Whether it’s Michelin stars or Gault&Millau toques, all culinary ratings are awarded in recognition of a vision, a devotion to great food, expert craftsmanship and, last but not least, the immense hard work that a creative head chef and their team has to put in every day. It seems Munich inspires leading chefs, as the Bavarian capital tops the gastronomic rankings year after year.
In the 2021 German edition of the Gault&Millau gourmet guide, a total of eight Munich restaurants have once again been awarded exceptional scores, between 17 and 19 out of a possible 20: Les Deux, Pageou and Sparkling Bistro each scored 17 points; with 18 points each are Alois – Dallmayr Fine Dining, EssZimmer, Tantris and Tohru Nakamura’s October 2020 opening, pop-up restaurant Salon Rouge. Atelier in the Bayerischer Hof luxury hotel was awarded a towering 19 points – a nice accompaniment to its latest Michelin Guide entry, which again confirms Atelier head chef, Jan Hartwig, as one of Germany’s ten three-star chefs.
Munich also has three Michelin double-starred restaurants: Alois – Dallmayr Fine Dining, EssZimmer and Les Deux. Though Tantris and Werneckhof were both awarded two stars last year, they are temporarily closed for renovations and set to reopen under new management once works are complete. The following establishments hold one Michelin star: Schwarzreiter in the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, Showroom, Acquarello, Tian, Gabelspiel, Mural in Muca Street Art Museum and Sparkling Bistro.
As well as excellent cuisine, all of these starred restaurants also offer diners a refined setting for a relaxed experience, spanning the spectrum from traditional to ultra-modern design.
The listed 1970s building which houses legendary foodie mecca Tantris in Schwabing has achieved cult status in Munich. The building is one of the city’s most prominent examples of post-war architecture, and the establishment itself is considered to be the birthplace of award-winning German gastronomy. The name Tantris means “the quest for perfection”, and for many years the creation of perfect culinary delights has been the mission of star chefs Eckard Witzigmann and Heinz Winkler. The pair has trained many of Munich’s top chefs and apprentices in the high art of French cuisine. Born in 1941, Witzigmann has held the title of “Chef of the Century” since 1994 – an honour Gault&Millau has bestowed on just four individuals worldwide to date, among them Paul Bocuse.
Witzigmann’s student Hans Haas was head chef at Tantris for almost 30 years until the end of 2020, and the restaurant consistently held two Michelin stars throughout his leadership. Tantris is currently closed for renovations until summer 2021, when it will reopen with a new chef at the helm, Matthias Hahn – an exciting prospect for many food-lovers.
There is often difficulty in simplicity. Simple and focused on the flavour. Above all, it needs to taste great. That is the most important thing when it comes to food, right?
Traditional Munich hotel the Bayerischer Hof has been a family-owned business for over a hundred years. The establishment was built and opened back in 1841, in response to the King’s desire for a first-class hotel. Its guest list has encompassed such illustrious personages as Empress Elisabeth of Austria and her husband Emperor Franz Joseph I, not to mention Franz Kafka and Sigmund Freud. More recently, the five-star hotel even served as a retreat for Michael Jackson and his family while they were staying in Munich.
In keeping with the traditions of the hotel, many parts of the Bayerischer Hof are open to locals, including its luxury restaurant, Atelier. The restaurant was designed by Belgian interior designer, art collector and antiques dealer Axel Vervoordt in the style of an artist’s studio, with antique side tables, a private room and a tranquil terrace, planted with Amur maples. Atelier’s head chef, Jan Hartwig, has carved out an impressive career in a few short years. The three stars awarded by the Michelin Guide for the third time in a row in 2020 are the icing on the cake in a series of successes: In 2017, he was voted “Rising Star of the Year” by the judges of the Gault-Millau gourmet guide. Just a year before that, he was nominated “Chef of the Year 2016” by Feinschmecker gourmet magazine. In Germany’s 2020 edition, Atelier received 19 out of 20 toques from Gault-Millau.
I am proud that, with the help of my team, I have managed to make a name for myself within such a short time. That motivates me. I give my all to ensure that my guests enjoy their food a little more with every visit. Like a professional footballer, I am always setting myself more and more ambitious goals: if I win 2-0, I ask myself why we didn’t win 4-0.
