Leipzig, Germany: A Restaurant Guide
I feel like I could actually be classed as an authority on eating out in Leipzig for a couple of reasons. The first – I am a self-confessed lover of eating food that has not been made by me. I’m not saying I’m a bad chef, I’m saying if it’s a toss-up between dragging my sorry self off my bed to REWE to buy yet another red pepper to make yet another pasta sauce that I will yet again make too much of and end up storing in my fridge for too long before it inevitably goes funky, or spending some of my easy-earned Erasmus pennies on a deeply average pizza, I will always choose the latter.
The second – during my year abroad, I spent a lot of time eating my feelings. Homesick? Burgers. Struggling with the language? Currywurst. Day-to-day reality of being in a long-distance relationship? Sushi, obviously. So, I can say with some conviction that the list below has been sampled within an inch of its life, at some point or another, by an emotional English girl snotting into her dish of spaghetti. I’ll leave you with that lovely visual and get on with it, shall I?
What? Authentic tapas restaurant hidden away in the backstreets of Leipzig.
Where? Gottschedstraße 12, 04109 Leipzig, Germany (pretty near to Thomaskirche, but it’s also on the number 1 tram line (direction: Lausen) from Leipzig HBF).
When? Open every day from 5pm until 3am.
Why? Is it -10 degrees Celsius in East Germany and snowing? No worries, order yourself a carafe of sangria from this gem and you won’t even be able to feel your face.
Barcelona is, without a doubt, my favourite restaurant in Leipzig. It’s got everything you’d want from an indulgent evening; low, ambient lighting, delicious tapas and friendly (if a little eccentric) staff. If you’re like me and find it inexcusably difficult to choose just one dish on a menu, then great news, order five – go nuts. It’s a little on the expensive side for Leipzig’s standards (between €3.50 and €9.50 for each individual tapas dish) but I’ve paid more money for less authentic-tasting tapas in England many times. Again, if you’re like me and your priorities lie with the drinks menu, you’re in luck – there’s a good range of wine, beer and cocktails available and outdoor seating available in the summer.
Top tip: make sure you book if you’re planning on going on a Friday or Saturday – this place (unsurprisingly) gets super busy.
Recommendations: try the chorizo frito, the albondigas and the croquetas caseras.
What? Light and airy French café on the super-funky Karli.
Where? Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 62, 04275 Leipzig, Germany.
When? Daily, 8am-12am.
Why? This place feels like a relic of a bygone era in the best possible way; treat yourself to the classiest hot chocolate ever and pretend you’re in one of those artsy black and white French films for a while.
This particular institution on the Karli has so much history and character you’ll wonder if you blinked and fell into 1920’s Paris. In one form or another, Café Maître has been around for over one hundred years: in 1904, it all began with a small coffeehouse and art nouveau patisserie. It closed briefly in the early 2000’s but, thankfully for the citizens of Leipzig, it reopened in 2011.
Top tip: go for breakfast; it’s reasonably priced (€6-€11) and there’s a huge range to choose from, all aptly named after French cities or regions.
Recommendations: Onion soup, any of the galettes, croque monsieur.
Hans im Glück
What? Weirdly furnished but nonetheless cool burger chain.
Where? Augustusplatz 14, 04109 Leipzig, Germany (Right outside the university- get off the tram at Augustusplatz).
When? Daily, 11am-12am.
Why? Tired and hungry after a morning of sight-seeing and not feeling particularly enamoured by the dodgy looking Italians in the city centre? You’re in Glück.
This burger grill isn’t specific to Leipzig; there’s plenty of them dotted about Germany. However, if you’re wanting a safe bet and a tasty, fairly-priced lunch, look no further. There’s a great range of burgers, including vegetarian and vegan options, and the ‘Mittagsmenu’ is particularly good value: €13 for a burger, a side, a cold (soft) drink and a hot drink.
Top tip: give yourself plenty of time- the service can occasionally be a little on the slow side.
Recommendations: Wilder Westen burger, Süsskartoffel-fritten, Waldhimbeer cocktail.
What? Casual Italian bistro chain with big portions and a bizarre amount of businessmen lunching.
Where? Martin-Luther-Ring 12, 04109 Leipzig, Germany (in walking distance from Thomaskirche)
When? Daily 11.30am- 11/12pm
Why? Probably the best, or at least the best-known, Italian in Leipzig.
Yes, I know, this is sort of cheating because it’s another chain but who says you can’t have quality AND quantity, hmm? The place is practically a Jamie Oliver wet dream, what with the artfully shabby furniture, rustic décor that’s at odds with the minimal, industrial theme and a large open-plan kitchen. I can practically see him rubbing his basil-y hands together with glee and muttering the words “beautiful, beautiful” at the sight of this place (soz Jamie, I’m not over the turkey twizzlers thing). The difference between this place and a Jamie’s Italian, however, is the price. One of their huge pizzas will only set you back €9, with pasta dishes costing roughly the same.
Top tip: turn up hungry, the pizzas really are MASSIVE. Also, remember to book- this place gets busy.
Recommendations: Prosciutto e funghi pizza, paccheri salsiccia pasta, soufflé al cioccolato.
What? Central Mexican restaurant that doubles as a cheap-as-chips place to get day drunk on margaritas.
Where? Richard-Wagner-Platz 1, 04109 Leipzig, Germany (Opposite the Höfe am Brühl shopping centre, a 2 minute walk from Markt).
When? Daily 11.30am-12am.
Why? Probably the closest thing to a Chiquitos you’re going to get in mainland Europe.
It’s loud, it’s gimmicky, there’s weird Tiki-themed masks everywhere (why Tiki? Isn’t this a Mexican restaurant? I hear you cry). Despite all of this, Enchilada is a solid choice for those not quite brave enough to try traditional German dishes (braised pork knuckle anyone?) for their dinner. The food is fresh and reasonably-priced (€11.50 for an enchilada), the service is quick and friendly and there’s plenty of choice.
Top tip: if you go on a Monday, you pay whatever you roll on a dice for your cocktail…€1 Mai Tai anyone?
Recommendations: Streetfood tacos, enchiladas de maiz con pollo, literally any of the cocktails (happy hour is from 5-8pm: all cocktails €4.50…you’re welcome).
Quetzal die Schokoladenbar
What? Like a Thorntons café but less expensive.
Where? Nikolaistraße 20, 04109 Leipzig, Germany (5 minute tram ride from Leipzig HBF, 5 minute walk for Leipzig Markt).
When? Daily 11am-7pm.
Why? It’s a bloody chocolate bar, what more do you need to know?
During my year abroad, I probably spent more time snotting into the brownies in Quetzal than anywhere else in Leipzig (chocolate is the greatest reliever of heartache after all), and I always left feeling at least marginally better. Granted, it’s not a restaurant restaurant, but it’s a great place to go to get off your feet and have a bit of a sugar rush, if you need it. They serve a whole range of chocolate-infused goodies, from cakes to milkshakes to hot chocolate to fondue. Inside it’s bright, clean and small, and it smells really good. What more do you need to know?
Top tip: Make sure you’re in a chatty mood when you go – the staff love a good chinwag.
Recommendations: Chilli hot chocolate, Brownie Quetzal, any of the fondue options.
Have you got any recommendations on how to eat out in Leipzig like a native? Leave a comment!