Part 1: A Fairytale Christmas
Part 2: A Winter Day In The City
Part 3: Heidelberg, Germany – Beyond Magical
Part 4: Frankfurt Favorites
Everything about Frankfurt endears itself to me but beyond the Christmas market and countless grilled sausage sandwiches, these are some of the favorites I want to keep coming back to on every trip here.
Sometime when my fingers have fallen off in the below-freezing weather, I cling onto a steaming hot bowl of chili con carne from the Christmas market for succor and sustenance. Little do I know that it would be the best chili con carne that I’d ever eat in my life. Bits of ground beef bob up and down in the tomato-red stew redolent of smoked paprika and oregano, its inimitable flavor coming from caraway. I dip a chunk of bread into the chili, close my eyes and empty my thoughts, as spicy aromas and flavors flood and fill my mind. A wave of contentment washes over me, and somewhere soon, much-needed warmth.
My love for soft drinks disappeared around the same time I ditched black lipstick and jumpsuits. So imagine my surprise to be so taken by a rather schizophrenic soda with a staccato name, Schwip Schwap aka Spezi. It’s just cola mixed with orange soda and tastes like … cola mixed with orange soda. Easy to love and terrific eaten with a falafel sandwich from any kebab restaurant. There are many in Frankfurt and Toprak Kebab Haus is exceptional. (Ask for extra of their addictive garlic-yogurt sauce).
The larger third wave coffee shops in Frankfurt were out of the way for me to get to but I recommend Wackers Kaffee. A Frankfurt institution and decades old, its roasting coffee beans permeates the surrounding streets. Avoid the crush of people craving caffeine and grab a bag of beans and a cup of coffee to go.
Frankfurt has several farmer’s markets throughout the week but the largest and best indoor food market is Kleinmarkthalle. I spend a wonderful morning meandering about the maze of German and international produce. The variety is tremendous!
The freshest produce glitter like gems.
Pleased to meet you, Mr. Pumpkin.
Ravishingly red tomatoes.
Fruit from afar and from nearby. The pomegranates and persimmons are especially captivating.
Just a sampling of all the potato varieties that the Germans use to work their magic.
There are several spice stalls proffering aromatic blends to transform ordinary ingredients into green sauce, curry, and this intriguing “African rub with love.”
One thing that I’ve learned on this trip is how outstanding German pastries are. They excel at streusel cakes and their dark, dark, dark bread. Black as night and weighty as a stone, it’s a fitting, filling companion to hearty stews or lavished with lush spreads.
I feel a bit silly recommending a chain bakery but a German storekeeper tells me that Der Backer Eifler is one of the best. I see its many stores all over Frankfurt and I probably went into every one of them, their selection of streusel (again) cakes and pastries a siren song for my sweet-loving heart. See my earlier Frankfurt post for what other sweets I enjoy from Der Backer Eifler. It’s also here that I buy loaves of Germany’s famous black bread to lug carry home.
When I was researching for which dessert shops to visit in Frankfurt, Café Mozart was a constant refrain. Described as a café institution, it certainly looks like one with its charmingly dated furniture and harried staff garbed in white and black. The place is busy and always is. Don’t wait to be seated – seat yourself, but only after paying homage to the treasures that are the cakes and tarts on display.
If it’s too difficult to choose, then do as I do and go back to the basics. Order the apple tart, the fruit’s slices suspended in a creamy cream cheese mixture sitting on a thin short crust. Best accompanied by a hot chocolate.
Honestly, Café Mozart is a bit too frenetic to classify as a “relaxed afternoon.” But I include it in my list of Favorites because being here seems like taking part in a slice of Frankfurt’s history, and the café’s selection of cakes is eye-widening.
In complete contrast to the cacophony of Café Mozart is Bitter & Zart (B&Z). Curious name aside, this is a whimsical café with an adjoining chocolaterie. Entrance into the café is rather dramatic, customers push through a fancy (and heavy!) red curtain. The interiors themselves border on the romantic and playful, I almost think I’m in Paris.
The salon (that word seems appropriate here), serves up magnificent cakes and tarts, multi-layered marvels with lots of shiny fruit and fluffy cream rosettes. Ah, fantasy!
But today I’m yearning for a hot chocolate and since this is a chocolaterie, they excel in chocolate. They have three hot concoctions: thick and strong with less or more milk, and one spiked with rum. There’s also an option for extra whipped cream. What I have is the “mild version with a bit more milk.” Satisfyingly chocolaty, I’m grateful for its heat coursing through my chilly bones. I don’t feel the need for more sugar but should you, the trio of colored sugars (rose, brown, lavender) promises to be elevating.
Before you leave Bitter & Zart, pick up a few truffles and bars at the next door chocolaterie. Highly recommended.
German for “time for bread,” Zeit Fur Brot is my absolute favorite bakery in Frankfurt. Famous for their hefeschnecken, literally, “yeast snails” but more familiar to me as sweet rolls, it’s heady being here. Be warned that this place is slammed at all times of day and early evening. Get a seat if you can but if not, take away is just as good, maybe even better.
The rolls range from cinnamon to poppy seed to chocolate to apple; loopy and lovely, they’re so large, they seem to be bunched up against the bakery glass.
I start out with one roll but end up having two (poppy, cinnamon) with black coffee. Biting into the pillow-soft dough is rapture, coils of spice and sugar intertwined and intoxicating, each taste tantalizing. The dough is so fragrant that I’m tempted to bury my nose into it; but the bakery is small and good manners dictates otherwise.
I’d go so far as to say that Zeit Fur Brot is a culinary highlight in Frankfurt. A must.
Frankfurt’s favorite alcoholic drink is apfelwein (apple wine) and there’s no better place to have it than at a typical German tavern. There are plenty of these apfelwein taverns on the south bank at Sachsenhausen, an area known for places like these.
One of the most renowned is Adolf Wagner, a tavern established in 1931 and still owned by the same family. The house specialty is their apfelwein made from the Braeburn apple, very light yellow and only slightly acidic and fruity. It washes down my order of wiener schnitzel very nicely.
A flattened veal cutlet, the schnitzel has been cooked ‘til crisp and is seasoned perfectly, its mild, meaty flavor pointed up by the tang of the lemon. A smattering of roasted potatoes does garnish duty as does a bowl of green (parsley) sauce that the server impresses upon me “will make your dish more delicious.” I don’t care for it but he seems so earnest about giving me a good experience and seems genuinely pleased (and surprised) that I polish off all the schnitzel.
After a meal at any of the taverns and pubs in Sachsenhausen, a stroll along the river is just the thing to reinvigorate oneself. I drink in the stunning views and wonder when I can return to Frankfurt.
Addresses of establishments mentioned in this article
Toprak Kebab Haus
Große Friedberger Str. 19, 60313 Frankfurt am Main,
Kornmarkt 9, Frankfurt
Kleinmarkthalle Frankfurt (Klein Market)
Hasengasse 5-7, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Töngesgasse 23, 60311 Frankfurt am Main
Bitter & Zart
Braubachstraße 14, Frankfurt
Zeit Fur Brot
Oeder Weg 15, 60318 Frankfurt am Main
Schweizer Strasse 71 Frankfurt am Main, D-60594 Frankfurt, Hesse Germany