The origins of fine foods retailer Alois Dallmayr date right back to the early 18th century. The original store, in Munich’s Altstadt, is one of the largest of its kind in the world, and a wander through its ground-floor delicatessen department is considered one of the highlights of a stay in Munich. Luxury restaurant Alois – Dallmayr Fine Dining opened on the first floor of the Dallmayr building in 2006, since when it has garnered two Michelin stars and 18 Gault&Millau points under head chef Christoph Kurz. Alois offers light, contemporary cuisine in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. Christoph Kurz has been leading the kitchen at Alois since September 2018, and in an interview with German-language hospitality magazine Allgemeine Hotel und Gastronomie-Zeitung, he explained what he considers success in his role:
Christoph Kurz: "I want our guests to be so thrilled about the dishes and the quality we serve that they want seconds."
Despite only having opened in autumn 2020, pop-up restaurant Salon Rouge, the creation of Tohru Nakamura, has rightfully earned a place among Munich’s star restaurants after securing 18 points from Gault&Millau. Munich-born German-Japanese chef Tohru Nakamura – who was head chef at Werneckhof until its closure in 2020 and was voted “Chef of the Year” in the 2020 German issue of the Gault&Millau guide – worked in multiple three-star restaurants in Germany and abroad after completing his training at the Hotel Königshof in Munich, and helped to win international acclaim for the cuisine at Werneckhof. The secret to his success is in the skilful fusion of local and Asian ingredients.
European cuisine is the basis of my cooking. What makes it special is the Asian touch, especially my love of Japanese flavours.
Tohru Nakamura and his team showcased their culinary skills at Salon Rouge in the former city clerk’s offices (Stadtschreiberei) from autumn 2020 to March 2021. The restaurant is currently closed for renovations and is scheduled to reopen in autumn 2021. In the meantime, Nakamura and his team are planning to open a pop-up restaurant in the east of Munich, Salon Rouge im Werksviertel, from mid-May 2021.
The futuristic BMW Welt building, designed by architectural duo Coop Himmelb(l)au accommodates several premium gastronomic offerings, including gourmet restaurant EssZimmer, headed by Bobby Bräuer. The name means “dining room”, offering a sense of the cosy yet luxurious setting, with open fireplace, elegant wood and dark leather, all of which is intended to make guests feel truly at home.
All star chefs can cook. I think what makes EssZimmer so special is the setting it offers – it’s modern but still cosy. We want our guests to enjoy simply arriving and succumbing to enjoyment without disruption. That is why I never ask my guests if they have enjoyed their food, but rather whether they have had a nice evening.
Munich-born top chef Bobby Bräuer and his team are synonymous with exquisite French cuisine. Its excellent fare once again earned the eatery two stars in the Michelin Guide in 2021, while Gault&Millau awarded it 18 points. As a special part of its offering, all guests are offered a free, exclusive chauffeur service after their meal, to anywhere within the Munich metropolitan area.
Since January 2017, head chef Dominik Käppeler has been continuing the tradition of foodie hotspot schweiger 2 in Munich’s Au district under a new name: Showroom. The chef has been defending the restaurant’s Michelin star since 2015, and strives to ensure continuity and identity in the city’s smallest starred restaurant. A set menu, changing every 14 days, is served in Showroom’s pleasantly bright, intimate setting.
You think eel, banana, mustard and Stilton don’t go together? Oh, but they do – it’s all about aroma pairing. Let your palate decide whether it tastes good – not your head!
Inside the Schäfflerhof – one of Munich’s finest shopping destinations, in the square formed between Theatinerstraße, Maffeistraße and Schäfflerstraße – Les Deux restaurant extends over two fully-glazed storeys. The “les deux” of the name is a reference to the two founders Alsace-born Fabrice Kieffer and his wife Katrin Kieffer, whose dual restaurant and brasserie concept saw them once again awarded two Michelin stars in 2021, as well as 17 points in the Gault&Millau guide. Chef Fabrice Kieffer trained under Heinz Winkler at the Residenz and won several major awards as maître d’hôtel and head chef before realising his dream of opening his own restaurant with the launch of Les Deux in Munich. The first-floor restaurant serves multifaceted modern French cuisine, while the brasserie on the ground floor offers traditional and international fare.
Fabrice and Katrin Kieffer: "Our restaurant embodies Bavarian warmth, combined with French charm. We are always here for our guests. The cuisine bears the hallmarks of French cooking, but it is lighter and also incorporates some Asian flavours from time to time."
Heinz Winkler also played an important role in the career of Mario Gamba, an Italian from Bergamo who trained alongside the legendary chef for 12 years. For over 20 years, he has been serving the very finest Italian cuisine in Acquarello, his restaurant in Munich-Bogenhausen, and his establishment is widely acknowledged as perhaps the best Italian eatery outside Italy. Acquarello retained its Michelin star in 2021, as well as receiving 15 Gault&Millau points. Gamba cites his pure joy at cooking and preparing food as the motivating factor that drove him to leave his job as a translator of French and Spanish and to try his hand at cooking – which, incidentally, he taught himself.
