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July 2005

Show Stoppers

Drink in the culture at Munich’s coolest beer gardens

Nothing beats a balmy evening in a beer garden—sitting, cradling your Mass of Munich juice as the sun sinks, your fingers still sticky from devouring that Schweinshaxe. But, dare I say it, sometimes the simplest pleasures are just too simple. And, sometimes, night after night of the same old thing can leave you in need of something more, well, mentally enriching. Fear not. Munich does have a few very special spots where you can combine one culture—drinking—with quite a different sort of culture altogether…

If music be your food of love… then get down to the Muffathalle beer garden. Although this place looks enough like a traditional beer garden, the food and drinks on offer are anything but typical. Ok, so no one’s going to deny you a Mass of Hofbräu. But you can also enjoy a chilled glass of white in a sexy, slim glass (when it comes to wine glasses, I don’t do chunky) and some light, Mediterranean-style treats—it certainly makes a change from a greasy wedge of Leberkäs. Meat is all organic, and there’s a good selection of fish dishes, too. The look of the place is refreshing—it’s light, airy and modern. But what makes Muffathalle extra special, is the fact that there’s a direct link into the club / concert hall, where you’ll find a varied program of entertainment, ranging from indie to Indian. Perfect for anyone who gets in the mood for a boogie after a Mass or three.
Muffathalle, Zellstrasse 4, Tel. 45 87 50 73

There’s no business like show business—at least there’s not for the owners of Das Schloss in Neuhausen. Despite having huge potential, it seems this bar / restaurant on the edge of the Olympiapark only really seems to thrive when there’s a performance on in the adjoining theater tent—which is a real shame, because this place has a lot going for it. For starters, it’s unusual. Where else in Munich can you sit on red leather seats in a white circus tent, or laze in front of a circus caravan in the beer garden outside and enjoy a big goblet of wine? Add to that a creative, reasonably priced, changing menu—breakfasts start at around € 4 and few main courses cost more than € 10—friendly, competent staff and a varied program of cultural events, from cabaret to comedy (check for the latest schedule), and it’s a wonder that more people haven’t discovered it. Especially as it’s linked to Café am Beethovenplatz, which is invariably full to bursting. Still, I for one am not complaining. At least it’s somewhere I can enjoy a quiet drink without having to book a table…
Das Schloss, Schwere-Reiter-Strasse 15, Tel. 143 40 80

Somewhere that hasn’t escaped the cultural spotlight is Munich’s cult Volkstheater. But even if you’ve been put off going to see a show because of language issues, it’s still worth a visit for the beer garden and café—Volksgarten. Honestly, this place is a dream. It’s one of those spots you stumble upon and think “yesss!—this is it.” And it’s one of those spots where, with the help of a few glasses of vino, lunch drifts into afternoon drifts into evening, all too quickly. Whether you prefer lounging on army-style camp beds in the garden, posing on striped deck chairs (big sunglasses obligatory) or chilling in a 1960s-style loungey corner of the bar, it’s just fabulous. The food is great, too. Again, the menu changes regularly and most dishes cost between € 7 and € 12. We started with a basket of bread and three homemade spreads—which were very good, even if the waiter didn’t have a clue what was actually in them. Mains are nothing too fancy—I chose spicy merguez sausages with potato salad—yet creative and thoughtful presentation helps turn what is generally considered basic grub into a smart meal. There’s a small selection of interesting wines and a number of seasonal aperitifs. (Yes, twee as it may seem, I love a dollop of fresh strawberry purée in my prosecco.) And, if after all that you think you might just enjoy a bit of thespian action, then check out the program at, which ranges from modern to Shakespeare. It’s show-stopping stuff all round.
Volksgarten, Brienner Strasse 50, Tel. 57 87 78 59

Others to try:
Party animals and those who love a bargain beer shouldn’t miss the beer garden at cult club and concert venue Backstage, where a Mass costs just € 3.80. As far as entertainment goes, you’re looking at a range of club nights and a monthly unplugged open-air concert. Major sporting events are also shown on a giant outdoor screen. Check out for full program details.
Backstage, Friedenheimer Brücke 7, Tel. 126 61 00
For comedy, cabaret and cocktails, head to the beer garden at the Schlachthof theater. As well as Bavarian staples, Mediterranean cuisine and a wide selection of drinks are also on offer here. It’s open from 5 pm until 1 am each morning. Take a look at to see what’s on.
Wirtshaus im Schlachthof, Zenettistrasse 9, Tel. 76 54 48

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