Last Updated on June 26, 2023
Looking to taste the local flavors of Hamburg? Look no further, here we will share with you the best gastronomic gems, keep reading!
Hamburg, the lively port city in northern Germany, is not only famous for its rich history, stunning architecture and incredibly popular music venue scene, but also for its diverse culinary delights, which are sure to get your taste buds tingling. With a unique blend of traditional and modern flavours, reminiscent of other Western European port cities, the local food scene in Hamburg is a gastronomic adventure that will definitely have you longing for more. In this article, we plan to go over some staples of Hamburgian cuisine that have shaped the eating habits of the locals and become popular treats for travellers visiting the city.
If you are planning your visit to this north-German city any time soon, we recommend organising your transportation beforehand, to guarantee a smooth beginning and end to your trip. Reserve AtoB Hamburg Airport transfer (€22.75 per person) to safely and efficiently get back to your accommodation, leaving more time for enjoying the yummy cuisine, and less time in transit.
Labskaus is a hearty and traditional dish that has been a staple in Hamburg for centuries. This savoury meal is made from a mixture of corned beef, onions, potatoes, and beetroot, all mashed together. The ingredients are then topped with a fried egg and served with pickles, rollmops (pickled herring), and gherkins. Labskaus is a satisfying comfort food that warms the soul and is best enjoyed in one of the cosy taverns along the city’s waterfront. You can usually order a plate of this warm dish in a local pub, or a restaurant – just don’t forget to say ‘bitte’ after ordering!
The name’s exact origin is unknown, but it has been speculated that it derives from either Latvian or Lithuanian, and can be roughly translated to either ‘good bowl’ or ‘hotpot’.
If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, make sure to try Hamburg’s beloved pastry, the Franzbrötchen. Resembling a cinnamon roll mixed with a croissant, this delectable treat is made from a buttery and flaky dough, generously sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. The Franzbrötchen is a popular choice for breakfast or as an afternoon snack, paired perfectly with a cup of coffee. Its irresistible aroma and delightful taste will definitely leave you craving for more.
Originally it was only to be found in Hamburg, but due to its deliciousness, it can now also be found in other German cities, such as Bremen and Berlin.
Top tip: They do a truly gorgeous Franzbrotchen at Buttercrumbs Bakery on Bernhard-Nocht-Straße, which is on the riverfront, offering lovely views and nice coffee as well!
Rote Grütze, meaning “red groats”, is a traditional sweet fruit dessert hailing from Northern Germany and Denmark. Groats are hulled kernels of various cereal grains. This delightful porridge-like dessert is made from a combination of fresh red berries – such as strawberries, raspberries, and red currants – which is then cooked with sugar and further thickened with cornstarch. The result is a vibrant, flavorful dessert that is often served with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla sauce. Its refreshing taste and pretty colour make it the perfect summertime treat in Hamburg.
There is a ‘green’ variant of the dessert available as well, although not as widely as the traditional red. This one is made with apples, gooseberries, kiwi and rhubarb and is more common in Denmark, than Hamburg.
Aalsuppe (Eel Soup)
Aalsuppe is a unique and flavoursome soup that has been a part of Hamburg’s culinary heritage for centuries. Traditionally made with eel, although its use has become a contentious topic, the soup also includes vegetables, such as leeks, carrots, and potatoes, as well as various herbs and spices. The eel is cooked until tender, and its rich flavours infuse the soup, creating a truly distinctive taste. Aalsuppe is a fantastic representation of Hamburg’s maritime history and is a must-try for adventurous food enthusiasts.
In the past, the dish contained no eel, and the name was due to a linguistic misinterpretation of ‘aol’ and ‘aal’, the former meaning ‘all’, whereas the latter means ‘eel’. Originally it was a soup that simply contained ‘all’ the vegetables that were available in the kitchen at the time of preparation. Yet, due to non-Hamburgians misinterpreting the name, when served a soup without the eels they wanted, they would complain. The wiser of the restaurant-owners saw this as an opportunity, and began including eel in their dish, and also doubled the price of the soup, making a cool profit.
Fischbrötchen (Fish Sandwich)
No visit to Hamburg is complete without indulging in a classic Fischbrötchen. This iconic street food dish features a freshly baked bun filled with a generous portion of locally caught fish, such as herring or cod, although other fish, such as mackerel, sprat or salmon can also be used.. The fish is often lightly fried, soused or pickled and then served with a tangy remoulade sauce, pickles, onions, and sometimes horseradish.
The combination of the fresh fish, the crusty bread, and the zesty toppings creates a zingy, fishy explosion of flavours from the tip of your tongue, past your retromolar trigone, and all the way down your gullet. You can easily recreate this delicacy at home by using fresh fish, a soft bun, and a homemade remoulade sauce.
Being one of the easier items on this list to create – although none of the items require the culinary prowess of Wolfgang Puck to create – we want to provide you with the recipe for this tasty fish treat, so you can experience a little bit of Hamburg before even visiting! Guten Appetit!
- Freshly baked buns
- Fresh fish fillets (herring or cod)
- Salt and pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
- Remoulade sauce
- Sliced onions
- Season the fish fillets liberally with salt and pepper.
- Lightly coat the fish in flour and shake off any excess.
- Heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium to high heat.
- Fry the fish fillets until golden brown and crispy on both sides.
- Drain the fish on a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
- Slice the buns horizontally and spread remoulade sauce on both sides.
- Place a fish fillet on each bun and top with pickles, sliced onions, gherkins and even a little horseradish..
- Serve immediately with a large pint of Hamburgisch beer and enjoy the authentic taste of the city, no matter where you are in the world!
Hamburg’s local food scene is a delightful smorgasbord of flavours that eloquently reflect the city’s rich past and maritime traditions. From the yummy Fischbrötchen that you can now make yourself, and Labskaus to the sweet indulgence of Franzbrötchen and Rote Grütze, every bite tells a story and will definitely get your taste buds and uvula buzzing! The diverse range of dishes in Hamburg stands testament to the city’s culinary landscape, which has become influenced both by the seas, as well as neighbouring countries. Whether you’re a seafood lover or a pastry aficionado, Hamburg will deliver a gastronomic adventure bar none. Pack your bags, prepare your appetite and get ready for your waistline to expand as you savour the mouthwatering delights that make Hamburg a food lover’s paradise.