657 Fairview Avenue
Even if you weren’t checking out GOTTSCHEER HALL for its Germanic cultural and historical significance to our community, it’d be impossible not to be won over by the charm and character of the place. We’ve become huge fans of The Tap Room here lately, and couldn’t be more enthusiastic about their delicious Potato Pancakes, Brats and Kraut, and Three Cheese Baked Spaetzle. Not only that, but we found the beyond reasonable prices to be incredibly astounding. Since we were there on a Wednesday, our Spaten was just a dollar! (Wednesday thru Saturday actually, long as you’re ordering food.) Anyway, quite simply people, you have got to get here… and soon!
69-46 Myrtle Avenue
Forgive our enthusiasm but we can’t help subscribing to the notion of ZUM STAMMTISCH uber alles these many many years, and we don’t think we’re alone in feeling this way. This neighborhood institution is pretty much top of the mountain when it comes to German cuisine in these parts. And while Oktoberfest is certainly a worthy reason to visit, you should know that the friendly staff at ZUM STAMMTISCH treat you like every day is Oktoberfest, all-year round. Whether it’s the Sauerbraten you’re sampling, or their delightful Wienerschnitzel, you will definitely feel like you’ve died and gone to Bavarian heaven. (And save room for their Strudel, too – which comes, of course, in Apple or Cherry.) Hey by the way, ZUM STAMMTISCH also does some terrific on-premises catering, and for details on that, all you have to do is check out their delectable website www.ZumStammtisch.com.
98-35 Metropolitan Avenue
CHALET ALPINA is probably best known for its friendly and accommodating service, as spearheaded by co-owners Lenny and Zelko. Most folks usually start with the delicious and unique Ungarische Goulasch soup and opt for some of the well-done and familiar staples, like the Manchner Sauerbraten or CHALET ALPINA’s special Wiener Schnitzel. Our favorite, though – definitely the Bavarian Plate, a hearty combination of smoked pork tenderloin, smoked sausage, and roast pork loin. (And make sure you get some spaetzle or creamed spinach with that, too.) Your beer selection here is likely to include Beck’s, Spaten and Warsteiner, among others, but count on a few extra offerings over the next couple of weeks, because you’ve probably noticed by now that Oktoberfest tends to be as much about libations as it is about the food itself.
BAUER’S BAKE SHOP
64-59 Dry Harbor Road
Definitely two of our favorite proponents of German-American culture are BAUER’S BAKE SHOP proprietors Ernest and Anita Wunsch. Queens residents have long relished the charms and home-made sweetness of BAUER’S offerings, and Oktoberfest is as good a time as any to start gearing up for what is prime time at BAUERS’ S BAKE SHOP, the upcoming holidays. Nobody makes a better Pretzel Roll (slather on some cream cheese, if you’re looking for a recommendation), and their Linzer Tortes are guaranteed to put a smile on even the most jaded of patrons. But without question, one of the most exemplary meisterwerks performed here at BAUER’S is their unparalleled Schwarzwaelder Kirschtorte. And once you’ve tried it here, you’ll never go anywhere else for it.
BOHEMIAN HALL & BEER GARDEN
29-19 24th Avenue
This is definitely brewski heaven, folks, an outdoor beer garden the likes of which you may only have had the opportunity to experience in Europe before this. You’re going to love the variety of cold pilseners on tap here, rivalled only by the coolness of this fabulously trendy Astoria neighborhood. The crowds here for their annual Slavic festival are legendary, and while Oktoberfest promises to be slightly smaller, the ambience within this Czech beer garden is what it’s all about, so be sure to take the time to meander about the place and enjoy its old world charms. Our favorite taste treat here, by the way – the Potato Pancakes, with healthy dollops of sour cream and apple sauce! (Closed Tuesdays, sorry.)
RADEGAST HALL & BIERGARTEN
113 North 3rd Street
While their “official” Oktoberfest celebration has come and gone (celebrated in conjunction with the homeland version that occurs in late September), RADEGAST HALL is one of our favorite new spaces in the rapidly developing, ever-evolving neighborhood that graces the Williamsburg waterfront. You’ll want to head straight for the outdoor grill by the way, and begin partaking of specialties like their “Easter” Sausage, Polish Kielbasa, or Venison Sausage. (And the garden is heated this time of year, how “cool” is that!) RADEGAST HALL is also a top-notch performance venue and restaurant in its own right, with some excellent Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Braised Rabbit, Veal Schnitzel and the like (and great potato salad!), but where the place really shines is with their beer menu, one of the best in the city. Bottles of standouts like Dinkel Acker, Grimbergen, Lindemans, Uerige, etc., but even more impressively, pints, liters and pitchers of special drafts like BrouCzech, Erdinger Hefe-Weizen, Grosser Pilsner, Radeberger, and many more.
