What makes something the best is of course a matter of personal taste, but if you are looking to explore some of the best German bars outside of Germany, CNN made a list for you and four of its top picks on the shortlist can be found right here in the US.
For CNN’s ‘Best German Bars Around the World’, the deciding factor on which places made the list had less to do with the food menu or traditional Bavarian attitude. Instead they went for the best sense of ‘gastfreundschaft’ or hospitality… something not every German establishment overwhelmingly exceeds in.
And while CNN made an effort to search far and wide across the globe to find the thirteen best, these four all come straight from the US:
Brauhaus Schmitz (718 South St., Philadelphia, PA · website)
This eight-year-old restaurant brought the craft beer boom to the beer hall, creating one of the most impressive German draft programs in the country.
Behind the long bar, customers will find 30 German beers on tap and another 50 in bottles, including some that had never before been available in the United States.
The restaurant takes the lead for all the city’s Germany-related festivals, closing its block for both Oktoberfest and Maifest in the spring.
Last fall it expanded the party to a former armory that welcomed 5,000 revelers. Day to day, though, customers come back for a menu that embraces tradition but changes with the seasons.
German Tourist Club (30 Ridge Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941 · website)
A 100-year-old alpine lodge in the middle of the Muir Woods greets the hikers who can find it just north of San Francisco.
A branch of the Austria-founded Nature Friends Tourist Club, the lodge allows non-members to visit during festivals and on limited guest days. They’re announced on the website, which lists GPS coordinates for its location rather than an address.
Hikers who come for an afternoon respite of hiking the Dipsea, Sun and Redwood trails will find expansive views to the west.
Besides beer and wine, they usually only have light snacks such as chips and cured sausage sticks available, but you can bring your own sandwich to enjoy at the outdoor picnic tables. Be aware it’s cash only, and there’s no ATM for miles.
Old Heidelberg (8660 N Main St. Helen, GA 30545 · website)
Tucked in a corner of northeast Georgia not far from the end of the Appalachian Trail, the former logging village of Helen had been declining for years when the town decided to remake itself in the style of an alpine village in the 1960s.
Thinking the move would attract tourists, they decreed an Old-German look for all the buildings in town. It wasn’t until Old Heidelberg opened in 1975 that any restaurant there served German food, but now even the chain restaurants sling burgers from half-timbered houses with gingerbread trim.
Old Heidelberg sits on Main Street at the center of the tiny town’s kitschy glory, surrounded by forested hills a couple hours’ drive from Atlanta. It’s a solid option for schnitzel and sausages with an expansive beer garden out front.
Heidelberg (1648 Second Avenue, New York, 10028 · website)
The second place named Heidelberg on this list couldn’t have a more different location than the first. But this Upper East Side classic also comes with all the trappings of what most people would expect from one of the oldest German restaurants in the United States — huge hunks of pork, crispy schnitzels, crunchy potato pancakes and bountiful platters of six kinds of sausages.
The recipes haven’t changed since it opened in 1936, when Yorkville was an immigrant enclave with a main drag that people called “Goulash Avenue.” It’s the only one of at least 10 eateries that remain from that time.
The place clearly has a multi-generational appeal for fans who praise the restaurant’s authenticity.
Further downtown, the beer garden Loreley (around the corner from Paulener Brauhaus) (7 Rivington St, New York, New York 10002 · website) offers a German menu that’s a little more refined with influences from Cologne — but they also do Taco Tuesdays.