Whether you’re planning to explore the baroque beauty of Dresden on your own, or as part of an Elbe River cruise, be sure to bookmark this guest post from Jeff Zurschmeide! Jeff knows exactly where to eat in Dresden and what to order for a taste of traditional Saxon cuisine – essential information if you only have a short amount of time in this scenic city.
Dresden – The Heart of the German Renaissance
The one thing everyone knows about Dresden is that it was the site of one of the most destructive bombing raids of the second world war. In February of 1945, the city center of Dresden was all but leveled by Allied bombing. That notoriety has sadly overshadowed the tremendous history of one of Germany’s most interesting cities. For centuries, Dresden was the seat of Saxon nobility and known as the “Jewel Box” of Germany. Today, it’s well worth a visit on anyone’s European itinerary.
On a weekend visit to Dresden, you can fill your days with visits to architectural marvels like the Zwinger Palace, the HofKirche and Frauenkirche cathedrals, and the extensive Dresden Castle museum with centuries worth of art and artifacts. In the evening, you can dress up and take in a classical concert or a modern production at the Semperoper performing arts complex. Museum and site entry fees are reasonable throughout the city.
In between the museums, churches, and palaces, you’ll need to find something to eat. Dresden makes this easy, with a wide selection of restaurants in the downtown core. As Dresden is a fully modern city, you can find anything you crave from pad thai to tacos. But on our visit, we wanted to seek out the best in traditional Saxon dishes, and wash it all down with some good beer and regional wine.
Places to Eat Traditional Saxon Dishes in Dresden, Germany
An der Frauenkirche 12, 01067 Dresden, Germany
Right in the heart of downtown and just a few meters from the River Elbe, you’ll find Pulverturm. The restaurant is mostly located in the basement rooms of a tower originally used to store gunpowder, hence the name. You can dine in one of several underground rooms still lined with the original stonework, or take your meal out on the square.
For traditional Saxon flavor, try the Rinderroulade. This is a thin-sliced round steak, rolled up with a coat of mustard with diced bacon and pickles. The rolled-up meat is served with cooked red cabbage and burgundy gravy and a traditional Königskloß potato dumpling coated in bread crumbs.
Does that sound heavy? It is. This is a serious meal for hard-working people, and we failed to finish our plate. But the roulade is tasty, and the potato dumpling could become seriously addictive.
We paired the Rinderroulade with local wine. The Sachsen region produces some fine Müller-Thurgau and Reisling varieties, and over 80% of production is white wine. A glass of medium-dry Müller-Thurgau table wine was a perfect and affordable complement to the hearty meal.
Expect to pay about 20 Euros for an entrée at Pulverturm, plus a little more if you want a soup or salad. A basket of the local bread is also good, but costs extra.
An der Frauenkirche 20, 01067 Dresden, Germany
Just a few steps away from the Pulverturm is Dresden 1900. This restaurant features dishes inspired by German life at the turn of the 20th century and has a cable car theme inside. There’s even a “conductor” who comes around with some complimentary schnapps for you while you eat. It’s a little bit touristy, but fun.
The cuisine at Dresden 1900 is traditional working fare for the region. If you want to get a sense of several dishes, we recommend the Schaffnerpfanne. This “Train Conductor’s Pan” includes Sauerbraten, a piece of “Dresden Lump” roast pork, and sliced beef tongue. The pan is served with vegetables and roasted potatoes. Of the three types of meat, the tongue was the best, but all are worth a try. If you have a preference, full servings of each of the meat elements are also available.
Traditional German food requires a traditional beverage, and the local favorite seems to be Schöfferhofer Weizen. This a premium macro-brew that is the house beer at virtually every restaurant in Dresden. The beer pairs well with the meat and potatoes, so we went with it.
Entrees at Dresden 1900 will cost you about 15 to 20 Euros, plus a bit more for salad or soup. We enthusiastically recommend the Gurkensalat cucumber salad as a tasty and refreshing option.
Don’t Miss the Thuringer
One last thing to mention about eating in Dresden is the Thuringer sausage. Don’t confuse these with the smoked and dried American Thuringer; these regional sausages are important enough that they have a protected geographical designation in the EU.
A proper Saxon Thuringer is made from Thuringian pork, beef, and veal, and spiced with a mix of salt, pepper, marjoram, and caraway seed. The sausage is then stuffed into a natural casing and most often grilled over charcoal until it’s browned. It’s a mild-tasting sausage and makes a great afternoon snack or a stand-up lunch with a glass of beer.
You’ll find carts serving Thuringer all over old-town Dresden, but head for the open-air Altmarkt, which also features craft booths and tourist items. The standard serving is on a split roll with mustard, but you’ll be forgiven if you just eat the sausage and toss the forgettable bread in the trash. Just be sure that you choose a cart where they’re grilling the Thuringer over coals so you get it hot and juicy off the fire.
So now you know exactly where to eat in Dresden! Oh, and by the way, this isn’t the first time Jeff has shared his culinary adventures with us. Check out the 5 best places he ate and drank in South Korea.
[All photos by Jeff Zurschmeide]
Jeff Zurschmeide is an automotive journalist by day, but he harbors a secret desire to be Anthony Bourdain. He loves traveling the world and eating every kind of cuisine, but he loves coming home to Tillamook, Oregon even more. He likes to think he can cook, and his wife and daughter indulge him with saintlike patience.