Though often overlooked in favour of bigger, splashier German cities like Berlin or Cologne, Düsseldorf is an underrated gem. The city sits in the heart of Germany’s Rhineland, a region known for the openness of the people and its infamous Carnival, a whole 'fifth season' of debaucherous partying from November to February. And while the city is wealthy thanks to the long presence of big industry, Düsseldorf offers a host of great fine dining options – you won’t find any pretension here. People are just as comfortable having a pint of Altbier in a brewery as they are enjoying a meal over a white tablecloth.
The city is also a home away from home for many business-travelers-turned expats from across Europe and houses Europe’s third-largest Japanese community. Its culinary scene definitely reflects this diversity, so whether you’re looking for a hearty bowl of ramen or a traditional Rhineland dish like blutwurst (blood sausage), this selection of the best restaurants in Düsseldorf will have something for everyone.
Düsseldorf's best restaurants
As far as fine dining goes, in Düsseldorf you can’t do better than Im Schiffchen. With two Michelin stars, and having been named to the top 110 German restaurants by Gault & Millau (the respected French restaurant guide), Im Schiffchen is a Düsseldorf institution for a reason. This beautiful, brick, baroque building sits in the heart of the Altstadt next to the Rhine river. Warm, comfortable and inviting, the interior of the old building sets the stage for a meal you won’t soon forget. Since 1977, chef Jean-Claude Bourgueil has been at the helm of the operation, offering a menu of indulgent French dishes. Be sure to bookend your visit with a picturesque walk through the old city and along the Rhine.
European meets Japanese at this Michelin-starred Düsseldorf legend. The restaurant’s namesake, Yoshizumi Nagaya, studied at the Toshiro Kandagawa in Osaka, the top spot to learn how to cook traditional Japanese cuisine. Nagaya and his wife opened their doors in 2003 and the restaurant has since gained a reputation for what some call the best Japanese kitchen in Germany. Located in Düsseldorf’s Japanese district, Nagaya’s minimalist, low-lit interior keeps the creatively plated courses in the spotlight. From sushi to kobe beef and a foie gras terrine roll with octopus tempura, these small plates go a long way. Open for both lunch and dinner, it’s a spot that’s as good for a business lunch as it is for a special date. With a 12-course tasting menu coming in at 170 euros, it’s not cheap, but Nagaya is a must-eat in Düsseldorf.
Slap bang in the middle of the Japanese district – and just a short stroll from the Hauptbahnhof – you'll find Na Ni Wa. Two Na Ni Wa's to be precise. On one side of the road (Oststraße) is their noodles and soups branch, while on the other (Klosterstraße) is sushi and more. These two modern restaurants are super popular, so you can expect major queues at lunchtime and you'll probably want to book ahead in the evening. Their numerous ramen bowls (almost a dozen varieties) are tasty and filling, the gyoza is crispy (but not fried to a crisp), and the sushi is fresh and light.
Tucked into the ultra-modern, boutique Fritz Hotel in Düsseldorf’s city center, Fritz’s Frau Franzi tends towards the same minimalist Scandinavian design, embellished with luxe furnishings and place settings. A relative newcomer on the gastronomical scene in Düsseldorf, Fritz’s Frau Franzi touts itself as a “world kitchen with an experimental touch.” Its creative menu of locally-sourced small plates varies seasonally, and under the direction of chef Benjamin Kriegel, the spot just won a Michelin star. Stand-outs include Duroc pork belly, cooked for 36 hours, and a dessert of chocolate ganache, poached pear, pear-licorice ice cream and salted caramel. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks, the extensive wine list and menu of signature cocktails—alongside the restaurant’s buzzy atmosphere and clear attention to detail—makes it a place you want to linger.
Agata’s is an unassuming and refined Michelin-starred gem. The place is named after its owner, Agata Reul, who is from Poland but has Southeast Asian roots. The space features a neutral interior palette of light beiges and whites, letting the food speak for itself, with pops of color punctuating each plate. Reul brings her diverse cultural background to the table, and the fixed menu is home to German-South Asian fusion dishes like a short-rib “Kalbi” with mustard miso, along more unexpected combinations like the duck liver with maple syrup teriyaki. Agata’s also offers a lunch menu, which is more reasonably priced. If you’re looking for a well thought-out and beautifully executed fine-dining experience, look no further than Agata’s.
