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381 South Van Ness Avenue (between 14th St.
& 15th St.)
Cuisine: East German
Pluses: : Hearty fare, friendly service and extensive German beer list
Minuses: The neighborhood is a bit dicey and the dining room can be chilly anytime of the year
Don't Miss: Potato Pancakes, Herring in Sour Cream, traditional or vegetarian Schnitzel
Overview: Open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday
A stark industrial interior, made cozy by well-placed kitsch and the staff’s warm reception, draws a mixed crowd of hipsters, slackers, yuppies, and homesick German tourists to this dreary strip of South Van Ness for authentic German fare.
“For many years, the food we've grown up with was hidden from the rest of the world behind a wall. Now anyone in San Francisco is allowed a taste,” declares Walzwerk’s website.
The menu boasts hearty and delicious versions of many classic East German dishes—delicately fried veal Schnitzel, tangy Marinated Beef with Potato Dumplings and Braised Red Cabbage, smoky Bratwurst with Sauerkraut and Mashed Potatoes—along with a few original innovations and updated versions of standard fare. The vegetarian schnitzel is surprisingly tasty and has been known to make even staunch vegetarians huge fans of the restaurant (quite a feat for a German place!). The chicken stuffed with apples and bacon and daily fish specials are other welcome alternatives for those not in the mood for red meat. The welcoming demeanor of owners Christiana Schmidt and Isabell Mysyk—who might just pull up a chair and sit down for a chat—will make you feel right at home.