Here’s my eclectic (and highly subjective) take on some of the good spots to eat out in Alsace. The idea is that there’s something here for every occasion, whether you’re after a budget Indian or a big birthday blowout. A key factor is that they’re all (for me) happiness-producing kinds of places, ones that I’d go back to (and frequently do). First there are some places close to the Swiss border (and my locals), then a good few in Colmar and the vineyards and a handful more up in the Vosges. This is a work in progress and I’m always adding (and occasionally subtracting) places. Feel free to let me have your own thoughts by posting a comment (scroll right down to the bottom of the page).
Updated 16th September 2016
Close to the [Swiss] border
A Table Chez Marie, Hagenthal-le-Bas, Tel. 03 89 89 76 97
One of the few places in our ‘hood to serve mildly aspirational food at approachable prices. There’s an a la carte menu, a daily specials blackboard with 3 starters (8 to 17 euros) and 3 or 4 mains (17-26 euros) plus another for desserts, and a lunch menu at about 12 euros. Also notable is their selection of decent wines by the glass (try the white Château la Liquière if still available). The decor is simple and scrubbed, and the service attentive. A bonus for anyone living in Switzerland who doesn’t want to drive across the border: get the bus to Schoenenbuch, totter down the hill and across the unmanned, pedestrian-only border and you’re at Marie’s table in the twinkling of an oeil.
Bistrot la Cave, Saint-Louis, Tel. 03 89 70 93 45
A light, bright and airy bistrot on the main street – think pale wood, white gloss paint, loads of mirrors reflecting sparkly lights inside wooden wine boxes suspended crazily from the ceiling – is another of our local favourites. It has a succinct menu plus fast-moving seasonal suggestions chalked up on a blackboard and a lunch menu on weekdays @ €22 for 3 courses. Good selection of wines by the glas (from Au Monde du Vin the other side of the street). The only slightly bum note is the service, which is best described as smiling and well-intentioned, but inept.
NEW ENTRY: La Maison de l’Inde, 60, avenue du Général de Gaulle, Saint Louis
Tel. 09 53 41 65 14
It’s not easy to find decent (let alone authentic) Indian food in our area but La Maison de l’Inde, which I recently featured in a roundup of Indian restos in Basel/Alsace/Baden on my foodie slot on the English Show, is worth exploring. There’s a happy buzz both in the kitchen and dining room, the welcome is warm, the place is exceptionally kid-friendly and booking is a must – it’s always packed out. There’s a good choice of starters (pakoras, samosas & Co) – get a selection to share – followed by a choice of chicken (8 different dishes with the obligatory tikka masala), lamb (12 kinds including my fave shahi korma with cashew nuts, pistachios, almonds and creme fraiche), biryani five ways, a few fish and shellfish options and plenty of dishes that propel vegetables into prime position. The service is efficient and friendly, even with full-house conditions. And if as often happens there’s no room at the inn, there’s always the takeaway option – check out the menu online, give them a ring with your order and then go round and collect.
Café Littéraire, 19 Ave. du Gen. de Gaulle, Saint Louis
Tel. 03 89 68 53 69
Close to the La Coupole theatre and the town library and médiatheque, this cafe-resto changed hands last year (do I hear gusty sighs of relief from some readers?) and they’re going great guns. At lunch the a la carte menu is served downstairs, while on the first floor there’s a lunch special and an an all-you-can-eat buffet, which is always packed out with happy eaters. At dinner the à la carte menu rules (OKAY). Cheeky food, beautifully served, big seasonal bias (autumn salad with duck and walnuts, game, grilled salmon with a wickedly unctuous parsnip and potato mash) and a Black Angus burger that I’m going back for. Everything is freshly done and served up with a smile. Limited but interesting choice of wines, which you can order by the glass, the 1/4 or 1/2 litre or by the bottle. There are 3 categories – Sélection Découverte (young wines, easy drinking e.g. Blaye Cotes de Bordeaux @ €3.60 a glass), Sélection Plaisir (a bit more expensive e.g. Faugères Dom. des Près Lassés @ €4.50 a glass) and Sélection Prestige (top of the range but still highly affordable, e.g. St Julien Pavillon du Glana @ €6.90 a glass). A welcome addition to the Saint Louis dining scene (“meet me in Saint Louis?”).
