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A Bavarian welcome found in South Side

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Although it has been open in Pittsburgh for only a month, the Hofbrauhaus boasts a long and storied history.

The German-style restaurant and brewpub is patterned after Munich's Hofbrauhaus, a fixture that has been brewing Bavarian-style beer in Germany for more than 400 years. It is only the third Hofbrauhaus in the United States; the other two are in Las Vegas and Newport, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati.

In order to meet the standards of the German brewpub, its American offspring must brew their beer according to the so-called Bavarian Beer purity law that requires beer be made with only water, barley-malt and hops.

The Hofbrauhaus came to Pittsburgh by way of Newport, where the owners noticed that business was "through the roof" anytime the Steelers or Pirates were in town for a game.

"We thought, this is wonderful, and we ought to come to Pittsburgh," says Nick Ellison, managing partner of the Hofbrauhaus Pittsburgh, LLC.

But it took nearly five years for Ellison's group to bring their plan to fruition on the banks of the Monongahela River at Pittsburgh's SouthSide Works.


Think fun. Loud, raucous good times -- that's what it's all about at the Hofbrauhaus. Although the brewpub attracts a diverse crowd, ranging from toddlers to grandparents, the soaring, vaulted timbered ceilings in the dining room and beer hall amplify the decibel level many times over.

Both the dining room and the beer hall feature a view of the massive tanks where Hofbrauhaus brew is made.

The dining room and beer hall of this riverfront eatery seat a combined 700 people. Although seating in the dining room is traditional U.S.-style restaurant seating, seating in the beer hall is a throwback to German tavern-style seating, with tables jammed closely together and a band, complete with accordion player, providing drinking music.

There's room for another 150 or so on a first-floor terrace and another 300 on warm, sunny days when the outdoor beer garden is open.

The German theme carries over in the form of hostesses in Bavarian milkmaid costumes.


Four Hofbrauhaus beers are available year-round: a lager; light beer; weizen (wheat) beer; and a dunkel (dark) beer. A massive liter stein of beer is $7.95. Drink the beer and keep the stein for $15.89.

Beer lovers might want to make a point of hitting the Hofbrauhaus the first Wednesday of the month for the tapping of the restaurant's monthly seasonal beer. Ten months a year, those beers are brewed on the premises. But the May brew, or Maibock, and the Oktoberfest are brewed in Germany and imported.

There's something for everyone to go with that beer on the thick Hofbrauhaus menu.

For a traditional appetizer to complement that Bavarian brew, try the massive Hofbrauhaus Pretzels and Bier Cheese ($8.99) or the battered fried Sauerkraut Balls with tangy honey mustard ($7.99).

Hofbrauhaus specialties include a wide range of ethnic dishes, ranging from the Wurstlteller ($13.49), a filling sampler of wursts served with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes, to Jagerschnitzel ($12.99), a pork cutlet fried and served with a sweet burgundy wine mushroom and bacon sauce and a tangy side of German potato salad.

Not up for full German cuisine, but willing to try a dish• The German potato salad , a favorite at our house, is available as a side for $2.99, along with a host of German favorites including buttered spatzle, sauerkraut, red apple kraut and potato pancakes.

Those less adventurous can opt for all-American entrees including a 10-ounce sirloin ($16.49), served with mashed potatoes and vegetables, or Pan-seared Salmon Fillet ($16.49), served with mashed potatoes, vegetables and a helping of fried onions topped with citrus butter.

There's also a full selection of tavern-style salads and sandwiches for those with a less hearty appetite.

The Schwarzwalder Kirsch Torte , or black forest cake ($5.99), a traditional German favorite consisting of rich chocolate cake drenched in a subtle cherry brandy and layered with sweet cream and sour cherries, is reason enough to visit the Hofbrauhaus. We're looking forward to trying the Apfel Strudel ($5.49) on another visit.

Additional Information:


Cuisine : German-American

Entree price range : $11.49-$19.99

Hours : 11a.m.-midnight daily

Notes : Major credit cards accepted. Reservations are not accepted, and the wait can be an hour on weekends.

Address : 2705 South Water St., SouthSide Works

Details : 412-224-2328




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