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The Ultimate Guide to Oktoberfest 2013

german-food2The end of summer is always bittersweet.  But as much as we miss the sun and sand, there’s a lot to love about fall.  Think brilliantly colored leaves dotting the trees, pumpkin and apple pie spice-flavored goodies, and a whopping, 16 days of Oktoberfest.

Held from September 21st to October 6th this year, the cheerful celebration of Bavarian culture generally includes music from dirndl and lederhosen-clad Oompah Bands, a whole lot of beer drinking, and all the Wurst, Schnitzel and Sauerbraten you can eat.  And you don’t even need to be German to get in on the fun and booze.  Many of New York’s best restaurants and beer gardens are holding festivities open to all, from the always high-spirited Zum Schneider in Manhattan to the delicious Prime Meats in Brooklyn and the legendary Bohemian Hall and Biergarten in Queens!


7 Rivington Street
Lower East Side,New York 10002
(212) 253-7077

To coincide with their 10th anniversary, this Lower East Side restaurant and biergarten has planned six solid weeks of Oktoberfest events.  Taking place from September 21st to October 31st, and concluding with an Oktoberfest Halloween Party (guests who dress in a dirndl or lederhosen receive a complimentary beer!), this will officially be one of the longest-running celebrations in the entire United States.  Expect ceremonial Keg Tappings, Pig Roasts, Sausage Festivals and Beer Dinners, which allow you to try seven different brews paired with seasonal Salads, Sausage platters, and chocolatey Black Forest Cake.  And forget about drinking a run-of-the-mill Lager or Bock; Oktoberfest beers like Hofbräu, Weihenstephan and Schneider Wiesen Edel-Weisse are on tap (and specially priced!) for the length of the festival.

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132 W 58th Street
Midtown West,New York 10019
(212) 957-5550

Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban have just revamped their Michelin-starred, contemporary Austrian restaurant, and what better time to show it off than Oktoberfest?  In place of the old monochromatic white interiors, the space has been restyled as a rustic Bavarian tavern, with handmade brass light fixtures, natural wood tables and forest-green leather banquettes.  It’s the perfect setting for elegant (yet still Oktoberfest appropriate) dishes, like Gin-Cured Oysters and Cucumbers, Red Beet Pasta with Scallops, Horseradish, Golden Beets and Upland Cress, and Alpine Cheese Dumplings with Bacon Broth and Kale.  And you can’t beat their wallet-friendly Oktoberfest special; a Sourdough-Crusted Cheddar Sausage with Red Cabbage, Grain Mustard and Sourdough, paired with a Radeberger Pilsner for only $18, well worth the ride uptown.

Radegast Hall and Biergarten

Radegast Hall and Biergarten
113 N 3rd Street
Brooklyn,New York 11211
(718) 963-3973

Stretching over 4,500 square feet in the heart of Williamsburg, this convivial bar and indoor garden will inevitably be packed during Oktoberfest and for good reason.  Starting a touch early (celebrations began on the 17th) and extending until October 5th, Radegest has padded their calendar with fun events throughout the week.  Stop in on Tuesdays for tastings of Hofstetten Original Hochzeitsbier von 1810 beer (try saying that five times fast!) or Saturdays for Dance Parties, Pig Roasts and Mug Holding Competitions.  And you’ll want to try a sausage or two from the sizzling grill, like Weisswurst, Bratwurst, or even Venison sausage, served with Sauerkraut and your choice of Bread or Fries.

Bohemian Hall and Biergarten

Bohemian Hall and Biergarten
29-19 24th Avenue
Queens,New York 11102
(718) 274-4925

The oldest beer garden in New York, Bohemian Hall has had plenty of experience throwing Oktoberfest parties.  From Saturday, September 28th to Sunday, October 6th this year, look for live music from The Polka Brothers and the East River Blues Band, special holiday brews like Spaten Oktoberfest and HB Dunkel, and a menu that far exceeds the standard slew of sausages.  Fill your belly with Schnitzel and Potato Salad, Halusky (a kind of potato dumpling) with Sauerkraut and Cheese, and Smoked Pork Knee with Mustard, Rye Bread and Horseradish, followed by a slab of homemade Apple Strudel for dessert.

Blaue Gans

Blaue Gans
139 Duane Street
Tribeca,New York 10013
(212) 571-8880

You can trust the acclaimed Austrian chef, Kurt Gutenbrunner, to pull out all the stops for Oktoberfest.  Visit his Tribeca restaurant, Blaue Gans at any time during the 16-day holiday for a special dinner menu, including South Tyrolien Dried Ham with Liptauer Cheese and Pickles, Spätzle with Braised Lamb and Market Vegetables, Pretzel-Coated Cod with Baby Beets and a whole lot more.  There’s also a ticketed dinner on September 27th and October 4th, and brunch on September 28th and October 5th, where $47 buys unlimited Sausage, Pretzels, Donuts, Strudel and Tap Beer.

Zum Schneider

Zum Schneider
107 Avenue C
East Village,New York 10009
(212) 598-1098

It always feels like Oktoberfest at this East Village bierhaus, so expect them to go all out for the holiday celebration (which they’ve extended until October 13th this year!)  The German speaking staff will guide you through a menu of traditional brews, including Andechs Festbier and HB Traunstein Festbier, and dishes like Riesen-Wiesn-Brezn (giant pretzels) and Wiesn Hendl (whole broiled chicken).  Treat your loved one to an original Oktoberfest Lebkuchenherz (gingerbread heart), and then drag them onto the dance floor for a polka session and sing-along with Mösl Franzi and The JaJaJa’s!


712 3rd Avenue
Midtown East,New York 10017
(646) 580-2437

With a name like Bierhaus, you better believe there’s a party going on this fall.  Lasting for over a month (September 21st to October 31st), this Midtown bar is ringing in Oktoberfest with a Bratwurst Eating Championship, Trivia Tuesdays hosted by The Polka Brothers, and traditional Hofbräu beer on all 24 of their draft lines.  An extensive food menu includes the expected Oktoberfest favorites (Soft Pretzels with Bier Cheese Spread, Sauerbraten, a Wurst platter), and a few true originals, like Battered and Fried Sauerkraut Balls, Cod Schnitzel, and a Bavarian Beef Salad, followed by Apple Strudel with Schlag (whipped cream), a Vanilla Sundae, or Black Forest Cake for dessert. I don’t know about you, but we’re all over sampling sauerkraut balls.

Prime Meats

Prime Meats
465 Court Street
Brooklyn,New York 11231
(718) 254-0327

This is Bavaria as imagined by The Two Franks (Falcinelli and Castronovo) from the esteemed team behind the Frankie’s restaurant empire.  Our favorite of the bunch, Prime Meats pays homage both to Germanic Alpine cuisine and the Brooklyn artisanal movement, resulting in warmly lit, reclaimed wood interiors, dishes like Heritage Pork Loin Schnitzel, and pre-prohibition era cocktails mixed with housemade ingredients.  So expect a refined (but no less fun) take on Oktoberfest with live music, local Sixpoint brews, and a menu including Bratwurst, Oysters, Hot Cider, Apfelstrudel and more.

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