L’Auberge Paysanne, Lutter, Tel. 03 89 40 71 67
[See also my review here.] Delicious village inn in the depths of the Sundgau owned and run by the Litzler family. Classic French food (epic Châteaubriand with béarnaise, and a gratin dauphinois to die for/from) plus some more creative stuff, changing with the seasons. Small, flower-decked terrace in summer and a hotel annexe in a beautifully reconstituted Sundgau timbered edifice, situated just down the road on the edge of the village with views out over the fields and to the Jura Alsacien. The perfect place for Sunday lunch.
Le Cheval Blanc, Feldbach,Tel. 03 89 25 81 86
Owned and run by the formidable Ispa family, this village inn is always full of happy, shiny people. Come here for classic French cooking, now being taken up a notch by the son who is increasingly in charge in the kitchen – several different menus (and wonderful puddings), reliably good, copiously and cheerfully served and excellent value for money. Look in on the serenely beautiful 12th century church just across the way while you’re here.
Le Petit Kohlberg, Lucelle, Tel. 03 89 40 85 30
This family-run place feels like a ferme-auberge out in the middle of the fields between the villages of Winkel and Lucelle, right on the Swiss-Alsace border. There’s a large shaded terrace for summer and a cosy wood-panelled dining room for winter. Service is friendly and efficient – even on a Sunday when it’s always packed out. The sommelier makes a point of offering lesser known wines (at least for these Alsace hinterlands) – a white blend from Planeta in Sicily or a sprightly Malbec from Catena Zapata in Argentina, both priced at under €30.
La Couronne d’Or, 10 rue Principale, Leymen, Tel. 03 89 68 58 04
Ask for a table in the little room to the left as you come in (cosier and less noisy than the big dining room), or on the terrace in summer. Original, sensibly priced food (2-course midweek lunch menu around 12 euros – e.g panaché de poissons with pasta), a good selection of main-course veggie dishes – and a wide range of veg to accompany main dishes, cooked to rare perfection. The touch of Swiss frost from the owner has thawed out and the staff is cheerful and [fairly] proficient.
A L’Ange, 3 rue Principale, Leymen, Tel. 03 89 68 51 79
There’s been a change of ownership at this cosy auberge just about opposite the Couronne d’Or (above), and the new folks are doing a nice job of upholding the traditions, welcome and decent food set by the Zimmerman family. The checked tablecloths, exposed beams, nice little garden at the back for summer and friendly service are as good as ever and the food – home-made terrines, rib-sticking game stews in the autumn and a comforting Sunday lunch menu – is well executed and nicely served.
Restaurant Studerhof, 9 rue de Bâle, Bettlach, Tel. 03 89 40 71 49
The USPs of the Studer are twofold: first, its terrific terrace commanding epic views out over the Jura Alsacien, with a sandpit and swings for the kids and somewhere to tether your mount, should you arrive on horseback and second, Thursday night’s tarte flambée/flammekueche. Decent steak-frites, choucroute, and quiche à la choucroute (pictured), or game in season (both the chef and his dad are local hunters).
Au Boeuf Noir, 2 rue de Folgensbourg, Hésingue, Tel. 03 89 69 76 40
Monsieur and Madame Giuggiola celebrated 40 years of faithful service at the Boeuf Noir in 2013 (here‘s my account of our own anniversary celebrated there) and took retirement this summer. I haven’t been since the new owners took over but will try and do so soon – and if you get there first, let me/us know!
Au Boeuf Rouge, 9 rue de Hésingue, Hégenheim, Tel. 03 89 69 40 00
Another boeuf, this time a red one, in the middle of Hégenheim just across from the excellent Thursday morning farmer’s market. Food here is traditional French/Alsatian (snails, foie gras, tarte flambée, steak & Co.) with a few flights of fancy and seasonal specials (asparagus in spring, garlicky ceps in the autumn, scallops in winter), and a keenly-priced, daily-changing lunch menu. Upstairs there’s more of a café feel; down a few steps to the left it’s a little quieter, but the menu’s the same throughout. It’s a WYSIWYG kind of place with cheerful, friendly service and food which may not reach any stellar heights but which generally hits the spot.
