Bratwurst Glöckl am Dom
Even the name of this traditional tavern restaurant, located in the shadow of Fraunkirche church, is a mouthful. And that’s before you’ve had a bite of the hearty Bavarian fare. Each of Munich’s traditional restaurants (also recommended: Zum Franziskaner, Augustiner, Der Pfschorr) has pretty much the same menu but each takes great pride in certain specialties. Here, look for the Rostbratwürstl, small sausages that you order in sets of anywhere from six to 12, and that are served with silky sauerkraut and spicy mustard. Like most of Munich’s taverns, the Bratwurst Glöckl is touristy, also thanks to its central location, but if you stick to the classics, the food is solid and the scene a lot of fun, especially in the summer when it spills onto a sizeable terrace out front. Bratwurst Glöckl opens at 11am, so it’s also a good spot for a meat-focused brunch.
For a congenial, classic German meal, head to this cozy taverna in the historic center of the city but tucked away from the fray. There are two dining rooms: the more intimate one has a brick-vaulted ceiling and an open fireplace where sausages are grilled to perfection. The restaurant is known for its original Nuremberg bratwursts, which come with potato salad or sauerkraut. The menu also includes all the other German classics served in larger breweries like the Hofbräuhaus and the Franziskaner, but the more intimate setting at Bratwurstherz is charming. You may even end up sharing a table with some locals (on a recent trip, my husband and I ended sitting with a Munich native who could not get enough of telling us how much he loved New York).
The Italian restaurant, by the same team behind Emiko and Cortiina, is the chic foodie queen of Maximilianstrasse, drawing luxury shoppers on a break. Hidden in a courtyard, it occupies a massive space with vaulted archways (the space once served as the royal stables). The menu is classic Italian, with lots of light, healthy options designed around the fashionista clientele. The large al fresco terraces are packing during the summer, especially for lunch, coffee or aperitifs. Open daily.
Brot & Butter
The small cafe at the front of design store Manuufactum makes some of Munich’s best bread and is a good spot for a cappuccino and pastry.
A hipster café with multiple branches, Aran is known for excellent coffee and health-conscious snacks, as well as some of the city’s best sourdough bread that are turned into delicious tartines with a variety of toppings. There’s also a focus on vegetarian and vegan options, not always a given in this meat-heavy city. Seating is limited (and more akin to assisted standing against high benches), so it’s best to take away and walk to the nearby Hofgarten when the weather is nice. Aran opens early (9am), so it’s a good option for caffeine-seekers straight off the plane.
Everyone calls this authentic, old-world cafe by its specialty: die Schmalznudel. This hearty snack is the German version of a funnel cake, but made fresh all day long, these sweet cakes are fluffy, crispy and delicious. You can get a variety of toppings and fillings, as well as another Bavarian dessert (Buchteln, another delicacy not to be missed. Claim a seat in one of the cozy, wood-panneled rooms and take a breather from Munich sightseeing.
This coffee-cake institution originally hails from Dresden, but the Munich branch has the same delicious assortment. During Christmas, locals get their Stollen (a traditional holiday cake with lots of dried and candied fruit) here. There’s a casual café in the back of the shop.
On first glance, it looks a little touristy, even kitschy, but the Café Luitpold, which hails from the 1880s and is located in a rather grand historic building, is as classic-Munich as it gets. The food is very good, especially the pastries and homemade cakes, as well as a large selection of chocolates.
Fun fact: if local lore is to be believed, this is the space where the Blaue Reiter artist group was first founded. It’s a great choice for breakfast, as well asn afternoon break while touring in Munich’s historic center (the Kunsthalle, Marienplatz and Residenz are all within a five-minute walk).
Café Nymbenburg Sekt
Do not expect warm and fuzzy service at this tented restaurant on the periphery of Munich’s central market, Viktualienmarkt. But it has long been a trendy spot for sampling a delicious version of the city’s signature pork sausage dish. Boiled and kept in warm water terrines that are set on the table, Weisswurst is only served until 12pm and always with sweet mustard and a Laugenbrezen (pretzel). Generally, you drink Munich beer with this hearty brunch fare, though many locals also come here for something bubblier – Nymphenburger Sekt is a sparkling wine produced in Bavaria. The café is open all day, though most come for breakfast/brunch or an aperitif before going out to dinner nearby.
This lovely café is a great spot for breakfast or brunch, especially if you are traveling with horse-loving children. Some tables overlook the rink of the adjacent riding school, so you can watch the horses in action. There’s also a nice terrace. Afterwards, take a stroll in the Englischer Garten.
This classic brasserie in trendy Haidhausen has long been a local favorite for celebrating a special occasion and taking your parents out for a lovely meal. The food is excellent, with an often-changing, seasonal menu heavy on French classics (moules-frites, bouillabaisse, steak tartare etc.), but what makes Chez Fritz such a mainstay is the unfussy, cozy ambience and the down-to-earth service. The wine list is terrific and the friendly team is happy to help with recommendations. Chez Fritz is a big night out masking as a quick jaunt to the local brasserie at the corner of your favorite Parisian neighborhood. Open for dinner only; reservations, especially on weekends, are a must.
China Moon Terrace
The rooftop of the Mandarin Oriental hotel is one of the city’s most scenic places for cocktails, with sweeping city views and a cool, laid-back vibe.
