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The EAT List

The 11 best Frankfurt restaurants

Whether haute cuisine or homey Kaffeehaus is more your vibe, our pick of the best Frankfurt restaurants has you covered

By Veronica Zaragovia and Florian Siebeck

Germans often look down on Frankfurt as the country’s drab and joyless financial capital – and for many visitors it’s no more than a thoroughfare. But in recent years this overlooked metropolis has blossomed into something of a foodie haven, with new and exciting openings cropping up all over town. Though traditional restaurants still tend to serve hefty meat dishes and the region’s famous Grüne Soße (green sauce) with boiled potatoes and eggs, Frankfurt’s expat-heavy population – and Europe’s third largest airport – mean culinary experimentation is the name of the game here. In terms of sheer audacity in the kitchen, this city punches well above its diminutive size.

All of which is to say that when in Frankfurt, the food scene is certainly worth diving into. So if you’re exhausted after a day exploring the city’s array of marvellous attractions and other things to do, head to one of these Frankfurt restaurants to sit back, relax and enjoy a meal. We suggest pairing it with a glass of Apfelwein (apple wine), a local favourite that’s best described as a sour, fermented liquid that doesn’t taste quite like beer or apple cider, though it looks quite similar. Keep in mind, however, that many of Frankfurt’s restaurants are closed on Mondays, so double-check opening hours before making the trip. Guten Appetit!

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Best Frankfurt restaurants

Photograph: Seven Swans

1. Seven Swans

Restaurants Contemporary European

Only three vegetarian restaurants in Germany have a coveted 2019 Michelin star, and Seven Swans is one of them. Don’t rush down the Mainkai or you’ll miss the narrow building – Frankfurt’s narrowest, in fact – that houses it. Considered among the best restaurants in the world, Seven Swans offers a seasonal menu with 10 courses using regional ingredients like fennel, leeks, pumpkin, apple and asparagus. Most ingredients are grown just outside of town in ‘Braumannswiesen’, the restaurant’s own permaculture farm. Reservations are a must, and the intimate candlelit setting, complete with views of the Main river, is ideal for couples.

Price: High-end

Chairs in Frankfurt
Photograph: Chairs

2. Chairs

In this restaurant by adventurous chef Dennis Aukili, guests don’t only sit on design classics from the 1960s through to the 1980s – they can also buy them. And when it comes to the food, Chairs offers playful yet ambitious haute cuisine at surprisingly affordable prices. Think refined dishes like salt baked young onion with cranberries and mornay sauce, and roasted beetroot with blood sausage and sour berries. Our favourite is the classic (and much less refined) Viennese schnitzel with potato salad. Wines are mainly young and organic.

Price: Mid-range

Photograph: Willi Mueler-Sieslak

3. Atschel

Restaurants German

You’ll receive a hearty welcome befitting a regular at this old-school establishment. Founded in 1849, today’s Atschel seats patrons at communal wooden tables, beer hall-style. The walls are adorned with framed vintage drawings of apples, and art nouveau ball lamps emit a warm light for a homey feel. Feast on local delicacies like grilled pork knuckle with sauerkraut and bread or the region’s speciality – cold green sauce, or Grüne Soße, made with seven local herbs, yoghurt and sour cream, and served with boiled eggs and potatoes. Don’t leave without tasting Frankfurt’s quintessential drink, refreshing Apfelwein (apple wine), which is more sour than sweet, but be aware that it’s frowned upon to ask for a shot of sweet lemonade in it (Süßgespritzter). Traditional Bembel pottery hangs above the bar, and specials are written in German on chalkboards along the walls.

Price: Budget

Photograph: takedahrs

4. Ramen Muku

Restaurants Central Asian

Mention Ramen Muku to local foodies and you’ll see their eyes light up – it’s a truly legendary Japanese restaurant (meaning bookings are essential). The noodles are homemade, as is the broth, and you can see through to the kitchen where the staff are hard at work. The menu has plenty of appetisers, a veggie ramen option and delish matcha ice cream, plus lots of sake. Muku is in the Sachsenhausen quarter of Frankfurt – consider stopping here after visiting the Portikus art gallery half-way along the Alte Brücke (old bridge).

Price: Mid-range

Shuka speakeasy in The Trip hotel in Frankfurt
Photograph: Stephan Lemke

5. Bar Shuka

Nestled in the recently revamped 25hours Hotel, Bar Shuka is quite possibly the best place to sample Israeli cuisine in Germany. It’s the brainchild of entrepreneurs David and James Ardinast, who have helped turn Frankfurt’s once dodgy Bahnhofsviertel (the area around the central station) into a culinary haven of sorts. Chefs Stephan Kaiser and Yossi Elad (formerly of London’s the Palomar) serve sharing plates spiced with house-made harissa and za’atar and the freshest pitta in town. Their signature dish is a Tel Aviv classic: blanched, roasted cauliflower with salsa and almonds. A back door leads to a quiet, velvet-lined speakeasy, while the playlist turns up a notch as the night goes on. No, you’re not hallucinating: punters have been known to dance on the tables.

