7 Local Cologne Dishes and Where to Try Them

Eisbein, also known as Hämmche
Eisbein, also known as Hämmche |  © Rainer Zenz / WikiCommons
Marion Kutter

Cologne’s simple and hearty local cuisine is best served with a cold glass of Kölsch. That said, some of the most popular dishes hide behind menu descriptions in flowery language that even Germans from outside the city struggle to understand. We explain seven of the most popular local foods and tell you where you can try them.

1. Halve Hahn

(Halber Hahn (Ger.) – ‘half a rooster’)

Spoiler: there’s no chicken in this dish, nor any meat for that matter. Halve Hahn is nothing more than a basic, yet very famous traditional sandwich and can be found on virtually every menu of Cologne’s brewhouses and traditional pubs. It’s an open-faced rye bun, spread with butter and topped with thick slices of gouda cheese and raw onion. In brewhouses, it’s customary to bring customers a plate with all ingredients, and you’ll make the sandwich yourself.

Try it at: Bei d’r Tant, Cäcilienstrasse 28, Cologne, Germany, +49 221 2577 360
Ein Beitrag geteilt von Biggi27 (@fliederkirsche) am 5. Sep 2017 um 10:31 Uhr

2. Himmel un Ääd

(Himmel und Erde (Ger.) – ‘heaven and earth’)

The name doesn’t give too much away, but becomes clearer after a brief explanation – ‘earth’ is mashed potatoes, while ‘heaven’ is a chunky apple puree. This simple dish is refined with onions, bacon strips and most importantly slices of fried black pudding, or Blootwoosch in Kölsch.

Try it at: Schreckenskammer, Ursulagartenstraße 11-15, Cologne, Germany, +49 221 1325 81

3. Hämmche

(Eisbein (Ger.) – salt-cured knuckle of pork)

Eisbein is a renowned Oktoberfest favourite, but the dish is also deep-rooted in traditional Cologne cuisine. The regional recipe always uses the hind leg of the pig which is pickled in brine before it’s seasoned and cooked in the oven for several hours. It often comes with sauerkraut or fried potatoes and a dab of hot mustard.
Try it at: Früh am Dom, Am Hof 12, Cologne, Germany, +49 221 2613 215
Ein Beitrag geteilt von Kirsten Neubauer (@jiggakid) am 13. Mai 2016 um 6:25 Uhr


(Mettbrötchen (Ger.) – bread roll with minced pork)

This dish is an all time favourite in Cologne, and people eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner or in between. Those from outside the area and abroad sometimes shudder when they realise that the minced pork is raw. The meaty cousin of the Halve Hahn is essentially a slice of bread or a bread roll spread with butter, raw minced pork, raw onion and sprinkled with salt and pepper. If that’s too much for you, look for Kölsche Kaviar – a rye bun with blood pudding and mustard.

Try it at: Brauhaus Pütz, Engelbertstr. 67, Cologne, Germany, +49 221 2111 66

4. Rievkooche

Restaurant, German

(Reibekuchen (Ger.) – potato pancakes)

You’ll come across the potato pancakes on German Christmas markets, where they are usually served either plain or with apple sauce. Brewhouses, pubs and traditional restaurants in Cologne often pair the fritters with dark rye bread and salmon. If you would like to try this speciality, check the restaurant menu before visiting, as most only serve them one day a week.

5. Ähzezupp

(Erbsensuppe (Ger.) – pea soup)

The local pea soup variety is often the snack of choice during outdoor events, especially during the Karneval festivities when the temperatures often are still freezing – pubs, restaurants and food stands sell the hearty and warming meal in to-go containers. Vegetarians should double-check that the dish doesn’t contain pork belly or bockwurst chunks.

Try it at: Em Kölsche Boor, Eigelstein 121, Cologne, Germany, +49 221 1352 27

6. Suurbrode

(Sauerbraten (Ger.) – marinated and braised meat)

Traditionally, Suurbrode was made with horse meat, but its consumption has declined rapidly over the past decades. Today, the dish is often prepared with beef instead though some restaurants still follow the original recipe. It’s usually specified in the menu, if not and you don’t want to eat horse meat ask the waiter to be sure. Whether horse meat or beef lands on your plate, it’s often accompanied by red cabbage and potato dumplings.
Try it at: Brauhaus Päffgen, Friesenstrasse 64-66, Cologne, Germany, +49 221 1354 61
Ein Beitrag geteilt von frau.kuchenliebe (@frau.kuchenliebe) am 16. Sep 2016 um 7:43 Uhr

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article