If you’re lucky to have an hour or so to sit down and enjoy a bite to eat in the middle of the day, whether it’s with colleagues, friends or just on your own, finding a good lunch in Wiesbaden is, in my opinion, trickier than it should be – especially if you’re after something that isn’t a gloopy salad or something akin to brunch (which I mostly can’t eat because it tends to heavily feature bread).
There are an awful lot of places to choose from in the centre of town but, from my experience, not an awful lot of very good ones, particularly restaurants and cafés where the food is inexpensive but still good quality. For this reason, it’s taken me a long time to collect a staple of places I enjoy eating at where the food is tasty as well as good value, and so I’m going to share my top lunch picks with you here.
★ Ochi no Sushiya: excellent sushi, if you don’t mind the wait
Anita Sankaran learned to make sushi under a Japanese couple in Mannheim for 12 years before opening her own restaurant in Wiesbaden when her mentor Ochi died (Ochi no Sushiya meaning “Ochi’s Sushi Bar”). Her dedication to creating beautifully presented, hand-made sushi pieces means that service can sometimes be very slow, but the restaurant is small and calm and a very pleasant place to sit and wait. The sushi lunch menu (Sushi Mittagsmenü) is, at 8.90€, excellent value: a small bowl of shredded carrot and cabbage salad drizzled with sesame dressing followed by another small bowl of silky tofu miso soup; then a plate of 5 nigiri pieces and 6 hoso-maki. There’s also a set menu for vegetarians and vegans and they have gluten-free soy sauce available, too. It’s far better than any of the other sushi I’ve eaten in Wiesbaden, so if you’ve time for a leisurely lunch, I’d say it’s well worth the wait.
Website: Ochi no Sushiya (in German)
Address: Oranienstr. 4, 65185 Wiesbaden
★ Fasan: pick your own selection of Afghani-style meat and sides
A small, glass-fronted restaurant on the corner of Schwalbacherstrasse and Friedrichstrasse, Fasan is a colourful, cosy spot for a very tasty lunch. Choice is limited to what’s on display in the counter: cold dips and samosas as well as meatballs, chicken pieces and a selection of vegetables, pulses, potatoes and rice. For a mixed plate (Wunschteller, 6,50€), simply point to what you fancy and it’ll be heated up and brought over to your table. Mango lassis and homemade lemonade are delicious, plus there’s a good selection of teas too. It’s best to get there early, as it’s invariably busy in the week.
Website: Fasan (in German)
Address: Friedrichstraße 57
★ Café Maldaner: modest, classic German food
German food isn’t often top of my list for lunch, except perhaps for a quick Currywurst in the sunshine or a large bowl of Gulaschsuppe (stewed beef soup) in winter. The lunch menu at Café Maldaner, however, offers smaller than average, reasonably-priced portions of classic German dishes, from Wiener sausages with potato salad and pork Schnitzel to vol-au-vents with veal ragout (Königinpastetchen mit Ragout Fin) and eggs with Frankfurt green sauce. They also have salad options, should you fancy something a little lighter; but if you’re still peckish after your main course, they have a huge range of sweets available including waffles and enormous ice cream sundaes. And you should see the size of their cake counter…
Website: Café Maldaner (in German)
Address: Marktstraße 34
★ Die Waffel/Gegenüber: if you have a thing for baked potatoes
A second Afghani spot with a very different menu, Die Waffel and its sister restaurant Gegenüber (meaning “opposite” – I’ve reviewed it before) serve identical fare that’s simple, inexpensive and very, very moreish. Choose either a very good baked potato, saffron basmati rice, nan or a salad and then add on one or more hot side dishes such as aubergine, okra, sheep’s cheese or shredded chicken. There’s hot pickle and yoghurt condiments; the mango lassis are heaven; and as a bonus, they also serve a selection of homemade waffles. What’s not to like?
Website: Die Waffel (in German)
Address: Am Michelsberg 18 (Gegenüber is opposite)
★ Lalaland: for a lunch date with a little oneLalaland is a large, bright, comfortable café that’s an absolute godsend if you want to have a sit down with a small person in tow (or breastfeed, or change the small person’s nappy). The staff are patient and friendly (and probably mad), the atmosphere laid back and the food very good indeed. Choose from sweet crêpes such as banana and Nutella or cinnamon and sugar; or a savoury galette made with gluten-free buckwheat and served with toppings such as goat’s cheese, rocket, walnuts and honey (“Panze’s Wanze”, above, 6,30€) or a vegan vegetables.
A selection of cold drinks is available, including beer and Sekt (German sparkling wine); I’m told the coffee is very good and I love their chocolate latte (Schoko Latte, 3,20€) – it’s one of Wiesbaden’s best. And in addition to good service, excellent food and a friendly atmosphere, Lalaland is also a social business, meaning it focuses not on making profit but running an ethical, conscientious business, sourcing produce locally and looking after their staff (see their website, below). An all-round winner then: if you don’t have a small child of your own, you might just want to rent one.
Website: Lalaland (in German)
Address: Friedrichstraße 57
Where do you eat lunch in Wiesbaden? Any tips or recommendations for good value, tasty food? Or for places to avoid?!