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Nov 30, 2009 12:34 PM

Best Cheap Eats In Germany, Belgium, Amsterdam

Looking for guidance...Any ideas?

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  1. Germany: döner, falafel, currywurst & fries, kaiser-rolls w/cold cuts and/or cheese
    Belgium: fries
    Netherlands: herring, fries with mayo and peanut sauce (don't knock it till ya tried it), poffertjes, any of the funky brown thingees one can buy from the automat (FEBO).

    1. When I was in Germany, I survived on the street food - bratwurst, fries, döner (some kind of near-gyro, but not quite), and freshly-baked pretzels. I also ate a lot of pastries. I didn't sit down for many extended meals - too much to see and do - but I had several "Schweinehaxen" - pork hocks rotisserie-cooked until brown and crispy on the outside and juicy and fall-off-the-bone tender on the inside. Those ran about $8-$10 with fries, or maybe $10-$12 with salad, kraut, and potatoes, but they would probably serve two, or one person for a whole day.

      And remember - beer over there is usually the least expensive thing to drink on the menu. Soft drinks are small, and don't even think about a free refill - or an ice cube. I was in Germany for three weeks, and was served a grand total of 2 ice cubes the entire time I was there... Not complaining - I lived with it - but it's one of those differences that makes travel interesting.

      Train stations, at least in the bigger cities, always have lots of quick-service food places that are relatively cheap, either inside the stations, or surrounding them.

      7 Replies
      1. re: greghoffman

        Terrific. Thanks a ton! Any recommendations on the best places where to get these things? In particular where can I find the best "Schweinehaxen" or doner? Do I have to be in Berlin or Munich? I'm heading northwest from Frankfurt so we're looking at the Dusseldorf/Cologne area or in that general vicinity. Same question for Brussels or Antwerp and Amsterdam. Any particular places stand out? Thanks again.

        PS: I'll miss my icecubes.

        1. re: cpbell14

          You can get Schweinshaxen both in Munich and Berlin. Döner is available EVERYWHERE in Germany, just keep your eyes open & you're bound to bump into a döner stand. Same with currywurst, pretzels, and sandwiches.

          Also, you can't really go wrong ordering fries in Brussels or Amsterdam.

          You'll manage w/out the icecubes.

          1. re: linguafood

            Great. Thanks so much)) Your reputation for helpful info precedes you. BTW, have you ever traveled/eaten in northwestern France?...Metz, Strasbourg area? Looking for raclette.

            1. re: cpbell14

              I haven't eaten here, but there's a cheese shop/restaurant in Strasbourg that advertises raclette:

          2. re: cpbell14

            Dusseldorf was where I was staying/working in Germany. The best Schweinehaxe in Dusseldorf was at a place called Schweine Janes. There is also a really good pizza place in downtown Dusseldorf called Lupo Pizzeria. You can walk in, order the pizza at the counter, and be eating it in less than 5 minutes - including making the thing from scratch and baking it in a wood-fired oven. I think both of these places were on Bolker Strasse - the "main drag" in downtown Dusseldorf - also known as "Germany's Longest Bar". There are lots of good places to get an altbier - the local brew.

            There's a great pretzel place in the Dusseldorf train station called Brezel Bub (I think). And yes - there are Doner places everywhere, and, as far as I can tell, they all taste the same.

            Here's a link to some pictures I took in Dusseldorf - several other restaurants and bars. I never had a bad meal in Germany.


            Also, if you're looking for a really nice day/side trip, look into Monschau - on the Germany/Belgium border. It's a really nicely preserved old German town with lots of local hand-crafted items to buy as souvenirs - pictures here:



            1. re: cpbell14

              In Munich, for Schweinehaxen, the Augustiner Kellar near the Haupbahnhof is excellent. Have some of their cakes for dessert along with the beer served right out of the wooden kegs.

              1. re: cpbell14

                You won't miss the ice cubes when you try the beer/apfelschorle/etc.

            2. I've been following this thread as well as your others and have held off recommendations until I understood better what you were looking for. First, I would suggest that trying to visit both Strasbourg/Alsace and Belgium/Amsterdam I think you'll spend more time in the car than in the cities. If you decide to go the Cologne to Belgium to Amsterdam route I can only agree with th other posts. For specifics in Cologne I would suggest Peter's Brauhaus IMHO the best kolsch brauhaus in the city. I find Sion, Fruh and Gaffel to be too touristy and I prefer the beer. You can get schweinshaxe there or you could even visit the Haxenhaus (touristy but very traditional). Both places have web sites.
              If you decide to go the Strasbourg/Alsace route I would suggest it's harder to find more affordable good food. Most of the places there (especially in Alsace) are overpriced in my opinion. However, if you visit look for flammkuchen (Alsatian pizza) as a more reasonable priced local product. For slightly more substantial but affordable places in Alsace I suggest Winstub du Sommelier in Bergheim and Zum Pfifferhus in Ribeauville. If you are interested in wine Hugel in Riquewihr is open to the public.

              On the way to Cologne a short trip from Frankfurt I would suggest a stop at Zum Krug in Hattenheim, even an overnight if possible.

