Oktoberfest is fast approaching and, for fans of German food and beer, that’s simply wunderbar. Seeing how Cincinnati is historically a hot spot for German immigrants, it’s no surprise our city has plenty to offer when it comes to German cuisine. To get into the spirit of Oktoberfest (and perhaps to build up your tolerance for dunkelweizen and schnitzel), now’s the time to visit some of Cincinnati’s favorite restaurants that serve the best of the wurst. Get your mind and body ready for Oktoberfest with these local restaurants and biergartens
This is typically the first local restaurant that comes to mind when Cincinnatians are asked about German food. The bier garden at Mecklenburg’s is canopied by 150-year-old grapevines, under which you can enjoy a huge selection of both German and local beers. Wash down your triple goettawurst and spaetzle with a 1-liter glass boot of doppelbock or hefeweizen. Try the Zinzinnati sausage sampler, which includes slices of bratwurst, mettwurst and goettawurst with sauerkraut, peppers, onions and Düsseldorf mustard. Their sauerkraut balls are some of the most popular snacks at Oktoberfest, as are the reuben egg rolls, das ist sehr gut. Founded in 1865, it was named one of the best biergartens in America by Travel + Leisure magazine in 2017. 302 E. University Ave., Corryville, mecklenburgs.com.
Wienerwurst Mike Frankfurtary
Located inside the Christian Moerlein Malt House Taproom in Over-the-Rhine, the Frankfurtary is conveniently close to a lot of beer. Now, it’s not mandatory to eat sausage with a beer in hand, but it really heightens the experience. Life is short and, as they say in Germany, “Alles hat ein ende, nur die wurst hat zwei” (everything has an end, only the sausage has two). The Frankfurtary serves brats, metts and wursts, including currywurst and some veggie options; overstuffed sandwiches; giant Bavarian-style pretzels made with brewers’ grain; and sausage boards with mustard, cheese, bread and kraut. Bonus: Moerlein’s seasonal Fifth & Vine Oktoberfest Marzen is back on tap (and in cans). 1621 Moore St., Over-the-Rhine, facebook.com/wienerwurstsmike.
Kreimer’s Bier Haus
Overlooking the banks of the Great Miami River in Cleves, the bier haus has a phenomenal kitchen offering up classic German dishes, hand-cut steaks, sandwiches and seafood. The family-owned restaurant has seasonal outdoor seating (we’re in season) and even a “river bar” to keep any outdoor throats from getting too dry. The backyard Bavarian biergarten has three decks, fire pits and a ton of Black Forest-inspired wood features, from picnic seating to a whimsical cuckoo-clock-looking German grill house, which serves snacks like sauerkraut balls, pretzel bread, bier cheese and plenty of meaty metts. Try the schwein rib-eye topped with sauerkraut and covered with the “haus-made” schwein sauce, served with a potato pancake. 6052 OH-128, Cleves, bierhauswest.net.
Parlor on Seventh
Designed to honor the heritage of Covington as a crossroads in national trade, when commerce and cultures collide, their culinary techniques and ingredients tend to meld together into a tasty hybrid — in this case, of German and Southern United States tabletops. The menu at Parlor has a predominately German presence, with hints of Kentucky fare. Try the smoked turkey reuben made with house-smoked turkey breast, braised sauerkraut, swiss cheese and thousand island dressing on local swirl rye. The brat or hot mett are also a good choice or try two types on the sausage platter. 43 W. Seventh St., Covington, parloronseventh.com.
This spot makes their sausages in-house daily, so if you’re the kind of person who’s curious to see how the sausage is made, this Covington attraction is for you. Several notable sausages include the feuer, or spicy “fire” wurst; the sweet and savory cran-sage; and their version of currywurst, Germany’s curious post-World War II invention, featuring a spicy curry-cumin sausage topped with a curry sauce. Their menu also offers pretzels with beer cheese or spundekas, a spreadable savory cheese paste, along with pierogies, dumplings, doner kebabs, reubens, schnitzel… Of course, there’s plenty of beer to pair. 1132 Lee St., Covington, facebook.com/wunderbar.covington.3.
It’s always Oktoberfest at the Hofbräuhaus and Newport is home to the first authentic German Hofbräuhaus in America, modeled after the legendary Munich location. This is where you go to immerse yourself in German vibes, music, food and drink. Nobody bats an eye at lederhosen. Drink plenty of dunkel along with your schnitzel and kasespätzle — sautéed spätzle with Swiss cheese, diced onion, creamy sauce and topped with “frizzled” onions and chives. Like chicken instead? Get the grillhendl, a half chicken roasted “Oktoberfest style” with their housemade cold Bavarian potato salad. 200 E. Third St., Newport, hofbrauhausnewport.com.
Laszlo’s Iron Skillet
The Molnar family, originally from Hungary, has been serving Eastern European cuisine in Cincinnati since 1973. During that time the family business has seen both fire and rain temporarily shut them down — a flood in 1997 and a house fire in 2013 — but they’ve bounced back, and their kitchen has served Union Township well since 2015 with a roomy biergarten and full bar. Sauerkraut & Kielbasa is a surefire favorite dish and the menu offers 10 types of schnitzel — breaded and fried or sauteed — including a “Cincinnati”-style pork tenderloin, fried and topped with goetta and black pepper cream sauce. 1020 Ohio Pike, Withamsville, laszlosironskillet.com.