Said to be the home of the hamburger, Hamburg actually has much more to offer visitors in the culinary department. Although the burger statement is often disputed with America it’s thought that they were perhaps invented here and then later popularised in America but nobody seems to care as the beef patties in a bun aren’t even on the menu at most places.
You’re much more likely to see Frikadelle being served, which is a fried patty but usually bigger and thicker than those used in burgers and this typical comes with vegetables and potatoes but without the bun. The patty consists of ground beef, held together with egg, diced onion, with salt and pepper for taste. This along with open topped sandwiches is much more popular and is easily ordered at most cafes and bistros.
As Hamburg is a major harbour, coming second in Europe in terms of importance, fresh fish is constantly coming into the city and the weekly fish market on Sundays is a huge event. The open air market is the city’s oldest, as it was first established back in 1703 and is located at the fish auction hall which itself is over 100 years old. The first stalls set up for 05:00 and trade until 09:30 or winter has a slightly later start at 07:00. As the catches of the day are bought and sold, live music is performed which ranges from country to jazz and western.
One restaurant that has exceptional fish is Delta Bistro on Lagerstrasse and it’s perhaps the best in Hamburg, especially compared to price of the main courses which are between €12 and €20 only. The quality and flavours rival those of Michelin star restaurants and it’s constantly thriving as a result so reservations are recommended. Travelling through Central station fresh fish is also readily available and is dished up the local way or current trends also favour sushi.
Other authentic Hamburg dishes include Aalsuppe which is a soup with a mix of everything added to the broth. The name actually means all but aall or ool is sometimes translated from German as eel and so customers often expect to get eel but that wasn’t the original intention. To avoid any disappointment eel is usually now included and it’s actually quite tasty. Pan-fried fish of different varieties is very common too, as are potato slices called Bratkartoffeln and as a dessert Rote Grutze is a tempting dish of summer berries topped with fresh cream.
To get a taste of the local flavours Restaurant Cox on Greifswalder Street near main station is a mid priced option and it runs a promotion at lunchtime offering two courses for €11. Many eateries set up for lunch within the vicinity of Hammerbrook station where German food is commonplace along with pasta, sandwiches and soups. Labskaus is an old sailor’s meal that is made with ground meat, usually corned beef, as well as mashed potatoes, sliced onions and beetroot and restaurants often do their own take on this to make it more contemporary. Luhmanns Teestube is a café that provides local specialities that aren’t expensive or a step up in price is Parlament that’s in the spectacular basement of city hall.
The height of Hamburg dining is then found at places such as Landhaus Scherrer, Seven Seas and within the restaurants of the five star Hamburg hotels such as the Haerlin run by the Vier Jahreszeiten hotel. Along the Elbe river and the Alster are several other fine dining options which generally tend to have terrific views of the water as well.
Lek Boonlert is an editor and content reviewer at DirectRooms and is responsible for all Hamburg Hotels content.