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German food in San Diego?

I thought I would never ask that question.

Any recommendations? Thanks in advance.

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  1. I recall a recent thread started by Jim Strain about a place in La Mesa:


    There is a place in Ocean Beach called "Kaiserhof", but they've gotten surprisingly little discussion in this group. Personal accounts I have heard pretty much place it in the "lukewarm" category, OK but overpriced. I've yet to try either place myself.

    3 Replies
    1. re: RB Hound

      RE: Kaiserhof, I thought this review was pretty funny -


      Haven't been there myself. I am curious to try the place in La Mesa though.

      1. re: Josh

        That is hilarious! I am not aware of any even halfway decent German food in SD - but haven't heard about the place in La Mesa. It's not far though, so maybe we should check it out!

      2. re: RB Hound

        I have been to Chef Axel's in La Mesa for Sunday brunch. It was great. The potato soup amazing. I would like to go back for dinner. I couldn't agree more with the lameness of Kaiserhof. Won't be going back there...

      3. I've been to Kaiserhof twice, and I can say that it's good, but not great, and a little overpriced.

        Also, a great deal of their side items are fried in some manner. It's not exactly the healthiest place to eat.

        They have a happy hour with cheaper beer (they have a good selection of german beers) and german snacks.

        The food is german, with meats and thick sauces and german-ness. I've never eaten in Germany, so I'm not sure how authentic. The service is good, although it does get packed sometimes.

        1. Kaiserhof, in the opinion of this Swiss German lady...ME...is the worst example of what can be excellent cuisine.
          If you ever get up to the City of Ventura, check out Old Vienna for a taste of real German food.

          1. There's also Tip Top Meats (in Cardiff I think). They are a butcher shop, Europen Grocer and German Food Restaurant. A little kitchy but a lot of fun..

            1. Grab a plane ticket and fly to Germany.
              All German related food in SD (Tip Top, Kaiserhof) is some mediocre tourist food which has nothing to do with real German food. (It is the same as somebody would tell you that only burgers and nothing else are American food). If you want some of the better tasting tourist food go to Continental Deli in Escondido. http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontr...

              (I haven't tried Chef Axel's yet. At least the menu looks better than most other "German" restaurants in SD)

              7 Replies
              1. re: honkman

                what do you reccomend fromt the continental deli? I walked in when they were having the big escondido street faire and the place was jamming.

                Despite what people say, the closest thing that you are going to get to germany in San Diego is Tip Top Meats. This is coming from a person who lived in Berlin for a year and a half as an exchange student.

                This seems also to be confirmed by the fact that I have often been suprised to see many German customers whom I had met working at a grocery store in Temecula dining and shopping there purely by chance. And I know that the Owner is from Thueringen.

                Having said that = You are probably better off picking up something from their meat case, which is very nice. The restaurant is also good, but not mind-blowing. But come on its German food!

                I think some people set their standards too high sometimes. This is not Germany, and not even the East Coast for that matter.

                1. re: honkman

                  Because Tip Top is less expensive than Major Market or Whole Foods or Continental and, once more, tastes like mom used to cook. Where else can you get a prime rib dinner with an additional bone on the plate, side dish of kraut, potato, roll and soup or salad for $8 anymore?

                  My husband and I like good, fresh, quality food and do not want to pay for the location or rent of the building, but rather the food and its quality. Sausage King makes good quality smoked meats also (the old fashioned bacon you can eat without cooking) its run by Germans, but only make sandwiches, which is not what the OP was asking about...I hadn't mentioned that place because its just meats and not all German foods, per se.

                  I answer questions like this one posed because the Original Poster asked about German food in San Diego. I am pretty sure I know what their question meant: They either have a craving for something like "home" or because it is nearly Oktoberfest time they might just be looking for something 'touristy'.

                  Your posts regarding Tip Top have been vehemently nasty and I do think quite unfair. kare-risu has been to Germany relatively recently and seems to not agree with you, as do many others who suggest Tip Top and those who keep going to Tip Top.

                  The meats are of good quality and the store has people placing orders for the holidays already. If it were that bad, they would not be in business after all these years.

