The further south you head in Germany, the better the cuisine gets – that is, if you‘re partial to delicious plates of traditional, authentic Germany fare. Across the (partially) fictional “Weißwurstäquator,” the plates get richer and fuller, and while the pork knuckle and sauerkraut fill is possibly best done in Bavaria especially, the state of Baden-Württemberg offers some equally hearty and truly tantalizing ways to satiate the taste buds. You’ll find one of the best, and most scenic, spots to nosh in heritage Heidelberg (Click here for some Hotel Recommendations for Heidelberg). So let me introduce you to some of the best restaurants in Heidelberg.
With its spectacular castle hill vista, its two-sided, river-split scene, Heidelberg’s old town is a feast for the history-loving senses. After a scenic ride up the Konigsturm funicular, a lackadaisical wander past the Schloss via the Philosophenweg, you’re going to need a decent feed. Here’s a sumptuous look at some of Heidelberg’s best and most celebrated local restaurants.
Best Restaurants in Heidelberg
On our recent jaunt across the Weißwurstäquator, we arrived in Heidelberg as the skies turned gray and the rains fell hard and fast over the cobbled lanes of the Altstadt. So it came as a pleasant shift of scene: hibernating from the bleak conditions in Hackteufel, one of the city’s most celebrated local institutions. Located in the heart of the old town between Heiliggeistkirche and the Alte Brücke, Hackteufel is everything you’d expect in a traditional Heidelberg dining spot: a cloistered, cozy, wooden interior, replete with vintage brass instruments hanging from the ceiling and amusing cartoon murals on the walls – to say nothing of the fare: hot and hearty plates of local delicacies, including white asparagus and fish and homemade German ravioli. Loaded with a range of meats and sausages, I, but probably not your doctor, can highly recommend the ‘Sauerkraut Orgie’ platter. You can even book a room in this quaint Gasthaus!
Steingasse 7, 69117 Heidelberg
Vetter’s Alt Heidelberger Brauhaus
A little further along the Steingasse towards the old town takes you to Vetter’s Alt, another keenly frequented local beer, and meat den, with classic Teutonic décor. Good for lunch, great for dinner, the charming Brauhaus atmosphere ties the dining experience together and there is no debate that it counts as one of the best restaurants in Heidelberg. As for the menu, you’ll relish in the range of delicious locally brewed ales and lagers, servable in requisite 1-Liter Maßkrüge if desired; as well as a staple array of authentic Bavarian fare, including favorites pork knuckle (Schweinhaxe) and Nürnberger Rostbratwürste. A great spot for a convivial, belt-buckle busting southern Deutsch eve.
Steingasse 9, 69117 Heidelberg
The River Café
For some, the tourist bustle of the Altstadt can get a little hectic, particularly in the summer months. For the respite from the dining and rabble of the larger restaurants and Brauhäuser and, take a traipse across the Alte Brücke to the other side of the Neckar, and set up shop for the night at the charming River Café. Expect refined, top-class fare in a relaxed, graceful setting here, with a fusion menu of traditional and modern, and an extensive list of local and European wines and beers. With its elegant terrace frontage, the River Café is perhaps closer to a Parisian Bistro than a bona fide southern German eatery, and it wears the cosmopolitan attitude with style. In summer, one of the nicest spots in town for an outdoor aperitif under umbrella shade.
Bergstraße 2, 69120 Heidelberg
Heidelberg is a thriving University town, and it stands to reason that you’ll find more than a few student pubs and dining dens in and around the heritage Altstadt campus. Zum Seppl just might be one of the oldest student bars in town, a historical spot that has served as a restaurant since the end of the 17th century (and in former times, a well frequented local brewery). Not solely a student meeting spot, Zum Seppl has always been known as a favorite hangout for Heidelberg locals in general. Rustic wooden floors, red velvet booths, and walls lined with traditional picture frames make Zum Seppl one of the more characterful spots in town. And you can also book a room in the Gasthaus Zum Seppl, which gives you a much more authentic experience than staying at some of the larger hotels.
Hauptstraße 213, 69117 Heidelberg
Zum Roten Ochsen
Built in 1703, The Red Ox is perhaps most famous for hosting author Patrick Leigh Fermor during his epic 1933 pilgrimage from London to Constantinople. In A Time of Gifts, Fermor describes his host tavern: “a jungle of impedimentia encrusted the interior – mugs and bottles and glasses and antlers – the innocent accumulation of years, not the stage props of forced conviviality.” Of course, the Red Ox was a favorite of numerous literary luminaries, including Mark Twain, who lived here for three months in 1878. Today, the Red Ox maintains its décor of heraldic crests and armorial shields, a testament to pre-war times, with sumptuous food and drink menu to match.
Hauptstraße 217, 69117 Heidelberg
Set in the forest by the dramatic Heidelberger Schloss in a unique 1904-built hunting lodge, ‘S’ Kastanie is a rare local dining experience with panoramic terrace views of the Necker River and surrounds. Celebrated for its unique setting, as well as its fresh, Mediterranean influenced cuisine and list of fine wines from Baden-Würtemberg and the Palatinate, ‘S’ Kastanie is one of the city’s most revered higher-end dining experiences, and a top choice for a decadent, traditional evening out.
Elisabethenweg 1, 69117 Heidelberg
As you can see, there are a ton of places to choose from, so stay a few days and explore Heidelberg. There is lots to do and see in the area. My recommendations of best restaurants in Heidelberg is not an exclusive list and I am sure you will find amazing places to eat all around this picturesque city!