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Heidelberg Restaurants, Pubs, and Cafés

From: Heidelberg, Germany

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ABOVE: Schnookeloch, a traditional Lokal in the Altstadt, has cozy, old-fashioned dining rooms and a summer beer garden.

Heidelberg reportedly has more than 300 restaurants, beer halls, wine bars, and cafés. Whatever the actual count, you certainly won't have any trouble finding a place to eat or drink in Heidelberg--especially if you arrive during the Christmas markets season, when you can nosh on sausages and other treats as you graze your way up the Hauptstrasse.

photoOne of our own favorite restaurants is Kulturbrauerei, a renovated historic brewery where a beer hall, a microbrewery, and a small hotel are built around a cobblestoned courtyard near the eastern end of the Altstadt. The main dining room stands two stories high, with painted ceilings, long wooden tables, and tall windows. The atmosphere is magical at dusk (when candles illuminate the tables), and the regional specialties go down easily with the homemade beer.

photoNearby, the Spengel family has been serving up traditional food and drink at Zum Roten Ochsen for more than 165 years. The restaurant-pub bills itself as a Studentenlokal, and on a recent visit, the resident pianist indicated (in German) how university students once occupied tables around the room according to their cities of origin. (Today, diners are more likely to be well-heeled tourists than students, but the food is good and the decor hasn't changed much over the centuries.)

photoAnother old-time inn, Schnookeloch, has been around since the 1700s and still caters to budget-minded diners with a Studententeller (student menu) plus full-blown meals. It seats 60 in the cozy dining rooms; a beer garden is open in summer, and the inn has rooms upstairs.

Zur Herrenmühle, a restaurant-guesthouse on the Hauptstrasse, is a relatively new addition to the local dining scene, having been around only since 2002. It has a good reputation with local food critics, and prices are in the reasonable to upper-moderate range.

Students on tight budgets (or who want to mingle with other students) should check out the university's Studentenwerk Heidelberg dining rooms, most notably the Zeughaus "Buffet in the Marstall" at Marstallhof 3, where prices are based on the weight of the food.

photoIf you need to expand your collection of souvenir t-shirts, you'll find a Hard Rock Café at Hauptstrasse 142, which presumably appeals to the American military personnel and dependents at nearby U.S. Army facilities.

photoHeidelberg also has plenty of cafés where you can stoke up on coffee, hot chocolate, baked goods, and other sweets. Casa del Caffe No. 8 in the Steingasse is quite nice (with a no-smoking area, no less), and so are the friendly staff at its sister café across the street.

Tip:

  • If you eat in a crowded beer hall or traditional German restaurant, don't be discomfited if you're asked to share a table with strangers. This is a common practice in Germany, and you aren't expected (nor are you encouraged) to get chatty with your tablemates.

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