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February 2005

Cheap Eats

Where to get a good meal for an even better price

Feeling strapped for cash after the festive splurge? Planning on living cheaply for the next few months? That’s no reason to forgo the treat of having a meal out. We scoured Munich for restaurants that offer good food at even better prices—and discovered that, amidst the posh nosh, it is possible to eat out for € 5 or less. Tuck in, and enjoy.

Cooking is an art—there’s no doubt about it—which is why I’ve never begrudged forking out for a special meal. But being charged as much as € 15 for a schnitzel served with what are probably frozen fries does leave you feeling somewhat cheated. It is exactly this philosophy that prompted the Hofbräukeller on Wienerplatz to launch a culinary revolution, when it started offering all meals for no more than € 5. The move caused outrage among competitors, who feared they would be priced out of business, claiming it was impossible to provide quality food at such low cost. But for the Hofbräukeller, the risk paid off and the place has been buzzing ever since. (So much so, in fact, that the offer has now been extended until at least the end of February.) And with good reason. From the basics, such as goulash and Knödel, to lighter options, such as fish or salads, the menu offers something for all tastes and all seasons. Quality-wise, you can’t fault it. On our visit the meat was tender, the portion sizes adequate, if not quite up to the monster measures you might find in some beer halls, and the service was excellent, with staff cheerfully managing to cope with the huge demand. The only minor drawback is that you really do get exactly what it says on the menu—added extras, such as a side salad with a schnitzel, cost between € 2 and € 3. And, of course, with the main courses being so reasonably priced, the temptation is all the greater to treat yourself to a starter, dessert and lots of beer—which, of course, is exactly what the managers are hoping you’ll do. But what the hell … it’s good stuff, and I, for one, will be going back for more. Just spare a thought for the unknowing tourists in the brewery’s city-center Hofbräuhaus, who are being fleeced up to three times as much for pretty much the same thing… Innere Wiener Strasse 19, Tel. 459 92 50

You know you’ve found a good pub when you walk in at 6 pm on a Tuesday evening and there isn’t a table free. And then you wonder why on earth you’ve been walking past this place every day for the past six months, and never once tried it. Ah well. Having finally discovered Jagdschlössl, I intend to make up for lost time. Despite looking like a very traditional Bavarian pub and attracting very traditional Bavarian types, this place has a bit of a “cool” twist, appealing to the handful of younger people who have discovered it. For starters, it’s open until 4 am from Thursday to Saturday and until 3 am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. What’s more, food is available through the night, making it the perfect place for late-night munchies. And with most dishes costing between € 3 and € 6, it would be criminal not to support the family-run business. If you want to save even more money, the kitchen is happy to serve a smaller portion of selected meals for a € 2 reduction. Indeed, normal portion sizes are extremely satisfying—it took some effort to finish a plateful of delicious Käsepätzle, which cost just € 4.50. Admittedly, service is a little on the laid-back side, with not all meals for a table arriving at the same time, but not really enough to offend. In fact, the only catch appears to be a strange notice on the menu warning sausage fans that Würstchen are not available between 12:00 and 3 pm on Sundays and holidays. Ponder that one over an Augustiner! Nymphenburger Strasse 162 (Rotkreuzplatz), Tel. 162 92 41

The best bars are those that keep quiet about the fact. If a place is really great, it doesn’t need to shout about it with glaring neon lights and in-your-face advertising. No, the true gems are tucked away where only those who appreciate quality, and who go that extra mile to find it, will look. Such is the case with Café im Hinterhof, tucked away, as its name suggests, in a courtyard in Haidhausen. No need for neon lights here. In fact, when I was there, someone even felt it necessary to book a table for two at 11 am on a Thursday morning, when, let’s face it, anywhere else you’d have the pick of the entire place. So what pulls the punters? Simple. A combination of pleasant surroundings and décor, a gentle buzz of an atmosphere, friendly service and reasonable prices. And although not everything on the menu costs less than € 5, it does all come in under € 10—including some pretty substantial breakfasts. I settled for a spinach and goat’s cheese-stuffed pancake with salad for € 4.90, and a hot apple and elderberry juice for € 2.60. The food was satisfying, though not stodgy, with just the right balance of spinach and cheese (a tricky one to master—too much of either, and it can be a true appetite killer). Portions were ample, and whether it was the calming atmosphere or the vitamin-packed juice, the whole experience left me feeling healthy, rejuvenated and ready to face the world afresh. Sedanstrasse 29, Tel. 448 99 64

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