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Munich Food: 16 Traditional Foods You Must Try in Munich

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Traditional pork knuckle in a dark beer sauce in Munich

The charming German city of Munich is famous for being home to luxury vehicle maker BMW, the annual Oktoberfest festival, and the FC Bayern Munich football (soccer) team. But what about the food in Munich? If you wondering what to eat in Munich, read on to discover 16 must-eat Munich food favorites that you simply should not miss during your trip to the Bavarian capital.

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What is Traditional Munich Food?

Munich is a great city to eat German food and global cuisine between sightseeing and other extracurricular activities. The city has restaurants, cafés, and pubs serving a variety of tasty food at all price points.

However, when visiting Munich you should definitely make it a priority to try some of the city’s typical food offerings. Much of traditional Munich food developed in the Bavarian countryside, where hard-working farmers required high-carbohydrate food. Bavarian cuisine 

These hearty, no-nonsense dishes were made using local, fresh produce – freshly baked homemade bread, noodles, a plethora of various types of dumplings along with things like home-reared meat, farm-produced cheeses, and river fish. 

Given Bavaria’s proximity to Austria, in addition to linguistic and cultural similarities, Bavarian cuisine is closely tied to Austrian cuisine.

Munich was the seat of the Wittelsbach dynasty for centuries and these rural influences were refined into solidly bourgeois cuisine.

Munich Food: Beer

Man holding a maß of Augustiner Helles beer at a restaurant in Munich

Drinking beer is a way of life in Munich and Munich’s brewing history is almost as old as the city itself. In Munich, just as in the rest of Bavaria, beer is generally considered a staple food and is fondly known as “liquid bread.”

As early as 1487, Duke Albrecht IV issued the Munich Purity Law, stipulating that only hops, water, and malt were permitted as ingredients in Munich beer. In 1516, this became Bavarian law as it developed into the Reinheitsgebot (German Purity Law) and in 1906, became a brewing law for all of Germany.

The following are the most popular beer styles in Munich you should definitely try are – 

Munich beer: A glass of wheat beer at Schneider Bräuhaus in Munich
  • Weissbier (Wheat Beer): Known to outsiders as Hefeweizen, weissbier is fondly called “Bavarian cappuccino.” It is tart, spicy, and fruity with flavors of banana, clove, and occasionally even bubble gum aroma due to its high content of active yeast. It’s my personal favorite out of all the Bavarian beers.
  • Helles (Light Beer): undoubtedly the most popular Munich beer style, it was introduced in the 1890s, ostensibly as a competitor to the popular Czech Pilsner. A lager by definition, this attractive gold-colored beer is crisp and dry, with little aroma or aftertaste, and possesses a mildly malty flavor. 
  • Pils (Pilsner): Pale to golden in color pils are light, crisp beers with a floral aroma Similar in character to the Helles, a pils is less sweet and more strongly hopped.
  • Dunkles (Dark Beer): This bottom-fermented lager-style beer dark beer style offers balanced flavors of chocolate, toffee, bread crust, and caramel. It was the dominant beer style in Munch until the arrival of Helles.
  • Märzen: Mildly hoppy, toasty, and with soft malty notes, märzen is a copper-colored lager that is traditionally enjoyed during autumn and particularly during Oktoberfest. 
  • Bock/Doppelbock: Dark, heavy, and malty beers, these beers are often consumed during the winter months as they contain sweet, toasty, and often caramel flavors and aromas.

The most famous breweries based in Munich (the so-called “Big Six”) are Augustiner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbrau, Lowenbrau, Paulaner, and Spaten. Munich’s beer scene is dominated by these brands and you can find their beers everywhere in beer halls, pubs, restaurants, beer gardens, and supermarkets. 

Call me a beer snob, but I’m not a fan of any of Munich’s “Big Six” breweries. If I have to recommend one though, go for Augustiner, which most Münchners also seem to favor.

Besides the “Big Six,” a few other regional Bavarian breweries like Ayinger, Andechs, Weihenstephan, Weltenburg, Schneider Weisse, and König Ludwig have a smaller but discernible presence in the city. 

