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.
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 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).
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.
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.
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.
One of only two restaurants in Munich with two Michelin stars, Tantris remains the foodie temple in the city; the building it’s been housed in since the 1970s, in Schwabing, was recently landmarked. The backdrop is a dramatic (and definitely retro) mix of China red, black and orange; the menu is a seasonal, classic French-Mediterranean affair, with multiple courses and a tome of a wine list. There’s also a small Tantris outpost in the Schrannenhalle near Viktualienmarkt. Closed Sunday, Monday.