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food / travel

Gùsto! How · What · Where Locals Eat (And Drink) In Hamburg

Sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut ... Ja , but not only! Let us take you on a culinary tour of Hamburg, where hip vegan cafes meet sushi and ramen bars, and Bavarian beer flows aplenty.

image of a rooftop bar with a view of the harbour

Skyline bar in Hamburg, Germany

Michelle Courtois

It’s the Northern German city where the Beatles got started, a vital trade hub for centuries — and a city where you can get a delicious curry wurst mit pommes. Willkommen to Hamburg.

German cuisine is usually thought of as sausages, potatoes and sauerkraut. And while those foods are popular and culturally significant, there is so much more to be found in Hamburg. The city's old brick buildings now house hip vegan cafes, sushi and ramen bars, beer houses , döner restaurants and more!

When going to Hamburg, be prepared to try cuisine that may be completely new to you. The city’s restaurant and bar culture is diverse and deeply multicultural, with restaurants mixing German culinary traditions with other European cuisines and tastes and techniques from the kitchens of Asia, South America, Africa and beyond.

Start your day off with German baked goods at Schanzenbäckerei

Whether you fancy an eggy pretzel sandwich, marzipan croissant, Hamburg's iconic franzbrötchen, some grainy and seedy vollkornbrot, a berry tart, or just a plain pretzel, Schanzenbäckerei is the perfect way to start your day in Hamburg.

They boast a wide range of pretzel sandwiches. The soft sourdough pastry can be filled with ham, eggs, vegetables, cheese and more.

Franzbrötchen is a special Hamburg-created sweet pastry filled with butter and cinnamon, and often topped with chocolate chips or raisins. Similar to a cinnamon bun, but with a softer, German twist, the pastry is loved by many throughout Hamburg.

Seasonal vegan food at The Vegan Eagle

Prefer some vegan food ? The Vegan Eagle is the place to be.

Located in an old house that used to be the home of a Chinese restaurant, The Vegan Eagle is an interesting and beautiful location, with a scenic beer garden where you can eat and drink and be surrounded by nature.

The Vegan Eagle boasts delicious Asian soups, burgers, unique salads, desserts, falafel dishes, paella, curries and more. What makes their menu and dishes so special is that in addition to having their own herb and vegetable garden, their menu is seasonal. The menu varies depending on which vegetables and fruits are in season, making each dish special and perfect for each season.

They also offer fresh craft beer in addition to wines from all over the globe. You can also explore the beautiful gardens they have.

Hamburg Tourismus , a Hamburg publication focusing on local tourism, says the restaurant's food is prepared "with love and passion" and commends the delicious multicultural food, beautiful setting and seasonal menu.

Decide your spice level and wurst at Bruzzelhütte

Rated as "the best curry wurst in Hamburg" by Genussguide , an online food and travel media outlet based in Hamburg, Bruzzelhütte is the perfect place to enjoy German wurst.

As Genussguide says, some people say curry wurst is bland, whilst others need milk to drain out the spiciness. Bruzzelhütte is unique, in that they offer a wide range of spice levels for their curry wurst, so people can choose how they want to eat their iconic German sausage.

Curry wurst is often enjoyed as a street food delicacy in Hamburg, and Bruzzelhütte offers just that. With only outdoor seating and a small hut as a kitchen, you can enjoy eating wurst in the best and traditional way.

They also offer a wide range of other traditional German foods and wursts, such as bratwurst, pommes frites (French fries), German-style burgers, ice cream — the list goes on.

German food & beer at Hoffbräu

image of German food and beer on a table

Some of Hoffbräu's iconic traditional German dishes and home-brewed beer

Hoffbräu Hamburg/Facebook

Now if you're craving some "real" traditional German food, Bavarian beer restaurant Hoffbräu is for you!

With rich and tasty steaks (pork, chicken and beef), roasted potatoes, or slow-cooked, soft-on-the-inside and crunchy-on-the-outside eisbein, flavoursome sauerkraut, freshly baked bread and delicious salad, you won't leave this restaurant hungry.

Hoffbräu ensures that the food you get is rich, tasty and filling, with so many iconic German dishes and sauces, you won't be disappointed.

They also brew their own in-house beer, in addition to many others from throughout Germany, and they go very well with the dishes. If you're in the mood for a lighter drink, their radler (lemonade and beer) is very popular, as well as their local Hamburg sodas Fritz-Cola.

Fischbrötchen at Landungsbrücken

You cannot go to Hamburg and not eat the port city's seafood delicacies. Fishbrötchen is a must-try.

You can choose from raw, smoked, pan-fried or deep-fried fish, with options ranging from salmon to hake to herring. The sandwiches have various toppings and sauces, all depending on the fish.

Landungsbrücken is the perfect stop on your Hamburg tour. Every stand and mini-restaurant on the pier and docks have different and special twists to them. Geheimtipp Hamburg, an online Hamburg media outlet, rates Brücke 10 as their top place in Landungsbrücken for fishbrötchen.

Drinks & food with a gorgeous view at ALEX

image of breakfast food and drinks on a table

Brunch at Alex

ALEX Hamburg/Facebook

Located on the beautiful and scenic Alster lake, Alex is a beautiful restaurant and bar located right on the lake, offering gorgeous views and an outdoor terrace.

