Hallo, Eva here. On Sat., Sept. 17, the original Oktoberfest will return to my hometown of Munich after a two-year pandemic hiatus. So, to wash down a tiny bit of homesickness, I started roaming around Portland to look for German cuisine. Here are some of my favorites.
Fressen Artisan Bakery, 7075 NE Glisan St.
Making a crusty-but-soft, salty-but-not-too-salty German pretzel is an art form that even in Germany, not every bakery excels at. But owner Edgar Loesch, who leans on his training in the Bavarian baking guild — and his mother’s cookbooks — is a master of the craft. These salty twists, slathered in butter, are the ideal pretzel experience.
Grand Central Bakery, various locations
If you want to offend any German, ask, “what is oh-so-special about your bread?” We like our breads heavy, dark + crusted with a soft biting texture, which comes from letting the sourdough rest properly. Making your own bread is trendy right now in Germany, as is giving away so-called “dough babies” to nourish at home. GCB has a very good sour rye and sourdough bread that impressed me from the first fluffy bite.
Stammtisch, 401 NE 28th Ave.
This establishment gets its name from a weekly gathering of friends at a traditional tavern, or the “regulars’ table.” Its super authentic German food and rewards program certainly create a cozy atmosphere. The schweinshaxe (slow-roasted pork shoulder) is crispy, greasy, and enormous; you also should try their entenconfit (duck confit leg) with the famous yellow potato balls called kartoffelknödel.
PDX Dönerländ, 625 NE Killingsworth St.
“Döner macht schöner” — döner makes you more beautiful — is the slogan of German kebab snack bars, which got really popular thanks to the vibrant Turkish community in Germany. In Portland, you can have a hearty lunch at the Dönerland food cart in the Piedmont neighborhood — it even uses the original, cult-status wrapping paper.
Edelweiss Sausage & Delicatessen, 3119 SE 12th Ave.
It’s all about artisan butchery and handmade sausages here. Founder George Baier, who moved to the PNW from Germany in 1959, trained his sons (who are now owners) how to deliver quality cuts. They also have “leberkäse” — a kind of tender meatloaf served on a crispy wheat bun with mustard that’s a popular morsel in Bavaria.
Zoiglhaus Brewing Company, 5716 SE 92nd Ave.
“Zoigl” is an eastern Bavarian homebrewing tradition which translates to “showing” — basically signaling there is beer ready to be drunk. Zoiglhaus can really show off their beers too, most of which are brewed using German hops and malts. My picks are the classic Zoigl-Hell and the Fresh Hop Kölsch (a taste of Cologne with a certain West Coast twist).
Prost!, 4237 N. Mississippi Ave.
When it comes to German beer culture, it’s not just about the taste — it’s also about drinking with style. Therefore, having a correctly shaped glass for every sort of beer is essential for the full-tasting experience. At Prost they offer that — and with it a selection of beers from rather small but highly accomplished Bavarian breweries like Weltenburger, Ayinger, and Schneider. But be aware: Some of the beers are “festbier” — beers exclusively brewed for beer fests that have a slightly higher alcohol content than a regular German lager. Prost!
Mt. Angel Oktoberfest, 5 N. Garfield St., Mt. Angel | Thurs., Sept. 15-Sun., Sept. 18, 2022
I really like that German beerfest traditions are adopted throughout the globe, and the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest is the largest folk festival in the region. Come for the wiener dog races, and stay for the Olympic games, dances, music, and beer.
Mayfly Kölsch Fest, 8350 N. Fenwick Ave.
This event features the types of beers that are the pride of the Rhine region in western Germany. With its beer rating contest, live music, and cornhole, it is definitely an event where you can get your taste buds going and make some new friends.
Explore more offerings with our map of German food, drinks, and festivals.