                  1. re: Cathy

                    I guess we could argue for ever and don't agree on Tip Top Meat.
                    I recently had dinner at Tip Top Meats with other Germans and the Rotkohl and Sauerkraut were both just horrible directly out of the glass (and sadly enough not even better quality one like the one from Kuehne). The rolls are americanized and don't taste like anything from Germany. My Zwiebelbraten was full of fat, the onion still raw and the meat was definitely not high quality. The other meals were on the same level. And if you think that Tip Top Meats is like "mom used to cook." than I am sorry to say that your mom can't cook. BTW, I am just curious when you were the last time in Germany.
                    And it is also not true that for example Major Market meat is much more expensive than Tip Top Meat. Certain cuts are more expensive at Major Market, some at Tip Top Meats but the overall quality is definitely much better at Major Market. I agree that Wholefood is more expensive but also much better than Tip Top. In addition the Leberwurst at Kontinental is even cheaper than at Tip Top Meats.
                    Dont' always hype Tip Top Meats with arguements which are not true.

                    1. re: honkman

                      So, its horrible, but you go there and order dishes that are difficult to make anywhere, much less at such a place you know to be not authentic....interesting. I don't bother wasting my money at someplace I know to be bad, or I at least order something they can't screw up, like soup or salad or something basic.

                      I am Polish, my husband is Finnish. I grew up in a Polish-German neighborhood and all the places owned my Germans were named Tip Top (bakery and bar and corner meat store)when we moved out here we went to Hadleys, walked out the door, saw the sign "Tip Top Meats" and had to try it.

                      Both of our sets of parents lived through the depression and cooked in the old country way. My husbands parents ran a truck stop restaurant in Helsinki and the money from the juke box paid the rent...the rest was profit...when they moved here, his dad became a professional chef. We like hearty, good, fresh foods.

                      Major, as a market is overpriced on regular items. There are specialty items and kobe meats are only found at Major. The bakery items are fresh made at Major. Tip Top has the smokehouse in the back and makes the sausages there. Major only makes the Italian and brats in house. They both sell organic turkeys for the holidays and price per pound is slightly less at Tip Top. Comparing the 2 stores is apples and oranges.

                      No, we will never agree on Tip Top, but if I don't like someplace I merely don't recommend it and try to suggest to someone an alternative as to what they are looking for..I don't tell them to never eat that type of food again and to get a plane ticket out of here to find something good....and I don't patronize someplace I think has bad food...

                      1. re: Cathy

                        I went to Tip Top because I was invited (I wrote that in a post before but apparently Chowhound has deleted some parts of the post) and since when is Zwiebelbraten difficult to make ? I thought about the salad but when I saw that they gave another customer small salad dressing package from Kraft instead of making their own I thought I would go for something easy - Zwiebelbraten.
                        And for my own recommendation: As I wrote before I recommend Kontinental Deli for their food. (Much better Sauerkraut, good Kassler). I also wrote that I haven't tried Chef Axels place but that at least their menu looks very promising. And for buying meat I think there are better places like Major Market, Wholefood, some Chinese supermarket (Lucky Seafood has some good meats).

                        1. re: Cathy

                          If it matters I actually like Tip Top Meat's smoke house food. It is hard to find real smoked BBQ in San Diego but they do honest and truly smoke their meat until it gets a nice thick smoke ring. It takes them eight or more hours to smoke their stuff and to me that tastes like gold.

                      2. re: Cathy

                        Sausage King on Washington is the best I have found for cold cuts and sausages, wurst salad, etc. I love real wienerschnitzel, but haven't had a really good version outside of Germany.

                  2. I eat at Kaiserhoff fairly often. It's probably the best German food you will find in SD. The Jagerschnitzel is excellent and the beer is great! Also, I recommend the goulash soup. And the Steak tartar is quite good, either as an appetizer or a main dish.

                    1. Kaiserhof serves mediocre food and isn't the best german good in town. They are also overpriced for the quality of food they deliver (their vegetables and potatoes are horrible, the meat not really high quality etc).

                      1. Has anyone tried Edelweiss in Chula Vista on 3rd Avenue? It's another German restaurant that has been around a while....

                        1 Reply
                        1. There hasn't been a half-way decent German restaurant in San Diego since Cafe Vienna in the College Area closed in about 1983. Kaiserhoff and Tip Top are pathetic compared to what Cafe Vienna used to be.

