German food, as a concept, is a combination and simplification of the many different regional cuisines found throughout Germany. The country is made up of 16 states and many have their own culture and cuisine. Frankfurt, in the state of Hesse, is influenced by food in the surrounding areas with a heavy emphasis on potatoes. But even though Bavaria and Hesse border each other, what to eat in Frankfurt is different than what to eat in Munich.
While you’ll find sausages and sauerkraut all over Germany, each region is known for their own specialties. So here is what to eat in Frankfurt, a list of must try dishes that put the Hessian city on the culinary map.
What to Eat in Frankfurt :: 6 Must Eat Foods
Handkäse wit musik
Handkäse wit musik, or “hand cheese with music,” is one of those dishes where you’re better off disregarding the description and just trying it because it’s better than it sounds. But if you really want to know, handkäse is a sour milk cheese formed by hand, hence the name. The translucent cheese has a pungent aroma and is usually topped with raw onions and caraway seeds. This way is considered “wit musik” and it’s delicious. All of the flavors balance each other to make a perfect harmony.
The meaning behind “wit musik” is attributed to one of two things. One is the polite answer: from the musical sound produced when the bottles of vinegar and oil used to make the cheese hit each other. The other is less polite but more widely used: the “musik” comes later, since raw onions supposedly stimulate flatulence. Well then!
This traditional Frankfurt appetizer is usually served with Apfelwein.
One of Frankfurt’s most popular specialties is Apfelwein, a tart apple wine found all over the city. It’s especially popular in the Sachsenhausen neighborhood, which was once covered in wine vineyards. About 250 years ago the grapes got infected with a bacteria that killed all the vineyards, so wine was made from apples, which weren’t affected. Apfelwein — also called Ebbelwei, Ebbelwoi, Äppler, Schoppe or Stöffche — has been popular ever since.
Traditionally Apfelwein is poured from a clay jug called a Bembel into a glass with ridged edges called a Geripptes. It’s much more tart and sour than the apple cider Americans are used to, but still refreshingly good. Supposedly it’s also good for your immune system, heart, and brain too!
Many bars and restaurants make their own apfelwein, so each place has a slightly different variation. Those that make their own usually have a sign of an evergreen wreath outside. It’s also common to see Apfelwein mixed with sparkling water (“sauergespritzer”) or flavored soda (“süssgespritzer”).
Frankfurt claims to have invented Grüne Sosse (sometimes spelled Grüne Soße), or green sauce, and the traditional specialty is everywhere in the city. Each restaurant puts its own spin on the condiment, but the main ingredients include seven herbs with sour cream, oil, vinegar, mustard, salt, and hard boiled eggs. The herbs are usually parsley, chives, chervil, borage, sorrel, garden cress, and salad burnet. Grüne Soße is served with meat, fish, bread, or cold with hard boiled eggs.
By adding Grüne Soße to a dish, it automatically makes it “Frankfurt style,” like Frankfurter Schnitzel. Traditional schnitzel is served with a side of Grüne Soße, which was a surprisingly delicious addition!
Frankfurter Rippchen, or sometimes Rippchen mit Kraut, is Frankfurt’s take on pork chops. The pork cutlets are slowly cooked in sauerkraut or meat broth, then served with sauerkraut and potatoes. The dish is somewhat simple, but definitely satisfying.
As with most dishes in Frankfurt, it pairs well with Apfelwein, but a good old German beer does the trick just fine too!
Of course the Frankfurter can’t be left off a list of what to eat in Frankfurt! Officially called the Frankfurter Würstchen, the small, thin sausage is made of smoked pork. They are not actually cooked, but smoked in a low temperature and heated in hot water for about 8 minutes before serving. Usually served in pairs, Frankfurter Würstchen are often eaten with bread, potato salad, or sauerkraut and, of course, mustard.
Frankfurter Würstchen, invented in the 13th Century, served as part of the imperial coronations in Frankfurt. It’s worth noting that what we call a hot dog in the United States is not actually the same as Frankfurter Würstchen. American hot dogs, made with beef and pork, are called Wiener Würstchen in Germany (or “Vienna sausages”). The term originates from a butcher from Frankfurt who introduced a beef/pork sausage to Vienna and called it a “Frankfurter.”
To be called Frankfurter Würstchen the sausages must be made in Frankfurt. Outside of the greater Frankfurt region, the sausages have to be called Nach Frankfurter Art, meaning “they are made like Frankfurters, but not in the Frankfurt area.”
Another drink to add to your what to eat in Frankfurt list is Mispelchen. The Hessian specialty is usually served in Frankfurt cider houses at the end of the meal. Made with apple brandy called Calvados (from Normandy), the small drink has an Ioquat fruit at the bottom. The sour-sweet fruit is usually pickled and stuck with a toothpick to pluck out of the glass once the drink is finished.
What other Hessian dishes would you put on your what to eat in Frankfurt list? I’d love to know in the comments!