“I am not a great chef. But I cook as if my family are sitting out in the dining room. All I do is simply separate the good from the bad. It is that easy to create quality. My cooking tastes of the Mediterranean, the sun, and a zest for life.”
The Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski is part of the Maximilianstraße architectural ensemble. “King Max” (Maximilian II of Bavaria) was heavily involved in the planning of this grand boulevard, and the hotel itself was built by royal request in 1858. The hotel restaurant, the Schwarzreiter Tagesbar & Restaurant, has been named for his famous son Ludwig II: schwarzreiter is a type of char fish from Königssee Lake, and was the favourite dish of the Fairytale King. Under the management of Maike Menzel, the Michelin-starred restaurant predominantly uses local produce in its cuisine. Menzel, who is Germany’s youngest chef to win a Michelin star, went on maternity leave in mid-February, leaving the kitchen in the hands of her sous chef Hannes Reckziegel. Originally from Mindelheim, Reckziegel began his career at the Steigenberger Hotel Sonnenhof and also worked as a chef in two Tim Raue restaurants in Berlin – first the Sra Bua at Hotel Adlon and later the Tim Raue.
Hannes Reckziegel: "Cooking is and always has been an absolute passion for me! I am so excited about this new opportunity."
The 2021 Michelin Guide once again awarded a star to vegetarian restaurant Tian at the Viktualienmarkt and its head chef Christian Schlagerl. This is an achievement to be proud of, as the Michelin Guide has rarely deemed restaurants serving meat-free cuisine to be worthy of such recognition. The Munich restaurant is an offshoot of parent establishment Tian in Vienna, which is run by chef Paul Ivic. Christian Schlagerl has previously gained experience in senior positions at a number of leading Bavarian restaurants.
We make every effort to combine exceptional cuisine with a passionate love of experimentation. To achieve this, we draw on the diversity of rare, even almost forgotten varieties of vegetables, fruits and grains.
Giesing restaurant Gabelspiel, owned and run by head chef Florian Berger, has also retained its Michelin star. Berger focuses on refined creations based on French cuisine, while his wife Sabrina is the restaurant’s host. The Gault&Millau Guide has honoured Gabelspiel with 15 points. On the restaurant’s website, Florian and Sabrina Berger wax lyrical about the joys of experimenting with cooking:
Florian and Sabrina Berger: "We love all the foods on offer in markets around the world, and we strive to live healthily and, most importantly, happily through the balanced use of these foods. For us, no combination is too daring, no food too outlandish. For all those who love and value good food."
Newly opened in 2020, Mural restaurant at Muca Street Art Museum, under head chef Joshua Leise, also joined the ranks of those awarded one Michelin star in 2021. This year, Gault&Millau awarded Mural 16 points.The trendy restaurant in the heart of Munich’s Altstadt district offers a relaxed bar menu during the day and an attractive fine dining evening concept which presents an appealing, creative menu. The team places particular importance on getting the very best out of their carefully selected local ingredients.
Joshua Leise is always on the lookout for the best seasonal produce:
"We work mainly with small local producers, whose craft and attention to sustainability and protection of resources we particularly value. The same goes for the wines and winemakers we select. We value authenticity and craft in our suppliers, and we also try to incorporate them into all of our creations."
Jürgen Wolfsgruber successfully retained his Michelin star for Sparkling Bistro, while also earning 17 Gault&Millau points. He was voted “Chef of the Month” by Feinschmecker magazine in April 2021. Located on the historic premises of former Tantris offshoot Terrine, on Amalienpassage in the heart of Maxvorstadt, the restaurant focuses on the interplay between natural products sourced directly from the producer as well as sustainable production and first-class culinary craft. Honest food with character and the almost 50-year-old Molteni oven are at the heart of the kitchen at Sparkling Bistro.
Jürgen Wolfsgruber: "Cooking requires time and it must be enjoyable above all. I made a career our of my hobby and my passion. We need to relearn how to value the food we have around us, from our own lands and regions. That is what we are all about here at the Bistro. It’s the reason why we only have one menu, with 5 or 7 courses, and no à la carte option. Our guests eat what’s put in front of them."
Also interesting: This is what Munich is like - more gastro tips and restaurant listings by category can be found on the official city portal muenchen.de