Delicious food in Heidelberg – where and what to eat in Heidelberg, Germany

At this time of year I’m looking for dishes that are comforting against the cold of winter and the Heidelberg food specialties we ate was just what was needed to fuel our weekend break here. We enjoyed a hearty dinner of veal and vegetables boiled in broth served with dumplings and piping hot Kartoffelpuffer potato fritters with apple sauce from the Christmas market. Then of course there were the seasonal Heidelberg traditional food Zimsterne cinnamon star biscuits, not to mention the kaffee und kuchen in the cosy cafes of the Old Town or the chocolates and candies piled high in the shop windows. Here’s my best food in Heidelberg guide to the things we enjoyed eating on our weekend break to Heidelberg in Germany.

A food lover's guide to Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

You can also read my previous article on the 9 German Christmas Traditions we enjoyed in Heidelberg.

Where to eat in Heidelberg, Germany

Hearty German food in Heidelberg

Before we get to the sweet stuff let’s try some of the typical German dishes you’ll find on every traditional restaurant’s menu. We had dinner at Goldener Hecht, a hotel and restaurant in the heart of the Alstadt where the revered German poet Goethe ‘almost’ stayed in September 1815. Apparently he enquired about staying there, but there was no room at the inn (where have I heard that one before?)

I ordered the roast goose with dumplings and red cabbage, which is often served for the Christmas eve dinner in Germany ( read more about German traditions here ) while Guy enjoyed the boiled veal with vegetables served in a copper pan of broth with apple sauce on the side and a dish of crispy fried potatoes.

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Where to eat in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Boiled Veal at Goldener Hecht in Heidelberg

Another favourite dish that Guy likes to order for lunch in Germany is the Gulyassuppe, a hearty goulash that halfway between a soup and a stew, made with beef, tomato and paprika, served with crusty bread on the side. Just what we needed to warm us up in between sightseeing jaunts in the Old Town of Heidelberg.

Heidelberg Where to Eat

Goldener Hecht is at Steingasse 2 by the Old Bridge and we also heard good things about Hackteufel (Steingasse 7), Schnitzelbank (Bauamtsgasse 7) and Zum Güldenen Schaf or The Golden Sheep (Hauptstrasse 115), all of which have a convivial atmosphere and traditional German dishes on the menu.

What to eat in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Gulyassuppe in Heidelberg

How about some German beer?

Most of the beerhouses in Heidelberg serve both food and the famous German beer making them a good choice for dinner if you want a lively, cheerful atmosphere and in summer you can sit outside in the biergarten. Rather than ordering at the bar as you would in England, you will be served at the table, usually by a waitress in a traditional dirndl with her money wallet on her belt so that paying is quick and easy. Be aware that most places prefer you to pay in cash unless you’re ordering a full meal.

We had a beer and supper at Zum Roten Ochsen (Red Ox Inn) a traditional student pub that’s often recommended for tourists so we were a little doubtful about going there, since we prefer to seek out the local’s choice. But on a Monday night our other recommendation of Zum Seppl next door was closed so we gave it a try. Despite it being quiet with a fair number of tourists (including us), we were pleasantly surprised, since we had friendly service and good food, with the dark wood panelling, cheerful red check tablecloths and old photo of Heidelberg students around the walls.

Where to Eat in Heidelberg

Zum Roten Ochsen is at Hauptstraße 217 and we also heard good things about Zum Seppl (Hauptstrasse 213) and Vetters (Steingasse 9) near the Old Bridge if you want to try the local beer and eat in a convivial pub atmosphere.

Heidelberg Traditional Food Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Beer in the Zum Roten Ochsen, The Red Ox, Heidelberg

German food to try in the Christmas markets

One thing I love about the German Christmas markets is that they are very much about eating, drinking and having a good time with friends rather than just shopping for crafts and gifts. The traditional German food at this market in Heidelberg to try is the wurst or long German sausage sandwiched in a hunk of bread with ketchup and mustard on hand – practically impossible to eat elegantly without dripping sauce down your chin.

