German Food on the Road, in 2017
I dug this memory from my drafts! Time to give it a spotlight!
Don and I stopped for lunch, when passing through Beeville in January... that would be 2017. We had heard great things about authentic German food at Berliner Bear, but the somewhat dreary little building looked like it was out of business. The old drive up window made me think this could have been a Long John Silvers.
As we parked, we noticed a few men in cowboy hats exiting. Good sign.
Inside looked much cozier, with table cloths and roses on each table. A woman with a German accent ushered us to a table and scurried back to the kitchen.
Maps and Flags
Here are two of my favorite prints! Is that a grandpa in the washtub? I wished that I had my friend Sigi with me. She could have read the words under the line up of happy children!
Don and I couldn't have been happier with our meals. Don got the Berliner Schnitzel with fried egg. The meat was yummy-tender. We heard that Gabby pounds the schnitzel meat, herself. There was something extra special about the warm, red cabbage. Bacon!
I read that the Reuben was so good that they often sell out. That was a good reason to order. It was perfect and the slaw also delicious. Sweet and vinegary!
By the time we finished the sweet little cafe was cleared out of diners. We paid at the counter and I tried to snoop a bit more.
German Knick Knacks
I checked out the little kissing statues and the stuffed bears with German dress.
I also peeked inside the kitchen window, where the chef worked in his red hat. Was he related to Gabby? I hated to assume and I hated to ask.
Music and Atmosphere
Without the chatting diners, I could better hear the music playing. Was that German pop music? It wasn't your typical Oompah band.
I've been to German restaurants that cater to tourists, with polka bands and lederhosen. This seemed to be a German restaurant that was all about the food.
Some More Fun Stuff
Nothing seemed overdone at Berliner Bear. The menu was simple and the service was efficient. The decor was pleasant, but not dripping in German goodies. I loved the cuckoo clock and colorful beer stein.
By the time we paid, the place was empty and quiet. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to ask Gabby a few questions.
Gabby was happy to hear we enjoyed our food, but it became clear that she had lots to do. I took a quick glance around and reminded myself that I had only seen her and the man in the red chef's hat.
Don and I had a great lunch, in a relaxed and interesting atmosphere. Sometimes that is just all we need!
Lunch in the Texas Hill Country
There are tons of dining options in Fredericksburg. The Hill Country town, once settled by Germans, now caters to tourists. They've done a good job of preserving their culture and history and beautiful buildings, like this one.
Lunch in the Old Memorial Keidel Hospital
This sturdy, limestone building has always intrigued me. When recently traveling with friends, they suggested stopping for lunch, in the old hospital.
Lovely April Day
Pat and Susan had eaten before at The Rathskeller. I was excited about the idea of a basement dining adventure... especially since our friends had been told, the basement had once been a morgue. Intriguing!
But the spring weather was heavenly and we had to pause to take in the courtyard, before heading down the exterior steps.
Down We Go
The sign at the bottom of the stairs flipped to CLOSED, shortly after we arrived
Coming through the door, we could see the thick, limestone walls. Who knows what the basement was used for in 1883, when the building was first completed. It opened then, as a general merchandise and hardware store.
It was nearly 3:00 when we arrived, but they were still serving lunch. We were invited to sit anywhere. The table near the old window looked cozy and the giant utensils sort of amused me.
There was a private room with a meeting table, if we'd brought along more friends. The sweet beast on the stone wall, would have kept an eye on us.
But we took another cozy corner table, with Grandma and Grandpa looking over us, from their frame. I sat near the Mercedes grill.
More Curious Decor
I was pretty delighted peeking around. The nearby window view amused me, with its cocktail cart and flamingo display. The restroom had some interesting art. I don't speak German, but the antique piece was interesting.
Chatting With Mary
While we studied menus, our server Mary, bustled about. She was fun and chatty and answered lots of questions. She said she'd been working at the Rathskeller off and on, for at least 18 years. "Since the owner's son was toddling around." she said.
Mary however, didn't answer my questions about the basement once being a morgue. She really did not want to confirm that at all. She said it had been the laundry room.