In my opinion, these breweries brew better beer than the “Big Six” breweries of Munich. I personally love Ayinger, Weihenstephaner, and Schneider Weisse, so I would highly recommend those. 

Fun Fact

Located in the town of Freising, just 32 north of Munich, Weihenstephan lays claim to being the oldest continuously operating brewery in the world and has been brewing beer at least since 1040. Interestingly, Weltenburg, which lies in the town of Kelheim, 90 km north of Munich, is the second-oldest continuously operating brewery in the world and has been brewing beer since 1050.

I should mention that Munich beers have never been noted for their hoppiness so all you hopheads should keep that in mind. The craft beer scene in Munich has steadily grown over the last few years but is still very much a niche market. 

If you’re looking for craft beer in Munich, check out True Brew, BrewsLi, Tap-House, or Biervana.

Munich Food: Snacks, Sides & Soups

Some of the best food in Munich comes in the form of snacks, sides & soups.

1. Brez’n

A bowl of salted pretzels in Munich

Where would Munich be without brez’n? Known to tourists as a “pretzel”, the brez’n is an integral part of daily life in the Bavarian capital and is eaten throughout the day.

Authentic pretzels have a sightly salted crust, and are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Before baking, pretzels are dipped in lye, a sodium hydroxide solution that gives them their unique chestnut brown sheen and unmistakable alkali flavor.

Experiencing the rapid transition from the very crisp crust to the chewy and fluffy interior is one of the pleasures of biting into a brez’n. 

Pretzels are usually sprinkled heavily with coarse grains of salt before they are baked, but sesame, anise, poppy, sunflower, pumpkin, or caraway seeds, melted cheese, and bacon bits are all common alternatives.

Some bakeries in the city offer pretzels made of different flours, such as whole wheat, rye, or spelt (dinkel wheat). They also come in different sizes and can even take on XXL format. Whichever one you choose, you won’t be disappointed!

2. Obazda

A plate of authentic Obazda in Munich

Obazda (also spelled Obatzda) is a piquant cheese specialty that is an indispensable part of Bavarian cuisine. It takes its name from the Bavarian word “obatzn” (to crush, mix, blend).

Obazda consists of ripe or overripe Camembert and/or Brie cheese, cream cheese, caraway seeds, cloves, onions, butter, paprika, salt, and pepper with a small amount of beer. The ingredients are mixed together until a spreadable, creamy mash is formed.

Authentic Obazda must consist of at least 40% Camembert and/or Brie and the proportion of cheese in total must be at least 50%. It is served as a spread on bread or on a pretzel in most beer gardens and taverns.

Obazda is one of my favorite Bavarian foods and I’m glad that it’s easily available here in Austria.

3. Weisswurst

A plate of Weisswurst, sweet mustard and a pretzel in Munich

Nothing screams Munich food as strongly as the iconic Weisswurst (“white sausage”) and it is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this sausage in the culture of Munich. 

Weisswurst is a parboiled greyish-white sausage made from a mixture of finely minced veal, back bacon, and spices stuffed into pork casings.

Weisswürste are typically seasoned with parsley, onions, and lemon as well as ground spices such as nutmeg, cardamom, mace, and ginger. So, what’s all the hype about you might wonder?

Weisswurst is one of those foods that tastes better than it looks. By itself, it has a mild taste with an accentuated parsley and cardamom flavor. However, the spices do not overpower the sausage’s meaty flavor.

Fun Fact

Popular legend dictates that the weisswurst was concocted by accident in 1857 by Munich pub owner Sepp Moser. He was preparing veal bratwurst for his guests, but when he realized that he no longer had any sheep casings left over, he decided to use pork casings, which are tougher and bigger. His guests enjoyed them and this was the birth of the weisswurst. Worried that the sausages would split if fried, Moser boiled them for his guests, and they turned out to be a big hit. Thus the Munich Weisswurst was born.

Weisswürste should traditionally be eaten in the morning, as a second breakfast, or as a snack before lunch. There’s even an old Munich adage that says that “the sausage should not hear the clocks chime noon.”

