Wow, what a space. With views of the River Elbe, the dark, glowing, industrial-chic dining room has an open kitchen where forward-thinking chef Thomas Imbusch produces an ever-shifting, seasonal tasting menu of, well, who knows? It’s a strictly überraschungsmenü (surprise menu) concept but promises to use painstakingly sourced, eco-savvy ingredients from across Germany. Booking essential.
Brandshofer Deich 68, Rothenburgsort
This place – offering Tyrolean comfort food in a simple but chic, pine and candle-lit dining room – has inspired a loyal following of Hamburg devotees who return for the very brief menu of satisfying mountain staples like the raved-about knödel (dumplings) that come with either cheese, spinach or beetroot. The wiener schnitzel makes for a very efficient night-out pre-gamer, too. Outdoor seats add to the allure in summer.
Feldstraße 29, Karolinenviertel
The fischbrötchenbude (fish sandwich) is the absolute, no excuses Hamburg must-try – and this cool waterside spot in St Pauli does some of the best in town. Nab one of the outdoor tables and tuck into the classic kräutermatjes (brined herring) or perhaps the Bismarck (pickled herring), stremel (brine-pickled smoked salmon) or cooked brathering (deep-fried herring) versions. Either way, everything pairs wonderfully with Astra, the local beer.
Landungsbrücken, Pier 10, St Pauli
One of the most cherished old-school restaurants in Hamburg excels in calorific, home-style North German cooking with zero fuss or fanfare. Just a cosy, heart-warming spot in the city’s central Alstadt district, popular with locals for its generous, stacked dishes of labskaus (a meat or fish stew with potato and beetroot), brathering (fried herring) or the classic wiener schnitzel with fried potatoes.
Kattrepel 2, Alstadt
Kinfelts Kitchen & Wine
One of the coolest tables in Hamburg, chef Kirill Kinfelt’s beautiful space next to The Elphi – aka the Elbphilharmonie concert hall – brings in thoughtful, well-calibrated and colourful destination dishes like cod with truffle and pak choi mixed in with the doubly delicious tender beef fillet with wild herb salad. Easily one the best in town, the wine list has some pleasing rarities and mark-ups are fair.
Am Kaiserkai 56, Am Sandtorkai / Dalmannkai
Kleine Haie Grosse Fische
Did we mention the fischbrötchenbude (fish sandwich)? Well, it’s kind of an obsession in Hamburg and this small, unassuming space in St Pauli is the city’s long-established, after-party supply source. It's open daily, but on Friday and Saturday nights these guys dole out brine-pickled herring sandwiches and beer to a mixed crowd of lively pre- or post-party people until 4am. Definitely plan to finish here if you’re out for a big one.
Querstrasse 4, St Pauli
It might take some cojones to open a restaurant and just call it The Table but such is the self-belief of chef Kevin Fehling. Whatever, it’s a fitting name for the concept: each night, no more than 20 diners park up to a single table and let the youngest three-Michelin-starred chef in Germany do his thing. Expect seven courses of inventive, shouldn’t-work-but-does edible art – this being Hamburg, some fish is a given.
Shanghaiallee 15, HafenCity
Bullerei is, without doubt, one of the city's most coveted tables: based in the Schanze meatpacking district close to St Pauli, celeb chef Tim Mälzer's space in a former slaughterhouse has had a recent reboot but is still very much the byword for Hamburg cool. Loud and lively, it’s more a night out than a meal but, either way, the menu centres on well-sourced and very well-cooked meat from veal knuckle to Iberico pork cheek and everything in between. Book ahead.
Lagerstraße 34b, Sternschanze
The Vegan Eagle
Take one guess: yup, you got it, easily the city’s most creative vegan kitchen serves some seriously good plant-powered crowd-pleasers such as craveable Caribbean tacos with Cajun-spiced vegetables, pineapple-mango salsa and coconut mayo, and their riff on the Middle Eastern sabich (pita sandwich) with grilled vegetables, tahini, hummus, roasted walnuts and a fresh tomato-parsley salad. Plant-based happiness guaranteed.
Wischhöfen 4, Langenhorn
Based in the trendy Sternschanze district, this decidedly un-trendy but likeably homey all-night diner doesn’t stand on ceremony for anyone but, even so, pulls after-dark denizens of all stripes who come for what the website describes as “big portions for small price”. And that’s about it: expect large plates of budget schnitzel and other carb-charged comfort dishes until the early hours every night of the week.
Sternstraße 98, Sternschanze