Pizzeria Puglia, 7 rue de Leymen, Hagenthal-le-Bas, Tel. 03 89 68 11 00
A little corner of Apulia in the depths of the Sundgau in this pizzeria-resto run by a band of Pugliese brothers. Good pizzas from wood-fired oven, toothsome home-made pasta, excellent risotto (who says the folks south of Rome can’t do risotto?) and quaffable Italian wines by the glass or bottle. If you order the lasagne (pictured right) come hungry – it’s humungous but very delish. Always packed, so be sure to book.
A L’Aigle, 55 rue de Delle, Folgensbourg, Tel. 03 89 68 61 11
Family-owned and -run inn on Folgensbourg’s main street with large dining room and terrace. Forget the carpes frites (rather mystifyingly billed as the house speciality), go instead for one of their huge, succulent entrecote, faux-filet or fillet steaks (sourced from Viande Cash in Hésingue) served with chunky frites sizzling straight from the fryer.
Auberge Sundgovienne, nr. Altkirch, Tel. 03 89 40 97 18
The third generation of the Herrmann family now runs this classic country auberge-with-rooms just outside Altkirch on the main road to Belfort. They’ve just completed a spectacular revamp to both dining room and terrace, the food goes from strength to strength and the wine list (“our win car” [sic]) is stuffed with goodies from Alsace (Zusslin, Schlumberger, Zinck et al), the Loire (a cheeky St Nicolas de Bourgueil by Audebert et fils in 1/2 litre bottles) and further afield. Big dining room, always packed out (even weekday evenings), with a great buzz and sense of purpose. Several menus, starting with the daily one at 15.50 euros (lunch and dinner, weekdays only), and others from 25 to 57 euros. Good fishy offer (scallops, skrei in season, turbot, pike-perch & Co.), prime Irish beef, lamb and veal and classy puddings.
La Closerie, 6 rue Henry de Crousaz, Illzach (near Mulhouse), Tel. 03 89 61 88 00
Two formulas at this restaurant in a gracious old maison de maître in Mulhouse’s southern, supermarket wastelands of Illzach (close to Carrefour): a smart resto that serves lunch at midday (the plat du jour is a steal) and a great tapas bar called La Bistronomie for the evening (just awarded a Bib Gourmand for their stylish food at competitive prices). They’re also wine merchants – get yourself on their mailing list for info on bi-annual tastings, when producers from all over Europe come to present their wines.
Restaurant de la Gare, 2 rue de Soppe, Guewenheim, Tel. 03 89 82 51 29
Disarmingly simple place in small village west of Mulhouse (off N83 before it crosses the Mulhouse-Belfort motorway) known for its astonishing wine list and local dishes cranked up a notch (foie gras, Baeckeoffe + foie and snails, choucroute +h pike-perch). In the bistro at the front you can get a main dish and a glass of wine for a modest outlay; the smart(er) restaurant has full menu and the renowned wine list.
In or close to the vineyards:
They wear their 40+ years of triple stardom lightly at this fabled inn beside the river Ill. A word of warning: this is not a fireworky, Heston Blumental/Ferran Adria/Roca brothers kind of a 3-star place. What you get is beautifully executed, fairly conservative cooking done in a gorgeous setting with exemplary service – the kind of place where, when you get up to go to the bathroom during the meal, you come back to find a brand-new napkin folded at your place. The dining room overlooking the gardens and the river is so beautiful it’s worth coming here for lunch rather than dinner, so you can see the lawns sweeping down to the river Ill, lined with weeping willows. The price of the lunch menu (around 100 euros when I last looked) is great value for money.
L’Atelier du Peintre, 1 rue Schongauer, Colmar, Tel. 03 89 29 51 57
[+ see here for a mention of L’Atelier in a mildly polemic post on whether Alsace or Baden has the best food]
Chef Loïc Lefebvre (originally from Verdun, done the rounds of top chefs in France, won Best Restaurant in Scotland award for his work at Abstract in Inverness) does handsome, modern, intensely flavoured food based on local seasonal ingredients. It has a Michelin star and is quite fancy but they do a midweek lunch menu @ 24 euros for 2 courses or 29 for 3. Great cooking, brilliantly executed and presented, at eye-rubbing prices (at least for lunch) with a warm welcome from the chef’s partner and sound advice from the sommelier.