If you fancy a day-time drink, they offer many homemade lemonades (a popular one remains their blueberry lemonade), iced and hot coffees or homemade iced teas, iced and hot golden or super-food lattes, as well as mocktails .

If you'd prefer a stronger drink, they boast a wide range of unique and delicious cocktails, a favorite in the summer is the Alex spritz. They also have many wines, beers, whiskys and spirits to enjoy.

Let's not forget the food - Alex has a weekly Sunday brunch from the morning till mid-afternoon, offering a huge breakfast and brunch buffet, always with delicious vegan and gluten-free options. If you're coming later, they have delicious meals on the menu, some popular favourites include their vegan schnitzel, pizzabrötchen, super-food bowls and waffles.

Georgian food and wine at Suliko

Rated very highly by locals, Suliko is a restaurant you cannot miss. It's recommended to arrive on an empty stomach because you will want to devour every item on the menu.

Georgian food is not as well-known (yet) throughout Europe, but locals in Hamburg rave about the country's cuisine and rich, 8,000-year-old wine tradition, thanks to the success of Suliko.

Located on a beautiful street with a cozy atmosphere, you'll feel right at home when you walk into Suliko.

They also have many vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Popular items include lamb dishes, khinkali (Georgian-style dumplings), khachapuri (Georgian flatbread), pkhali (a vegetable pâté, often made with beetroot, carrot or spinach), and bean dishes. The food is rich in flavour and hearty, and pairs very well with their wide array of Georgian wines.

Sunset drinks at StrandPauli

Whilst Hamburg does boast a huge harbor and quite a few beaches, you might still be craving a bar with a real tropical "beachy" vibe — StrandPauli is the place!

Located right on the sea, with Latin music playing, colourful couches, chairs, umbrellas and decor, and sand everywhere, StrandPauli will instantly make you feel relaxed and at the beach. Its location makes it one of the best spots to see the sunset in the city.

Their menu boasts over 50 drinks and cocktails (they have with and without alcohol), and a wide range of starters and mains.

Their signature Le Pauli cocktail tastes just like summer in a cup. And if you happen to be in Hamburg during winter, the glühwein is recommended!

Time Out Hamburg rates StrandPauli as a hotspot in the city, stating that it's "As close as Hamburg gets to the Caribbean" . They also highlight how the beach bar is open year-round and offers hearty fondue during the colder Winter months.

Döner or vöner kebabs at Urfa Tadi

Whether you're on a lunch break from work, on a picnic, walking through Hamburg, or leaving a nightclub at 3 in the morning, a döner is one of the best things to eat in Hamburg.

The Turkish community in Hamburg created a huge döner culture in the city, where anyone and everyone loves a döner, no matter what time of day.

There is great debate over the best döner stand in Hamburg, and everyone seems to have their own favorite.

One very popular one, however, due to its food options and flavors is Urfa Tadi in the hip district of Altona.

Urfa Tadi offers döner kebabs, sandwiches, pita breads, bowls, platters and more. You can choose which vegetable and sauces you want as well, make it more customizable. One huge bonus is their delicious 'vöner' — a vegan döner.

Locals rave about Urfa Taxi's vöners . Food Flash , a German vegan food blog, claims that Urfa Tadi has the best vegan döner in Hamburg .

Spotlight: Gin Basil Smash

Did you know that the iconic and strong cocktail — the Gin Basil Smash, was created in Hamburg?

In the heart of the city, Jörg Meyer, the owner of Le Lion , decided to put dry gin, basil leaves, lemon juice, simple syrup and cubed ice into a glass — creating an iconic cocktail that would be enjoyed by people around the world.

The drink may taste a bit strong at first, but rest assured, it is meant to be drunk slowly. As the ice melts, the drink tastes even better after each sip!

You can find the Gin Basil Smash on most bars' menus, but it is special to experience it at Le Lion, where it was created. The bar has a cozy, luxurious atmosphere, with comfortable couches, closed curtains, dim lighting and welcoming, kind employees.

Must-try activity: Take a boat ride

Hamburg's rivers and canals have around 2,500 bridges, making it the city with the highest number of bridges in Europe. With their huge harbor, stunning beaches, beautiful estates and thousands of bridges, what better way to explore the city than in a boat?

The city of Hamburg offers a plethora of boat tours, either in the Alster lake or on the Elbe river and through the harbor. Prices, durations and extras vary — some offer food and drinks, while others offer guides who can talk about the history of the city and so on.

However, a local would advise you to enjoy it the way they do: on the Hamburg Fähre .

The Hamburg Fähre is a ferry boat, part of the city's public transport system. The ferries have a beautiful terrace on top and a spacious interior with chairs and tables — so you can even bring some snacks. The boats are accessible and safe, enjoyable for the whole family.

When on this ferry, you'll be able to see parts of the harbor and shipping areas, fischmarkts, bridges, beaches, estates, historic churches and buildings, and many little islands. It's a great way to explore the city like a local and have the freedom of staying out as long as you'd like!

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Nov. 15, 2023: Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden take a walk after their talks in the Filoli Estate in the U.S. state of California

Xinhua/ ZUMA
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