Some people like to keep their secret gems secret. Luckily for Culture Trip, Marten Rolff, the restaurant critic and food editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, is not one of those people. “If I have an address, I like to tell everyone,” Rolff jokes. Rolff, who is originally from North Germany, has worked at the newspaper for 19 years, which makes him pretty much the expert on the Munich restaurant scene.
“You have a lot of quality restaurants in Munich, and a lot of Michelin stars,” says Rolff. “It’s a little bit boring. People are very traditional. But you get good quality.” When picking the best restaurants in Munich, Rolff wanted to acknowledge the spectrum of ways people go out to eat. “People go out for different reasons, and each reason deserves respect,” he says. “Even if people say, ‘We go there because we love the furniture style.’ Why not?” Below, Rolff highlights the best restaurants Munich has to offer, from Michelin-star, world-renowned haute cuisine to humble, homestyle German cooking.
The cuisine at Werneckhof by Geisel is fusion, but it’s probably not like any fusion fare you’ve ever had. Chef Tohru Nakamura combines Japanese and German influences (a combination that matches his own roots) to such an outstanding effect that his restaurant has been awarded two Michelin stars. “Everything is state of the art,” says Rolff. “There are a lot of vegetables, fantastic seafood, wagyu as well. The food is rooted in Japanese tradition, but it’s still in Germany. It’s fusion cuisine on a very high level.” Think scallops with caviar and beetroot, langoustines with artichoke and sea buckthorn, and pork chops with truffle and a beurre blanc sauce made with koji (a Japanese fungus used in the production of soy sauce).
Situated inside of the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art in the heart of Munich, Mural takes – what else – art as inspiration for its food and plating. A five-course menu here is €89 (£75) and includes items such as sturgeon with shrimp, citrus and carrots; fawn with blackberry, mushroom and Salzburg bacon; and quince with sourdough bread and star anise. “If you want to go there, you should go very quickly,” Rolff recommends. “It’s easy to get a table for now, and it has fantastic six- or seven-course menus at reasonable prices. When the Michelin Guide comes out in March , it will for sure have its first star.”
One legend says the white sausage (Weißwurst in German) came to the country from France by way of Napoleonic invasion. Another says that the white sausage was invented at Munich’s Viktualienmarkt. “It’s never been proven. But it’s a good story, and people tend to believe it,” says Rolff. No matter where it started, many people agree that the white sausage served at Gaststätte Großmarkthalle is very, very good. It’s popular with those visiting the neighbouring market, where restaurateurs and chefs get their produce every morning. Before the clock strikes noon, many of these regulars have consumed their white sausage with a side of sweet mustard, pretzels and a light beer.
The ingredients at Der Dantler come from the Alps, while the inspiration – the concept of a deli – is from New York. For lunch, Der Dantler offers pasta, pastrami sandwiches and soup with a veal or spicy fish base. For dinner, there is a five-course meal for €45 (£38), and on Friday evenings, the menu is a surprise. “It’s a bit like Bavarian tapas,” says Rolff. “Very down-to-earth stuff. It’s fine dining in a casual way.” As for the wine, Rolff explains that the bottles are all fairly priced – the amount the owners paid plus €14 (£12). And you can bring your own.
Prateek Reen arrived in Munich in 2017 and was quickly dismayed by the lack of authentic Indian food available in the city. So, she started cooking it herself. What began as a small operation in the north of the city has turned into a stylish, spacious restaurant in the heart of Munich. Reen “is totally self-taught, which is very charming”, says Rolff. “She’s fantastic.” Highlights include the tandoori chicken, paneer shashlik, batter-coated prawns, kathi rolls and biryani. “Everything is really well-seasoned,” he says. “It’s very spicy but in a good way. It’s heat that’s very well integrated.” And don’t miss the cocktails if that’s your thing. The Talli Lassi sees rum and fennel added to the beloved yoghurt drink, and the Rosé à la Calcutta mixes rosé wine, darjeeling tea, oroblanco grapefruit and chillies.
The owners of The Louis Grillroom are serious about their meat; they regularly introduce animal cuts from carefully selected suppliers in Europe and share information about the history and intention of the butchers on their menus. The idea is that eating meat should be special. Start your meal with one of the restaurant’s caesar or waldorf salads, and in the spirit of celebration, choose your favourite fizz from the sparkling wine bar. The decor – neutral colours, smooth lines – emphasises the restaurant’s simple, sophisticated dishes. “If you’re interested in meat and want a good steak, go here,” says Rolff.
“Munich fancies itself as the northernmost Italian city,” says Rolff. But for all of that self-imagining, he adds, most Italian restaurants in Munich seem to be stuck in the ’90s. Not Hippocampus. Though it doesn’t have a star, it’s in the Michelin Guide for good, straightforward cooking. Here, you can indulge in ricotta souffle with truffles, mushrooms and parmesan sauce; potato gnocchi with squid, baked peppers and marjoram; and breaded veal cutlet on spinach and artichokes. In the summer, enjoy your meal on Hippocampus’s lovely outdoor terrace.
“This is one of those places that is very rare, where everything is the same way it was 50 years ago,” says Rolff. What does that mean? Well, the staff can be a bit grumpy, but “in a nice way”, he explains, and certain groups of friends have had a standing reservation at the restaurant for years. As for the food? “It’s very traditional, very basic German cuisine,” he continues. The menu includes pretzels, sausage salad (sliced sausages served with bread and onions), baked camembert, Käsespätzle (a type of pasta covered in cheese sauce), beef goulash, and roast pork with Knödel (a German variation on dumplings) and coleslaw. It may not be the healthiest of cuisine, but the heart wants what it wants – and sometimes it just wants a sausage salad.