Hamburg’s traditional food: essential dishes on a trip to the city
Although the most obvious thing to eat in Hamburg are hamburgers, we suggest you go a little further and also sample other dishes and ways of cooking. On your next trip to the Germany city, why not order something you have never tried before in each restaurant and enjoy the gastronomic culture of northern Germany. Hamburg’s cuisine has many traits in common with the region in which it is situated, made using local produce. A common ingredient is fish from the Elbe, but you will also find a mix of flavours in dishes such as labskaus and black soup made from blood and vinegar. In this article you will find some of the essential dishes to eat in Hamburg. So, are you ready for an adventure?
And, of course, a good way to enhance the gastronomic experience is to try the same recipes at different establishments so you can get to know the differences. The top restaurants in Hamburg include those with Michelin stars, such as The Table (3 stars), Haerlin (2 stars) and Bianc (2 stars). However, there are many others in historical locations, charming areas, with views of the river or the lake, and even in markets close to the port (such as Fischmarkt, which is situated next to Sankt Pauli church).
- Finkenwerder Scholle
- Hamburger aalsuppe
- Where to eat in Hamburg
- Where to sleep in Hamburg
Finkenwerder Scholle is a fish dish with plaice as its main ingredient. Plaice is a fish that is hard to find across the world, so don’t miss the opportunity to taste it and experience its flavour. Although there are various plaice recipes, the classic finkenwerder is fried in butter and accompanied by a rich garnish of bacon and shallots. The dish also includes potatoes and a side salad. You can easily find it in many restaurants.
If you still haven’t tried eel, the time has come to try it in Hamburg. Hamburger aalsuppe is a traditional soup that originally did not contain eel, but was instead made with leftover vegetables and a ham bone (what you would call zero-waste cooking). However, the dish has an unusual history, because, due to the similarity of the sound of ‘aol’ and ‘aal’ (eel) many people would ask where the eel was because they could not see it in their soup… So, in the late eighteenth century, some clever cooks decided to add it in and double the price of this humble soup.
In reality, there is no single recipe for hamburger aalsuppe, although the main ingredients are usually the same. The broth contains ham, vinegar and sugar, various vegetables and fruits (carrots, leeks, apples, pears), meat balls and aromatic herbs (thyme, coriander, marjoram and sage). At the end, the sliced eels are added. When prepared without eel, it is called verlorene aalsuppe (the lost eel). It is undoubtedly one of Hamburg’s must-try dishes.
This is one of those dishes that often divides visitors: some love it and others are put off by the fact it contains pig’s blood mixed with vinegar. We recommend you try it and make your own mind up. The unusual broth, which is also known as black soup, contains several tubers, among them potatoes, and chopped meat. Although it is a traditional recipe that you can find in Hamburg, it isn’t available in all restaurants, so take advantage of it when you find it on a menu.
You can’t say you have been to Hamburg if you haven’t tried labskaus, a meat dish that contains herring, pickles and a fried egg on a base of mashed potatoes and onions. It is quite a filling dish, so you can have it as a main dish if you don’t know what to eat in Hamburg and you don’t eat hamburgers. Don’t miss the opportunity to try bread from this part of Germany, thanks to the cereals that are grown in the region they are particularly delicious, just like the biscuits.
Where to eat in Hamburg
Finding interesting places to eat in Hamburg is easy due to the large variety of food that the city offers. You will find everything from luxury establishments to other more simple places serving equally appetising dishes. The most exclusive include Haerlin, which, in addition to having two Michelin stars, offers beautiful views of the Binnenalster or Alster lake. Its food is creative with a French touch. Another restaurant where you can indulge yourself is Brook, situated in the city centre, offering a varied menu with both German and international dishes. One of its star dishes is the roe deer with Brussels sprouts and chestnuts. Its views of the Speicherstadt neighbourhood are wonderful.
If you are in the centre, in the basement of the City Hall you will find the restaurant Parlament. We love its historical atmosphere, its German dishes and its good value for money. Another good option to sample the local cuisine is the restaurant Im Sprinkenhof, where you can try a mixed dish of German delicacies and a tankard of beer before continuing with your sightseeing.
Where to sleep in Hamburg
A great choice if you are looking for accommodation in Hamburg that is on a par with this dynamic city is the Barceló Hamburg, a four-star hotel with cutting-edge design and vibrant interiors. Without a doubt, the perfect compliment to a city break full of experiences. Said establishment, right in the city centre, has 193 very comfortable B-rooms, where you can relax after an intense day of sightseeing. What’s more, the hotel itself offer excellent gastronomy at its restaurant 1700, a wine bar and a lovely terrace where you can have an aperitif or a drink with incredible views. And if you are the type who likes to continue taking care of yourself on holiday, it also has a gym and spa.
Frequently Asked Questions
What food should I try in Hamburg?
On at trip to Hamburg, you should take the opportunity to try some of its most unique recipes. These include hamburger aalsuppe, an eel soup; black soup or schwarzenauer, which is made from pig’s blood mixed with vinegar; and finkenwerder scholle.
Does Hamburg have a typical dish?
In Hamburg there are traditional dishes featuring interesting ingredients, such as black soup or schwarzenauer, which is made from pig’s blood, finkenwerder scholle, a dish made from plaice with a side garnish, and hamburger aalsuppe, an eel soup.
Can you eat fresh fish at Hamburg port?
At Hamburg port you can eat fresh fish at any one of its restaurants. You will find a great variety of fish recipes, but don’t miss the eel soup (hamburger aalsuppe) and finkenwerder scholle (made from plaice).