              On the way to Strasbourg I would suggest a stop in the Pfalz at Zum Weissen Ross in Kallstadt.

              Both of these offer an opportunity to experience the local food and wine in the best and more reasonable settings possible.


              7 Replies
              1. re: Trip Klaus

                Thanks everyone for the thorough recommendations. I hear you on the tackling too many cities in a short time, but I like traveling that way---get into a city in the early afternoon, check it out, grab a bite to eat, breakfast the next morning and then move onto the next city. I was thinking of doing it by train this time (I've done it in England and throughout the US by car---part of a baseball stadium tour), but I'm worried from your post, Trip K, that I might miss a lot along the way. I'm in no way married to big cities so stopping and staying in Hattenheim for example, is completely do-able.

                I'm still in flux on where to go and have added to the mix the possibility of ditching Amsterdam for an extra night in France (perhaps Reims?). My choices, as I see them, are Frankfurt-Alsace-Brussels-Brugges or Antwerp-Amsterdam-Cologne or Frankfurt-Alsace (2 places)-Brussels-Brugges or Antwerp-Cologne. Or, and I don't mean to spin your head, avoid France and do more of Germany. Sorry I'm all over the map (literally) on this, but I've never visited these areas and the food is the key to my trip. I'm just trying to find the best food route. I have an open plane ticket and can leave (back to Moscow where I live) from anywhere in that neighborhood of Europe.


                1. re: cpbell14

                  Ditch Amsterdam if you like. One does not go to Amsterdam for the food, but for Amsterdam.

                  Nevertheless, you will be missing out on a lot if you choose Reims over Amsterdam. The Amsterdam atmosphere, architecture, monuments and other attractions are comparable to none.

                  Besides, there are many fine restaurants in Amsterdam, for any taste, for any wallet. If you like, I will reveal them to you (depending on taste & wallet). But your main interest should be Amsterdam, The City. Not the occasional schnitzel outtake.

                  BTW, if you talk food, you talk drink. Amsterdam has a *fabulous* taste in beers & gins, and it even offers a wider variety of wines than Reims.

                  1. re: cpbell14

                    If you really want to explore Germany, I'd suggest doing it by car, also. The train system in Germany was great - fast, clean, and it went everywhere - but as mentioned above, you'll miss out on all the stuff in between the major train stations. I spent three weeks in Germany - on a work assignment in Dussledorf, so I used the trains exclusively during the week, but on the weekends, I'd rent a car and just explore. Things in Germany are relatively close together. I'd usually drive on the autobahns or other major roads for awhile and look for church steeples in the distance and exit and drive toward them. You can easily hit 4-5 of these smaller towns in a day.

                    You _can_ get to these smaller towns without a car, but sometimes it'll require a lot of train/bus changes and a lot of extra time spent waiting.

                    Since this is a food board, my suggestion for these little towns is just to talk to the locals - I found German people to be more than willing to make suggestions, and most of them spoke English very well. And, as I had mentioned before, I did not have a bad meal in Germany. I liked some meals better than others, but I never had any food that wasn't expertly prepared with high-quality ingredients. Germans were really proud of their local foods - ask the Dusseldorfers about their mustard or the altbier and they'll tell you everything you'd want to know. Monschau was also known for their mustard mill.

                    1. re: greghoffman

                      Thanks, all, for helping me despite my wildly indecisive, unspecific needs. I think what I have here plus what I've found on other threads will get me through my tour. If anyone wants add a specific restaurant that's lone-diner friendly in Northern France, Western Germany, Belguim and Amsterdam (any city, large or small), feel free to toss it my way. Greg's car idea is starting to sound better and better. Thanks again!

                      1. re: cpbell14

                        While you'll be more flexible with a car, keep in mind that gas prices in Germany are realistic. With that, I mean gas is MUCH more expensive than what Americans are used to. So getting a full tank can add up. OTOH, train travel is convenient, but can also be ridiculously overpriced, lest you book in advance and get some special deals.

                        But hey, maybe budget's not something you need to worry about!

                        1. re: cpbell14

                          I may have missed it - did you say when you were going? I noticed that, at least in Germany, many restaurants had seasonal menus. For instance, I was there in early April, and it was "Spargel" - white asparagus - season. Every restaurant I went to had tons of spargel on the special "spargel menu" - it was everywhere. I had one spargel meal - cream of spargel soup, and cooked (steamed, I think) spargel with a small side order of pork - the asparagus was definitely the main course. It was good, for asparagus, but it was one of those signs of spring - y'know, like seeing your first marshmallow Peep in the stores in the US... :-)

                          1. re: greghoffman

                            Going from 1/1 to 1/8, Greg, which means no spargel for me---a pity to miss from what I've read. As for car costs, I just did a west coast swing of England in October (Cornwalling) and was more than a little shocked at the gas prices. It's why trains seemed like a better way to go this time. HST, I don't want to miss out on a small gem because it's not on the train map. Tough call on top of other tough calls. Budget is an issue, lingua, and I heard that pre-booking trains is a must. I'm mulling, mulling...