Weimar is in the heart of the Thuringia region in Germany with a rich historical and cultural appeal. A city where the famous poet and novelist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born and together with his friend and equally famous dramatist and poet Johann Friedrich Schiller made certain that Weimar would enjoy the charisma of the esprit they left behind. Modern Weimar is still heavily influenced by the heritage Goethe and Schiller left behind, but it has evolved into a charming little city that has managed to find a perfect balance between old and new. Being home to the "Bauhaus University" it has remained young. The students from all over the world have given Weimar an international flair, influencing the daily life and eating habits of the entire city. The city's motto fits perfectly "Weimar - a city with Culture and Cafes".
What's Germany's cuisine like in a nutshell?
The cuisine in Germany varies from region to region. Each region has its own culinary tradition and is influenced by its regional agriculture and the neighboring countries. For example Baden-Wuertenberg's specialties include ingredients typified in agriculture around the Black Forest and are influenced by the proximity to France and Switzerland.
Generally speaking, Germans like hearty meals with lots of meat, sausages and potatoes. Pork, beef and poultry are the most popular type of meats eaten here. Vegetables are often cooked in stews or as a side to accompany a meat dish. Different types of cabbage are among the most popular vegetables in Germany. Beans, peas and carrots are also enjoyed often in German homes. However, when Asparagus is in season, especially white asparagus, it easily replaces many of the other vegetable dishes. I believe, (I cannot say for sure though) that the Kartoffel (potato) is the Queen of all German meals. It is served in many different variations, from the famous dumplings, to Bratkartoffeln (pan fried potoatoes) to potato salads and gratins.
What's the current food trend in Weimar?
While all we hear about German eating habits with huge amounts of potatoes, meats, pastries and beer, which might make it sound one of the unhealthiest cuisines, German cuisine is undergoing a huge change at the moment.
The so called neue KC
This trend can be clearly noticed in Weimar. Being a city of international students, restaurants cater to every craving. Although there are still many traditional restaurants, the trend is obviously going towards the exotic. Sushi, Indian, Chinese and Lebanese can all be enjoyed in restaurants with very tasteful ambiences.
What local food is not to be missed?
If you are in Weimar you simply cannot miss out on trying the famous Thueringer Bratwurst - a pork sausage with a few herbs, grilled on a charcoal grill and served in a bread roll with spicy mustard. The best place to enjoy this is at the Bratwurst stall on the marketplace in front of the Weimar city hall. You can't miss it - there is always a queue in front of the stall.
Which local food might I want to steer clear of no matter how much locals insist?
Blutwurst or blood sausage (black pudding). Made of pig's blood mixed with fat, a filler like bread crumbs as well as flavourings, normally served warm with pan fried potatoes.
What are the food oddities in Germany?
Besides the afore-mentioned Blutwurst, another "eeeuuuww" type of dish in Germany certainly has to be the Saumagen from the Palatinate region of Germany. It is a pig's stomach filled with pork, carrots, potatoes herbs and spices and then boiled. This is then served with Sauerkraut and potatoes.
What gadget to bring home from my trip?
My recommendation would have to be a the Spaetzle press/maker. A fantastic gadget to make fresh German style noodles/dumplings called Spaetzle. You'll also find a great recipe on my blog for Allgaeuer Kaesespaetzle - Cheese Spaetzle from the Allgaeu region.
Which cuisine features most strongly in your city?
Although Weimar is a relatively small city, you are spoilt for choice when eating out. You'll find everything here, from Italian, French to Indian, Chinese and Sushi.
Which are your favourite gourmet addresses?
That Bratwurst from the Bratwurst stall not only tastes great but it is very cheap. The best thing is that they are really filling and make a great quick lunch.
My favorite place has got to be Divan. A great Arabic/Lebanese restaurant, where the food is spectacular, the wine is great and the atmosphere is unbeatable. You can pretty much go there any time of the day and enjoy either a nice late breakfast on their wonderful terrace, a light lunch and a wonderful flavourful tea, an afternoon sweet snack of baklava and some turkish coffee, a rich and delectable dinner under dimmed lights or later in the evening for a few drinks, hubbly bubbly and a bit of belly dancing.
Divan+|+Café-Restaurant, Brauhausgasse, 99423 Weimar.
Another place I really enjoy is the Residenz Café or the "Resi" as it is called by people in the know. This is Weimar's oldest café, existing for 160 years! Eating at the Resi is always enjoyable. The staff are friendly, the atmosphere is cosy, the interior is done with style and the food is great. The menu is simple and offers a large variety of fresh pasta, salads, and vegetarian dishes. A late brunch is also very popular here and can be enjoyed on their patio. Or if you are looking for a place to enjoy a good coffee and a piece of wonderful cake, this is also the place to head for. My tip: Make sure you reserve for brunch and dinner. It is almost always full. Do not miss out on their warm chocolate soufflé. It's a piece of heaven.
Versilia. The place is brilliant and reminds me of a typical Italian restaurant. The walls are covered with interesting photographs and the food it totally delicious. Pastas, pizzas, risottos and many more traditional Italian dishes can be enjoyed in this family-owned restaurant.
My tip: Make sure you try the Pizza Liguria. Thin crispy base with fresh tomatoes and pesto.
Versilia, Frauentorstr. 17, 99423 Weimar
What's your city's attitude to food in general?
Although some call Weimar a sleepy town where the pavements are pulled up at 8 pm, don't let that appearance deceive you. Weimar is not sleeping. Everyone is probably in one of the several restaurants, bars or pubs that are spread throughout the city. In Weimar people really enjoy the life. Restaurants are often full and there is always some kind of band, play or cabaret showing in one of the many clubs. Eating out is not only fashionable but a great way to meet up with friends or enjoy a family lunch with the entire clan.
Where to shop for food?
In Weimar you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables at the Farmer's Market every day from 9 am to 3 pm. Tuesdays and Fridays, however, are the best days as there is more variety. Haufe Feinkost is a great delicatessen where you can buy many types of gourmet and organic products. They have a brilliant selection of wine and the best is their own distilled schnapps, kirschwasser, brandy, grappa and other interesting alcoholic concoctions.
Which area is best for food?
The restaurants and eating locales are spread out through the entire city. Weimar has a relatively small city center and most of the restaurants are a walking distance from each other. Nothing is ever to far out in Weimar.
What's the biggest flop and best avoided?
For some reason the "Schwarze Bär" (the black bear) seems to be very popular among the tourists. I find it overrated. The food is always cold when it reaches the table and the staff are rather unfriendly. The high prices only make you regret you spent time here.
What are the big names in the restaurant scene?
A very popular place and certainly worth an evening out is the Elephant Cellar. Here you can enjoy Thuringian cooking is at its best in a rustic ambiance. A few informative panels on the history of the building describe how this place played a little part in the life of Wolfgang Goethe. Apparently he visited often and indulged in a sherry every now and then.
What are the most reliable restaurant guides for your area?
Unfortunately, there aren't any great online sources available. What I can recommend is the "Eating Out" section on the Weimar Tourism website.
What to be aware of when dining out?
Although service charges are included in all restaurants checks, it is still customary to round up the bill to the nearest Euro or leave about 5%. Give this to the waiter or waitress as you pay the bill; don't leave it on the table, as that's considered rude.
Splitting the bill is not uncommon in Germany. Simply tell the waiter/waitress when paying what you are paying for, s/he will readily add up your amounts and present you with a personal total, which you should round up.
The information and photography were kindly provided by and published with permission of Meeta of What's For Lunch, Honey?