Weisswürste are traditionally served in a special lidded porcelain bowl and handed out in pairs, directly out of their cooking water.  Weisswurst is not complete without a dollop of sweet, grainy mustard – and a chilled wheat beer should never be missing, even if it’s early morning. The combination is heavenly.

The way a weisswurst is eaten is an art in itself and there are several ways to go about it. Münchners typically cut off the tip of the weisswurst, dunk it in sweet mustard, and suck out the meat from the sausage’s casing using their hands, an art called auszuzeln in Munich. 

You can also snip off the end in a similar manner and pull the casing off with your fingers, or even make an incision along the length of the weisswurst and peel it away with your knife and fork. This is how I eat weisswurst.

Whichever way you decide to eat a weisswurst, just don’t commit the cardinal sin of eating the casing. Only a greenhorn would do that!

4. Semmelknödel

Traditional Bavarian cuisine: A bowl of bread dumplings (Semmelknödel)

One of my favorite comfort foods, Semmelknödel (bread dumplings) are a mainstay of Bavarian and Austrian home cooking. These golf or tennis ball-sized dumplings are made from diced, dry bread rolls (Semmel – usually Kaiser rolls), fresh parsley, onions, butter, milk, eggs, salt, pepper, and often a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg.

A versatile side dish, semmelknödel can be added to soups and stews to provide texture and soak up the sauce on the plate, or eaten alongside meat and vegetables, as a substitute for potatoes.

5. Leberknödelsuppe

Traditional Bavarian food: A bowl of Leberknödelsuppe (liver dumpling soup). PC: Robert Kindermann, CC BY-SA 2.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons

A must-try food dish in Munich, Leberknödelsuppe (liver dumpling soup) is to Austria and Bavaria what gumbo is to Louisiana. This soup can be found on almost every Bavarian menu.

Leberknödelsuppe is made of finely ground beef liver, dry bread rolls, eggs, onion, parsley, salt, and marjoram cooked in a rich, clear beef broth. It is often garnished with snipped chives. 

Being married to an Austrian, I have grown to LOVE leberknödelsuppe. Anyone who enjoys eating liver will declare this their new favorite dish. Absolutely yummy!

6. Bayerischer Leberkäse

Munich Food: A plate of Bavarian meatloaf with fried egg on top and mashed potatoes on the side

The much-vaunted Bayerischer Leberkäse (Bavarian meatloaf) is actually a baked loaf made with finely ground corned beef, pork meat with lots of fatty tissue, bacon, onions, water, salt, and pepper. It is basically a loaf of bread in which the flour has been substituted by proteins.

The ground ingredients are baked as a loaf in a bread pan until the meatloaf gets a crunchy crust. A bit of an acquired taste, Bayerischer Leberkäse is one FINE piece of meat that makes for a quick, easy meal.

The name of this dish is a misnomer since literally translated, leberkäse means “liver cheese” in German, even though in Bavaria it does not contain any liver or cheese at all.

Bayerischer Leberkäse is traditionally served warm or cold in finger-thick slices with the crusty brown ends being the most coveted part. 

It’s commonly served as a slice in a crusty white bread roll and is best scarfed down with a dollop of sweet mustard to give it a kick. It’s also popularly served as a slice topped with a fried egg and served with potato salad and sweet mustard on the side.

Munich Food: Main Dishes

The following are some of the must-have traditional main dishes in Munich.

1. Schweinshaxe

A plate of roast pork knuckle (Schweinshaxe) in a dark beer sauce in Munich

Arguably the most popular main dish in Munich and all of Bavaria is the Schweinshaxe. It is basically a hunk of impossibly tender, unctuous slow-roasted pork knuckle on the bone, wrapped in crispy crackling skin. 

Pork knuckle isn’t pig’s trotter but rather the meat that surrounds the joint between the tibia/fibula and the metatarsals of a pig’s foot. Salt and spices are rubbed onto the meat after which the knuckles are skewered on long metal rotisserie rods and slow-roasted in front of a heating element.

Although I admit that schweinshaxe won’t win any points in a beauty contest, I must confess that is my favorite Bavarian dish. It smells fantastic and it is so incredibly satisfying to tear into this comfort food. Arrrghh, I’m drooling right now! 

