I’ve been living in Wiesbaden for a little over six years now, and I like to think I know Hessen’s capital pretty well. I’m not saying I’ve eaten in every restaurant and drunk in every bar, but I’ve built up a solid list of restaurant recommendations and I know which shops to visit for regionally-produced this or exotic, imported that. I didn’t think I had that much more to learn about the culinary offerings of my adopted home town – or the town itself – but an excursion with a newly founded Wiesbaden food tour proved me, happily, wrong.
A food tour for friends
Having always enjoyed showing friends and acquaintances around town – outings that inevitably involved stopping for a bite to eat – and inspired by a food tour set up by a good friend in Berlin, Britta Johannsen, who has lived in Wiesbaden since 2005, launched das isst Wiesbaden (“that’s what Wiesbaden eats”) in May. Britta incorporated visits to some of her favourite family-run shops and cafés into a 2.5 hour tour around Wiesbaden’s old town, creating a relaxed, friendly outing that supports some great local businesses who are passionate about what they do.
A ramble round the old town
I joined the das isst Wiesbaden tour on a grey and drizzly Saturday afternoon, the spirits of our eager band of umbrella-brandishing food lovers not dampened in the least. The tour takes place within Wiesbaden’s historisches Fünfeck (historic pentagon), the central old town bordered by five main roads and filled with cobbled streets and beautiful ninteenth-century buildings. Greeted warmly by Britta and our wonderfully enthusiastic guide Adriano, we set straight off in the direction of our first stop.
Our small group were told bits and pieces about the streets as we walked, Adriano pointing out all sorts of architectural details I’ve never noticed before and sharing some interesting anecdotes from Wiesbaden’s rich history. It was really refreshing to see Wiesbaden through someone else’s eyes, and wandering slowly through the streets for the first time in years – I’m usually hurrying to the market and back, not thinking much about my surroundings – I was able to spend some time ruminating on its past as a spa town famous for its thermal springs, popular first in the middle ages and later with casino-going millionaires in the 1800s.
Many of Britta’s choice of culinary stop-off points complemented perfectly what we were learning about Wiesbaden’s past: a family-run shop that’s been open for nearly 60 years, for example, and a one-time brothel turned popular snack bar. I’d been expecting simply an afternoon of food tastings – I got considerably more than that!
What does Wiesbaden eat?
Over the course of the afternoon we sampled, amongst other things, freshly roasted coffee, brightly-coloured confectionary, bruschetta, sausages and homemade jams; and we were even given a couple of small, unusual gifts to take home. Though the tour takes in a couple of classic culinary Wiesbaden locations, it throws in a couple of surprises, too, and I was very happy to be introduced to a couple of new shopping and drinking haunts along the way.
We ended the afternoon enjoying a couple of glasses of wine and rosé Sekt together as the sun made a brief last minute appearance and we chatted about the afternoon’s culinary treats: a very pleasing end to a very well thought out tour. I love that Britta has chosen to support small local businesses and show off some of her own favourite spots; it gives the tour a really personal feel, a bit like being shown round town by friends. Das isst Wiesbaden is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon and I’d highly recommend it – whether you’re visiting Wiesbaden for the weekend or you’ve lived here for years.
I was invited to join the das isst Wiesbaden tour as Britta’s guest. The 2.5 hour tour costs 35€ and is currently only available in German; English language tours are currently being planned. You can book a tour online or contact Britta via the das isst Wiesbaden website.
This article was edited on 20 July to remove details of the tour stop-off points.