And wherever you go, there is something you will find on every menu in Cologne: the local beer known as Kölsch. Brewed exclusively in the Cologne region. This pale, light-bodied beer is served in thin, cylindrical glasses and it is a tradition that waiters bring you one Kölsch after the other. To end the beer fest, leave your beer glass half full or cover it with your beer mat to let them know you are finished (or just need a break).
Now onto the food...
For a true taste of Cologne, visit beloved restaurant “Lommi”. It was opened in 1959 by Hans and Annemie Lommerzheim and although the restaurant was renovated in 2008, the original charm of the building survived. This restaurant maintains the beer hall atmosphere and is considered by many to be the quintessential Cologne restaurant.
Long wooden tables are meant to be shared amidst this bustling and down-to-earth atmosphere. It also features budget-friendly prices and a regional menu are all at their finest. Don't leave without trying Lommi’s Koteletten, huge pork cutlets with fried onions.
This Michelin-starred French restaurant has been an institution in Cologne’s fine dining scene for nearly 30 years. It offers très creative gourmet cuisine and a wine list to match.
The menu changes with the season, and you can order a la carte or opt for a set multi-course menu to fully experience the carefully crafted cuisine by chef Eric Menchon. Some of his signature dishes include Foie Gras Maison, Coquilles Saint-Jacques, and Pigeonneau rôti. Save room for the superb cheese platters.
Fit for modern day royalty (or just global politicians), when former US President Bill Clinton visited the city he came to Brauhaus Malzmühle. Located in the heart of the Old Town, this 150-year old family-run brewery and its adjacent restaurant are famous for hearty regional fare and classic German food.
Try the poetic sounding dish called “Heaven and Earth”, which comes with black pudding, fried onions, mashed potatoes, and stewed apples; or opt for the „Brauhaus platter”, piled high with rump a steak, filets of turkey and pork, vegetables, fried potatoes and hollandaise sauce. Wash it all down with a fresh Mühlen Kölsch, which is crafted right here in the Malzmühle brewery.
Hanse Stube, set in the Excelsior Hotel Ernst next to the Cologne Cathedral, serves haute cuisine for haute prices. Chef de cuisine Bernhard Stütze prepares innovative French fare combined with regional flavors.
The menu ranges from afternoon tea to piano brunch to the full spread at Silvester (New Years Eve). Look for their marinated asparagus, sautéed scallops with wild herbal salad and pine nut vinaigrette, and chartreuse of strawberry and basil on buttermilk ice cream with balsamic.
In a hurry? Order the daily changing business lunch menu, which will take less than 59 minutes from sitting down to sipping espresso.
Again in the center of the city beneath the towering Cologne Cathedral, you will find Früh am Dom. This traditional restaurant is housed in a former brewery and serves good old-fashioned German food on three different levels.
Besides the main Brauhaus restaurant, you can dine in the vaulted, cozy brewery cellar, or the modern and airy Hof 18 restaurant on the second floor with views of the cathedral. And like any good German restaurant, it comes complete with a beer garden in the warmer months.
Sample the Cologne Caviar, a black pudding (blutwurst) served with onion rings and a rye roll and butter, or go for the Rhenish Sauerbraten, marinated beef with dumplings and stewed applesauce.
Bei Oma Kleinmann
You wish your grandma was this cool. The namesake oma (grandma), Paula Kleinmann, led the kitchen well into her 90s and the family-run restaurant still offers bargain prices and giant schnitzels with homemade sides.
Make a reservation as this local favorite is often filled to capacity, especially during Karneval when the regulars come in costume.