German restaurants are rare in our Valley. We had the rustic Cafe Heidelberg … until its recent closure. And the raucous Hofbräuhaus is more about downing beer and polkaing than fine fare. In the span of about six months, however, a pair of German joints notable for their food have sprung up on opposite ends of town.
- The Berliner
- 9400 S. Eastern Ave., 431-8778.
- Daily, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
- Café Berlin
- 4850 W. Sunset Road, 875-4605.
- Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday, 4-8 p.m.
On the east side there’s the sausage-centric Berliner, on Eastern south of the 215. They also serve a schnitzel sandwich—the aptly named Odd Man Out, topped with a crisp cucumber salad—but mostly, the menu’s about encased meat products.
The link lineup is a Murderer’s Row sourced exclusively for the restaurant. The eponymous Berliner is the classic bratwurst—better than the Johnsonville variety of my youth—while the Boozer is a drunken, beer-boiled version served on a firm pretzel roll. Better yet is the Knockout—a knockwurst best described as the most robust hot dog you’ve ever encountered. Only the Stinker seems to fall short, wildly overwhelmed by garlic.
It should be noted that the Berliner is spot-on with its sides, too. Don’t miss the bacon-strewn sauerkraut, the strangely appealing warm potato salad and a ridiculous house-made applesauce with an infusion of pears as its secret ingredient. (The applesauce can be ordered off-menu by those in the know; consider yourself part of the in-crowd now.)
Just up the 215 at Sunset and Decatur is Café Berlin, where a larger variety of dishes can be found. Along with sausages, you’ll find schnitzels, Cordon Bleus and strudels. The Currywurst, a standard German street food, is addictive, with a flavorful curry complementing its submersed link.
The spaetzle is even better. Available as a side or an entrée, the thin egg noodles are slightly pan-seared to provide subtle textural balance. The entrée portion is served with mushroom gravy for a savory treat that won’t leave you craving meat. Just be sure to save room for the house-made strudel, as good as any you’ve ever had.
Suddenly, whether you live on the east or west side, you have quality German food nearby. The only drawback to the two new spots? Both are still waiting for their liquor licenses to come through, so you can’t get a Franzikaner with your meal quite yet. Don’t let that stop you.