I blame it on a random interaction with one of the guides from the red Hop-On, Hop-Off buses that I had outside the gas station at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Magazine Street. The guide informed me he had a particular fascination with German immigrants and their place in the formation of New Orleans’ culture, as well as their greater affect on Southeast Louisiana.
Considering the heavy (though deserved) emphasis on the French, Spanish, and Italian cultural residue that’s forever marked this city, the narrative of German influence is often lost in the bustle of the other European nations’ impact on New Orleans. So, after hearing the pitch of the red bus Germanophile, I spent an afternoon going down a digital rabbit hole of the Germans in Louisiana (including this fine piece by GoNOLA’s very own Edward Branley).
While quickly realizing that Oktoberfest is far from the be all and end all of German culture in this city (and many others around the world), it’s an undeniable cornerstone. Below is a guide to where to go, what to drink, and what to eat during the Deutscher month in New Orleans.
Oktoberfest in New Orleans
Where to Go
Of course, you are going to want to get to the Deutches Haus (1023 Ridgewood Drive), but there are a number of other places to check out during the month. Jagerhaus (833 Conti Street) is a fantastic German restaurant that offers authentic German cuisine (Bavarian pork chop, wiener schnitzel) while offering some cultural mashups (like the bratwurst po-boy).
Another of John Besh’s brain children restaurants, Lüke (333 St. Charles Avenue), pays tribute to the Franco-German food traditions and the brasseries that were once spotted around the city (and it is home to one of the best burgers in New Orleans). The Aline Street Beer Garden at Prytania Hall (15151 Aline Street) has a great atmosphere and selection of German and German-style beers.
And no tour of homages to this city’s German roots would be complete without a trip to Fritzel’s European Jazz Club (733 Bourbon Street), which claims to be the oldest operating jazz club in New Orleans. Situated in a building that was constructed in 1831—and functioning as a jazz club since 1969—you can literally inhabit history at Fritzel’s. Last but not least, if you are going to drink German and German-style beer in New Orleans, get to one of the city’s truly sumptuous bar experiences, The Avenue Pub (1732 St. Charles Avenue).
Speaking of beer…
What to Drink
Hoist a pint to these seasonal beers.
NOLA Brewing’s Darkest Before Dawn — A “pure Munich-style Dunkel,” this dark lager is actually the first lager brewed and released by NOLA Brewing. At 5.5% ABV with the sweet taste of chocolate and caramel, this is an extremely drinkable, malty-flavored beer.
Urban South Oktoberfest — A lighter option than the Darkest Before Dawn, Urban South—a popular newer brewery right here in New Orleans—is a complex and satisfying lager with “aromas of caramel, toasted bread, dark fruit and spice.”
40 Arpent Brewing Company’s New Basin Stout — Getting away from the German-style beers for a moment, you should try the New Basin Stout: An English-style beer produced for the most German of international celebrations. A “highly drinkable” beer that is both sweet and dry, the New Basin is also dark brown in color and with the accompanying low carbonation.
Abita Octoberfest — A full, malty lager, the Abita Octoberfest makes a welcome return to the shelves of grocery stores and pubs every year from September to November. As reliable and pleasing as any of your favorite Abita brews.
What to Eat
When it comes what to eat (and how to eat German cuisine) during Oktoberfest, the Deutches Haus has you covered. Here’s a summary:
Stuffed cabbage rolls; Jagerschnitzel (fried pork cutlet with mushroom sauce); and the legendary three sausage plate with your choice of bratwurst (all pork, poached then browned), weisswurst (pork and veal mix, poached then browned), and the knackwurst (pork and beef, smoked and poached). The last option is described as similar to the “frankfurter . . . just better.”
German meatloaf with bacon and mushrooms; Jagerschnitzel (fried pork cutlet with mushroom sauce); and the aforementioned three sausage plate.
Kassler ripchen (a smoked pork chop) with apple and walnut sauce; Jagerschnitzel (fried pork cutlet with mushroom sauce); and the aforementioned three sausage plate.
There is also an assortment of other specialty items, including the flammkuchen (German pizza!) with bratwurst and onions on a sour cream sauce; strudel; various pretzels and assorted dips; and what might just be the best side in all the Oktoberfests in the world—the Deutches Haus’ very own “warm German potato salad with plenty of bacon.”