Emily’s Unofficial Top 5 Hamburg Bites
5 spots to satisfy your belly and wallet
Ah, yes, Hamburg. Like any major city, Hamburg is brimming with inventive eateries serving up everything from traditional German dishes to vegan sushi. While I’m living in Hamburg, I try to be a responsible adult and pack my lunch every day, to save both time and money. But for one day “off” a week, I like to set out on the tiny side streets, and explore the cafes, restaurants and sweet shops on the top of my ever-growing “must try” list.
To the bitter disappointment of many German friends, I’m not on the potato train. Germans eat so many potatoes, it boggles my mind. I understand they’re versatile, and cheap. I also understand that they taste like nothing and have the texture of mushy apples. I’m sorry potatoes. Most of the world still loves you, just not me. Anywho, the purpose of this potato tangent is to let you know that I search for more a bit more then the typical “meat and potatoes” meal, seeing as I don’t eat meat, and potatoes, well you get the picture. So I’ve compiled a list of my favorite food finds in Hamburg! Here you’ll find everything from your morning coffee stop, to your post-dinner treat. Here you will not find potatoes.
(FYI- These are all places that can be enjoyed on an actor’s budget. )
Coffee: Elbgold Röstkaffee
reserved. For you.
I love many things about America. (I also hate many things * cough cough * but today we’re focusing on the positive…).
I do not love American coffee. American coffee is watery, consumed in excess, and about as consistent as an actor’s career. Europe, on the other hand, is serving up creamy, rich, energizing lil’ cups of caffeine at every restaurant, gas station, or gourmet roastery. (Disclaimer: they’re all quite small compared to the super-sized mugs of “coffee” stateside.) Should you want to delve into the coffee scene in Hamburg, look no further than Elbgold. There are a few scattered around the city, but I recommend the the branch with the roastery. Here, flavor characteristics are scrawled with chalk on big tanks filled with coffee beans, and the staff are incredibly knowledgable about the array of caffeinated beverage options. The space itself resembles an old loft, and the seating lends itself perfectly to creative business meetings or a buzzing workspace.
You’re not likely to go wrong ordering a coffee anywhere in Hamburg, but if you’d like to be oh-so-right, make an afternoon stop at Elbgold.
Breakfast: Kaffee Stark
St. Pauli is an area brimming with angst, art and architecture that will leave you wanting more. Nestled on a side street in St. Pauli, lies a funky, grungy cafe serving up the best vegan breakfast spread I’ve ever laid my eyes (and stomach) on. The breakfast Gods led me here one day, on a breakfast date with friends. Mis amigos know I normally go for the healthy stuff, so they went out of their way to find a spot with a great vegetarian/vegan menu. (Jody and Mariah, I sing your praises.) On the exterior, Kaffee Stark doesn’t look like much, but go inside, take a seat on an old couch, and give it a chance. Take a fresh roll, sip a mimosa, and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of a classic St. Pauli cafe, at a very affordable price.
Dinner with friends: Quan Do
I discovered this hip eatery on a 24-hour layover in Hamburg. Fresh off the cruise ship, I was eager for a dining option unavailable during my three months at sea. After a quick search, I went with one of my old favorites: VIETNAMESE! Luckily, my dinner dates (ahem, the handsome men on the right) were up for the culinary adventure, and we quickly joined an increasing line outside of Quan Do, to secure a table. After taking a seat on the minimalist stools, and ordering a Tiger beer, I pored over the menu. I love the contrasting flavors of Vietnamese food, especially in the form of fresh, leafy herbs and garnishes. The tofu and baby bok choy pho was warm, flavorful, and HUGE. The folks here are serving up hefty portions of delicious food, with attentive service, at a great price. Clearly the rest of Hamburg is catching on, as there was a line outside throughout our stay, so I recommend checking it out about…now ; )
cozy date: Zum Spätzle
More like “yum spätzle” am i right?
wink wink, nod nod
If you’re going to be silly enough to take my advice and visit a single place on this list, please oh please, let it be Zum Spätzle. It’s the cutest, yummiest, coziest place and the food is DE-licious. I fell in love with spätzle as I was looking to order soup one night, and was staying right around the corner from this hidden gem. I successfully ordered a piping hot flädlesuppe (savory pancake strips in broth. It’s a game changer) but I figured if spätzle was in the name of the restaurant, I should probably order some of that as well. When in Rome, ya know? Best decision of my life (kind of). Spätzle is a doughy German pasta, resembling little strips of gnocchi, sans potato. The chefs at Zum Spätzle are whipping up spätzle dishes with pesto, spätzle dishes with red wine gravy, spätzle dishes with meatloaf, vegan spätzle dishes, and well, you get the picture. I’m tasting my way through the menu, but I keep going back to the spätzle with arugula (rocket), pesto, pine nuts and parmesan. I urge you to try it. Your belly will be so happy.
P.S. I recommend making a reservation ahead of time, as the six comfy little tables fill up quickly here.
Is it just me, or are desserts infinitely more fun when you can concoct them yourself? Maybe it’s just the control freak in me, but I am giddy at the sight of a nice toppings bar. Judging by the line at Schleck’s, Hamburg is filled with control freaks.
In summer, people line up around the block for the chance to enter this adorable, sunshine-laden ice cream shop, and create their chilly masterpieces. The staff are all outgoing, bubbly youngins who will steer you in the right direction for a base flavor, and assist you when you hit an impasse on pretzels versus peanuts. Vegan ice creams are also available, and I can personally recommend the chocolate flavor, especially when matched with buttery caramel and pretzels. The ice cream on the cake (I know I know) here, is that Schleck’s is run by a former Entertainment Manager from AIDA Cruises. Imagine a down-to-earth talkshow host with a keen interest in becoming the Oprah of ice cream, and you’ve landed on Tommy.
I enjoy Schleck’s as a post-rehearsal treat. My boyfriend, Kris, enjoys Schleck’s as a post-anything treat. So stop in and enjoy your “Yay Hamburg” treat, and tell Tommy we say hello.
That’s all she wrote, folks
Hamburg has never disappointed me on the quest for a great bite, or a strong cup of coffee. The suggestions above have a special place in my heart, and discovering them with friends led to some of my favorite memories abroad. I can’t wait to expand and modify the list when I return to Germany this winter, and find some warm treats as I take shelter from the never-ending rain. If you’re heading to Hamburg any time soon, shoot me a message, as there are tons of other gems that didn’t make this list. Sharing is caring, and I’d love to care for your German adventures.