Esszimmer at BMW Welt
The two-Michelin-starred Esszimmer presents refined French cuisine with Mediterranean and regional influences. The stylish, wood-paneled dining room boasts a cozy fireplace, adding an intimate vibe to the space. The gourmet tasting menu offers dishes like lobster with watermelon and artichoke.
Falk’s Bar, in the Bayerischer Hof hotel, is a great spot for a drink, especially before a performance at the Bavarian State Opera, a five-min stroll away. It’s housed in a stunning Spiegelsaal (Mirror Hall), whose embellishments date from 1839; it’s the only room in the hotel to have survived the Second World War unscathed.
When touring the museums of the Kunstreal, a great spot for a nearby lunch is the Bayerischer Hof’s Garten restaurant. Diners sit in a lovely airy greenhouse-style setting. It’s modern and sleek, a welcome change to the wood-heavy interiors of Munich’s more traditional restaurants. The menu, too, is all about light and refined, with a Mediterranean slant (though there’s also some very good renditions of German dishes). It’s a lovely, calm oasis to linger over lunch or for a romantic dinner. Open daily.
This modern-Bavarian restaurant makes a lovely lunch or dinner option when you’re already touring or shopping in Schwabing, arguably Munich’s chicest neighborhood west of the Englisher Garten. With big windows, a high ceiling and modern light fixtures, this restaurant feels more airy than its traditional beer hall siblings. The cuisine is classic Bavarian, including a very good Schnitzel and pork roast. There are also good fish options and large salads. Kaisergarten dubs itself a “slow food” establishment and has a long list of local purveyors who supply everything from the delicious, crusty bread and eggs to the majority of the vegetables served here. In the warm months, the garden is a local hot spot for the young professionals and families who live in this desirable neighborhood (read: this is not a place for a hushed dining experience).
Boisterous, congenial and delicious, Italian favorite L'Osteria has several outposts in Munich, but the most memorable setting is inside the opulent, soaring dining hall of the Künstlerhaus. The original building was opened as a renowned meeting place for artists, musicians and literati in 1900, but after an unglamorous stint during the Nazi era, it was all but destroyed during a bombing raid in 1944. The dining room has been carefully reconstructed, including the lavish murals, ceiling stucco and heavy chandeliers.
It's a massive space with a mix of large communal tables and intimate dining nooks, but it fills up, especially during lunch, so reservations are a must. The menu is particularly strong in flop-over-your-plate thin-crust pizzas and homemade pastas, as well as delicious Italian desserts (tartufo, tiramisu, sorbetti etc.)
One of Munich's most acclaimed French restaurants, Les Deux is a good choice for a quiet, elegant dining experience. The ground floor houses the brasserie in a modern, understated dining room, while the first floor holds a fine dining restaurant, which has a Michelin star. The restaurant is a multi-hour fine dining experience, with exquisitely plated, delicate food. The brasserie, meanwhile, is a good spot for a quick lunch or dinner, with French staples, like Flammekueche and beef tartare, though the daily changing specials showcase a broader vision: lamb with couscous and coriander-spiced yoghurt, bouillabaisse with rouille and garlic bread and the occasional (excellent) Schnizel. Both restaurant and brasserie have a friendly serving staff.
The spacious interiors of this lovely lunch spot bring to mind the great coffee houses of Vienna more than the cozy brasseries of Paris. The location is a bit hidden in Munich’s Literaturhaus, a cultural institution that hosts more than 100 readings, talks and literary events throughout the year. Follow the locals' lead and go for the daily specials written on chalkboards. Fun for book lovers, literary quotes show up on everything from the placemats to the bottom of espresso cups. OskarMaria is also open for dinner but it’s most popular for lunch and delicious homemade cake and strong coffee in the afternoon.
Reportedly the best pizza in the city is served in this groovy restaurant with interiors by designer Ingo Maurer.
The tiny town of Krün, a one-and-a-half hour drive south of Munich near Garmisch Partenkirchen, got a major spotlight boost in the summer of 2015 when President Obama visited prior to the G7 meeting (when he stayed at nearby Schloss Elmau). For gourmets, however, the congenial Post Krün has long registered as one of southern Germany's top spots for traditional Bavarian food.
The setting is totally authentic, with a wood-paneled dining room, staff in Dirndl and uninterrupted views towards the Bavarian Alps. Most ingredients are locally sourced, like venison from the surrounding forests and fish from the Walchensee. There's an excellent wine list but don't forget to try Mittenwald beer, which is produced in Germany's highest (altitude) brewery. It's a long drive to and from Munich, so it's best to add a night (or two) at nearby Schloss Elmau. And be sure to reserve – the Post is normally fully booked for lunch and dinner.
Munich’s beau monde has been coming to Schumann’s for years, competing for the best tables and the best gossip. Owner Charles Schumann is known as a somewhat vain impresario (he “models” for Hugo Boss), but he sure knows how to keep the beautiful people happy. There’s no sign but under no circumstances seat yourself at a free table; most are reserved for regulars.
Seehaus im Englischen Gerten
Set on a beautiful lake, Seehaus is scenic spot for lunch before or after a stroll in the Englischer Gardens. Sit inside the rustic yet elegant dining room and enjoy traditional dishes or gather at the waterfront biergarten for draught beers, Bavarian cuisine and a convivial atmosphere.
Spatenhaus an der Oper
Roland Kuffler is one of Munich’s most prominent culinary impresarios, and he has several restaurants, but the Spatenhaus has the best location. Bavarian dishes are served in the beautiful setting of a historic palais just across from the State Opera House. The Wiener Schnitzel is legendary.