Fall is prime time for waving off the sweltering summer and welcoming milder weather with a mug of German beer and a sizzling brat, a dish of sauerbraten, or a chewy pretzel with spicy mustard. It's the season of Oktoberfest, and there’s plenty of Bavarian hoopla to be had across South Carolina. The focus on Old World food and fun make for memorable merriment. Here are some of South Carolina’s most favored German eateries where you can enjoy the spirit of Oktoberfest year-round, Lederhosen optional. Call ahead for serving times and seasonal specials; if you’re going for Oktoberfest, reservations are often recommended. Guten appetit!
The Binninger family has been serving up some of the best German food in the state since 1984. Inside the humble little tavern, you’ll find a warm welcome, a cozy dining area with walls filled with photos and other memorabilia, and some of the best potato pancakes being cooked up in these parts.
After attending culinary school and applying their skills at hotels across Austria, Werner and Martina Horvath crossed the ocean to the US and have been running Cafe Old Vienna since 1997. Both the dining room and the menu have an obvious German vibe. Don’t miss the sauerbraten and homemade apple strudel. Autumn is just right for sitting in the biergarten.
“Willkommen” reads the sign at the door of this lively little German cafe, where the servers are decked out in dirndls – traditional, aproned Bavarian dresses. The costumes hints at the fun atmosphere of the place and lends an authentic feel that only grows stronger when the food arrives at the table. Order up your beer in a glass boot big enough to wear. Tip: Save yourself some time and ask for extra tangy red cabbage with your entree.
The German word “stammtisch” indicates a place where you’ll want to be a repeat customer, and this hopping little eatery has plenty of those. The name of the game at this family owned operation is traditional dishes served with a personal touch. The dining room is small, but the atmosphere is big on smiles and hearty eating. The schnitzel is all the rave; try it sandwiched on rye bread with a stripe or two of spicy mustard. You might just want to tell your server: “Noch eins, bitte.” (Another, please.) And bring cash; no plastic accepted here.
A visit to this hidden treasure in the small town of Prosperity is like spending an evening with your German grossmutter. This is Miss Wendy’s domain, and the 70-something, German-born cook takes her time in the kitchen, preparing her signature wienerschnitzel and other dishes with love. Mosey over to the refrigerator, select your beer and drink in the Old World rusticity. It will make you think you’ve left South Carolina. Chances are good you’ll be singing and dancing with other patrons, beer mug in hand, before the night’s out.
Gentlemen, remove your hats before entering this white-tablecloth German establishment, where patrons are encouraged to get a little gussied up for dinner. The staff of Schwaben House serves up fine-dining, Old World style, whether you dine inside or on the more casual, but equally charming covered patio. This isn’t your typical “brats and beer” eatery. Using fresh ingredients, Chef Robert skillfully recreates authentic dishes, including many from the Swabian region of Germany. The Maultasche, tender ravioli-like pockets stuffed with minced meat and spices, and Schwaben Pfanne, pork medallions served over cheese spätzle and drizzled in mushroom sauce, should not be missed. For dessert, the Black Forest cake layered with rum-soaked cherries is divine and great for sharing. Note that a special menu is offered during Oktoberfest; call for details.