it's a tourist trap and every guide book recommends a visit, but the Hofbrauhaus in Munich's old district is wonderful. It is indeed unmissable because the atmosphere is great and the beer is even better. It has room for hundreds of people in a vast set of chambers originally built in 1896. The food is good and served promptly but bear in mind that the beer, Hofbrau naturally, comes in quantities of a litre or more - there are no half measures!
One's fellow drinkers are good humoured, ready to talk and have a good time, and there's even a traditional Bavarian 'oompah' band which strikes up every five minutes or so, but curiously fails to play a complete set. Perhaps the players need regular topping-up with Hofbrau and that interrupts their performance.
The area just south of Central station (Hauptbahnhof) has many OK hotels, but few nice places to eat and drink. But go a bit west to the 'Westend', by St Paul's Church on the corner of St-Paul-Strasse and Schwanthaler-Strasse, and there's an excellent pub-restaurant with freshly cooked Bavarian food available late into the evening, along with draft beer and appropriate wines. Cheerfully kitsch in décor and friendly too.
It's called 'Gasthous Zur Festwiese', apparently, though the name isn't prominently displayed.
Schwanthalerstrasse 85, 80336 Munchen, Tel 089 5439050 -
by St Paul's Church on the corner of St-Paul-Strasse and Schwanthaler-Strasse
A traditional bräuhaus, with a lively atmosphere at the weekend, and especially around Oktoberfest time. In the summer, there is a small beer garden too, and you can get traditional Bavarian food in the evening. Try the Hefe Weisen Dunkel (dark) beer for a change from the typical lager-style beers.
Kapuzinerplatz 5, not far from Goetheplatz underground station
Munich is a mecca for beer-drinkers, at least for lager or Weiss (wheat) beer fans. Some of Germany's most famous breweries are based here: Hofbraeu (most notably in the Hofbraeuhaus, but try the Hofbraeukeller too if you get the chance), Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Spaten and Loewenbraeu - most famous of all, and thought by many, including me, to be the least good.
But the locals don't drink any of those, they drink Augustiner. Either Helles (the Munich word for standard lager) or even better, Edelstoff.
Augustiner has also looked after its breweries and pubs, they are all worth a visit. The Bierhalle has its own tip here, but the Augustinerkeller near the station is recommended, the brewery itself on the opposite side of the tracks, and any pub at all displaying the blue and white Augustiner sign.
Excellent beer (first brewed at the monastery in 1455) and traditional Bavarian food in magnificent surroundings. You can even roam around the local countryside (including the nearby Amersee lake) to work off the extra calories.
A short trip on the S5 train south from Munich to Herrsching and then a walk (or bus/taxi) up to the monastery.
It's a beautiful pub with friendly service. It serves Bitburger, does a brilliant plate of Eisbein (pig's trotters) and, on the occasions I went, wasn't used by too many tourists. One thing worth remembering is that if 1860 Munich are at home, the place is packed and can be a bit unnerving. That's the only downside though
Just off Marienplaz in the city centre.
Few locals drink in "the Tal" - try a relaxed beer with the Bavarians at a Paulaner pub. If you must drink in the Tal - try Weisses BrauHaus for a Schneider-Weisse and spanferkel :)
Gaststätte Paulaner Bräuhaus,
tel: 089/544611 - 0
A lively bar with free live music every day of the week. The bar shares a cellar with Ned Kellys, an Australian bar next door which will be the place to head when the Aussies kick off their World Cup campaign.
Tel. 089 24219899
Huge, rightly famous, beer hall. People packed together on benches at tressle tables to drink excellent beer in vast quantities, served and kept in order by formidable, efficient hospital matron style waitresses.
Hofbräuhaus am Platzl
Platzl 9 (behind Marienplatz);
tel: 089 290136 10;
Before you can feel that you have been properly welcomed into Munich's heart, you have to sit and take in the atmosphere of a genuine Bierhalle. Nestled in among far more modern shops in Munich’s Kaufingerstrasse, leading away from the Marienplatz, is the Augustiner Bierkeller.
The Augustiner is a very large hall, longer than it is wide, on the ground floor of an ancient half-timbered building. (Whether genuinely old or simply rebuilt after the bombings of World War Two, as in many German cities, it is difficult to tell.) It is cosy and snug, relaxing, and, despite the number of customers, not crowded. The atmosphere is friendly and pleasant. Fresh cooking smells pervade the place along with the rich aroma of the beers, and this could easily become your favourite pub.
The enormous floor plan is divided up into numerous sections, each the responsibility of one or a small team of waiters and waitresses. The vaulted ceilings are high, disappearing, church-like into the gloom above. The floors are of red flagstones, and the walls are richly and decoratively panelled up to about shoulder height in wood the colour of ebony, the kind of colour that only comes as a patina.
You sit down on benches at solid, light oak wooden tables. The waiters wear white shirts with black trousers and black waistcoats, some have aprons, and purses bulge from back pockets. They are not all young. If you are lucky you will get a real character, with a sparkle in his eye, who has been here decades, and is almost part of the furniture. The waitresses wear variations on the regional costume, the Dirndlkleid, usually a long, voluminous red or green dress, with a white apron, and a low cut blouse on top, their purses in belts around their waist.
A group of men in their early twenties sits in animated conversation at one table, their vase shaped glasses of beer before them. Middle-aged and well-heeled citizens sit comfortably at other tables reading, with the air of people having no need to hurry. Couples while away lunchtime over two or three courses. An elderly gentleman sits alone in one corner, reading a newspaper and gently puffing on a pipe. The waiting staff buzz around efficiently, unhurriedly and politely, nothing is too much trouble, is the food ok, how about another beer?
This is a meeting place as much as anything, but also somewhere to eat and drink as much or as little as you like. The atmosphere is remarkably hushed for so many people. Business-like, practical and unhurried. The fare is about as traditional as you can get, from powerful soups through an innumerable variety of sausages with sauerkraut and mustard, to pork, veal and beef dishes all with some style of potatoes and vegetables. This is a menu with which to fortify yourself against the cold outside. Not lacking in calories, it is top quality, traditional, basic food.
The beer is also traditional. I order a Hefeweizen, an unfiltered wheat beer that retains its yeast sediment in the bottom of the bottle, so that it pours out deliberately cloudy and very aromatic. Nectar. Agreed by most to be among the best beers on the planet. My lunch arrives. Two Weisswurst, white sausage, another speciality of Munich, that come floating in a tureen of boiling water, so that you have to fish them out to put them on your plate. They are delicately flavoured and contain herbs. I am given a choice of mustards.
You ask for the bill. “Ich komme gleich”, the waitress says, “I’ll be right with you”. And disappears for ten minutes. She returns to write out what you’ve had on a small slip of notepad and, as always, you are surprised at how little it costs, just a couple of pounds, and you are sent on your way with another piece of Gemütlichkeit in your back pocket.
In Kaufingerstrasse, just off Marienplatz in central Munich
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