Maifest (not to be confused with the other Mayfest in Chicago) officially kicks off the summer event season this week. But these German restaurants in Lincoln Square and Northcenter offer authentic food, a wide selection of beers straight from the homeland, and sincere hospitality throughout the year.
Chicago Brauhaus is probably the second-most popular German restaurant in the city for tourists looking for lively entertainment, and it?s not uncommon to see a bus unloading revelers. The Brauhaus welcomes visitors from near and far with traditional Bavarian fare like Sauerbraten, Weinerschnitzel, Rouladen and the best red cabbage served by dirndl-clad, no-nonsense waitresses. But this Germania extravaganza is best known for its daily Oktoberfest atmosphere that’s complete with long, shared tables, murals, stained glass and seemingly around-the-clock entertainment, which is sometimes spontaneous and definitely infectious.
Head south and you might hear the sounds of an oompah band at Glunz Bavarian Haus?when live music is played on Saturday nights (and sometimes on the sidewalk). The Glunz family has long tradition of providing beer and other libations throughout the Chicago-land area, starting with their founding father?s role as a beer deliveryman for the Wackers, and they serve a variety of European beers, including Stiegl, Delirium Tremens, and Fullers London Pride. Their menu also reflects influences from other countries (stroganoff, tuna salad, and apple strudel), but I save up my calories for the cheese spatzle with fried onion rings.
Resi?s Bierstube, 2034 W. Irving Park Road
Down on Irving Park Road, two family-run institutions coexist across from one another. On the north side of the street you?ll find a restful beer garden tucked behind Resi?s Bierstube, a blink-and-you-might-miss-it tavern coated in wood paneling. It?s smaller than its culinary cousins, but there?s more than a dozen German beers on tap, as well as others in cans and bottles. (I have given up trying to count them all.) If the inner sanctum reminds you too much of your parent?s basement, head back to the patio and sip your weiss bier under the canopy of maple trees. You?ll feel like you?re in the heart of Regensburg instead of sitting near an urban arterial. Resi?s also offers the best potato pancakes in the city.
Laschet’s Inn, 2119 W. Irving Park Road
Laschet?s Inn began as a Schlitz tavern, and now visitors can choose between the bar in the front (complete with collections of ceramic steins, plates, cold war memorabilia, and glassware) or the dining room in the back. This?restaurant/tavern?has changed owners twice since Karl Laschet made it a destination in 1971. While the new owners have upgraded the place with things like sidewalk seating, the menu and beer list remains committed to traditional brews and specialties, like Warsteiner Dunkel and Leberkase topped with a fried egg. (You diehards will just have to ignore the fried chicken and MGD.) Laschet?s also offers a wide selection of aperitifs and liqueurs, such as Apfelkorn, Edelkirsch, and Kirschwasser. But please remember that the custom in Germany is to sip (not gulp) these types of libations. I learned that the hard way after embarrassing myself in Munich.