This is the seventh post in the London & Munich series. Other posts in this series include The Square, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Exploring London by Foot, Alain Ducasse, Marcus Wareing, and Classic Munich Beer Houses: Hofbrauhaus & Wirtshaus
If you only have a couple days in Munich, there are a few places that you must visit. I've already talked at length about Marienplatz, Munich's festive open air city square that's surrounded by tons of shops and pedestrian-only streets. Definitely walk around and explore that area.
And then there's Viktualienmarkt, Munich's biggest gourmet food market. Just steps away from the Marienplatz, Viktualienmarkt began back in 1807 when King Maximilian I issued a decree telling the food vendors to move into this new space. The original location, right in the middle of the Marienplatz, had become much too crowded.
Despite struggling with damage from a bad fire and then World War II, the market continually rebuilt and expanded over the last two centuries.
The market is open Mondays to Fridays 10am - 6pm and Saturdays 10am to 3pm only. Definitely plan accordingly if you are only coming for the weekend! We missed the market the first couple days because we did not arrive into Munich city center until around 3PM on Saturday afternoon (just missed it!). I made a point of making sure we visited first thing Monday morning (I was flying out early Tuesday morning!).
Viktualienmarkt is especially known for its diverse selection of products you cannot get anywhere else in Munich.
Just the variety of sausages and cured meats blew my mind (is that really a "sausage" made with broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots??).
There's also tons of fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, eggs, and honey.
Sample all different types of cheese, or visit one of the many simple restaurants in the area serving everything from soup and sandwiches to authentic Bavarian food.
We even got some fresh hot cappuccinos. On the right is a sign that shows all of the beer being served at the beer garden.
Wait, did you say beer garden?
Yes! There's a decently sized beer garden right in the middle of the market!
One of the most fun things you can do is walk around the different shops, food stalls, and bakeries, collecting small bites from each place until you've cobbled together a fun picnic.
On a nice day, the beer garden's the perfect place to enjoy everything you bought.
We tried some unique pretzels, German potato salad, sauerkraut, and (of course), some sausages. The beer selection at the beer garden was good (honestly, almost all the beer in the whole country is pretty good).
Doughnuts for dessert, anyone?
Sometimes it seems like everything is pretzel shaped!
If you'd rather enjoy a more sit-down type meal, Der Pschorr, which is located right on the edge of the market, is an excellent choice.
As I did my research on food in Munich, one particular beer hall kept popping up in the "foodie" type forums. After having visited a number of different beer halls, I will have to agree with forum posters that Der Pschorr, right inside Viktualienmarkt, is one of the best.
It's traditional Bavarian, but the restaurant also emphasizes locally raised meats, dairy, and even a special type of beef called Murnau Werdenfelser.
In a nod to modern times, they have a section on the menu that's devoted to healthier options (yes, we ordered a salad!).
Of course, we were in Munich, so we had to try authentic Bavarian fare. We ordered the Pork Knuckle because it looked the most interesting, and the Wiener Schnitzel (because everyone around us seemed to be ordering it).
Pork knuckle and dumpling
The deep fried Pork Knuckle was awesome and definitely the best one we had the entire trip. It was super crispy on the outside yet soft and tender on the inside. I fell in love with the potato dumpling (Kartoffel Kloesse) that accompanied the dish. It was slight chewy and reminded me of a savory version of Japanese mochi. It was sooooo good.
Note to self: learn how to make this, or at least find out where I can get it in Boston!
The Wiener Schnitzel was delicious too. Imagine a thinly pounded piece of veal, breaded and deep fried, and then served with a tart cranberry-like sauce. It went really well with the beer that they were serving.
We got a few sides, like these roasted potato wedges, which were tasty.
We also got traditional sauerkraut, which was fine.
You can either eat inside or outside. We chose to eat in the festive outdoor area, because that's what you do at a beer hall!
It's a great place to try some Hacker-Pschorr-Edelhell beer after an afternoon wandering about the market.
All in all, it's definitely worth spending half a day wandering through Viktualienmarkt. We had a simple outdoor lunch at the beer garden, which was super fun. If you want a taste of traditional Bavarian food from a restaurant that has the look and feel of a traditional German beer hall but uses higher quality ingredients, definitely check out Der Pschorr.
The beer wasn't necessarily my favorite (I preferred the beer at many other places), but the food was one of the best. In subsequent meals, we would often find ourselves saying, "this pork knuckle (or wiener schnitzel) is pretty tasty, but I like the one at Der Pschorr better. "
It was one of our first meals in Munich but in terms of food, I think it turned out to be one of our favorites.