Part of an occasional series exploring international cuisine in the capital.
London has always had a German population, but the numbers began to rise as refugees arrived during the Napoleonic Wars. It's been estimated that around 6,000 Germans* were living in the capital in 1800, rising to 27,000 by that century's end, making this the largest immigrant group from western Europe at the time. Particularly large enclaves could be found in Leman Street, St Pancras (where the German Gymnasium stands to this day) and Charlotte Street. Today, the population of Germans in London stands at 55,000.
Gastronomically speaking, the usual associations with Germany are beer, sausages and sauerkraut. But like any stereotype, that's only part of the picture. Here, then, is a guide to German food and drink in London.
Restaurants & Pubs
The Bavarian Beerhouse has two branches: one 'house' is in Old Street and the other one is in Tower Hill. Try its special Schnitzel Madness on Mondays: choose your Schnitzel, and it will come with chips and a pint of beer for £15. The venues offer a good mix of events, including Bundesliga screenings and pub quizzes. Bavarian Beerhouse, 190 City Road, London EC1V2QH and 9 Crutched Friars, London EC3N 2AU.
Bierschenke restaurant in Essex Street, off Strand, also offers more than food and drink. Beside the rich selection of meals made with German-imported ingredients, pils and schnapps (like a German cider), Bierschenke offers a plethora of events, including regular football screenings, a Bavarian band every Saturday and, from April, Student Mondays with reduced prices on beers, schnapps and food. Bierschenke, Essex St, London WC2R 3JF
Its name means hangover, and Katzenjammers restaurant next to London Bridge could probably help you to get one. All the Bavarian sausages are accompanied by a typical selection of German beers. It has live music on Fridays and Saturdays, featuring a proper German brass band wearing traditional Bavarian clothes. Londonist Facebook follower Lauren recommends 'Katzenjammers and the oompah band on a Saturday night playing Queen' . You won't want to break free. Katzenjammers, 24 Southwark Street, SE1
The Fulham-based Octoberfest Pub brings people a taste of the most famous Bavarian beer celebration of the year. More than football screenings and Bavarian live music, it hosts themed events like its own take on Octoberfest. It's also geared up for Hen and Stag Parties, with traditional Bavarian costumes, and food and drink challenges (drinking a whole boot-shaped glass of beer or eating a double pork knuckle dish). Octoberfest Pub, 678-680 Fulham Rd, London SW65SA
Stein's Bavarian Bar and Restaurant can be found in Kingston and Richmond. The Biergarten in Kingston presents a wide selection of typical German dishes with a focus on Bavarian specialities. Pork in different sauces, goulash and Bavarian cakes will make your mouth water. The Richmond branch is on the riverside and offers a menu similar to that in Kingston. 'I am from Munich myself and found the food very authentic' says Julie on Facebook. Stein's Bavarian Bar and Restaurant, 56 High Street, Kingston upon Thames KT1 1HN and Richmond Towpath, Richmond, TW10 6UX.
The Zeitgeist pub in Vauxhall has replaced the ancient Jolly Gardeners pub. The menu presents a special all-you-can-eat offer on Friday lunchtime for £7.95, and includes plenty of vegetarian dishes. It has a huge selection of regional treasures, such as the Schlenkerla Smoked Beer, which tastes of smokey bacon — yes it does. A big screen inside the pub lets German fans enjoy a national match. Ahmed says on Facebook: 'Zeitgeist in Vauxhall ist enfach super!', which isn't difficult to translate. Zeitgeist, 49-51 Black Prince Road, SE11 6AB.
The Backhaus in Richmond bakes using only German-originated flours and has a wide variety of products, including flu remedies! If Richmond's too far, you can purchase products online. Backhaus, 175 Ashburnham Road, Richmond TW10 7NR
The Bäkehaus has a similar name but it's a different German bakery and eat-in place, based in Hammersmith. Its products include fresh bakery products plus hot food, breakfasts, lunches, soups and sandwiches. Bäkehaus, 71 King St, London W6 9HW
Get tempted by German Deli and its wide choice of products. Its warehouse shop is based in Hackney Wick and it has an on-site bakery too. German Deli, Unit 1, Hamlet Industrial Estate, 96 White Post Lane, E9
Street Food, Take-Away & Markets
Expert baker Klaus from Artisan Foods will treat your palate with artisan breads and savoury items from the finest German baking tradition. Artisan Foods, Balham, Blackheath, Bloomsbury, Brixton, Islington, London Bridge, Pimlico Road and South Kensigton. Check website for more information
Ditsch Bakery has two take-away points in London, one outside Victoria station and one in Shepherd's Bush. You can find a choice of Ditsch products in Waitrose supermarkets as well. Ditsch, Victoria Station, SW1V 1JT and The Broadway Shopping Centre, W6 9YD
Find the stalls of German Deli every Monday to Saturday at Borough Market, Thursdays and Fridays at Whitecross Street Market and finally Saturdays at Broadway Market. German Deli, Unit 1, Hamlet Industrial Estate, 96 White Post Lane, E9
Find a taste of the Black Forest at Herman Ze German shop and take-away. It has a wide range of sausages served with crispy onions and sauces. Bread and pastries are baked fresh every day. 'By far the best around central!! Imported and proper German food like going home for a few hours' says Johanna on Facebook. Herman Ze German, 33 Old Compton Street, London W1D 5JU
It's not that time of the year yet but...
...when it comes, enjoy a long walk along the Southbank and warm up with some German deli at the Southbank Christmas Market, in which you can usually find plenty of German food and drink stalls. The Southbank Christmas Market takes place along the Southbank, starting from the Royal Festival Hall and usually runs from mid-November until Christmas.
To get into a Bavarian groove, find the huge Bavarian Village within the massive complex of Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Enjoy food, drinks and live performances throughout the opening period. Winter Wonderland takes place inside Hyde Park, and usually runs from the last week of November until the first week of January.
We decided to focus on Germany, although our readers recommended some related cuisines, mostly Austrian.
- Bodo's Schloss Austrian and Alpine restaurant, 2A Kensington High Street, London W8 4PT
- Kipferl Austrian bakery and coffeehouse, 20 Camden Passage, London N1 8ED
- Speck Mobile Austrian take-away, sometimes at King's Cross's KERB Market, see on website
- St Moritz Swiss restaurant, 161 Wardour Street, London W1F 8WJ
- Tiroler Hut Austrian restaurant, 7 Westbourne Grove, London W2 4UA
*Source: Demographic information from London in the 19th Century, Jerry White, 2007. Note that the territory considered as 'Germanic' has shifted greatly over the centuries.
This article is part of our Best of London Food and Drink series. Visit the page for more recommendations of where to enjoy the capital's top food and drink, categorised by cuisine, food type and more.