Thanks to 357,386 square kilometres of diversified terrain ranging from Baltic beaches to alpine lakes, as well as a highly decentralised nationwide mindset, you’ll need to be prepared to travel if you want to taste modern German gastronomy at its heterogeneous and brilliant best in the best restaurants in Germany.
Modern culinary innovators are harnessing the country’s ample terroir through basement bistros, hidden countertops, Izakayas and tasting menus. The thousands of kilometers between these breakaway kitchens means Germany’s gastronomic map burns bright, and it gives you not one, but five reasons to visit in 2019.
Felix Schneider is the chef being hailed as one of Germany’s brightest young stars thanks to his focus is on "doing things better" which led him to famously hunt his own wild eels in a bid to save the endangered species from extinction recently. There is no menu in his kitchen, instead the freshest or most mature products are served according to four seasonal themes. From December-April it’s about fallow fields; April-June: sprouting and blossoming; June-August: colours and shapes; September-December: Fully matured. Felix’s kitchen outwardly rebels against stale food systems, with one eye very firmly on the future.
Hauptstraße 19, 90562 Heroldsberg, GermanyWebsite
Canadian head chef, Dylan Watson, has become a bit of a poster boy for German gastronomy, winning international accolades for his 30+ course tasting menus which spotlight pristine ingredients with precise focus - mostly without any salt or seasoning to let the original tastes sing. The restaurant’s producers are some of the best in the business, including an Austrian Mangalitsa farmer responsible for some of the best charcuterie (and Mangalitsa fudge!) you’ll likely ever taste. Menus are decided minutes before opening each day, depending on what is available.
Gerichtstraße 54, 13347 Berlin, GermanyWebsite
Set in picturesque southern German countryside, Robert Rädel delivers a 10+ course hymn to his local surroundings with just one other chef beside him at the stove. The original Oben garnered awards and accolades before rain damage forced it to close. But newly reopened in der alte Kohlhof –a settlement found in the heart of alpine forests on the side of Königstuhl mountain– the new location put a renewed focus on the restaurant’s natural larder. Staff now source forest spruce, magnolia blossom, poppy blossom sprouts, and mountain ash directly from the restaurant’s doorstep, adding a hyper-localised context to modern regional dishes. Easily one of Germany's most unusual kitchens.
Am Kohlhof 5, 69117 Heidelberg, GermanyWebsite
Emma Wolf Since 1920 (Mannheim)
Located in the basement of a Mannheim shopping centre, this modern bistro wouldn’t look out of place in New York or Singapore. Having received its first Michelin Star one year after opening, unsurprisingly this makes it Germany’s only Michelin starred restaurant located in a shopping centre. Head chef, Dennis Maier, cooks what he describes as "first-class fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere”. His small restaurant space spotlights three dishes in each of the menus’ sections where you’ll find German classics such as Eisbein (a whole pork knuckle cooked on the bone with mountains of sauerkraut) reworked with oysters, and radishes. Modern German bistronomy at its very best.
Emma Wolf Since 1920
Q6 Q7 Einkaufszentrum Q7 1-5, 68161 Mannheim, GermanyWebsite
Restaurant Intense (Kallstadt)
Driving Germany’s culinary reputation beyond grandmotherly stereotypes, Restaurant Intense is a German-style Izakaya serving a 15-course omakase menu from the heart of the Pfalz wine region. The focus of Benjamin Peifer’s kitchen is on regional meats and produce executed with Japanese influences. Chicken leg from a stellar local producer is served, for example, with Koshihikari rice, garlic, and Yuzukoshō seasoning.
Weinstraße 80, 67169 Kallstadt, GermanyWebsite