Fall flavors – German gourmet treats in Virginia and D.C.

It’s fall and that means Oktoberfest! While the official Oktoberfest celebration in Germany may have ended, in the states we’re still celebrating with brats and beer.

Where can you find the best German food around these parts? I have two suggestions.

German Gourmet – Falls Church, Virginia

The first is located in Falls Church, Virginia. German Gourmet is a store, delicatessen and bakery situated at 5838 Columbia Pike (not far from Route 7/Leesburg Pike). My son and I have been going to German Gourmet for years (when it had a location on Lee Highway).¬† It offers fantastic take-out from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 am – 4 pm on Sundays (the store itself is open until 7 p.m.) They have more than 20 different kinds of sausages, but if you’re thinking about bratwurst, their “homemade” offering is the most popular. You can order that as a sandwich on a Portugese roll for $6.25, including your choice of condiments (e.g., with mustard and sauerkraut, if you’re ordering for me!) Add two delicious sides for 95 cents each — I like their potato salad and red cabbage.

If you can’t wait to eat your bratwurst (and who would blame you?), there a couple of tables with chairs in the store.

German Gourmet also has a delicious variety of sweets for sale, including rugelach, strudel and fancy cakes, as well as chocolate candy from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. My son loves their pretzels!

One fun offering they have this fall is “Halloween” wine. This is a sweet, red sparkling wine imported from Germany that retails for $15/bottle. Drink this chilled and pair it with pizza, hamburgers or wieners.

Old Europe – Washington, DC

The next place I am going to tell you about is on Wisconsin Avenue, just on the edge of Georgetown, and it is amazing! Old Europe (2434 Wisconsin Avenue, NW) is the sit-down restaurant to go to when you crave traditional, authentic German food. I recommended this to a former employer once for our Christmas party and it was a huge hit! I haven’t been here for dinner, but (in addition to the company banquet) I have enjoyed lunch in this charming, small restaurant.

Old Europe is a dining experience unlike none other in the DC area. The restaurant has operated since 1948. At lunch, the small, cloth-covered tables are populated with well-dressed business men and women sharing a relaxed meal. Smiling waitresses in German dirndls circulated. I believe you’d feel most comfortable if you were wearing at least business casual attire. For its classy atmosphere, the prices are very reasonable, especially considering the quality of the food. For example, there is a Chef’s Special at lunch that includes dessert and coffee for only $12. Everything I have tried — sausages, potato pancakes, sauerbraten, pork loin schnitzel — has been outstanding. Even the house salad is unusual and delicious.

Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to lunch or dinner at Old Europe this fall. Be certain you call ahead for reservations. Just don’t plan to go on Tuesday! Old Europe is closed on Tuesdays.

On Wednesday nights through mid-November, Old Europe will offer polka music and live piano on Friday and Saturday nights.

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