The Shops At Atlas Park
8000 Cooper Avenue
Come on, people – when it’s got “Oktoberfest” in the name, right? Mark Gallagher, owner of the popular MANOR DELI in Woodhaven, has made this cozy little German enclave one of the top destinations for delicious and reasonably-prized German cuisine. Sandwiches are served right on the cutting board for you – particularly their Oktoberfest Bratwurst (sausage on a roll served with mustard and sauerkraut). Our personal favorite, though: what others might call a “B.L.T.”, their Black Forest Bacon Club, featuring some of the thickest and juiciest bacon you’ll ever have. And by the way, if you think the food is great here, make sure you also belly up to the bar for a Spaten or a Hofbrau Munchen on tap. Because they definitely know how to serve a beer or two here, as well.
KARL EHMER MEATS
63-35 Fresh Pond Road
Look, we don’t need Oktoberfest to remind us that KARL EHMER MEATS is “still the best butcher on the block,” do we? Now in its 78th year of operation, this is one of the premier destinations around town for sausage and wurst, and can we recommend to you either the Knockwurst or the Bockwurst? Now, if you really want to get into the spirit, you are hereby advised to visit www.KarlEhmer.com and check out some of the Oktoberfest assortments they’re offering (each one $100), like the Oktoberfest Sampler (Bratwurst, Bockwurst, Beersticks, Bauernwurst, Potato Salad, Sauerkraut) or the Oktoberfest Entrée Assortment (which includes Kassler Ripchen, or pork chops, and Landsberg Applesauce.)
70-11 Grand Avenue
One of the last of the old-style German-American delis, we absolutely adore WALTER’S DELICATESSEN here at “BEST OF THE BEST.” Pumpernickel bread to die for, a whole host of sandwich options we never can quite decide on, and without question some of the absolute best Potato Salad you’re ever going to find anywhere. (Especially the Penn Dutch!) But given that it’s Oktoberfest-time, you really ought to make sure you avail yourself of one of the things they do best here at WALTER’S DELICATESSEN, and that’s get in on their monthly Sauerbraten kick, which you always need to make a reservation for by the last Wednesday of every month. (Hey, that’s coming up again real soon, isn’t it? October 28th by our calculations!)
RUDY’S PASTRY SHOP
905 Seneca Avenue
Tucked into a dense little Seneca Avenue block right off of Myrtle (and next door to RIDGEWOOD EATS), RUDY’S is the kind of bakery you just don’t see too often anymore. German in origin, here’s where you’re going to find some of the best cookies and tarts anywhere in Queens. We loved the Linzer Tarts, but others have risen to the occasion in that regard, as well. But make sure you check out what they call Black Forest Cookies. Creamy and sweet and slightly crunchy, these tiny morsels are only going to whet your appetite for more and more of them with every bite. And if your sweet tooth somehow still feels a little unsatisfied, ask about one of their larger offerings, a tidy little cake they refer to as Bienenstich, but which we can categorically refer to as heaven thanks to its combination of vanilla cream, roasted almonds, and caramel. And we’ll definitely be checking that out again, next time!
35-33 36th Street
The newest entrant to the beer garden game has absolutely taken the city by storm. Virtually any listing of outdoor dining, beer gardens, etc. worth its salt has got STUDIO SQUARE front and center. If you consider Astoria neighbor BOHEMIAN HALL & BEER GARDEN to be its closest competitor, consider these essential differences – where BOHEMIAN is quaint and old-world charming, STUDIO SQUARE is state-of-the-art and seemingly high-tech; where BOHEMIAN is crowded and intimate, STUDIO SQUARE is spacious and immense (18,000 square feet!). If anything, it’s more akin to an outdoor arena than a mere beer garden. While its Schaller & Weber grilled wurst offerings pale in comparison to BOHEMIAN’s food, we’ve definitely got to give the beer edge to STUDIO SQUARE with a selection rivaled by very few. (Try the Hoffbrau Dunkel or the Weihenstephan Hefe especially.) Oh, another thing, STUDIO SQUARE’S got one of the rockingest beer garden websites we’ve ever visited, www.studiosquarenyc.com!
DER SCHWARZE KOLNER
710 Fulton Street
You’d be well within your rights to complain about the horrific service at DER SCHWARZE KOLNER, and about the mediocre food offerings, and about how hard and crusty their rolls are – and maybe it’d keep you away from the place altogether. But then you’d be missing out on some fantastic beer, people. DER SCHWARZE KOLNER owners Dale Hall and Randi Lockemann could care less that it’s Oktoberfest right now, but that’s because with such a wide-ranging and authentic selection of beers, it’s pretty much Oktoberfest every time you walk in here. They’ve got nearly 20 great beers on draft alone, as well as a host of equally-impressive bottled imports. The fun here is in the mixing and matching, with Wheats like their Schneider WeiBe and Weihenstephaner Kristall, or Pilsners like their Wurzburger Hofbrau and Einbecker Pils, and maybe a Lager like the Hacker Pschorr. Lucky for the proprietors the beer is so good here, we just might be able to overlook the other shortcomings.
Got a favorite spot of your own you’d like to share with us? Give us a holler at BestOfTheBest@QueensLedger.com, and we’ll make sure to publish you in an upcoming edition!