We can see why the Munich beer halls are so popular. The beer is good and affordable (around 9 euros or $14 for a litre). The food is substantial and also reasonably priced. The atmosphere is lively and traditional Bavarian. To save space to try other restaurants and other types of food in Munich we resolved to confine ourselves to two Munich beer halls (in addition to our outing to the Oktoberfest). The two which we settled on were Hofbräuhaus and Augustiner Keller.
The Hofbräuhaus is probably the most famous and most visited beer hall in Munich. It is situated in its own building in the heart of the City. The main city square, Marienplatz is just around the corner. The Munich Hofbräuhaus is open everyday from 9:00 am to midnight. A band plays traditional Bavarian music from a podium at the middle of the hall. Music is played everyday except for two days (Good Friday and All Hallows‘ Day). It felt like being in an Oktoberfest beer tent, except more claustrophobic, but this experience is available all year round.
The Hofbräuhaus is busy throughout the day. It is either crowded or very crowded. We went just before dinner time when it was merely crowded. “Sit anyway” was the direction given to us. We shared a table with some other tourists. The place seems chaotic to newbies like us but there is a system in place which works such that the servers vigilantly clear the tables when diners leave, spot the newcomers, take orders, deliver food and accepts payment. Service is more efficient than friendly.
Here are pictures of some portions of the Munich Hofbräuhaus menu. We had a Bavarian classic and Hofbräuhaus specialty – roasted pork knuckle (15.5 euros), a Munchner Weisse (wheat beer, 4.70 euro for 0.5 litre) and an apple juice. Conscious that we have been overdosing on beer during this visit, we did not order the Hofbräu Original beer which were only served in one litre steins.
The pork knuckle was not very big but enough shared by two people with small appetites. It was served with a tennis ball size potato dumpling. The pork knuckle was good and well-cooked without any porky flavour. The gravy was useful to go with the pork and the dumpling but we would have preferred it to be served on the side as it softened the skin which we preferred to be be crisp.
Overall, our light meal for two cost us around 25 euros. A reasonable price for a meal and entertainment for about 2 hours. We were fortunate to get a table close to the band. The music is hardly audible above the loud background noise for those seated further away.
Augustiner Keller München
The other Munich beer hall which we visited was Augustiner Keller. It is similar to Hofbräuhaus in that they serve their own beer and Bavarian cuisine, but the dining experience was quite different. Augustiner Keller’s location is not as central and is located near the main train station. It does not have a band which means it does not have the same festive atmosphere. But on the positive side, the atmosphere was bustling but not noisy. It is a thriving place but not crowded, which means that service is friendly and more like a typical restaurant.
Here are pictures of some portions of the Augustiner Keller München menu. This time we ordered their “best seller” – the 1/4 duck with a slice of roast suckling pig (17.70 euros), their freshly tapped Augustiner Edelstoff beer from wooden barrels (3.90 for 0.5 litre) and apple juice.
The food was presented in the usual simple manner. There was a side of red cabbage and the usual tennis ball sized potato dumpling. This was a more substantial dish than the pork knuckles. Eaten with the gravy, the meat reminded us of our local Teochew braised pork and duck. The cabbage provided some relief from the heaviness of the meal.
Overall, dinner at Augustiner Keller München beer hall was pleasant and peaceful. It does not have the unique atmosphere and character as the Hofbräuhaus but it was nice to try different styles of beer halls in Munich.
Augustiner Keller München