a foodie weekend in hamburg
Although Hamburg may be well known for its raunchy red light district and stag do booze scene, it also has a strong culinary side to it too. Being in the north of Germany, the port city is on both the North Sea and the Elbe river meaning it has direct access to fresh fish and local produce. We recently visited for a long weekend with Visit Hamburg to get a taste of the local cuisine. Here are our highlights.
WHERE TO STAY
Opening this year, Hotel Tortue is based in Stadthausbrücke in the heart of the city and is easily accessible from the sites by the nearest subway. The boutique hotel has seven different room choices, with everything from small rooms to the Tortue suite, a whopping 70sqm and comes with its very own sauna. The hotel also is very technology focused, with rooms having six different light settings and built-in iPads for you to call reception and order room service. Rooms also come with a complimentary mini bar and Nespresso machine so you can get your coffee fix without heading to the brasserie. Don’t fancy leaving the hotel? Downstairs there are three bars and two restaurants so you don’t have too.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
St Pauli seems to be the centre of food culture in the city, with new restaurants opening regularly. Hamburgers are able to source their ingredients and food from the Rindermarkthalle, a former warehouse which has been converted into a shopping and restaurant hall. Here you can find everything from huge supermarket Edeka to chocolate shops. It’s worth noting that Germany has a strong bread culture – back in 2014 it was awarded a UNESCO World Heritage listing for its 3200 bread varieties – and there are five bakeries to explore in the Rindermarkthalle.
Another typical Hamburg and North German delicacy you can try at the bakeries is the Franzbrötchen, a small sweet cinnamon pastry. If your wanting something a bit more substantial then head to Metzgers and try the Laubskaus, which is similar to a corned beef hash and is a mix of salted meat, mash potato and beetroot topped with a quails egg and a side of salted herring – yum! During our trip we noticed how conscious Hamburgers are of plastic pollution and how the city collectively is trying to manage it. So much so, within the Rindermarkthalle you can shop at the Stuckgut, where there’s no packaging and customers have to bring their own tupperware. We need more of these places in London.
The Isemarkt with Smutje’s Landgang
Held every Tuesday and Saturday the Isemarkt is over 1km long. Filled with over 200 traders, the market sells some of the best quality local fruit, veg and produce in the city. We’d recommend joining a guided tour of the market with a local chef as it it’s so big you can easily miss some real treats. A tour at Kochschule will take you around the market shopping for fresh ingredients and includes a cooking class with a skilled chef.
Bars and restaurants
With so many to choose from we were spoilt for choice with restaurants and bars during our trip to Hamburg. Luckily our tour guides took us to some of the best the city has to offer. First up was Picnic Bar, which is located in the old warehouse district. With a menu filled with salads and paninis we would recommend stopping here for lunch whilst exploring the cultural and historical sites of the area.
The Standard is another place to add to your list, the cocktail/wine bar is hidden just off the Reeperbahn. Serving up small plates the bar has a very hipster vibe to it, with local produce making up its daily menu. Be sure to try the Gurkenspritz. Another local dish that’s a must try is the FischBrotchen, a fish bun. You can choose between salmon, mackerel, herring and prawn, all locally sourced from the port, and they come with pickles and onions. Serving up some of the best in the city is Bruckes 10 plus it’s right on the sea front.
Café Paris has got quite the reputation in Hamburg and is easily recognisable thanks to that very instagrammable ceiling. The restaurant specialises in tartare, with five different varieties on offer, with oysters and French cheeses also on the menu. You’ll defo want to leave room for their homemade macarons too. If you fancy being somewhere with a bit of a party vibe then head to Uberquell. Located on the water front, the brewery/restaurant serves up Neapolitan-style pizza and a range of German beer, including five brewed on site. If you’re after a real taste of German beer, this is the place.
WHAT TO DO
Tour through the Speicherstadt and Hafencity
With Hamburg being a coastal city it has loads of history in trading, especially with goods such as coffee, rugs and tea. All of these can be found in the Speicherstadt, the old warehouse district, which is also included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Here you can visit the coffee museum and the maritime museum, where you can learn more about the importance of Hamburg to the importation of goods to Germany.
The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
Standing at 110 metres tall by the river Elbe, it will be hard to miss the Elbphilharmonie. The venue which gives you a birds eye view of the city acts as a viewing platform, hotel, music venue and café. The base of the building was built back in the 1960s and used as a warehouse but the top part is a relatively new addition, only being finished in 2017 and costing a whopping €789 million. Don’t miss the Concert Hall either. Constructed by Japanese acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota the concert hall ranks in the top 10 in the world.