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Not from Cincinnati? Then you might be wondering what the heck goetta is in the first place!
In its most basic form, goetta doesn’t always look enticing (though it’s always tasty). Grainy, brown, and loaflike, goetta is actually a German-inspired treat that started off as a quick, affordable breakfast food or an alternative to traditional sausage.
Goetta first showed up on the plates of German-American working families when they needed to make ends meet and didn’t have enough sausage to go around. Combining steel-cut oats and a variety of spices with ground pork and occasionally beef, families made pricier meats last for a few extra meals by “filling them out” with grains. Cincinnati locals made a working-class staple into a regional favorite, adding their own flair and creating new recipes as time went on.
Goetta is pan-fried into a patty and tastes, connoisseurs report, like a sweeter variation on sausage with a bit of a mealy texture. It’s often combined with onions and seasoned with rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and other spices for a unique, smoky-sweet flavor.
Since goetta’s humble beginnings, Cincinnatians have gotten a lot more creative with it. Goetta is still popped onto breakfast plates next to eggs, omelets, hash browns, and bacon at nearly every diner and local restaurant in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati. But it’s also served up buffalo-style, with jalapenos, on artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches, and atop many a hamburger and hot dog. There are even vegetarian and vegan reimaginings of goetta for die-hard Cincinnati folks who want to get their fill while sticking to their dietary choices.
Looking for the best goetta in Cincinnati? You’ll have a hard time picking the tastiest variation, but you can start with the traditional goetta at Ecklerin’s Meats or Grandma Debbie’s Kitchen at the famous Findlay Market, or a goetta burger at the Great American Ball Park during a Cincinnati Reds game.
Goetta is also popular in every iteration at Zinzinnati, Cincinnati’s Oktoberfest (the largest in the U.S.!), while Goettafest takes place every August in Newport, Kentucky. Glier’s Goetta, the largest distributor of goetta worldwide, hosts the event every year along the Ohio River waterfront.