Where to eat in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Schnaufnudel and wurst sausages in the Christmas market, Heidelberg

I preferred the Kartoffelpuffer or potato fritters which are eaten with a choice of either apple or garlic sauce. Being Germany where everything is environmentally friendly, they were served on a sturdy wafer which can either be eaten or recycled along with the food waste. Other choices in the Christmas market were Schnaufnudel, a dish of pasta made from potatoes mixed with fried cabbage as well as bread rolls filled with pork that had been slowly roasted over the wood fire.

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Kartoffelpuffer, potato fritters in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Kartoffelpuffer, potato fritters in Heidelberg

What to drink at the German Christmas markets

The sweet smell of Glühwein and buzz of conversation warms the air at any German Christmas market, as friends meet for a drink and a chat in the evening, resting their drinks at the tall bar tables arranged nearby. The price for your Glühwein includes a deposit on the mug which is refunded when you return it, although you can decide to keep as a souvenir of Christmas past.

If you want something even stronger, look out for the Fuerzangenboule, which is laced with rum soaked sugar that drips into the mulled wine and is flamed before being served. There’s a well known old movie from the 1940s called Der Fuerzangenboule, which Germans love to watch on Christmas eve, in which the actors sit around drinking Fuerzangenboule while recalling nostalgic memories of their schooldays.

Where to eat in Heidelberg Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Fuerzangenboule in Heidelberg Christmas Market

A cosy café with cakes in Heidelberg

We lost count of the cosy cafes in the Alstadt or Old Town of Heidelberg and of course in summer many have a garden or outdoor tables where you can watch the world go by. We tried to keep our eating in balance by skipping the hotel breakfast so that we could have a guilt free Kaffee und Kuchen stop in between the shopping and sightseeing.

One of our favourites (we actually went there twice) was Café Knösel close to the Church of the Holy Spirit which has a traditional atmosphere and a delicious selection of creamy layered cakes including the Black Forest Gateaux. There’s a small side room which is filled with old photos of Heidelberg students from the last century, many proudly wearing the bandages around their face that proclaim they had received a wound from duelling, a favourite sport within the student fraternities of Heidelberg University.

Where to Eat in Heidelberg Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Cakes at Café Knösel in Heidelberg

We had a lovely chat with an aristocratic looking gentleman who was having a quiet coffee there and proudly wearing his fraternity sash, since he had been attending a reunion of old university friends. We later found out that only students from the fraternities who have triumphed in a duelling competition can wear such a sash and there are different colours for each of the fraternities.

Where to Eat in Heidelberg

Café Knösel is at Untere Strasse 37 and we also heard good things about Holy Kitchen for vegan cakes and light dishes (Kettengasse 7) and Cafe Grano (Kornmarkt 9) near the bottom of the funicular.

Christmas biscuits in Heidelberg

In Germany the bakers produce special backwaren (baked goods) depending on the season. Our favourite place for this was Café Gundel which has a bakery selling cakes and biscuits next door to the cafe. If you have a coffee in the cafe you can look at all the lovely cakes in the shop and then tell the waitress what you’d like to order.

Heidelberg Traditional Food Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas biscuits at Cafe Grundel in Heidelberg

It’s a German Christmas Tradition for families to make Christmas biscuits together, cutting the sweet dough into different shapes such as stars and crescents which are decorated with icing, nuts and chocolate. A favourite that we saw in many bakeries and in the Christmas markets were the Zimsterne or cinnamon stars topped with white icing, although every family has their own traditional German recipes handed down from mother to daughter. Read more about German Traditions here.

Heidelberg Traditional Food Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Springerle Christmas biscuits in Heidelberg, Germany

We also saw on sale the Springerle biscuits with their pressed relief designs. These German cookies are flavoured with anise seeds and traditionally made with a special rolling pin carved with the designs to press into the biscuit dough. As well as the small ones, Café Gundel had larger individual biscuits with antique motifs of angels and historic scenes that would make an unusual gift to bring home, but almost too beautiful to eat.

