Traditional Foods to Try in Cologne

So you’re in Cologne, Germany, a charming city in Western Germany known as Köln to Germans and Kölle to the locals.  You’re a foodie and you’re looking to dive into some of that rich culinary tradition that come out of Germany and Cologne in particular but the menu is in a different language and the only traditional food you can think of is Schnitzel and that’s actually Austrian.

Well, we’ve got your back!  Want to try some local cuisine in Cologne? Here are the traditional foods to try in Cologne!

  1. Kölsch – Ok so it’s not really a food but it’s a must try in Cologne.  Our local beer brewed only in Cologne within the EU and served in small glasses called Stange, this light, crisp flavoured, pilsner-style beer is your go to at almost every bar and beer hall around the city, a staple of Cologne Brauhaus culture.  (You can learn more about the beer here and take a brewery tour with us here!).

    Beer, it’s what’s for dinner! or as we German’s say “3 Beers are also a Schnitz

  2. Himmel un Ääd – Translating to Heaven and Earth, this hearty Cologne favourite is probably THE must-try in local cuisine.  Served in almost all Cologne Brauhauses and traditional restaurants, this combination of blood sausage, mashed potatoes and apples is not the most common mix you’ll hear of but is sure to satisfy any hungry visitor.
  3. Halver Hahn – Often confusing German speakers who order this meal believing they will receive half a chicken, this is in reality a popular snack all around the city.  If you’re looking for something exciting, look elsewhere on the list.  This is simple rye bread with some gouda cheese, butter, and an onion.  We didn’t say our food was revolutionary, did we?
    You can also try Kölsche Kaviar which also just as deceptively named by switching out the cheese for Flönz, a generous piece of blood sausage.  Yum!
  4. Rievkooche/Reibekuchen – Fried potato pancake served with apple sauce or sour cream? Now we’re talking.  This is one of the more popular to-go snacks at our festivals or street markets.  You can find a very good spot right in the center of the Altstadt to try this out.  Also, be warned, we say snack but it will fill you up completely for hours.  And hey! It’s even vegetarian!

    Potatos? Good. Sour Cream? Good! Fried? GOOD!

  5. Sauerbraten – This dish has gone through some changes over the last decades as it was traditionally horse meat, it is now mostly served  as marinated beef that is slow-cooked and served with gravy, red cabbage, and dumplings.  It’s a comforting and hearty meal that is often enjoyed during the colder months of the year.  If you’d like to still try out the meal as served with everyone’s favourite animal to point out while driving past them in a field, then try out Max Stark or Haus Töller.
  6. Leberknödel Suppe – Liver dumpling soup.  Noodles.  Warm.  Not much else to say.  It is what it sounds like and surprisingly good.
  7. Schnitzel – We know, we know.  We just said it’s Austrian (and it is dammit!).  But if you want to try a good Schnitzel in Cologne we can’t blame you.  We’ve got a few places that have made it an art form in Cologne, with Bei Oma Kleinmann being the most famous.

    Schnitzel is not really German, but close enough.

  8. Muuzemändelcher – These sweet pastries are served primarily in the Rheinland around Karneval and the New Year period.  These deep fried often almond shaped sweets are a favourite at bakeries around Cologne.
  9. Anything Turkish – Again, not exactly a German traditional food and not very specific either but really, our Turkish population holds such an important place in our city and its culture, a trip to Cologne without trying out the cuisine just once is a bit of a waste.  The favourites include Dürüm wraps, Lahmacun (a Turkish style of pizza) and Köfte.

Honestly, we could go on but this is a good start.  Cologne may not have the cuisine of Paris or Rome, but if you drink enough of #1 on our list we promise it’ll all taste great regardless.  A trip to Cologne wouldn’t be complete without at least one of these traditional Cologne foods to try rolling around in your belly while you wander the old town or Belgian Quarter.

If you need to know where to try all of this stuff, check out our list of recommendations here or better yet, learn about some of our favourites on a tour with us here.

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