Legend has it that Bob and Mary traveled the world for 18 months in search of the best burger before bringing it back to Düsseldorf. With its two locations—one in the Altstadt and one in the Medienhafen—designed with hip interiors featuring bold green walls and hanging Edison bulbs, Bob & Mary’s is a welcome change of pace from the fancy European/Asian fusion that Düsseldorf does so well. And what about the meat of it? The formula for the perfect burger, they say, comes from the 100% German prime beef, and the inclusion of roast beef in the patties, while local, light-as-air brioche buns and an enviable sauce and toppings collection—think Bloody Mary ketchup and homemade chili chutney—makes this spot an ideal, fresh take on the classic burger joint. If you’re meat-averse, there’s a collection of hearty salads and of course, a veggie burger to keep you satisfied. Tip: bring cash, as the restaurant doesn’t accept card.
For old-world elegance with a side of classic continental European fare, look no further than Brasserie 1806. Brasserie 1806 is situated in the charming Breidenbacher Hof hotel and offers a charming view over Düsseldorf’s Altstadt (old city). Designed in a Louis-XVI style, this brasserie features all the trappings of old-school luxury, from ornate chandeliers to marble pillars to plush furnishings—though the menu is anything but staid. Chef Philipp Ferber and his team create regional and French specialties from trout tartar and monkfish ceviche. Be sure to try a regional delicacy, Rheinischer Sauerbraten, a roast which is marinated in red wine and vinegar for several days, then slowly braised. Brasserie 1806 offers a decadent dining experience through and through, including an extensive wine list paired with impeccable service.
With a spot at the top of the Hyatt Regency hotel, DOX offers spectacular views of the Rhine and the Medienhafen docks. The high ceilings and massive windows allow loads of light in, as well as perfectly framing the aforementioned view. The decor is a minimal kind of elegant, while the menu is rather decadent. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, DOX is pricey, but offers an extravagant dining experience. The menu ranges from seasonal specialties to timeless favourites, like steak with truffle puree. And if sushi is more your bag, you’ll get on well with DOX’s traditional Japanese dishes.
Palazzolo succeeds with flying colors. Da Cla gets its name from its owner Claudio, who spent time in Sicily learning the tricks of the trade before settling in Düsseldorf to bring authentic Italian cuisine to the German masses. The restaurant can be found in the Medienhafen district of Düsseldorf, overlooking the harbor. A rustic and cozy decor reflect the restaurant’s Provencal style mixed with a coastal charm. With a focus on simple flavors and high-quality ingredients,the seasonal menu features classic Italian dishes with a refined, modern touch. From octopus and prawns to mussels, Da Cla’s focus on frutti del mare does not disappoint. Don’t miss the lobster and truffle spaghetti, and take advantage of the long list of Italian wines. If you can’t get to Sicily, Da Cla is your next best bet for a stellar Italian meal.
Located in the up-and-coming Medienhafen district, Berens am Kai is an oasis of calm in a light, airy, industrial space and features a lovely outdoor area during the summertime. The interior is modern and fresh, while the menu represents a mix of old-school and new school European cuisine—in fact, the seasonally rotating menu is divided into two halves: classics and modern. Chef Holger Berens is a veteran of the Düsseldorf restaurant scene, and with Berens am Kai he brings a palette of decadent and innovative flavors to traditional dishes like the miso and cacao-based venison with braised shiitake mushrooms. The seven-course tasting menu runs about 150 euros.
Between imbibing heavily in the regional beverage of choice, and the insane per-capita cocktail prowess of Düsseldorf bartenders, Düsseldorf is so much more than a community centered around requisite industry happy hours. The city’s nightlife is vibrant, comes with a strong beat, is open to newcomers, and is all the more fun for being a bit unexpected.