Heidelberg Traditional Food Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Schneeballen or Snowball cakes in Heidelberg

Another Heidelberg curiosity to look out for are the Schneeballen (snowballs) made of biscuit dough scrunched into a ball, often with a flavoured filling and icing or nuts on the outside. At Cafe Gundel they sell a special variation called the Heidelberger Kurfürstenkugel which is a ball shaped cake made of sponge with a creamy nougat filling, coated with chocolate. The cake is said to have been invented to commemorate the Prince Elector Frederik V who in 1613 married the beautiful Princess Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of King James I of England, with dark chocolate cakes representing the prince and white chocolate his wife.

Foodie curiosities in Heidelberg

If you happen to be passing the Church of the Holy Spirit when the small kiosk shops around its walls are closed, take a look at the carvings that are normally hidden by wooden shutters when the shops are open. You can spot a pretzel marked into the stone that dates back to 1737. In those days the stores that now sell postcards and souvenirs would have supplied the food, candles and cutlery needed for daily life and the town regulations determined the standard size of a pretzel. A baker could be punished if they were selling anything smaller than the size marked on the side of the church – 18th century quality control in action!

Where to Eat in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Pretzel carving in the church of the Holy Spirit in Heidelberg

Chocolates to bring home from Heidelberg

When you have eaten your fill of traditional German food in Heidelberg washed down with a beer in the restaurants and pubs of the city, and taken your kaffee and kuchen in a cosy cafe surrounded by old student photos, I’m sure you’ll be looking for some chocolates to bring home as a souvenir from Heidelberg. While we passed many lovely chocolatiers in the town, you’ll find the ultimate chocolate souvenir of the Students Kiss at Knösel (Haspelgasse 16) down the lane beside Café Knösel which I mentioned before.

Student kisses in Heidelberg at Knösel Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Student kisses in Heidelberg at Knösel

There’s a lovely story that these chocolate truffles were invented in 1863 at a time when only boys were admitted to Heidelberg University and the young ladies of the local colleges would be chaperoned when they went out for a coffee in town.

For a young gentleman who admired a young lady from afar, what could be more innocent than a gift of chocolate, since the chaperone could not possibly object? However the not so secret message behind the gift was in the image of the beautiful lady and the student in his cap, their lips almost touching and only room between for a ‘student’s kiss’.

Heidelberg Where to Eat Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Student kisses in Heidelberg at Knösel

Another shop that we enjoyed looking around was the Heidelberg Bonbon Manufaktur (Steingasse 5) close to the Old Bridge, which makes candies and lollipops in all colours and flavours. To one side of the shop you can see the sugar being pulled and cut into bonbons or lollipops while on the other are jars of sweets to take home.

Where to Eat in Heidelberg Germany . Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bonbon Manufaktur in Heidelberg

This is a great place for families to watch the bonbons being made and treat the kids to a handmade lollipop, whether it’s a traditional red and white heart or the Darth Vader Star Wars theme lollipops that we saw being made.

Where to Eat in Heidelberg Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bonbon Manufaktur shop window in Heidelberg

My final recommendation for chocolates that are a little more grown up (perhaps you’ll want to treat yourself) is the small shop of Pralinmanufaktur Vorbach (Hauptstrasse 211) that sells fresh handmade chocolates. We watched the owner Helgo Vorbach filling the chocolate casings to make the fresh chocolate truffles and you can even buy them individually to taste a few (which of course we did) before making your selection to fill one of the tins or gift boxes with the motif of Heidelberg castle on them.

What to eat in Heidelberg Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Pralinmanufaktur Vorbach chocolates in Heidelberg

I hope by now your mouth is watering and you’ll be planning a trip to Heidelberg to try out some of the local food specialities – if so you can find more resources to plan your visit below. Enjoy the places we recommend and what to eat in Heidelberg but if you don’t find them, don’t worry. In the old town there are many restaurants that serve hearty German dishes, many beer houses that sell fruity German beer and many cosy cafes for your kaffee and kuchen. Have fun wandering the cobbled streets and exploring the alleyways to create your own food lover’s guide from Heidelberg.

Read More about our trip to Heidelberg: 9 German Christmas Traditions we enjoyed in Heidelberg

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Read my Food Lover's Guide to Heidelberg, Germany

Plan your visit to Heidelberg

For more information about planning your trip to Germany, visit the Germany Tourism Website and read more about German Traditions | Follow them on Social Media | Twitter @GermanyTourism | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube |

You can also find information about Heidelberg on the Heidelberg Marketing website.

