To get to the heart of a city, it’s crucial to understand its inhabitants, and what better – or more pleasurable – way to do so than by an exploration of the local culinary scene? Food is a language we all speak, and the way people eat says a lot about a place. As the capital of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, known for its cuisine, Stuttgart offers a wealth of options for the intrepid taster. Each part of Germany has its own distinctive cultural background, and Stuttgart’s place as part of the historic territory of Swabia – roughly corresponding to modern-day Baden and Württemberg – has had a significant impact.
Rich and comforting, the most famous Swabian dishes are perfect for the colder months. Gaisburger marsch, a flavourful stew of beef and vegetables, is hearty and delicious; we recommend trying it at Ochs’n Willi on Kleiner Schlossplatz, where it comes with potato wedges and fried onions. Another classic dish on the menu is Kässpätzle, a comforting dish of cheesy noodles served with sautéed or fried onions and a real taste of Swabia.
These spätzle – soft egg noodles – can be found in dishes throughout the region, and represent some of the best comfort food Stuttgart has to offer. Though Germany might not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of noodles and pasta, these foods are ingrained in the culinary culture. Maultaschen, an EU-recognised ‘regional speciality’ of Swabia, is a delicacy reminiscent of Italian ravioli. Traditionally filled with meat, spinach, breadcrumbs and onions, these pasta parcels are beautifully spiced. Whether fried, lightly dressed in butter or served in a hearty broth, these tasty parcels are sure to delight. Visit the historic Stuttgart Markthalle for a number of appetising versions.
Many of Stuttgart’s traditional eateries have equally traditional settings. Zum Ackerbürger on Spreuergasse is housed in one of the city’s oldest buildings, dating from around 1550, and is loved for its freshly cooked Swabian dishes: the homemade Maultaschen in broth is delicious. On Calwer Strasse, Paulaner am Alten Postplatz serves traditional Swabian dishes in an historic building that has been stylishly updated to provide modern facilities while retaining an old-world feel. The range of würstchen (sausages) is loved by locals; try the Wiener würstl mit butterspätzle (smoked sausages with buttered noodles).
For a more contemporary experience, head to Speisemeisterei, which currently holds a Michelin star. Located in Schloss Hohenheim, the restaurant was acquired by award-winning chef Frank Oehler in 2008. The building has been renovated without losing its historic charm and, despite the modern appearance of the menu, the food is very much in the tradition of the region’s cuisine. Local, seasonal produce is favoured, with popular dishes including venison with berries and kohlrabi, or pork with blackthorn and mustard. Look out for the Stuttgart und Land menu, which draws on ingredients and inspirations from the city and its surroundings.
Alongside its food, wine is another of Swabia’s most famous exports. Despite its reputation as an industrial hub, Stuttgart has a beautiful natural landscape, perfect for the growing of grapes. The earliest written records of wine making in Stuttgart date from 1108, and the annual Weindorf wine festival, held in late August and early September, proves its significance today. Famous wines of the region include Trollinger, Silvaner and Spätburgunder. If it’s bubbles you’re after, Kessler Sekt is the oldest sparkling wine in Germany and is truly excellent.
Wine bars abound in the city, and are the perfect place to sample a good Swabian vintage. Der Rote Hirsch on Marktsrasse is stylish and modern, committed to sourcing its wines and food locally. On Kanalstrasse, Weinstube Zur Kiste is more traditional, its cosy rooms often packed with locals savouring the fruits of the region’s vineyards. Don’t be surprised if your wine comes in a glass with a handle: it’s the traditional German way.
Stuttgart is also famous for its beers, and visitors should look out for drinks from such famous breweries as Stuttgarter Hofbräu, Dinkelacker and Schwaben Bräu, though smaller breweries can be just as good. On Calwer Strasse, Brauhaus Calwer-Eck is renowned for its home-brewed beers and lively atmosphere. Sophie’s Brauhaus, too, has made a name for itself with home-brewed beers, which are produced seasonally. Located on Marienstrasse, this rustic yet stylish space is unique in that you are able to watch the master brewer at work.
From tasty dishes to the perfect tipple to sip alongside them, Stuttgart’s culinary scene has a lot to offer today’s foodie explorers. Traditional Swabian fare is an integral part of the city’s culture, so what better excuse to tuck in?