With its unique taste, the succulent pork knuckle definitely lives up to its hype. The shatteringly crunchy sheath of golden crackling is a real calorie bomb but boy, is it ever so scrumptious! 

Slathered in a delectable dark beer sauce, schweinshaxe is usually served with potato dumplings, potato salad, or mashed potato. It can also be accompanied by red cabbage/sour cabbage (rotkraut/sauerkraut). 

Pro Tip

The portion of Schweinshaxe is large, so you might be tempted to share it with your travel companion. Don’t. Let them get their own.

2. Schweinsbraten

A plate of roast pork (Schweinsbraten) at a restaurant in Munich

Pork has always been the favorite meat of our Bavarian friends so it’s no surprise that Schweinsbraten (roast pork) is an unavoidable dish in the Munich gastronomy scene. 

Always served in a puddle of dark and malty beer sauce, schweinsbraten consists of sliced pork roast traditionally served with knödeln (dumplings), and sauerkraut or coleslaw.

Boneless pork shoulder is used to make schweinsbraten. It is a very flavorful cut with generous fat marbling which guarantees that the meat stays succulent. Before roasting, the pork is rubbed with minced garlic, caraway, cumin, mustard, marjoram, salt, and pepper to give it an added flavor.

I absolutely love schweinsbraten for its juicy, lip-smackingly rich meat. Unless you are a vegetarian, I highly recommend you try it. It takes one bite to fall head over heels for this Bavarian staple. 

Don’t forget to order a giant stein of chilled Bavarian beer with Schweinsbraten. I suggest getting a Märzen whose subtle spice and maltiness compliments the caramelized outer pork layer.

3. Käsespätzle

A plate of Käsespätzle in Munich

One of the best ways to ruin a fine weight-loss diet in Munich is by eating Käsespätzle, a far more interesting and delicious version of mac and cheese. This is also the perfect dish for vegetarians and those looking for a meat substitute.

Believed to have originated in the German region of Swabia, käsespätzle consists of spätzle, a kind of soft egg noodle akin to pasta, smothered in butter and mixed with a generous amount of grated cheese (käse). It is then topped with crunchy fried onion. 

The melted cheese mixture is usually a combination of two or more varieties of cheese such as Emmental, Bergkäse (Mountain Cheese), Gruyère, Gouda, Limburger, and Appenzeller.

Käsespätzle has grown to become one of my favorite comfort foods as it is equally omnipresent here in Austria. I mean, who wouldn’t be comforted by a bowl of cheesy, carby goodness that is an aphrodisiac to the taste buds?!

4. Fleischpflanzerl

Fleischpflanzerl with potato salad and small mixed salad as a side dish. PC: Benreis, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

A true Bavarian classic for dedicated carnivores, fleischpflanzerl is the Bavarian version of Frikadeller (Danish-style meatballs) and Köttbullar (Swedish-style meatballs). 

The round & flattened meatballs are made from ground beef and pork, eggs, onions, and bread crumbs seasoned with salt, pepper, parsley, marjoram, nutmeg, garlic, and mustard. The mixture is fried in oil over high heat on both sides until browned.

Fleischpflanzerl are traditionally served with potato salad or a creamy sauce. Both a common home-cooked meal and a restaurant staple, the delectable meatballs are best downed with a maß (1 liter) of chilled suds.

5. Münchner Schnitzel

A plate of Munich-style schnitzel with a side of potato salad

The Münchner Schnitzel (Munich-style schnitzel) is a variation on the iconic Wiener Schnitzel (Viennese schnitzel). As much as I am a schnitzel purist, this take on the classic version is pretty darn good and is certainly worth trying.

Whereas the classic Wiener Schnitzel is made with veal, the Münchner Schnitzel is always prepared with pork. Plus, the Munich twist on schnitzel involves the pounded pork cutlets being spread with horseradish and sweet mustard before crumbing and frying.

The (usually two) schnitzel pieces are served with potato salad. Don’t forget to squeeze that lemon wedge on the schnitzel for a refreshing balance.

