If you immediately think you’re in Munich, don’t be alarmed. You haven’t left New Braunfels!
But, the sights, sounds and smells you’ll enjoy as you walk into Krause’s Biergarten & Café definitely make you feel you’ve been transported to Germany. Then you taste the food, and you’ll again be checking to see if you remembered your passport but, I promise, you’re still in Texas. Just say “Prost!” along with everyone else and you’ll blend right in.
Krause’s Biergarten & Café truly is the real deal. And that’s saying a lot when you’re talking about German food in New Braunfels, settled by German immigrants in 1845. New Braunfels quickly became a center of German-Texan culture, a culture that gives the city a distinct German vibe and flavor, especially at a spot like Krause’s. The Bierhalle section celebrates New Braunfels’ heritage with a German theme and banners showcasing the crests of New Braunfels’ founding families, while the food will make you think that Oma is in the kitchen.
The restaurant itself traces its roots back to 1938, when Gene Krause opened “Gene’s Place” on the Plaza. That became Krause’s Café but, while today’s restaurant is in the same location and features the original dining room and Stammtisch table, the new restaurant is making its own history. And that begins with a menu featuring German favorites alongside new flavors.
For starters, don’t pass on the appetizers. The portions are hardy and the flavors are fantastic. The Bavarian Pretzel is as good as any you’ll enjoy in Germany; but for something addictive, the Kartoffel Poppers will leave you fighting your tablemates for the last one. And if you’re enjoying a few cold ones in the Bierhalle, any of the appetizers are great for sharing.
But your sharing options go far beyond the appetizers. Krause’s offers platter options that serve two to six, giving you a range of food and flavors to share. The Munich platter serves up pork belly, pork shank, chicken schnitzel, assorted sausages, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and red cabbage. The Solms Platter is less German, but still filled with flavor, featuring grilled quail, tenderloin skewers, Kartoffel poppers, sausages, barbequed shrimp and Brussels sprouts.
Even if you don’t order a platter, expect generous portion sizes. The Vienna Schnitzel, a dish that I gauge all German restaurants by, is huge and perfectly fried, served alongside terrific French fries and Rotkohl, or red cabbage. Confession: I ate the whole thing! We used to live in Germany and good German food is something I can’t resist. Krause’s schnitzel could easily be served with pride in any German Gasthaus. Schnitzel options include Jaeger Schnitzel, or hunter’s schnitzel, topped with mushroom gravy, and Käse Schnitzel, topped with beer cheese. And yes, I plan to try them all.
It’s not just the schnitzel that would make a Gasthaus proud. All of Krause’s sausages are locally sourced from New Braunfels Smoke House, Penshorn’s Meat Market, Rust Game Place and Hudson Meat Market. You’ll find Bratwurst and Weisswurst on the menu, as well as a sausage sampler with three different local sausages served alongside house-made mustards, cheeses, pickles and crackers. The house-made mustards are fantastic, with a honey mustard, spicy German and Bier mustard. And they are perfectly paired with a Wild Game Sausage Sampler with wild boar, venison and jackalope (rabbit and antelope).
If German fare isn’t your thing, Krause’s has you covered there, too. Wings, burgers, salads (including a great side salad that is totally authentic German, but is great no matter what you like), chicken, venison and steak are all great options. And if you want to make it a family affair, there are options to keep littles happy, including the appetizers I mentioned. The chicken tenders on the kids’ menu were freshly fried and wonderful and yes, sadly, I had to share the pretzel and Kartoffel poppers. But I made up for that with dessert, a Triple Chocolate Dunkel Cake that was tall, dark, rich and amazing.
So whether you have your passport or not, take your taste buds to Germany at Krause’s. You can even enjoy breakfast, a great stop if you’re visiting the New Braunfels Farmers Market that unfolds around the restaurant each Saturday morning. Or stop in for lunch or dinner and simply relax in the Bierhalle before or after your meal. The restaurant features live music, dachshund races and all sorts of true “fest” fun, giving you plenty of reasons to visit, dine and enjoy a bit of Germany without experiencing any sort of jet lag.
Cover: Grab your friends and go to Munich, or at least eat the Munich Platter at Krause’s. Courtesy photo
Dawn Robinette is an award-winning writer and communications expert based in San Antonio who enjoys finding new discoveries, revisiting old favorites and telling stories. Selected as a local expert by the San Antonio River Walk Association, she regularly writes for San Antonio Woman and Rio Magazine. You can also read more of her work at Alamo City Moms Blog.