L’Un des Sens (wine bar), 18 rue Berthe Molly, Colmar, Tel. 03 89 24 04 37
If you’re in Colmar and looking for a good selection of wines by the glass and something delicious to nibble on, L’Un des Sens is the place to go. It’s within a minute’s walk of L’Ancienne Douane and La Petite Venise (where those gorgeous Christmas markets happen), set back from the street a little with a couple of tables and chairs set outside for warm sunny days. Alexandre, the sommelier-owner, specialises in natural/biodynamic/organic wines, mainly French with plenty from Alsace. Some of them are quite under the radar, so tell him what you like and don’t like and he’ll bring a bottle for you to sample. If you don’t fancy it, he’ll find another one for you (at any given moment there may be 20 whites and 20 reds open, always fresh, thanks to a brisk turnover). There’s no kitchen as such but they serve superior cold meats sourced in the Auvergne and the Aube, cheeses from top fromager Jacky Quesnot just around the corner, gorgeous chewy bread from Le Pain de Mon Grand’Père and chef Patrick Fulgraff’s famous foie gras. It’s also a wine shop so anything you like the taste of, you can buy to take home.
D’Brendelstub, 48 rue Général de Gaulle, Riquewihr, Tel. 03 89 86 54 54
Jean-Luc Brendel’s resolutely funky neo-bistro housed in a 14th-century timbered building offers food that’s a cut way above Riquewihr’s usual greying choucroute and tired tarte à l’oignon – it’s strategically placed just about opposite Hugel on the tourist-thronged main street. Take refuge from the milling hordes for grilled meat and shellfish from the rotisserie and wood-fired oven plus selected open wines from the blackboard.
Asian Tapas Bar, 9 rue des Juifs, Riquewihr, Tel. 03 89 47 96 47
Unlikely but true: an authentic Japanese restaurant in the heart of the Alsatian vineyards, just the thing when you tire of snails, choucroute and foie gras. The chef (from Japan via Los Angeles) does topnotch sushi (including California-style), maki, dumplings and other delicious bite-sized morsels, served at small low tables in the downstairs part of Restaurant Trotthus.
La Taverne Alsacienne, 99 rue de la République, Ingersheim, Tel. 03 89 27 08 41
Favourite haunt of local winegrowers, members of the lively Oenoalsace wine forum (and the Style family), this delightful tavern is owned and run by the formidable famille Guggenbuhl. It’s always heaving, lunch or dinner, weekdays or weekends so booking is a must. Small, cosy winstub area at the front, posh(er) dining room at the back, excellent, carefully prepared and served food throughout. There are several menus (including a daily lunch menu which is great value for money) and lots more a la carte. The chef is a wizard with fish and an inveterate fungi forager – be sure to check if he’s got any mushrooms on the specials menu.
Auberge du Froehn, 5 route d’Ostheim, Zellenberg, Tel. 03 89 47 81 57
Sympathique auberge in the beautiful hilltop village of Zellenberg in the heart of the Haut-Rhin vineyards – handy for a tasting chez Becker, who are just down the street (the auberge was a recommendation from the irrepressible Martine Becker). Super-value menus and wines by the glass. Combine lunch here with the Sentier Viticole des Grands Crus vineyard trail (that links the villages of Zellenberg, Beblenheim, Mittelwihr, Riquewihr and Hunawihr) for a day to remember.
La Palette, 9 rue Herzog, Wettolsheim, Tel. 03 89 80 79 14
I love the eclectic combination of ancient and modern in this lively village restaurant (same village as the redoubtable/unmissable Domaine Albert Mann and – our latest discovery – Le Vignobles des 2 Lunes, run by sisters Amélie and Cécile Buecher) – Fleischschnacka (Grand’Mère dish of ground meat rolled up, snail-style, in pasta dough or choucroute garnie on the ancient side; ballotine of fish wrapped in Chinese cabbage with harenga and shiso, low-temperature lamb from SW France with tea sauce on the modern front. Luridly coloured dining room, lovely wait staff, warmth and smiles all round.
