Going Deutsch at Suppenküche

Sven Wiederholt / Office Wiederholt

Felicitas Hackmann

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After enjoying the California sun and American culture for over six weeks now, I suddenly started to miss Germany, my home country, a little bit. A German friend from San Francisco tried to give me as much “home” as he could, by taking me to “Suppenküche,” a German restaurant on Laguna Street in the city.

“Suppenküche” means “soup kitchen,” a place where food is given away for free or for only a little charge to those who can’t afford it.

The only thing this place has in common with other soup kitchens is that the people still stand in line. Some online reviews of Suppenküche said people without reservations can wait up to two hours outside. Two hours?! But as almost every other post, it also said the wait was worth it.

Waiting for two other German friends, we ended up at the bar for an hour until we got seated. Fair enough for 8 p.m. on a weekend, and enough time to check out the menu.

As appetizers, you’ll find food such as Reibekuchen mit hausgemachtem Apfelmus (potato pancakes with homemade apple sauce), Maultaschen in Pilzrahmsoße (German ravioli filled with pork and vegetables served with mushroom sauce) and Hering nach Hausfrauenart mit Schmand, Zwiebeln, Gurken und Kartoffeln (pickled herring with onions, apples, pickles and potatoes). As entrees, meals like Schnitzel, Bratwurst or Cheese Spätzle were listed, and desserts were typical German ones too: Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (black forest cake) for example.

But speaking of German specialties, most of the guests that night did not only come by for the food. “They have more different choices of beer than you would find in most pubs back home,” said Stefan Tanneberger, who is from Germany but has lived in Hayward for over two years. Not only do they serve nine different kinds of Weizenbier, they also sell Kölsch and Altbier and, of course, many other beers.

Except for our party, I mostly found American guests at the place—most of them enjoying a boot of beer, which was a recommendation I found in a lot of the comments posted online as well.

The decoration of the place is kept simple: wooden chairs and wooden tables, plain white dishes and original German branded glasses. Half a liter of Weizen starting at $6, soups at $6.50 and Schnitzel at $18 makes the place not cheap, but definitely worth trying. For those who didn’t make it to any Oktoberfest in the Bay Area, this is a great place to catch the German Wirtshaus atmosphere. And for me, this was just as much “home” feeling as I needed that night.

525 Laguna St. San Francisco CA 94102
(at the corner of Hayes and Laguna)
Telephone (415) 252-9289