German food gets a surprisingly easy ride. We all know the jokes about English cuisine, or the wincing references to Scandinavia’s pickled herrings, or the apparently endless parade of cabbage-based dishes that represent an Eastern European dinner table. And yet somehow German grub—which essentially combines all of those into a single menu—doesn’t come in for the same skepticism.
At least, that’s what I figure given the number of German food spots around the Bay. Sausage and beer are easy to come by at a range of places, even if covid did not give the area’s Deutschy places a particularly easy ride. Walzwerk, a cosy East German place in the Mission that I particularly liked, closed down in 2020; Lehr’s, a German import store in Noe Valley that I refuse to visit because of its longstanding front window typo, shut down but is apparently re-opening.
Schnitzel became a go-to comfort food for us during the pandemic, partly because the act of making it was enjoyable—hammering, breading and frying the meat gives you a feeling of accomplishment, plus I learned a kind of ad-hoc spaetzle recipe from Kenji Lopez-Alt that is both incredibly easy and fun to put together.
But I was interested in what the local restaurants could offer up—so we caught the beerhall vibe at Suppenküche, which occupies a little corner in Hayes Valley. It was a busy night, and it’s a noisy share-the-table kind of place, so we made our way through pretzel, reibekuchen, eggs, beets, and sausage before heading into schnitzel territory. Washed it all down with a dark beer. I think my family enjoy German food more than I do, and it sits heavy—I am still full 12 hours later—but it was a solid choice.