Not many visitors travel to Germany for the food, which is surprising when you put aside preconceptions and look deeper. Its restaurant scene alone is a juggernaut: Germany came fourth in a 2022 list of countries with the most Michelin stars (behind only France, Japan and Italy), and claimed nearly twice as many as the UK (down in seventh). Its reputation for calorific, meat-heavy cuisine and starches is deserved, but what it does, it does well, and at a good price.
If you don’t eat pork you may struggle for menu options, although venison – much of it imported from Scotland – is the fancy choice in many restaurants nowadays. However, vegetarian dishes are increasingly common, and the choice of international offerings (traditionally just Turkish or Greek) has diversified, so even an industrial city such as Düsseldorf has its own ‘Japan street’, with sushi and ramen joints accompanying Vietnamese and Thai eateries.
But what really makes Germany stand out is its bread (brot) culture, which was recognised by UNESCO in 2014. Meals, such as morgenbrot (breakfast) and abendbrot (dinner), were historically geared around this staple, and there is even a pair of dedicated bread museums to visit – one in Ulm, another in Ebergötzen. Today, Germany has over 3,000 varieties of bread; almost every village has its own bakery, and it’s traditional to buy fresh brötchen (rolls) in the morning. Often these bakeries are social hubs, too, offering cheap coffee and a basic dish of the day, making them a great way to taste a variety of local flavours.