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Sep 3, 2013 03:06 AM

Asking for a little help on Cologne, Bonn, Frankfurt and Mainz

I have found reading past threads extremely useful. I am looking here for any updates, and any and all tips for enjoyable eating in these cities, and opinions on the following places specifally:

In Cologne

Wein am Rhein

In Frankfurt

African House

(I am particularly interested in interesting places to eat in Frankfurt within a 20 minute walk of the Rossmarkt, the central train station, and Hamburger Allee)


FIsch Jackob
Weinhaus zum Beichtstuhl
(or anyplace in central Mainz, really could use some guidance about local cuisine)


A good place for lunch near the train station or the Kunstmuseum (other than the museum cafe)?

I speak less than 20 words of conversational German and will be armed with a menu translator, but patient, kindly service will be a big plus, so please help steer me away from anyplace that can't accommodate me.

In Frankfurt and Cologne I will have time for at least one leisurely, upscale dinner, but otherwise, I will want simpler meals and informal settings that fit into a busy day. I'd like to mix in some salad meals and seafood meals. I really don't care for contemporary international restaurant cooking. Would rather eat well with traditional German or immigrant cooking.

Also, if any place you recommend needs a reservation, please let me know.

Thanks so much for any thoughts or tips you can share.

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  1. Of the 5 places you mentioned in Frankfurt, I have tried Heimat and Salzkammer. Both are good but different.

    Salzkammer is a very casual place that has great service and good Austrian food. What I like about the place is sitting outside when the weather is nice, chatting with their staff, and enjoying their farmer's plate of minced meat, potatoes, and cheese (bauern P'fander'l...). It's the only thing I ever eat there. It's a reliable place for a quick lunch or a more leisurely (and casual) dinner. It's also a fun place to watch people from because it sits on a smaller side street, across from another restaurant called Walden, next to a cafe/chocolaterie, around the corner from Goethe's house, etc. Heimat's location isn't that great. Heimat is rather isolated by itself on a busy, ugly street across from an ugly industrial-looking building that should be torn down or remodeled. At Salzkammer, it is nice to sit outside, at Heimat, it's probably better to sit at the bar inside or at a table inside. Heimat's menu and ambiance is very different from Salzkammer. Their food and wine selection is great, probably more 'international restaurant' cooking than Salzkammer. You could also try Margarete, which is closer to the Romer, farther from Rossmarkt than Salzkammer, but not that much farther. Margarete has an informal cafe/bar in the front, but their restaurant in the back is sleek and more modern. I have only dined at the restaurant in the back and I have really enjoyed the food and wine there. When I first moved to Frankfurt and was staying in a hotel, I dined there once or twice a week. The other 'more upscale' restaurants that you may want to check out is Emma Metzler, on the other side of the Main, near the Museums; or Lohninger, which is not far from Emma Metzler. Lohninger is one of my favorites for an upscale lunch or dinner. Depending on what night you are going, I would recommend reservations for Heimat, Lohninger and Margarete. Salzkammer is big enough that you probably don't need reservations unless you are a big party. Most all of these places do salads and seafoods. Most places in Frankfurt have someone on their staff who speaks English so you shouldn't have any problems communicating.

    I'm not sure what immigrant cooking you prefer, but if you want fresh seafood as in sashimi, you can't go wrong with Sushimoto, a Japanese restaurant. Their diverse lunch menus are a great deal for sashimi, nigiri sushi, grilled salmon and mackerel or even Ton-katsu. If you like deep-fried Thai fish, Arroydee is a very very casual and cheap Thai restaurant that is always packed day and lunch. Think more Bangkok than Frankfurt and you won't be too surprised by the terse service, the loud environment, and the hot temperature inside and outside the restaurant. I have tried several African and Vietnamese restaurants, but nothing that I would really recommend or necessarily want to repeat.

    If you want really informal and fast, every Friday there is a farmer's market by the Borse. You can easily grab a grilled chicken, bratwurst or something else to eat (cheese and mixed salamis) and enjoy a glass or two of sekt or wine at the wine stand in front of the Borse or the wine stand near the Eschersheimer Tor. When the weather is nice, the Friday market is a nice way to end a busy work week.

    Hope this helps.

    3 Replies
    1. re: lecker

      It helps a great deal, thank you!

      I googled up menu and pictures, and Margarete had the most appealing menu and ambience, but I see that their restaurant section is not open for Saturday lunch, but only their bar and cafe. Do you know if they serve food on Saturdays similar to their daily offerings? I can't tell from their websiteu. (I also might try Margarete for a Monday lunch, but that is a tighter squeeze).

      Do have any opinion about Pielok or Immer Satt?

