Reichenbachstrasse connects the Isar river and the Viktualienmarkt food market – two of the most important sites in Munich. But that's not all it offers: alongside Gärtnerplatz, and with a host of little shops and many inviting café terraces, it is also the liveliest street in the city.
f you were to look at Reichenbachstrasse from above, you would quickly understand why streets are often described as pulsing veins carrying the lifeblood of a city. It could be considered the most important street in the Glockenbachviertel district, not only running between two of Munich's vital organs – the Isar and Viktualienmarkt – but also bringing a special atmosphere to the entire district. Reichenbachstrasse has a vibrancy and bustle that makes it a perfect extension to buzzing Gärtnerplatz.
Reichenbachstrasse has a vibrancy and bustle that makes it a perfect extension to buzzing Gärtnerplatz.
Just take a seat in the beautifully landscaped square and you’ll experience the lively energy, whether you're here for a lunchtime bite or an after-work beer – the benches might as well be cinema seats, because there's always something to watch here. You can see the life here as locals pass by on their way home from the Viktualienmarkt with their purchases every Saturday; or in the small groups of Munich designers who congregate on little stools in front of their shops to chat with a coffee in hand; or as you cycle along the street in summer, past the always-busy terrace of Trachtenvogl.
We are first drawn away from the street itself and into an enchanting rear courtyard, finding ourselves suddenly in front of an ageing, crooked wood workshop that looks as though it has been – very successfully – hiding from gentrification for some years. In the courtyard one thing is immediately striking: a complete lack of noise, as though Reichenbachstrasse has fallen silent. Master joiner Tobias Pahl is unloading his car. The faint noise of machines can be heard from the workshop, and a shower of sawdust flies out as he opens the door for us.
Pahl completed his apprenticeship here 30 years ago and eventually took over the business when his master retired; today the workshop is downstairs and his apartment above it. There's a roof terrace over the garage too, which also serves as a summertime venue for small concerts with his friends. Much of his work is in the immediate neighbourhood, such as the renovation of the Götterspeise confectioners and café – so it's no surprise that part of what he loves about Reichenbachstrasse and the Glockenbachviertel area is a real sense of community, the feeling of a village within the city. The opportunity to live idyllically while still being and working in the centre of everything.
It's no surprise that part of what he loves about Reichenbachstrasse is a real sense of community, the feeling of a village within the city. The opportunity to live idyllically while still being and working in the centre of everything.
“At the same time, there is always an underlying anxiety of course, as I have seen how quickly things can change. Of course I hope my joinery will continue to be here for a long time to come,” he tells us. Pahl leads us through the beautiful rooms on the first floor, showing us a very old screw veneer press that still has to be operated by hand before introducing us to his two apprentices. They’re having potato salad for lunch – and it looks so delicious, it's hard not to invite ourselves to join them!
The Bierothek at 22 Reichenbachstrasse could not be more different. The establishment sells over 400 different craft beers. Young operators Munich Brew Mafia also brew and sell their own beer. It has been just a few months since they took over the store, now run by Niklas Zerhoch, who is clearly a fan of the location: “The Glockenbach district is really current and cool – just like craft beer! And Reichenbachstrasse is such a central spot, we get lots of passing trade.” Beer lovers regularly flock to the shop after work to pick up a drink or two to enjoy on the banks of the Isar.
As well as sought-after craft beers from all over the world, the Bierothek also sells chilled bottles of beer from Munich’s own renowned breweries – and at great prices. “We didn't want to only serve the craft beer clientele; we have something for everyone!” Niklas has himself spent a lot of time along this street in the past, most often at the Holy Home bar or on Gärtnerplatz. Now he really enjoys the neighbourly sense of community he experiences in the shop – there’s one local who regularly walks her dog past the shop door, so Niklas makes sure he always has some dog treats in a drawer.
We take our leave to grab some lunch at Trachtenvogl; we choose pasta and halloumi salad, both fantastic as always and not at all expensive. It's hard to imagine Reichenbachstrasse without this lovely café, which was previously also a bar. In winter, retro television sets display crackling fires inside, while you sink back into a sofa and try to settle on one of the dozens of hot chocolate options they offer. In summer, the sunniest spots on the terrace are always in demand. After all, the staff are pleasant, the food delicious – what more could you want?
From the terrace, we are looking directly onto three shopping gems within the district, all of which are run by Munich women. There's local fashion label Akjumii (36 Reichenbachstrasse), where designers Michaela Wunderl-Strojny and Anna Karsch have been producing minimalist fashion for men and women since 2012. All the clothing sold here is made in the on-site studio, and virtually everything is crafted from natural materials. The retail space at the front is often rented out to other brands and is currently occupied by hundreds of plants – a proper jungle.
Nearby at number 30, Homegirl Store and Capricorn Store are not to be missed. The latter focuses on carefully chosen second-hand fashion, yet still has the air of a chic boutique. Owner Stephanie Zürn only keeps a certain number of clothes hangers on the racks, meaning that a new piece can only be added to the rails after one has been sold to make space for it. She began by selling unwanted items from her friends' wardrobes, but now sells discarded designer pieces sourced from customers all over the city.
This kind of small boutique might be too intimidating to enter elsewhere, but it feels surprisingly easy here on Reichenbachstrasse – and after you've visited once, you'll be greeted like a regular next time.
Homegirl Store right next door sells small and big labels, including some from Munich and Berlin. Medo Diet’s intention was to open a cool womenswear shop where people felt comfortable – and she has certainly succeeded. Hip-hop music plays as customers browse through clothes, and there’s always someone sitting in front of the shop with a drink in hand. This kind of small boutique might be too intimidating to enter elsewhere, but it feels surprisingly easy here on Reichenbachstrasse – and after you've visited once, you'll be greeted like a regular next time.
This is a street full of contrasts; Café Wiener, which has been established at Number 8 since 1960, is living proof of that. While the number of trendy cafés opening around Gärtnerplatz continues to increase, all offering artisan cold brews and flat whites (which is really just a cappuccino with a double shot of espresso), here the only java they serve is good old filter coffee. However, they will offer you magnificent cakes like your granny makes – and for very little money. A coffee and cake here costs around five euros; there's no other place in the entire area that can say that.
There are few streets that manage to strike a balance between staying current and preserving the long-established elements that give them their character. Flat white and filter coffee.
Those unfamiliar with the traditional brand of Munich grumpiness may be a little taken aback by the rough manner of the owner, but that’s just how people are here: friendly but not ingratiating. The old man on the terrace in the linen shirt and summer hat, drinking a hot filter coffee in the blazing sun, fits in perfectly here, as do the two older ladies who are choosing a piece of cake. Café Wiener is a genuine Munich original – just like Reichenbachstrasse itself.
There are few streets that manage to strike a balance between staying current and preserving the long-established elements that give them their character. Flat white and filter coffee. Reichenbachstrasse is one of the few streets that has never lost its distinctive character, despite modernisation and change. It still looks and feels exciting. So even though you will find a branch of a certain Scandinavian furniture chain there, the street also boasts an excellent antique shop with one-of-a-kind pieces. This street has grown organically, and never tries to be something it’s not. And for visitors, it's a welcome interlude between the Isar and Viktualienmarkt.