Photo on the Menu
Susan and I enjoyed some beer (German for me!) as we waited for our food. We continued to wonder about the morgue. I asked Mary if they had any ghosts sightings in the basement. She steered clear of that subject, just like she had the morgue. Then she reminded me that we were in a small town and there were residents who had family members who were born or died at the hospital. It was suddenly clear to me, why this kind of gossip was off limits.
I ordered the Daily Special, even though I clearly knew it was more than I could eat. Well, there was no Country Fried Pork Cutlet left on my plate when I finished. The beans, gravy and potatoes were packed with flavor! Crispy cutlet and fat mushrooms in the gravy! Yum!
The Almond Crusted Fried Dover and Turkey Ruebens were well received, also. But I think mine was best!
We enjoyed some good food and fun conversation. It was a fun dining adventure, even if we had no eerie encounters! This may be the first "meal in a hospital" for the Dining Blog!
Don and I have been eager to return to Schilo's since we discovered it over 10 years ago. We were just glad it was still sitting there on Commerce Street, looking as retro as we remembered.
We headed over nice and early for breakfast, because we remembered it got crowded with locals.
Before walking inside, I had to smile at the tile beside the door. Schilo's will be celebrating their 100th birthday before too long!
Just As I Remembered
It was as cozy as I remembered, with colorful tile floors, molded ceilings and tables like an old library. We ordered from our incredibly perky and efficient waitress. I think she would have been game for a photo op, but she was gone so quickly. I didn't want to slow down her system.
While waiting for food, I explored a bit. There was a back room where a few men were having some sort of breakfast meeting. The 6 deer on the wall appeared to be eavesdropping. I took a peek inside the awesome phone booth that still held the original pay phone, with a wandering cord.
The Old Schilo's
Papa Fritz Schilo first opened a saloon in San Antonio, but that lasted a short while since prohibition began in 1917. Instead, Mr. and Mrs. Schilo started up a delicatessen, which was run by 3 different generations and ended up in the current location.
Old Mercantile Exchange Building
The building, constructed in the 1800's was the perfect setting of a German restaurant. Across from counter/bar you can see (barely in my photo) a barrel that holds their famous homemade root beer. Behind that is an ornate carved bar. And the exchange's vault is now used as a walk in refrigerator.
Breakfast is Served!
Our very enthusiastic server soon arrived with our food! I just had to order the Papa Fritz breakfast special of 2 eggs, bratwurst, hash browns (or grits) and biscuits. Don had the potato pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream! Not pictured, is the container of Fritz's spicy mustard that was sitting on the table.
(I love a breakfast table with mustard!) So good that we purchased some.
Off We Go!
We headed off feeling full and happy to make the long walk to our hotel. I had to snap one more quick (and blurry) photo of the great booths as we headed to the exit. You have to love booth benches that look like wooden church pews.
German Pockets in Texas
It's been a lot of fun exploring international food in the Houston area. But when I moved to Texas 15+ years ago, I had no idea I would find so many German restaurants in the small towns of Texas.
Since my maiden name is Meyer and my husband and I both like German food, I thought I should share a couple finds.
Lampasas is just one of the many small towns in Texas that has an impressive historic square and courthouse. However, many of the buildings in town were destroyed my birth year of '57, when the nearby Sulphur Creek flooded. A few died and I'm sure those who lived through it needed the healing of the mineral springs, which helped put Lampasas on the map. Today there are about 7,000 living in the town and as far as I know, only one German restaurant. Eve's Café.
A Big Feast for Lunch!
Don and I don't usually eat big meals at lunch, but when you run across a small town that serves up German beer and numerous Schnitzel options...you just had to go for it!
A Closer Look
My Rahn Schnitzel was amazing with a sour cream gravy. Don's Reuben sandwich was served on German rye. My Spatzle noodles gave my plate sort of an "alive" look! I'm all for the fun in food, but in truth I would have preferred potato pancakes over this worm-like noodle.
Speaking of fun, I did love the ceiling! If the place hadn't been so hopping, I would have asked about all the marionettes, stars, flags and curiosities hanging above the tables. But the young girls waiting tables did not have time for my questions. I believe there is an Eve who owns the café and would have had answers for me, but she must have been in the back.