                          1. The Sausage King

                            German cold cuts & sausages. The best German food in town by far. Phenomenal salamis and lunchmeats. Tip Top doesn't come anywhere close. I never would have eaten head cheese or blood and tongue until I tasted theirs. Now I'm a convert.

                            I looooooovvvvveee Ths Sausage King!!!!!!! It's not a large shop, but what they have is stellar. In Mission Hills on Washington between Goldfinch and Falcon.

                            1. The best German food in San Diego is made by my mother in law who's from a small village near Munich. Other than that, German Restaurants in San Diego are more novelty than anything else. For fun, try the little cafe situated on Lake Cuyamaca. The owner's from Austria and he's created a nice roadside restaurant which features a few common German style plates. The beers are what I like including (in LARGE bottles) Franziskaner Hefe Weizen, Paulaner, Spaten etc. or Bud and Coors and if you really push the waitress, you can have your proper German bier in a proper German bier glass! In a pinch we visit Sausage King or Tip Top, but for important occasions like the holiday's we shop at Alpine Village in Torrance.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: motofreddy

                                Try Chef Axel's place is La Mesa. It is pretty good German food. Much better than anything else you will get in SD (but of course homemade is always the best).


                                1. re: honkman

                                  Is he open regularly again? Friends told me that he was open only one day a week because of his catering business. Does anyone know?

                                  1. re: Ed Dibble

                                    Axel told me in July he would be closed throughout August...the place should be open now.

                                    1. re: pbhomey

                                      I'll try it. I've driven past on several occasions and noticed the Bavarian style flags out front. Not my favorite area of town but I guess never judge a book by it's cover. Another place we've tried with some success is a place called The Linkery near Upas & 30th http://thelinkery.com/index.html
                                      Kind of "fusion" German food if you could call it that. A little pricey but has well prepared food, good beer including German and Micro Brews, and has a link to Bavaria through it's proprietor. A nice place to visit on a blustery Saturday afternoon.
                                      I think the restaurant at Lake Cuyamaca is simply called Lake Cuyamaca
                                      Restaurant, located at 15027 Highway 79

                                      1. re: motofreddy

                                        You will find many positive reviews on this boards about the Linkery but I would say it is a bit far fetched to call it even German influenced. I would say they are sometimes Mexican influenced but have normally quite unique dishes.

                                        1. re: honkman

                                          The same could be said about the restaurant at Lake Cuyamaca. Mostly American / Mexican food with a few typical German dishes and beer, prepared by a Mexican kitchen staff and owned by someone with Germanic roots.
                                          The few dishes we've had at the Linkery were VERY German and distinctly presented as we've found in Germany...a basic no nonsense plate of fresh bratwurst, correctly prepared sauerkraut, pickled cucumber - onion salad, mustard, rolls and a tasty glass of Hefe Weizen. Yes the menu is mostly non German but according to my wife, the sausage and how it's presented is about as close to Germany as you can find anywhere outside of Germany - especially San Diego. The menu at the Linkery changes quite often so it's possible they don't have "German" type dishes all of the time.
                                          Obviously sausage and sauerkraut aren't the only German dishes out there so we'll try Chef Axel's on your and other recommendation.

                                          1. re: motofreddy

                                            The Choucroute plate (the one with sauerkraut) is always on their menu and very good (by far the best sauerkraut in SD).

                                            1. re: honkman

                                              If you want authentic German food, you need to head to El Cajon... The German American Society of San Diego. The Oktoberfest weekends you'll find Ox, Lebercase, Bratwurst, Partoffel Pfannkuchen and pastries... it's not what I would call restaurant style, because it's made by members to family recipes. There will be a band right out of Germany playing typical music, and you'll see people dressed in traditional lederhosen and dierndels. Come join the celebration

                                              1017 South Mollison
                                              El Cajon, CA 92020

                                              1. re: herr werner

                                                hey guys, try out california currywurst kings!! www.californiacurrywurstkings.com - German Guys who are selling real german currywurst ! Try it, i am german and i can tell you - the best currywurst i ever had outside germany! they are selling on farmers markets - listed on their website !!! see you out there near california currywurst kings,

                                                Max Bahr