Hamburg, Germany's second largest city, has an intimate relationship with the water. Some of its top restaurants feature the best seafood in Germany, and as a port city, it's served as a gate-keeper for an eclectic blend of spices and culinary specialties from around the globe. Diners in Hamburg can eat French for breakfast, Lebanese for lunch, and traditional German food to round out the evening.
Restaurants span the culinary spectrum, from elevated street food to Michelin-starred destinations. Start your day with a classic franzbrotchen, devour falafel for lunch, order a heaping portion of knödel with your dinner, and order a fischbrötchen after a late night of dancing. Clearly, there is more to the dining scene than hamburgers in Hamburg.
A few things to note about eating out in Germany: Many places—even the fancy ones—are cash only. Also, you must ask for the bill, and payment and tip are given directly to your server. Refer to our guide of German restaurant terms for more guidelines and standards.
Here are the nine best Hamburg restaurants from sea to land.
The one thing you have to have while in Hamburg is seafood, and what better place to get it than somewhere steps from the famed Fish Market?
Alt Helgoländer Fischerstube provides a menu that is traditional and high-quality with local specialties like Hamburger Pannfisch (fried fishcake). The menu showcases the catch of the day and changes every week. If you just want to look at the water and not eat anything from it, they also serve “fish-free” regional delicacies like Labskaus (salted meat).
In good weather, be sure to sit on the terrace to accompany your meal with fresh sea air.
The Table's chef, Kevin Fehling, holds an impressive three Michelin stars; he is the youngest chef in Germany to earn such an honor. The restaurant offers innovative combinations like salmon with passion fruit, or a new take on the iconic Hamburg Fischbrötchen (fish sandwich).
It is located in the redeveloped and up-and-coming area of Hafencity. The center of the restaurant is the massive, curved, cherry wood table where patrons sit side-by-side, facing the chefs at work. Diners interact directly with the chefs as there are no waiters, and only a set tasting menu is available.
This restaurant is in constant demand so make a reservation well in advance and prepare to be wowed.
You gotta have a burger in Hamburg, right? Then why not modernize that notion and make it vegan?
A vegan diner, Happenpappen serves juicy burgers with several different options including seitan, veggies, and more. It is easy to make them gluten-free or change them into a bowl, or order something else entirely like quiche. The special changes daily and you can fulfill your sweet tooth with their tasty vegan desserts.
On weekends, the diner serves breakfast all day for early risers or those battling a hangover. There are two locations, but no reservations.
Hamburg is about as far from the Alps as you can get in Germany, but this Tyrolean favorite delivers the mountain feel. Sleek and rustic, the chic pinewood tables are softened with pillows and candlelight.
Marend means "snack foods," but they serve hearty alpine favorites like knödel (dumplings) with cheese, spinach, or beetroot, as well as classics like Rindsgulasch (beef goulash).
This isn't just the place for Japanese food in Hamburg, but the best Japanese food in Germany.
Still family-owned and run, Henssler & Henssler's industrial style highlights the clean flavors and top-shelf ingredients used in every dish. The open kitchen is where the action is, and the bar right alongside it provides excellent views. Delicate tempura and intricate plates of sushi come out in meticulous presentations. Prepare to order liberally and leave satisfied.
Like many of the best restaurants in Hamburg, there is great demand, so make a reservation for the best experience.
Stay international without your taste buds traveling far at this fine French brasserie. Café Paris in Hamburg has been in operation since 1882, serving beloved French fare like steak tartare, which can be prepared table-side for added spectacle. And what is French dining without the right drink pairings? Try cider from Normandy or red wine from Burgundy, and finish your meal with some colorful macarons.
There are three dining areas in the art deco style, including the Saal (classic 1800s bistro with tiled ceiling), Altier (quieter upstairs), and Salon (formerly a traditional Hanseatic tobacco shop).
Hamburg is a city of late, rowdy nights, and Erika's Eck is there to serve the hungry masses. Schnitzels that hang off the plate, mountains of potatoes, and—of course—beer are consumed in generous portions throughout the day and deep into the early morning hours.
Order your schnitzel with mushrooms (Jagerschnitzel), fried egg (ei), or even Hawaii-style with pineapple and Swiss cheese. Visitors can indulge in anything from a currywurst to a steak, or save some cash with sandwiches that are as little as one euro after midnight.
This is a local favorite, so try to blend in with Germans by using the language and being as patient as the servers are with the drunk crowds.
Focusing on Lebanese cuisine, visitors should start with a mazza (either meat, fish, or vegetarian) that offers a sampling of all the exuberant flavors. On Sundays, the restaurant switches it up for brunch. And if you're dining on a dime, the lunch specials are a fantastic deal.
Unlike many German restaurants, the servers of L’Orient seem to take pleasure in providing superb service. The restaurants popularity means it's best to reserve a table ahead of time.
The humble fischbrötchen (fish sandwich) is a must-have in Hamburg. Opened in 1879, Hummer Pedersen is a historic fish trader that handles the requests for many of the best restaurants and hotels in the city. It has been serving a fine fischbrötchen since 2003.
The counter is small, but the quality is top-notch for one of the most affordable meals in the city. The sandwich is made with matjes (soused herring) or bismarckhering (pickled herring), typically topped with onion, gherkin (pickles) and remoulade. It can also be made with fried fish, North Sea shrimp, or crab meat—but no matter your preference, you really shouldn't leave the city without trying one.