Fredericksburg, Texas was settled by German immigrants in the 19th century. Even the roads are extra wide for the ox carts that were common here.
This is a good place to come for German food, but it is also quite touristy...unlike Lampasas. Not too long ago we visited Fredericksburg and dined with friends at Auslander. I believe the word auslander means outsider...or basically tourist. So out of about 10 German restaurants, maybe this was not the most authentic...but it was fun!
You have to love a high beamed ceiling and stone fireplace and murals of Germany. There was even German music playing. Did I hear yodeling?
And Cuckoo Clocks!
I've always been a fan of cuckoo clocks and here we were, sitting right underneath 11 of them. I got a little excited as we neared 3:00 (late lunch) Sure enough there was a sort of nutty performance of chimes and cuckoos, all slightly unsynchronized.
A few got into the spirit with German beer. I however, was freezing from the air conditioning, and craved some kind of hot German beverage, but I couldn't think of any
The food was delicious and that warmed me up. I had a Reuben sandwich on pumpernickel, with potato pancakes and applesauce! We also shared a very curious treat called Schnitzel Rolls, which were like German spring rolls! Fun!
I hope to come back when the weather is perfect. The beer garden with cute folding chairs on the brick floor looked like it could be quite the place on a warm spring evening.
I want a table by the big window that looks out over the street. Then I can keep an eye out for oxen...or pickup trucks more likely.
Big points for the dining crowd!
Our family group that gathered over the Thanksgiving holiday came from Idaho, Colorado, N.Carolina, Austin and Houston. This is the largest group I've dined with for the dining blog!
3 Bonus points!
Cheers! We started the evening with a few toasts...
which is a very good way to start the feasting...on the night before Thanksgiving!
Rudi's has a huge selection...even non-alcoholic beers to chose from.
You need some muscles to lift some of these mugs!
2 points for the beer!
My Bro from Idaho
This is my brother, Chris! We are Meyers, so this makes us feel like we belong in a German restaurant. Of course we did some discussing and we realize there are more memories of our Grandpa Meyer's bread baking than German cooking.
I do have to give a huge 5 Bonus points for having a dining experience with Chris. Not only is he a huge fan of international food, but he's the only one I know who can pull out a little black book with details from past meals from all over the world.
Step back in time...
Okay, one more bit spotlighting Chris and the world of cooking and dining! He really is my role model for being an enthused diner. As a kid, I rolled my eyes when he chatted with other diners and questioned waiters. (I was mortified when he followed a clueless waitress back into the kitchen to see for himself what kind of lettuce they had) But over the years, I've observed his enthusiasm and I've admired his curiosity. Chris gets so much out of his dining experience besides the food. I've become more Chris-like...trying to enjoy the people and surroundings and the history as well as the food. Maybe I should carry a little black book!
5 Points for food!
Our dining started with a few simple pretzels and potato latkes with applesauce.
Then the big plates arrived, heaping with...
pork loin, wiener schnitzel, sausages, sauerbraten, roasted chicken, Austrian potatoes, red cabbage sauerkraut, dumplings... zucchini bread and more!
We had more than our share of Rudi-time! (he is Austrian, by the way) If you order up Bananas Foster and some of his flaming Lechner coffee, Rudi will spend a little time with his rolling cart at your table.
Right before this photo was taken, Rudi confided that after 30 + years, he can no longer get away with eating his delicious foods, because of his waistband. I recommended getting a dress like mine with elastic waist. He said he would consider it.
3 bonus points for Rudi's flaming delights!
Music and Dancing!
Okay, I know some people find an Oompa Band kind of corny and I did sense a bit of weariness in our musical duo at times. But there's something festive about eating German food while listening to accordion and Alpenhorn and yes, yodeling. I have to give 5 points for the inspiring music that got our entire group up on the dance floor for polka dancing! -1 bonus point for having such a tiny dance space. There was a lot of bumping into each other!
1 Big Bonus point for spotting some lederhosen near the dance floor!
RUDI'S gets 18 POINTS!!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.