If you need a guide in Heidelberg, we highly recommend Susanne Fiek who runs culinary and other tours of Heidelberg.

Where to stay in Heidelberg

Heather and Guy stayed at Qube Hotel, a stylish boutique hotel that was a 20 minute walk or short tram ride from the Old Town. Our room was in Villa Qube, a large townhouse next to the main hotel, on the 4th floor under the eves. Our windows faced the gardens at the back and was quiet, with sloping ceilings and a grey linen sofa and desk as well as a huge comfy double bed.

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Qube Hotel in Heidelberg Germany

There were interesting lighting effects which bathed the room in a purple glow and the bathroom was huge with both walk in shower and bathtub. The Qube restaurant has an excellent reputation, although we didn’t eat there, and in summer you can reserve a table on the rooftop terrace with views towards the river.

Qube hotel in Heidelberg Germany Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Qube Hotel in Heidelberg Germany

If you prefer to stay in the Old Town of Heidelberg you could try Hotel Hollaender Hof, a traditional hotel right by the Old Bridge, Hip Hotel where every room is themed to a different country of the world, or Heidelberg Suites, a luxurious Boutique Hotel.

How to get to Heidelberg

Heather and Guy flew from Bristol to Frankfurt and took the train to Heidelberg. Trains run around every hour from the Frankfurt airport station with a change at Mannheim. On arrival in the airport follow signs for train station and then Fernbahnhof ( long distance train). Tickets can be bought from ticket machines as you reach the Fernbahnhof. The cost is €25 one way or €19 for a saver ticket which must be purchased 1 day in advance. The journey takes around 1 hour.

More about Heidelberg

My Top 10 things to do in Heidelberg – Video
9 German Christmas Traditions we enjoyed in Heidelberg

Thanks to the German National Tourism Board who hosted* Heather and Guy’s weekend in Heidelberg

* More info on my policies page

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read the original article here

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  • Reply
    January 1, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Hi Heather

    Will be in Heidelberg for Christmas 2016. My family spent Dec 24/25 1978 and my 78 year old Mum is so keen on reliving a memory of having Roast Goose….and then I came across your blog. I dragged her to the computer, she has just read her first blog….and is now so very happy.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      January 1, 2016 at 2:20 pm

      @Suz I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the article and have happy memories of Heidelberg. It was a lovely place to take a pre-Christmas break so I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous Christmas celebration – if you need a guide I can highly recommend Susanne Fiek who I mentioned at the end of the article – she is a lovely lady and would I’m sure be very helpful with any recommendations you need.

  • Reply
    Henry / @fotoeins
    February 10, 2016 at 9:15 am

    I’m very pleased you had good eats and drinks in Heidelberg. I’m also equally glad you found (the big) Gundel on the Hauptstrasse; “little” Gundel is at Universitätsplatz. I like the places on Steingasse leading to the Alte Brücke, but I liked going to Untere Strasse; Burkardt and pop come to mind. There were some neat places on the other side of the river in Neuenheim, too. Because I love Döner, I had a couple go-to places on the Haupstrasse, one of which is Gino’s.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      February 10, 2016 at 12:26 pm

      @Henry Thanks so much for all these great tips of places to eat in Heidelberg. I’d be interested in finding some of the places on the other side of the river as I suspect this is a part of town most tourists never get to.

  • Reply
    April 28, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Great post! I absolutely loved Heidelberg and the foodie scene was fantastic! It’s the perfect winter getaway, as you say the food is super comforting and it has gorgeous proper winters full of snow!

    Bonnie x

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      April 28, 2017 at 11:41 am

      @Bonnie so pleased you enjoyed Heidelberg – we were there before the snow fell, but I can imagine it’s very atmospheric with snow on the ground.

  • Reply
    Stephanie Raffaele
    October 26, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    Heidelberg’s culinary scene is as impressive as its aesthetics, ranging from fine luxury dining to traditional pub fares to delicious international cuisines. In my opinion, Ai Portici stands out among the other great Italian restaurants in Heidelberg for the outstanding quality of its food and atmospheric decor.

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