6. Steckerlfisch

Bavarian food: Skewered and marinated Steckerlfisch. PC: Henning Schlottmann (User:H-stt), CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Need a break from all the beef and pork? Despite being an inland city, one fish dish does make our list as a must-try Munich food. 

Steckerlfisch (from “steckerl” which translates as little stick in the Austro-Bavarian dialect) is an intensely flavored, grilled whole fish. The gutted fish is first skewered and marinated in a hearty mixture of oil, spices, and garlic. It is then slowly roasted over charcoal embers.

In the past, fish such as whitefish, common bream, and trout were used to make steckerlfisch but nowadays herring and mackerel are primarily used in its preparation.

Steckerlfisch is served wrapped in paper, and you eat it with a squeeze of lemon and some bread. Considered the ultimate beer snack, steckerlfisch is a quintessential food item at Oktoberfest and in beer gardens throughout Munich.

Munich Food: Desserts

The following are the must-eat sweet dishes and desserts in Munich.

1. Apfelkücherl

Deep fried sliced apple rings (Apfelkücherl) served with vanilla ice cream in Munich

Hailing from the neighboring state of Baden-Württemberg, Apfelkücherl (apple rings) is a very popular dessert in Bavaria made of sliced apple rings coated in batter and deep fried to a golden brown color. The deliciously crispy apple rings are then sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. 

Apfelkücherl is usually eaten with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or a vanilla sauce. Simply irresistible!

2. Kaiserschmarrn

Austrian food: Lightly caramelized fluffy pancake (Kaiserschmarrn) with plum compote

Kaiserschmarrn (literally “emperor’s nonsense”) is a thick and lightly caramelized fluffy pancake that is shredded into bite-sized pieces, dusted with icing sugar (powdered sugar), and traditionally served with a plum compote or applesauce.

Even though it is of Austrian origin, it is extremely popular in Bavaria and can be found today on almost every restaurant menu.

Legend has it that kaiserschmarrn was the favorite dessert of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph I, after whom it was named. Having grown up in Austria, Kaiserschmarrn is a favorite of Jacky’s and she describes it as the ultimate addictive comfort food.

3. Germknödel

A bowl of Germknödel served in a vanilla sauce. PC: Takeaway, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Germknödel is a large, hemispherical dumpling made from yeast dough and filled with Powidl (plum jam). The yeast dumplings are then doused with melted butter, sprinkled with poppy seeds, and served with vanilla sauce. 

As you can imagine, Germknödel is not for the calorie conscious, but its taste will linger on your mind for a long time after you’ve eaten it.

Munich Food Tours

If you really want to dine like a local in Munich, you can sign up for an insightful food tour. Two ones I would recommend are the Bavarian Beer and Food Culture and the Viktualienmarkt Gourmet Food Tour

Both these tours are led by knowledgeable locals, with whom you’ll be able to you’ll have a great time eating and drinking your way through the Bavarian capital.

Where To Eat in Munich?

Here are just a few restaurant suggestions in Munich for sampling the food we have mentioned above:

1. Augustiner Bräustuben  (best pork knuckle in Munich)

2. Görreshof Wirtshaus (best schnitzel in Munich)

3. Gaststätte Großmarkthalle (best weisswurst in Munich)

4. Harlachinger Jagdschlössl (best roast pork in Munich)

5. Bäckerei Alof (best pretzels in Munich)

6. Schneider Bräuhaus München (best for Bavarian beer)

7. Ayinger am Platzl (best for Bavarian beer)

8. Haxnbauer

9. Steckerlfisch München

Further Reading For Your Munich Visit

That summarizes our definitive guide to Munich Food. We reckon you’ll also find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Munich!

More Information About Germany

About Mihir

Hi there, I'm Mihir! I was born in India, raised there and in Australia before spending nearly a decade in Finland. I suffer from chronic fernweh and am always looking forward to a new adventure. Besides traveling, my other loves are my beloved cats, architecture, art, craft beer, classic movies, history, cricket, and Australian Rules Football. Oh, there's also my partner in crime Jacky who's not too bad either 😉

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