Food + Drinks

A Foodies’ Guide to Street Food in Germany

German-Bratwurst-in-the-street

What better way to discover a country than through its food? Let’s be honest: if trying out the most authentic food possibilities for your next destination is not on your radar, your taste buds are missing out. Eating new cuisines your trip might just be the best part. If you love food as much as we do, and you’re planning a trip to the old country, you should know about the types of food you can get that truly reflect your experience. Consider this your foodie’s guide to street food in Germany.

The Basics: Pommes, Rot Weiß

As is the case for most of the western world, french fries form the basic street food of Germany. Here, they’re known as Pommes, a short version of the French pommes frites. For anywhere between 2 and 3 Euros, you can get them on almost any street corner, often without any addition.

Germans use a special seasoned salt for their french fries, giving them a bit more spice than you might be used to. Ketchup is the most common condiment, but don’t sleep on the Mayonnaise, which comes in as a close second. In fact, the most common way to order fries in Germany is Pommes Rot Weiß, or red-white french fries—hinting at the delicacy of combining both condiments on a single plate.

The Many Faces of Currywurst

You can easily get Currywurst on any street corner, and it’s so famous that no less than three regions of the country are fighting for the right to call themselves its origin point. The essence of Currywurst is simple. As the name suggests, we’re talking about a typical Bratwurst, with a ketchup-based curry sauce and yellow curry sprinkled on top. The dish is typically served with french fries or Pommes, which also happen to taste great dipped into the sauce.

Beyond that, the details vary based on your region. In the North and Hamburg specifically, the Currywurst is a type of brat reminiscent of the Polish Kielbasa. In Berlin, it’s your typical German sausage. That’s the case in the Western-German Ruhrgebiet as well, but here pepper and onion dices are mixed into the sauce.

Which of the three areas first came up with the general concept is the subject of much dispute. Berlin has perhaps the best case, with a Currywurst Museum to show for it. Regardless of its origin, Germans enjoy no less than 800 million individual Currywurst dishes every single year.

Get Your Döner in a Fladenbrot

Foodies might have heard of Döner Kebab, the Turkish street food that has rapidly spread around the world since its invention in the early 70s. Americans know a similar but different version of it under the name of Gyros, but there’s nothing quite like the original, and that happens to be found in Germany.

There’s a reason for that: The Döner was actually invented by Turkish immigrant in Berlin. It’s kebab meat, typically veal or chicken put in a freshly baked Turkish flatbread. Add a salad and some vegetables like tomato and onion, along with either a yogurt or spicy red sauce, and your Döner is ready to eat. Alternatives include the Dürüm Döner, which substitutes the flatbread for a wrap for easier eating on the road.

A pro tip here: don’t fall for the wrap. Döner is best consumed in the flatbread, which absorbs the sauce just enough to become immensely flavorful in its own right. It might seem like your average New York City street food but if you leave Germany without having tried at least one original Döner, you’ll likely regret it.

The Southern Charme of Leberkäs

Döner, Currywurst, and Pommes Rot Weiß are popular across the country. Once you get to the south, though, you almost cannot leave without trying a local specialty: Leberkäs. Literally translated as liver cheese, it is much more flavorful than its name suggests.

Despite its name, this local delicacy contains neither liver or cheese. Instead, it’s ground-up pork, bacon, and corned beef, baked in an oven until its crust is crispy brown. You can get it in many restaurants, but it’s typically served with or on a fresh German roll on the street.

Leberkäs summarizes the beauty and delicacy of Germany’s south. It tastes a bit like Bologna, but richer. Try it with either mustard or pickles (or both) while exploring the streets of Germany.

Looking for a Laugenbretzn?

Think you know German soft pretzels? You don’t, at least not until you’ve had a freshly baked version of this delicious snack from a southern German street vendor. The standard seasoning is salt and is typically served without the dipping sauce you might be used to from the United States.

You won’t miss the dipping soft when eating a German soft pretzel since a Laugenbretzel has plenty of flavor and texture of its own. The inside is delightfully light and soft, while the crust is crispy. The dough, of course, is the same as a pretzel in the United States, but this German street food is still worth a try.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth With Schmalzgebäck

At any fair, major outdoor areas, or any type of large intersection, you will find a vendor for Schmalzgebäck. And once you try it, you’ll be hooked. You might even come back to Germany for another taste!

In its essence, Schmaltzgebäck is fried dough. It’s similar to Italian Zeppoli, but covered in powdered sugar for that extra little bit of sweetness. The result is an incredibly sweet, soft, and rich baked good that becomes especially popular around Christmas. You will eat it out of a bag with a type of toothpick, but you’ll likely use your fingers to get to the food more quickly.

Regular tourists go to Germany for its history, landscape, and people. However, a true German experience is not complete without its local cuisine. The above, of course, are only a few examples of the countless types of street food you will experience while in the country. Some options, like the Northern German pickled herring Fischbrötchen, only fit refined pallets. Others, like the basic Bratwurst, will leave a familiar taste in your mouth.

All of them add to the rich culture of this beautiful country. And when you pair the various types of Pilsner and Hefeweizen beers with the food, your trip will be one that your taste buds won’t soon forget.
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