Price: Mid-range

6. No. 16

If you fancy some top-notch Italian classics, look no further than No. 16, a homey Sardian spot that’s become a true cult favourite. Founded in 1977, the restaurant is run by four siblings who took over the place from their parents, serving hefty plates of pasta, alongside first-rate meat dishes and a seafood salad that’s gained almost legendary status. Everything is meant for sharing, so be prepared to leave with not only a full stomach, but also lots of new acquaintances – other guests may join your table unexpectedly.

Price: Mid-range

Photograph: Emma Metzler

7. Emma Metzler

Restaurants Bistros

Emma Metzler’s beautiful design and décor makes it look more like an art gallery – somewhat fitting for a restaurant in the city’s Museum Embankment (Museumsufer) and in the grounds of the sleek Museum Angewandte Kunst. The spacious bistro’s sleek lines are softened by colourful artwork on the white walls, lobster-red furniture, a wall of glass blocks and thick, navy-blue curtains. Flower arrangements adorn the tables and strings of lightbulbs hang from above. The service is impeccable, and the food comes served like a masterpiece. Emma Metzler is famed for its homemade tarts and juices, but the French-German menu also includes confit pork belly, aubergine, celery and pistachio cream for lunch (12noon-2pm) or hay-smoked razor clams with wakame algae for dinner (6pm-10pm). If the weather’s nice, eat outside and walk over the Eiserner Steg bridge after your meal – at night you can gaze over Frankfurt’s sparkling skyline. If you visit on the last Saturday of the month, museum entrance is free.

Price: Mid-range

Photograph: Café Maingold

8. Café Maingold

Restaurants Cafés

Don’t miss this charming café tucked away on the quiet, eastern end of the busy Zeil shopping promenade. Beneath the green, striped awning you’ll find an eclectic dining space, filled with reclaimed furniture and mirrors, and split into distinctly decorated rooms (our favourite has red walls and a sofa upholstered in gold velour). In the main dining space, lamps glow just brightly enough to illuminate the striking gold floral wallpaper. Maingold’s daily menu includes fresh salads (like one topped with grilled halloumi, pomegranate seeds, pistachios and pomelo), soups and pasta, like penne with marinated chicken or the standout, homemade pumpkin gnocchi in autumn. For dessert, try the brownie-in-a-glass with coffee, and if you’re dining in summer, try snagging a table on the terrace beneath the twinkly string lights.

Price: Budget

Photograph: Lucille Kaffeehaus

9. Lucille Kaffeehaus

Restaurants Cafés

This serene, cash-only café is one of the city’s comfiest lunch spots, and happens to have an adjoining record store, Memphis Records. It’s ideal for breakfast and lunch, though it’s open until 6.00pm. On Thursdays and Fridays, it transforms into a bar and closes at 1.30am. The quiet space has soft green and white tiles on the walls, wooden small tables and cosy pillows. The café has weekly-changing options spanning curries and pasta dishes, as well as a selection of homemade breads with avocado, fresh cheese, rocket, chilli and fried egg, or baked feta with olives, onions and tomatoes. To drink, try the homemade elderberry and mint lemonade. The staff here are exceptionally kind, and both kids and dogs are welcome (and spoiled). Lucille is located north of the city centre in the Nordend-Ost quarter, and is a perfect place to rest after touring the Old Jewish Cemetery.

Price: Budget

Photograph: Vevay

10. Vevay

Restaurants Vegan

Those looking for a slap-up – but somewhat healthy – meal in the city centre will rejoice at this vegan-vegetarian joint. It’s decked out in a light, airy and modern way, giving off the feel of a grown-up living room (think scattered cushions, lots of pictures on the wall). Popular dishes include the falafel burger, the protein bowl with lentils, sweet potatoes and beets, and fresh smoothies and juices. The café, whose name is a mix of the words ‘vegetarian’, ‘vegan’ and ‘yummy’, takes its farm-to-table credentials very seriously. Cash only.

Price: Mid-range

Photograph: Im Herzen Afrikas

11. Im Herzen Afrikas

Restaurants Pan-African

This dinky Eritrean restaurant combines style and substance. Settle into the plump cushions scattered along benches or take a pew outside. Everything is made of wood and the walls are either exposed brick or casually plastered. There’s even a traditional Eritrean hut in the centre of the room. The menu comprises East African grub of all stripes – we recommend ordering a sharing platter. Expect flatbreads, chickpeas, potatoes, salads, sauces and lots and lots of hummus. The vibe is laid-back and often candlelit, so perfect for dates.

Price: Mid-range

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