Thanks in great part to the young student population, an extensive offering of international cuisine complements Freiburg's regional and down-home restaurants and friendly beer gardens. Firmly in the Three-Country Corner of Germany, Switzerland and France, Freiburg also enjoys strong French and Alsatian influences. Wine plays an important role in both culture and cuisine, and restaurants make full use of local varieties on the table and in their cooking.
Two hilltop restaurants on the Schlossberg, afford superb views of the Old City and surrounding landscape: the Greiffenegg Castle and the Dattler Restaurant. Reach both on foot or by lift. On warm days, sit on the terrace.
In the countryside vineyards near Freiburg, you can also stop at a seasonal Strausswirtschaft and enjoy cooking straight from the kitchen. Since they're seasonal, ask your innkeeper for recommendations.
For quick, cheap and eclectic fare, the Freiburg Market Hall (Kaiser-Joseph-Strasse 233) is a must. There's a strong international focus – Afghan, Arabian, Chinese, Thai and Italian – and you can also buy fresh French bread, wines, fresh-ground coffee, fruits and vegetables, smoked fish and deli foods. Just note that the Market Hall closes at 7pm on weekdays, at 4pm on Saturdays and is closed on Sundays.
Zum Roten Bären
By most accounts, this is the longest continuously-run inn in Germany, in business since 1403. Peter Hansen, the Bären's 50th documented innkeeper, has greeted guests with his wife Monika since 1980. Today, there are 25 guestrooms and the dining area is bright and cheerful with a dash of elegance.
Ingredients are fresh, and the dishes are exquisitely prepared. The Bären employs its own herb professional, who grows them in the garden of a former monastery. This allows chefs (and guests) to try unique and subtle flavorings.
Salad straight from the Freiburg Marketplace is served with chanterelles from nearby woods, sautéed in cream with bread dumplings. There's lamb roasted with rosemary-shallot sauce and served with polenta; breast of duck glazed with mustard and honey; and medallions of venison in a choice of sauces with Spätzle. Wiener Schnitzel's listing as a regional dish is not a mistake but recognition that Freiburg was once part of the Habsburg dynasty. Most entrées range between €17-20.
Rating: Quality 17/20, Value 18/20
Restaurant Zur Traube
Other restaurants may offer greater choices or more elegance, but Zur Traube is recognized locally and beyond as Freiburg's leading restaurant. Its chef, Sven Messerschmidt, is the youngest in Germany to have earned a Michelin star.
The Traube (Grape) fuses regional and classical French cuisine with an eye toward inventive use of local wines. Entrées are creative: stuffed baby squid served on lemon risotto with mild curry sauce, carp with Brussels sprouts and caviar sauce, frogs legs in a chestnut crêpe, smoked eel with mussels. There's duck in two courses: breast with apples, chestnuts and mushroom dumplings followed by the leg glazed with honey and pepper and served on red cabbage and Spätzle. Or various preparations of lamb served together with sheep-cheese ravioli.
The restaurant, a national monument, received a facelift in 2002 under new innkeeper Doris Hunn with an eye toward historic charm. The dining area was reduced to eight tables (all antique wood), and a mural now displays a scene of the Cathedral market. A medieval tile oven from an Alsatian monastery literally and figuratively warms the room.
Entrées start around €25, and dinner for two can easily exceed €100. Within the same building and under the same management, the Restaurant Oberkirchs Weinstube offers lighter and less expensive choices.
Contact: Restaurant Zur Traube, Schusterstrasse 17, D-79098 Freiburg, tel. +49/761/32190, fax +49/761/26313
Rating: Quality 18/20 Value 16/20
This cheery and historic brewery welcomes guests at its outside garden (under spreading chestnut trees) and in its three-story restaurant. If you're hungry, enjoy the inexpensive entrées (all less than €10 ) such as smoked pork shoulder with sauerkraut, pork cutlet browned with cheese and herbs, sausage salad with fried potatoes, meat ravioli, and black bread baked with cheese, herbs and ham. Otherwise, the light Vesper menu will more than suffice with a variety of cheeses, dried meats and sausages for €5.
Contact: Hausbrauerei Feierling Gerberau 46, D-79098 Freiburg, tel. +49/761/243480, fax: 25688
Rating: Quality 15/20, Value 16/20
Prices current as of February 2003.