You can assume a place that prides itself on celebrating Oktoberfest every day of the year pulls out all the stops when October rolls around. At Chicago Brauhaus restaurant, you're in for boisterously good time. This beloved German restaurant is best known for its cold steins of beer, oversized pretzels and peppy, in-house oompah band, the Brauhaus Trio. Heaps of good cheer and hearty Bavarian food — think sauerkraut, schnitzels, schinkenbrot (ham on rye), goulash suppe (meat and vegetable stew), kassler rippchen (smoked pork chops) and kohlroulade (cabbage roll) — are plentiful in this lively Lincoln Square institution.
Come for a Taste of the Old World
The first Germans arrived in Chicago in the 1830s; by 1860, ethnic Germans made up 20 percent of the ciity's population. Most settled on the Nord Seite (North Side), in the charming neighborhood of Lincoln Square.
Opened in 1963 in Lincoln Square, Chicago Brahaus is located in the commercial heart of Lincoln Avenue, at the intersection of Lawrence and Western Avenues. Friendly and walkable, this corner of Chicago remains decidedly German-American: German businesses such as Merz Apothecary and Lutz Café & Bakery as well as cultural institutions, including DANK Haus (the German American Cultural Center) and the Niedersachsen Club, still thrive. America's biggest weekly German newspaper, Amerika Woche, is published out of the Brauhaus' second floor. The founder and owner of the Chicago Brauhaus, Harry Kempf, is such a mainstay of the neighborhood that he and his brother, Guenter, have a plaza named in their honor.
Stay for the Dancing and a Boot of Beer
Chicago Brauhaus is one of the few remaining beer halls in a city once populated with hofbrauhauses, and it features all the traditional trappings: Bavarian-style long wooden tables packed with beer-stein-toasting buddies, waitresses dressed in dirndls balancing platters of pretzels, brats stuffed in buns and bowls of leberknödel suppe (liver dumpling soup) — a house specialty. Kitschy murals depict the Old World.
In some ways, it's as much about the music as it is about the food. The Brauhaus Trio keeps the oompah beat most nights, playing an eclectic, dance-worthy repertoire of American oldies, German pop hits, and just about everything from the Black Eyed Peas to Survivor. Dancing is encouraged here. And how could you resist? It's impossible not to feel festive when being serenaded by guitarist and crooner Gody Windischhofer, a.k.a. "Elvis Pretzelmeyer."
While you're there, dare to take the "Das Boot" challenge: A clear glass beer stein is filled with 70 ounces of beer, enough to ensure that you'll be merrily dancing zwiefacher-style all night long. Prost!
4732 N. Lincoln Ave.
- Hours: Fri–Sun, 11 a.m.–12 a.m.; Mon, Wed, Thurs 11 a.m.–10 p.m.; closed Tues.
- Public transit: Western (Brown Line)
Celebrate Oktoberfest 2016 at Chicago Brauhaus, Sept. 28–Oct. 30, with a special Oktoberfest menu, plenty of live music, and a yodeling contest starting at 7 p.m. nightly. Plan your trip to Lincoln Square today. We can help you get there and show you all the other great things to do while you're there.