Out of all the gatherings in the world, one stands out as number one on travellers’ bucket lists, for beer lovers in particular. Oktoberfest in Germany has played host to millions of visitors. Nearly 10 million litres of beer consumed, and from grills, ovens, and roasters emerges world-class food in seemingly endless trays of meats, cheese, and radishes to eat with that beer along with pretzels finished with a bevy of Bavarian sweet treats.
This traditional folk fest in Munich dates back to 1810 and runs for two weeks. Oktoberfest 2018 begins on Saturday, September 22 and ends on Sunday, October 7, during which time the region lights up with parades, more than 100 fairground attractions, live music everywhere, and streets filled with smiling people in costume.
Once the mayor taps the keg and the parades of horse-drawn beer wagons commence, the fun really begins, but tables sell out very fast even though the festival is largely dedicated to community seating. In all its culinary glory, Oktoberfest can be notoriously crowded and snagging a seat at one of the thousands of long wooden tables and benches is a feat unto itself.
This year, OpenTable diners can get the jump on Oktoberfest 2018 planning, For the first time ever, guests can make reservations through OpenTable at the following tents, making the rich culture of this food-centric country accessible and infinitely more convenient. Menus are subject to change throughout the weeks leading up to Oktoberfest, but here is a snapshot of these swoon-worthy options to try this year.
After decades at Oktoberfest, Bodos Cafézelt & Cocktailbar has perfected the art of sweets. In what patrons call a rousing atmosphere (thanks, in no small part, to the owner and his air guitar), guests at Bodo’s have become hooked on its festive scene, welcoming atmosphere, and Bodo’s famous pastries. Here the noshes to try include cakes, strudels, and kirschwasser, a traditional German jam-filled pastry variety of Krapfen similar to a doughnut but without the centre hole. No one other than Bodo E. Müller, who first trained as a confectioner back in the 60s, could create something this good. Make a reservation at Bodo’s Cafezelt.
Heinz Wurst and HühnerBraterei
As another centennial Oktoberfest eatery, Heinzwurst HühnerBraterei is an intimate place to gather to enjoy a selection of schmankerl, fresh from the restaurant’s sausage and chicken roastery. The owners describe the vibe in this welcoming tent as “hearty and homely,” but the cuisine is unforgettable. The logo says it all: Cupid riding a suckling pig with the slogan, ‘There’s something fine about getting Heinz.’ Make a reservation at Heinz Wurst and HühnerBraterei.
“The breadth of the dumpling kitchen makes the hearts of every Oktoberfest enthusiast beat faster.” This quote from host couple Florian and Bettina Oberndorfer speaks volumes about their representation of Bavarian food and, more specifically, the knödel, or dumpling, which has earned its way to the top of every Oktoberfest goer’s culinary wish list. The 800-seat Münchner Knödelei with half and half indoor and outdoor seating offers a variety of dumplings, all bio-certified as part of preserving the history of how Bavarians prepared knödel in the form of dumpling pretzel, Rostbratwürstel, roast pork and plum dumplings, among others. Visitors to the Münchner Knödelei website can dive into learning more about this practice through a dumpling film that reveals a few of their secrets. Münchner Knödelei offers a family-friendly Royal Bavarian lunch menu, but don’t miss the Stenz von der Au appetiser tower. Make a reservation at Münchner Knödelei.
Café Kaiserschmarrn marries art and baking at Oktoberfest in the form of coffee and sweets, including oversized pies, strudels, and whipped pancakes with traditional applesauce. The owners believe that there is no difference between bread and art and it shows in a cake buffet spilling over in frosting and cream against the decorative backdrop of a salute to Ludwig II’s Bavarian castle. Be sure to save enough time to catch a glimpse of the Kaiserschmarrnbacken, or baking process. Make a reservation at Café Kaiserschmarrn.
Wirtshaus im Schichtl
Meatloaf may be reported as dating back to fifth century medieval Europe, but a flavorful version of it happily haunts the Wirtshaus zum Schichtl tent at Oktoberfest. This variation of Bavarian meatloaf is served tavern-style alongside other traditional items, like grilled sausages, roast pork, bread dumplings, sauerkraut, and pork tenderloin, all of which are, of course, best paired with a mammoth glass of beer. Kids are welcome at Wirtshaus zum Schichtl and there is a special children’s menu available. Make a reservation at Wirtshaus im Schichtl.
At this home of the original Munich Weißwurst, or breakfast sausage, Oktoberfest patrons find a savoury meal deal of two Bavarian white sausages, a Bavarian pretzel, glass of beer or Prosecco, and all the flavour they can manage. Famed as much for the Munich sausages as their many other delicacies like crispy roasted pork, beef entrecôte, and veal chops, this is where to get house-made tartare and the big Wiesn-Renner baked fresh in special ovens at the Wiesn. After 115 years at Oktoberfest and establishing the much-respected Hofgut Schwaige program, it’s no wonder Vinzenzmur in the rustic, reclaimed wood-furnished Metzger Stubn feels like home for repeat diners, decorated with historical Munich butchery exhibits belonging to founders Rosa and Vinzenz Murr. Make a reservation at Vinzenzmurr.
It’s easy to think more healthful options might elude guests at Oktoberfest. Not so. At Fisch-Bäda Wiesnstadl, the focus is on families and a healthy menu. Expect to find organic, vegan, fair trade, even lactose- and gluten-free items here, where the origin of ingredients is as important as the final dishes. Lots of seafood, meats, and vegetarian dishes dot this menu, but try Fisch-Bäda’s variation on surf and turf with seasonal vegetables, risolee potatoes, and a green salad. This is a family-friendly tent where children are welcome and the owner offers stroller storage in the garden. Even the kids’ meals are made from 100 percent organic ingredients. Make a reservation at Fisch-Bäda Wiesnstadl.
Oktoberfestzelt Zum Stiftl
At a place that bills itself as having “friendly waitresses” and Hacker-Pschorr beer specialties, host Lorenz Stiftl and sons proudly serve their own version of farm-raised roasted chicken or duck with dumplings in their rustic, ski lodge-styled tent. During Oktoberfest from 11AM to 3PM, Wirtshaus zum Stiftl offers a changing lunch menu and live music from 5-11PM. Make a reservation at Oktoberfestzelt Zum Stiftl.
Which of these Oktoberfest 2018 tents will you be booking? Let us know in the comments.