Eating out in Germany

The Germans love to eat out. You will find fantastic restaurants, café’s and fast food locations that will meet your every need.

Germany’s cities offer a large an eclectic mix of restaurants for every taste and budget. Traditional specialities vary a little from region to region and you will find a wonderful array from seafood and fish dishes stemming from the north, to venison and boar from the forested areas to traditional Bavarian food such as sausage and meat dishes. Regional foods can be enjoyed in a variety of inns or taverns called “Gasthof” or “Gasthaus; beer gardens (Biergarten) offer another excellent opportunity to have a relaxed drink and try a local fare. International food is just as easy to find. Italian, Chinese, Indian, and Spanish and Turkish restaurants are in abundance.

Specialities and Popular Foods

Pork is a popular ingredient and a mainstay of German cuisine. Much of the pork is eaten in the form of sausages of which Germany has an endless variety.

In terms of fish, trout, salmon, herring and mackerel are extremely popular and widely available.

Potatoes and stewed vegetables such as cabbage are often found as side dishes. German food is rarely spicy or highly seasoned.

Beer and wine are consumed liberally with meals and on their own. There are many small local breweries which produce regional brands of beer. The most well known German wines are Riesling and Silvaner which are both white grape varieties.


Breakfast (Frühstück) often consists of bread or rolls (Brötchen, Semmeln, Schrippen, Wecken or Rundstücke) with jam, marmalade or honey, eggs and strong coffee or tea (cocoa for children). Cold cuts such as hams and salamis are also commonly eaten on bread in the morning, as are various cheeses and meat-based spreads. Lighter options such as yoghurt and breakfast cereals are becoming increasingly popular.

Traditionally, the main meal of the day is lunch (Mittagessen), eaten around noon. Dinner (Abendessen or Abendbrot) is usually smaller and often consists of sandwiches or a light snack.

As the German day starts relatively early, breakfast is usually eaten between 6.30am and 10am; lunch is usually eaten between 11.30am and 2pm; and dinner is generally from about 6:30pm to 9.30pm. As more and more people opt for eating out, the restaurant scene in Germany is constantly changing.

When entering a German restaurant it is customary to find your own seating unless otherwise stated. It may be surprising to some people when strangers ask to sit at your table. In Germany, this is quite common in crowded restaurants! Up until 2007 there were no rules about smoking in restaurants and almost no non-smoking sections. Recently, there have been non-smoking regulations for restaurants and bars, but these are different from state to state and city to city. Please ask the restaurant if they offer a non-smoking environment.

Water is not brought to your table automatically and must be paid for. The Germans tend to drink sparkling mineral water, if you order water you will receive this kind unless you clearly state that you want still water. Soft drinks are usually served without ice.

After your meal, the waiter or waitress will bring you your bill, which you are expected to pay at the table. Not all restaurants accept credit cards so make sure you have enough cash on you. The waitress will often ask you if you want to pay together or if each person wants to pay separately. In this case, people will be asked what he or she ate and drank and will be able to pay their “own“ bill. There are no strict “rules“ for tipping. For a small bill, it is possible to round up the sum to be paid, for example, if the bill is for 8,90 Euros it is not unusual to pay with a 10 Euro bill and say “keep the change“. For more expensive bills it is common to pay a tip of somewhere between 5 and 10% of the sum. Tips are not left on the table, they are given to the waiter/waitress-staff while paying.

If it is fast food you are looking for there is no shortage of possibilities. Choose from German fast food such as French fries and sausage covered with curry ketchup or a roasted half chicken to the very loved Turkish Döner or internationally known fast food chain stores such as McDonald’s and Subway.

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