      I gather these are very humble restaurants near my hotel on Hamburger Allee which some people like. Even if you don't know these places specifically, what are the chances of getting pleasant, fresh food in very simple neighborhood places? My feeling in that in New York City and London, you can be taking your life into your hands! Most American or British "coffee shop" food is inedible. I doubt I will want more than one upscale meal in Frankfurt, but if convenient little neighborhood places serving the traditional cuisine are more bad than good, then I will go looking for non-German food.

      My touchstone for non-German food is cooking that meets a certain standard because there are enough local immigrants living in Frankfurt to know the difference between a lousy version of their home cuisine and the real thing (within reason). I live in Italy, so I can readily skip Italian food in Germany, and I will be heading to Ireland and France immediately after, so just about anything else that is done well in Frankfurt is of interest to me. I don't need upscale for that, but I think I still want friendly service and a comfortable space.

      Thanks again, and if you have any more thoughts, I would be grateful to hear them!

      1. re: barberinibee

        Sorry for the delay- I didn't have a chance to sign onto the board.

        Because I haven't been to eitherPielok or Immer Satt, I can not speak about their food. Their menu looks normal and similar to what is offered at other restaurants so I would not go out of my way to venture there. I live in the city center so I tend to stay around the city center or venture across the Main to Sachsenhausen; I rarely go to dine near the Uni or the HBF.

        Not sure what you mean by "coffee shop" food being inedible. usually in coffee shops, I drink coffee, I don't eat food there. Most coffee shops I frequent only serve coffee and sometimes a cake or pie, rarely do they serve food.

        At the moment, the pop up restaurant is in Frankfurt until mid Oct. If you google pret a diner, you can learn more about the chefs and what they are cooking. If that interests you and your visit coincides with the pret a diner timing, and you can book a table, that might be bother interesting dining experience in Frankfurt.

        At the top of the Kaufhof- Galleria, they have a cafe or restaurant. I haven't been there but I have heard that they have fresh food (veggies) and a cheap selection for lunch (less than 5 euro). You may want to try that. Again, I haven't been so I can not vouch for the quality.

        As for Maragrete, I am not sure about their Sat lunch offerings. I usually went for dinners during the week. But their bar/cafe probably shares the same kitchen so perhaps they offer the same menu in the bar/cafe area as well.

        I haven't found any stellar French restaurants here in Frankfurt. Because France is so close, it is better to drive over the border to France and enjoy some wonderful French food and wine there.

        Enjoy your trip!

        1. re: lecker

          Thank you for your reply, and sorry for my delayed one, but we ended up turning back at the last minute from boarding our plane, just steps from the check in desk, when we discovered at the airport (by visiting the small emergency hospital there) that my husband was suffering an outbreak of a long dormant chicken pox virus! It was creating blisters on his face!

          It was quite bizarre, and even though the airport doctor wrote us an easily filled prescription for anti-virals and assured us it was absolutely safe to fly and travel, he also warned us that the virus could cause facial paralysis, blindness and debilitating pain -- so we lost our appetite for vacationing!

          We still want to go to Cologne and Frankfurt, so thank you very much for offering your advice. My husband is already close to fully recovered, and we hope to make this trip early next year. (In fact, we still hope to do the French portion of our trip next week.)

          Regarding "coffee shops", in America they are also called "diners" and they serve very inexpensive breakfasts, lunches and dinners, all with very basic, old'fashioned foods. They existed before fast-food chains to serve basically the same needs. Most of them are just terrible, but sometimes they are okay, and even charming, and "typically" American.

          The eateries I mentioned in Frankfurt -- Pielok and Immer Satt -- just happened to be very close to my hotel -- so I was wondering if it would be interesting to eat there, especially since I had planned to have some fancier lunches.

          Thanks again for all your advice and enlightenment! It will be put to good use in the future. By next year, I will also be much more familiar with the German language and German menus. If we are lucky, we can take our trip during asparagus season.

    2. Diners are more a US concept, but if that kind of place is what you are looking for, the only place that I can think of that reminds me of a US diner is Cafe Libretto, next to the City's library.
      Unlike most places, they are open 7 days a week. I would recommend it for simple breakfasts, lunch or an afternoon cake/coffee. I enjoy eating their Swedish apple cake with a cappuccino. If you like apples, you may also like their delicious apple cake. Whenever they run out, I am always disappointed but then I go back the next day, much earlier. Bear in mind that their cakes are nothing like US diner cakes. The German cakes have less sugar and more flavor than US cakes. I am quickly becoming a cake/coffee eater since I moved to Germany. I probably go there once a week for my cake/cappuccino, and I have lunched there a few times on my way to the library. It isn't anything Michelin level but it's fresh and decent. What I like about Libretto is that it's a place frequented by regulars, the staff are super friendly, service-oriented (which is not the norm in Germany) and wonderful, and the food is consistently fresh and good. I would say it's many steps above the typical US diner food. And it doesn't have the grease that is typical for diner food, which can be a good or a bad thing, depending on what you prefer. Hope your husband is better.