Thanks to its international association with the famous Oktoberfest celebration, Munich immediately conjures up images of raucous beer halls and traditional inns, where servers pass out plates laden with meat, dumplings, and gravy. The reputation is only reinforced by the city’s strong culinary overlaps with the rich foods of the nearby Alps and southern neighbor Austria.
But hearty local fare doesn’t represent the full picture of this large city. Like any European metropolis, Munich sees global trends trickle through its food scene, while international restaurants serve Japanese and Korean tasting menus, colorful Lebanese sandwiches, Indian street food specialties, and other dishes from around the world. A healthy slate of new openings keeps diners entertained without overwhelming, though the buzz around the best spots does necessitate reservations.
Still, the classic pubs are a good place to start to get to know the city. At first glance, they all follow a similar format — with wood paneling, staff in Bavarian clothing, and drinks in tankards — but they actually vary greatly. There are those with a modern feel, those catering to a more upmarket crowd, and others that haven’t changed in decades. Whether in pubs or restaurants or even at market stalls, local chefs excel the most when looking inward, reinventing dishes ingrained in Munich’s identity, or working with the abundance of small producers found across the region. So raise a glass, or a full liter of beer, to this often unexpected city and all it has to offer.
Kate Mann is a freelance writer based in Munich covering food, travel, and current affairs.