A l’Agneau, 16 Grand Rue, Katzenthal,Tel. +33 389 80 90 25
This homey little hotel-restaurant, owned and run by genial Thierry Hohler and his wife Sydonie, is admirably situated within spitting distance of Jean-Marc Bernhard, Meyer-Fonné and Klee Frères, all sources of lovely wines. Upmarket dining room with modern Alsatian cuisine (good fish, veal, Simmentaler beef), a Winstub for classic regional fare and an epic breakfast buffet in the wood-panelled dining room, complete with checked tablecloths.
NEW ENTRY: La Nouvelle Auberge, Wihr-au-Val, Tel. 03 89 71 07 70
Situated on the main road from Colmar to the Munster Valley, this is not just any old roadside inn. Jovial, Breton-born chef Bernard Leray is in the kitchen and his wife Martine is out front (or down in her wine cellar). The ground-floor bistro is packed with locals who come for their lunchtime fix of home-made terrines, steaming plates of choucroute or bread-and-butter pudding (made from kugelhopf) with wild bilberries and ice cream. Upstairs in the Michelin-starred restaurant there are hints of both the chef’s Breton heritage and his adoptive Alsatian identity: a brilliant green snail fricassee, sweetly dressed crab with fine shreds of pickled turnips, chunky ceps from the Vosges with a foaming sabayon or sweetbreads with a miniature spring onion tart, depending on the season. The all-French wine list leans heavily (but by no means exclusively) towards Alsace, notably the admirable Domaine Schoenheitz, whose vineyards rise up above the village and with whom they stage spectacular wine-pairing dinners.
NEW ENTRY: Wistub du Sommelier, 51 Grand’Rue, Bergheim, Tel. 03 89 73 69 99
This classic wistub or wine bar/bistro in the ravishing village of Bergheim (on a par with Riquewihr but with far fewer tourist buses) is a favourite haunt of local vignerons and visitors in search of l’Alsace authentique. Owned by Patrick Schneider (from the Sundgau, the southern part of Alsace) and his wife Antje (from Germany), it’s the place to tuck into home-made foie gras or Presskopf (brawn) followed by ox cheeks braised in Pinot Noir and an iced soufflé laced with Marc de Gewurztraminer. Antje’s list is an Alsace anthology, ranging from near-neighbours Deiss, Lorentz and la pétulante Sylvie Spielmann to others she would like you to discover such as Beck-Hartweg, Gérard Neumeyer and Clément Klur. In summer there’s a terrace tucked away at the back in the shade of a huge linden tree.
Restaurant-Cafe-Brasserie Au Potin, 11 rue du Général Vandenberg, Barr, Tel. 03 88 08 88 84
We recently (November 2015) revisited this great place at the northern end of the vineyards in Barr and were delighted to find it as good as ever. Hervé Duhamel (pictured) mixes classic brasserie dishes and bright new creations at his Parisian-style Alsatian bistro, with an intriguing offer of open wines from winegrowing friends and neighbours (André Ostertag, Lucas Rieffel, Patrick Meyer et al). A good address with super original food – just wish it was a bit nearer…
Hotel-Restaurant Gilg, 1 rue Rotland, Mittelbergheim, Tel. 03 88 08 91 37
Mittelbergheim at the northern end of the Route des Vins merits its name as one of France’s plus beaux villages, with its parade of perfectly restored vigneron houses graced by stunning wrought iron signs. A great time to come here is in April when the wine growers have their annual Open Day, known as Henter’m Kallerladel (check the village site for the 2017 date), but it’s worth a detour any time of year. Gilg is a legendary place in a picture-postcard house right in the centre of the village, famed for their home-style Alsatian food. People beat a path to their door for the feuilleté chaud du vigneron, a Riesling-marinated pork pie enveloped in puff pastry and served warm, and there’s the obligatory (for Alsace) foie gras, served en terrine with toasted gingerbread and sweet plum chutney, or pan-fried with buttered apples. Look out for wines from Boeckel, Rieffel or Gilg (same name, different branch of the family), all of them top wine growers in the village – that way, if you like what you’ve tasted, you can nip round the corner and buy some to take home.
