Leipzig: Where to Eat in the ‘New Berlin’
Booming, unpretentious and imaginative, Leipzig’s star is on the rise. The city’s rebellious spirit, which often sees it heralded as 'the new Berlin', is charged by young creatives who are bringing new concepts to life whilst remaining respectful of past traditions.
Located 200km southwest of Germany’s capital, Leipzig has a long lineage of culinary references. In Goethe’s Faust, for example, Mephistopheles and Faust dine in the city centre with a group of students, and the former GDR town is also the home of the Bachtaler cake, which commemorates the composer Johann Sebastian Bach, who is buried in the area.
Leipzig is a place where the past develops alongside the present. It’s low key, still relatively undiscovered and would rather stay that way - choosing to evolve with humour, flair and a flagrant disregard for trends. That’s what makes eating here all the more exciting.
Below you can find a list of five must-visit restaurants in Leipzig.
Perched high (both literally and metaphorically) above the city’s dining scene is Falco, located on the 27th floor of The Westin Grand Hotel. Head chef Peter Maria Schnurr is frequently hailed as Saxony's best cook and has influenced many young chefs through his success. With two Michelin stars, Falco embodies Leipzig’s fine-dining heart. The casual lounge feels like a friend’s apartment with a 12-seat communal table, specials scrawled on the walls in white chalk and a friendly team of staff who wear jeans and trainers. Step in, sit down and let the evocative names of the dishes inspire you, like 'the Signature Dish' (langoustine, Granny Smith apple, lardo, creme fraiche and caviar) or 'Bondage', made with veal tongue, langoustine, leek, tangerine, green shisho and a wasabi ganache. If you want to understand how Leipzig does its own thing, Falco is a must-visit.
Petra and Detlef Schlegel were the first restaurateurs in Leipzig to get the Michelin seal of approval - no small achievement when you consider how limited gastronomy was in the former GDR. Housed inside the Gewandhaus concert hall, Stadtpfeiffer offers classic European cuisine executed with contemporary touches. It was the restaurant which broke Leipzig’s gastronomy mould, and should be celebrated as such. Try the pike perch with gilled lobster or the vegetables spaghetti with octopus and Pernod and you'll never forget them.
From its historic city centre location, Planerts is Leipzig’s ultimate interpretation of modern gastronomy. Sleek interiors, which wouldn’t look out of place in London or Copenhagen, serve as the storefront for an open kitchen which marries seasonal and regionally available produce with south Asian influences. It’s a restaurant where culinary traditions are executed through an international and urban style, resulting in unfussy but premium casual fine-dining. Don't miss their Ramen (egg noodles with bresse chicken) and the beef tartare with tuna and miso.
Leipzig's former state department store, Städtische Kaufhaus, represents more than 500 years of the city’s trade and cultural history making it the perfect home for Max Enk’s bright dining room and elegant comfort food. The Wiener Schnitzel is one of the restaurant’s most celebrated dishes, and don’t leave before trying a Leipziger Lerche dessert. The region’s classic pastry used to contain songbirds, though these days nuts are the favoured protein with cherries to represent the birds’ hearts.
In a city which famously rejects the norms, high-end German fine-dining still exists for those who seek it, and you’d be hard placed to find it better represented than at Restaurant Villers. Inside the timely elegance of Hotel Fürstenhof’s 18th century salons you’ll find the classic trappings of French-focused fine-dining alongside a wine list with over 200-bottles. The Villers' signature dishes? Take a chance with the Saxony stag with cherry root, sweet chestnut, Japanese artichoke and quince or scallop with Macadamia nut, sea buckthorn, polenta, lemon thyme and truffle.