Missouri is heavily influenced by German heritage. The first significant wave of German immigrants into America came in the early 1800s, when at least 120,000 Germans crossed the Atlantic Ocean. More than 40,000 of those immigrants settled in Missouri, according to the Missouri Germans Consortium.
This heritage is especially pronounced in the Kansas City metro area, where 22 percent of the population — more than 400,000 residents — are of German descent. With this large of a representation, you could expect to find plenty of great German food in Kansas City, and that expectation would be met. There are many German restaurants in Kansas City, serving different styles of food with varying prices and atmospheres.
This guide to German restaurants in Kansas City will give you everything you need to know to find and order a great German meal.
What Is German Food?
If there is one word to describe German food, it’s “hearty.” German meals leave you full and satisfied — and maybe feeling the slightest bit of regret about how much you just ate.
The offerings you’ll find on the menus of German restaurants in the Kansas City area vary, but the foundation of the food is the same: meat, bread, vegetables and a beer. If that sounds familiar, it’s because German food heavily influenced the American meat-and-potatoes meal we are so familiar with.
Pork is one of the main ingredients in German entrees. It is served most commonly as some form of bratwurst (an incredibly German word) and sausage. Lamb, fish and beef are typical German meats as well. Garlic and onion are staple spices in German cooking, and vegetables like squash, potatoes and carrots are common.
Within this framework there is plenty of room for variation. Each chef will put his or her own spin on traditional fare at any given German restaurant. Kansas City is home to several top-notch spots that will give you a diverse taste of Germany.
What About Austrian Food?
When you search for German food in Kansas City, you’ll probably also find results for Austrian restaurants. What’s that all about?
Austrian food is a close cousin, maybe even a sibling, to German cuisine. The influences for both styles of cooking date back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which modern-day Germany emerged from. Famous Austrian dishes include things like strudel and schnitzel.
Along with your German options, there are several Austrian restaurants in Kansas City, too. It’s also common to find Austrian options on the menu at a German restaurant, which is why we’re covering both types of cuisine in this article.
Where to Find German Restaurants in Kansas City
Kansas City German restaurants are spread out all over the metro area. Wherever you’re coming from, you can find a place that’s not too far away.
Starting with the top of the list, Affäre is one of Kansas City’s most renowned restaurants serving German cuisine. Affäre can be found at 19th and Main in the heart of the crossroads. The menu changes seasonally based on the freshest ingredients available, and head chef Martin Hueser promises “honestly crafted food with a German twist.”
Head a few blocks south and you’ll find Grünauer, an Austrian-German restaurant in Kansas City located on 22nd Street. This restaurant is beautiful — soaring, wood-paneled ceilings with rustic chandeliers and plenty of natural light. The menu lives up to the venue, and the whole operation is a family-run business with a direct connection to Austria. This is authentic, delicious food.
Looking east and south, you can find other German restaurants in the Kanas City area, too. There’s Rheinland, a small German café in Independence, and KC Bier Company, a Brookside brewery specializing in German concoctions and Bavarian pretzels.
There are plenty of other choices, but that’s enough to get you started on German restaurants. Kansas City has a lot to offer, so take your pick of what sounds best.
German Dishes to Try
What should you order once you get there? As we’ve said, each chef will put his or her own unique spin on German food in Kansas City. There are some classic dishes that you’ll see on any German menu. These are a few things you may want to try for the most authentic German experience.
- Sausage: Sausage is to Germany as barbecue is to Kanas City. There are hundreds of variations on this national dish, so we can’t tell you exactly which kind to order. But if you are going to a German restaurant in Kansas City, you have to try the sausage.
- Schnitzel: This is Austria’s most-famous contribution to German menus. Schnitzel is pounded, thinned meat that is fried in a crispy breading. The meat used can be veal, pork or even chicken.
- Strudel: After your hearty meats, you’ll need something sweet to finish things off. Strudel is a classic German pastry. It is layered and stuffed with a sweet filling. This dessert goes all the way back to the 18th It’s the perfect way to end an authentic meal at a German restaurant in Kansas City.