If you are a fan of authentic German cuisine, or German culture in general, you will be thrilled to discover the Hofbräuhaus restaurant in Chicago. My husband and I have twice been to the original Hobräuhaus beer hall in Munich, so when they opened one in Chicago, we couldn’t wait to go. We were also excited to share the experience with our children and teach them about this historic restaurant as well as German culture and cuisine.
The Hofbräuhaus Restaurant
The restaurant was created as a reproduction of the Hofbräuhaus, the famous beer hall in Munich that has been the heart and soul of that city for over 400 years. People from all over the world come to enjoy the famous food, drinks, entertainment, and hospitality of the Hofbräuhaus in Munich. Hofbräuhaus Chicago has attempted to recreate some of that magic with its large communal tables, waitresses in traditional dirndl dresses, and a stage for traditional Bavarian entertainment. We were there on a Sunday afternoon and the place was lively. The tables were filled to capacity, the band was playing, and everyone was enjoying their German meals. It appeared to be just as festive as the original.
The restaurant also houses an on-site microbrewery where a brewmaster trained in the special Hofbräuhaus beer crafting creates his magic. In a nod to the desires of the American crowd, there is a bar area and televisions streaming sporting events throughout the restaurant. During the summer there is an outdoor beer garden which overlooks MB Financial Park across the way and there are also large rooms in the back available for private events.
It is not possible to dine at a German restaurant without sampling the pretzels, so we started with a Jumbo Pretzel with Obatzda Cheese and two mustards. Obatzda is a mix of cream cheese, brie, butter, onions, and seasoning. Our family promptly devoured this and I secretly bemoaned the fact we had only ordered one. My favorite German food is white sausage (also known as weisswürste) so of course I ordered the Hofbräuhaus Würsteplatte (sausages and potatoes). My husband had the Jägerschnitzel (pork schnitzel topped with mushroom sauce, bacon and onions), served with spätzle (German noodles, his favorite). Our oldest had the Riesenbratwurst (think enormous sausage sandwich served on French bread). The middle one opted for Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes with apple sauce). Our youngest went for the pretzel bites with a cheese sauce off the Children’s Menu (all items $5.99). The youngest has a tree nut and peanut allergy and he was able to eat each and every one of these dishes. We did inform the waitress beforehand of his allergies and she checked with the chef to make sure the dishes were safe for him to eat.
I loved my dish because it’s hard to go wrong with sausage. My husband wishes his schnitzel had been a bit more breaded, but loved the sauce and spätzle. Our oldest son thought the Riesenbratwurst was fantastic (he’s easy to please). The middle one LOVED the potato pancakes and ate them all (he’s our picky eater)! The youngest was thrilled with his pretzel bites (not a difficult meal to manage there).
Of course we saved room for dessert (but only a little), so we shared between the five of us an order of the Apfelstrudel (apple strudel flown in every day from Bavaria) and Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest Chocolate Cake). Let’s just say the kids loved the chocolate cake, but my husband and I were all about the apple strudel. Delicious!
As a side note, on Tuesdays all kids under 10 eat free with a paying parent, so keep that in mind!
As I mentioned, the place was busy and the atmosphere was entertaining to say the least. Two musicians wandered the room playing the accordion and a Bavarian alphorn. Diners were very entertained by their performances and the way they interacted with the guests as they circled the dining hall. Once they finished parading around the room, they led the guests in some Bavarian songs and chants, very similar to what one might experience in Munich.
On Sundays from 1-3 p.m. Hofbräuhaus Chicago features a magician for the kids. My kids were thrilled when the magician walked up to our table and began performing magic tricks and various card tricks. They thought it was the highlight of our visit and could not stop talking about it for the rest of the day.
Overall, we truly enjoyed our visit to the Hofbräuhaus. The food and atmosphere was quite similar to what one might find in Germany, the staff was wonderful, and the entertainment was top notch. If you find yourself wanting an authentic German experience without the expense of plane fare, a visit to Hofbräuhaus Chicago is highly recommended.
Location and Hours
The Hofbräuhaus Chicago is located at 5500 Park Place, Rosemont (close to O’Hare Airport). Their hours of operation are: Sunday-Wednesday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Thursday 11 a.m. – midnight, and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.
For other family friendly Chicago restaurants try Where to Eat with Kids in Chicago, or for other unique places to visit check out Things to Do in Chicago You Won’t Always Find in A Guidebook.