Flamme & Co, 53/55 Grand’rue, Strasbourg, Tel. 03 90 40 19 45
Subtitled Créateur de Tartes Flammées [sic], this fun place close to the train station takes the Alsatian Flammekueche – traditionally a yeast dough stretched thin, spread with fromage blanc, sprinkled with bacon bits and onion and given a brief blast in a wood-fired oven – in all kinds of different, unaccustomed directions. Toppings include baby spinach leaves, rocket, sun-dried toms + shaved Parmesan; scallops + broccoli; or Munster + frisée. The decor is loud, red and geometric-modern, the table mats border on inflammatory and the loos are positively incendiary. A fresh [as in frech] look at Flammekueche, and one that’s raised a few eyebrows.
In the Vosges:
NEW ENTRY: La Cheneaudière, Colroy-la-Roche, Tel. 03 88 97 61 64
La Cheneaudière is a Relais & Chateaux hidden up in the northern Vosges, the place to go for a little R & R when life threatens to get the better of you. The birdsong (including on their website) is deafening and the spa alone, one of Europe’s finest, is enough to lure you here. Another reason is Chef Roger Bohassoun’s cooking. This is food with attitude and a strong sense of ‘somewhereness’ (soft-boiled eggs with chanterelles from the Vosges and the chef’s home-cured ham, locally farmed snails bathed in a herby foam, slow-cooked pigeon breast with the legs parcelled up in crisp brik pastry). I’m hoping the newly appointed sommelier, from Quebec, is as chock full of good suggestions as her predecessor on what to choose from their extensive list. Time to revisit.
Les Alisiers, 5, lieu-dit Faudé, Lapoutroie, Tel. 03 89 47 52 82
We started coming up here years ago to this little country inn perched high above Lapoutroie (700m above sea level), when Monsieur and Madame Degouy first converted the traditional Vosges farmhouse into a simple hotel-restaurant. Caroline and Matthias Degouy bravely took over from the parents a while back and have done a fine job upgrading the rooms and smartening up the dining room. It’s the place for a Sunday lunch or a naughty weekend, with killer views out over the green, green hills of the Vosges, and total peace and quiet. The restaurant is a little pricey, but the food is carefully cooked and elegantly served and you’ll not find a better view anywhere in the Vosges.
Ferme Auberge du Rain des Chênes, 215 Basses-Huttes, Orbey, Tel. 03 89 71 30 42
Drive up here (via Kaysersberg and into the Vosges), park the car and take off for a long hike before returning for the Chaize family’s copious and delicious lunch menu. The family raises all the meat and grows many of the veggies served in the Auberge. The chalet-style dining room is a delight in winter with snow lying deep and crisp and even.In summer you can eat out on the terrace with gorgeous views out across the plain of Alsace to the Black Forest.
Head for Munster and Breitenbach and keep your eyes peeled for the green boards listing Fermes Auberges in the neighbourhood (there are many in this valley), including Christlesgut. Expect a warm welcome from the young (and multilingual) patronne, a cosy dining room and a terrace which boasts spectacular views out onto the valley below. Typical Ferme-auberge fare, including tourte, smoked ham and the legendary roigabrageldi potatoes, melted Munster cheese slithering over baked potatoes, Baeckeoffe and choucroute to order, with a big proportion of raw materials produced on the farm.
Ferme Auberge Deybach, 68380 Mittlach, Tel. 03 89 77 61 61
The Deybach family have converted their typical Vosges farmhouse high in the Munster valley at the Schnepfenried skilift into a delightful farm-inn, all scrubbed tables, burnished cowbells and red-checked tablecloths. There are loads of different menu options, of which the best-known and best-loved is the classic repas marcaire: a slab of tourte (pork pie in flaky pastry, served warm) with salad, kassler (smoked pork loin) with the unspellable, unpronounceable and unbelievably delicious roigabrageldi (a gratin of potatoes, onions and tons of butter) and to wrap things up, a choice of meringue glacée or the house Munster cheese, made from the milk of the speckled Vosgienne cows grazing just outside the window.