I moved to Leipzig in the autumn of 2000 for six months of work experience. Nineteen years later I am still here but the work experience is long gone, replaced by a career and a stable family life in the Waldstraßenviertel.
Today’s Leipzig is a different animal to that of the early Noughties. Good places to eat existed, but choices were somewhat limited. Menus were a German-only affair.
50 Deutschmarks would get you a good meal and a few beers for two, and when the bill arrived you looked forward to the walk to the next cash machine as plastic payment was a luxury.
Around the time of the 2006 World Cup, I remember my old boss, who commuted from Berlin, complaining that there were no good restaurants in Leipzig. When I rolled off the names of a few places, he had never heard of them. The good places to go to in Leipzig were mainly outside of the ring road, and that somewhat remains the case today.
The restaurant scene has changed considerably in the last few years.
Leipzig is becoming more international and there are obviously more people in the city willing to spend their hard earned cash on quality. 50 Deutschmarks won’t get you very far nowadays, but you will be spoilt for choice of where to spend your 25€, of course by card!
If you don’t want to spend your Friday evening watching Soko Leipzig, perhaps one of my insider tips for going out might tempt you away from calling Dominos. Enjoy!
Paul Berry, creator of B10, is a hospitable guy who has seen a bit of the world. He has created the perfect mix of stylish fusion cuisine with an Asian influence in a very-laid back atmosphere. This is the place to go if you appreciate fresh cooking, interesting combinations and a very extensive selection of wines and gins. This is also the only restaurant in Leipzig where I speak English to the staff, a great bunch with a good sense of humor.
The Caesar salad is perhaps the best I have ever tried. The Tom Ka Gai soup is a favorite of my colleagues, and the FOT Fish of the Day has never let us down.
Paul has also recently opened a bar inside the ring road, called R10, offering lighter bites such as Poke Bowls. A meal in B10 followed by a few nightcaps in R10 beats staying in and watching the box any day!
Greek restaurants in Leipzig usually have little in common with those in Greece. German-style Greek is normally meat, meat and more meat washed down with an Ouzo or two. Was Kost Das is different.
It boasts a very picturesque location overlooking the Könneritz bridge on the White Elster river. The menu offers a wide selection of smaller meze dishes to be shared at the table. Authentic Greek food is much more than meat and tzatziki, and this place delivers for those looking for a real taste of Greece. It has a good vegetarian selection and is worth a try even if you think that Greek restaurants are not normally “dein Ding.” My tip for Was Kost Das is to ask the owner where the name comes from, and then to try the retsina wine and let me know if you like it!
Münsters is still my favourite restaurant in Leipzig. Owner Andre Münster has established a gem in Gohlis and I recommend reserving a table, as the place is always busy.
The restaurant is located in an old restored mill and has a very cozy feel, with open brick work on display in the dining room. There is also a bar upstairs, as well as a beer garden and a terrace. However, I prefer Münsters when it is cold outside due to the cozy intimacy of the dining room.
The food is very original and uses locally-sourced ingredients. There is no point asking for the wine list, as they have a fantastic sommelier who will pair your food with his recommendations. I especially like that they support local vineyards, and I got to learn of a few new labels from the Saale-Unstrut area.
Chinabrenner is tucked away in an interesting brick building on a small path full of graffiti. It is just off Gießerstrasse, which used to house a foundry before the wall came down. It is immediately clear that this is not the usual type of Chinese restaurant that is (unfortunately) prevalent throughout Germany. You can see and smell straight away that Chinabrenner wants to deliver authentic Szechuan cuisine. Clearly the word has got around, as the place is often packed.
Dishes are chosen by combining a number of hot and cold plates to be shared at the table. The marinated cold broccoli is always a good choice. I love the pork belly, while my kids usually go for the chicken and mango.
Chinabrenner is a good choice for bigger groups, as the larger tables have turntables to make sure your favorite dish is conveniently within reach. Just make sure that your beer is not on the turntable, because kids love to spin it fast!
This small, cozy pizzeria in the city center is still my favorite. It is not over-styled like most Italian chains, but is a solid, family-run establishment. You are greeted upon walking in by an open wood-fired oven and a chef covered in flour tossing pizza dough in the air. Kids love sitting at the bar next to the oven and the chef is known to put on a little demonstration.
The menu has the usual choices as well as some more exotic combinations such as duck, pear and walnut. Choose between the classic tomato base or go for the white base, which is also very good.
Let me know what you think of my recommendations. I will also be trying out some of those mentioned on the Leipzig Glocal’s Facebook page recently.
By Tim Greenwood