Hofbräuhaus Pittsburgh, located in the South Side Works area of Pittsburgh, is not just a restaurant- it’s an experience. I often compare this restaurant to that of visiting the Germany pavilion in Epcot because it is immersive, impressive, and different than anything you’d experience at other establishments.
The outside of Hofbräuhaus welcomes you with beer vats, German flags, and the Oktoberfest colors of blue & white. From the outside you’ll also notice how large the restaurant is, even without being able to see the Biergarten in the back of the grounds next to the river.
The main part of the restaurant is the beerhall which holds the main bar, family-style seating, and an area for entertainment which takes place frequently to add to the German ambience.
During peak business hours your party may be seated with another to accommodate all guests. The beerhall seating area encourages camaraderie and a celebration-like atmosphere so the proximity to other guests doesn’t put a damper on your meal. Looking around this main area, you’ll feel as if you’ve walked into the original Hofbräuhaus in Munich, probably because it was fashioned to look that way with German banners, icons, and flags winding their way above your head.
Every so often the entertainment in this hall will corral everyone into a joint toast chanted in German. Whether you’re a regular or a first-time visitor to Hofbräuhaus, you’ll feel inclined to join in regardless of your ability to decipher what it is you’re actually toasting to.
There are other, smaller dining rooms that the restaurant will seat guests in during busier times, but if you want the full Hofbräuhaus experience, you’ll want to claim a spot in the main beerhall.
During the warmer months, you can kick back in the Biergarten that overlooks the Monongahela River and enjoy the more relaxed atmosphere of Pittsburgh’s own German Pub. The Biergarten has its own entrance below the main entrance of the restaurant and features its own bar, plenty of picnic tables for small and large parties, and theming that brings the German feel to guests sitting outside.
The Biergarten is great for those warm spring days and cool summer nights and offers the same food and drink menu as the restaurant part.
String lights wound through the trees and keg tables can be found throughout the area and are especially convenient for the upbeat, busy nightlife that finds its way here during the weekend and Oktoberfest.
For those who are not quite ready to take their meal down into the laidback setting of the biergarten, there is also an outdoor patio option that sits directly off of the main beerhall. The patio has heaters that make this seating area a perfect option for cooler weather in the spring and fall. The patio has that German-feel with beautiful murals and wooden outdoor tables & chairs.
No surprise- Hofbräuhaus has some pretty great beer options, even if you’re not a seasoned beer drinker. From their lightest beer, the Hefeweizen, to one of their darkest, the Dunkel, you can’t go wrong when ordering a draft. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll also appreciate that the German beers carry over into the food menu for items such as their beer cheese and Dunkel-Bourbon sauce.
During Oktoberfest you’ll be able to order the famous Hofbräuhaus Oktoberfest beer which is the perfect draft to welcome in the fall season.
Throughout the year you will also have the option to add seasonal flavors to your beer such as key lime in the summer, pumpkin in the fall, and cranberry in the winter. You server will know which flavors pair best with their beers.
If you’re an avid beer fan you can get a glimpse of the beer-making process as you enter the restaurant. Off to the right of the lobby you will find the room in which they make the beers that they serve in the restaurant. If you’re a huge beer fan, consider joining the Hofbräuhaus Stein Club which gets you your very own stein that is kept in a unique stein case in the restaurant lobby, discounts on drafts, and a few extra perks throughout the year such as free entrees and appetizers.
While the beer may be the highlight of Hofbräuhaus for some people, I continue to come back to this place mostly for the food.
If you’re an adventurous eater who is here to try all of the authentic German dishes, then you’re in luck: the menu features bratwurst and schnitzel galore! If you’re more like me and want familiar dishes with a German influence then you’re also in luck: potato soup, spätzle, and pretzel bun-topped sandwiches are also available.
My go-to dish when I come here is the Dunkel-bourbon chicken sandwich on a pretzel bun and beer cheese spätzle as my side. The sandwich features the Dunkel-bourbon sauce on a grilled chicken breast topped with provolone cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a sweet mayo. It’s a perfect blend of sweet and salty with the Dunkel sauce and crisp bacon. The beer cheese spätzle has the thick, ooey-gooey cheese made from Hofbräuhaus beer over small German-style noodles.
Other favorite dishes from my visits are the hot brown, which features ham, turkey, tomato, a potato pancake, and beer cheese, AKA an all-in-one German meal, and the Dunkel-bourbon salmon, featuring that same Dunkel-bourbon sauce you’ll find on the chicken sandwich.
Smaller plates and appetizers like the pretzels with beer cheese, potato pancakes with applesauce, and sauerkraut balls are also available and are a delicious way to start your meal.
Hofbräuhaus also knows how to properly end a meal- with a delicious-yet-unique dessert! The crème puff with its seasonal cream flavor, is my go-to especially when it features a raspberry filling. You can also order an apple strudel, cinnamon sugar pretzel with cream cheese icing, or Black Forest cake to fill your sweet tooth craving.
On Sundays you’ll have brunch as an option when dining at Hofbräuhaus and can enjoy menu items such as chicken & waffles, eggs Benedict, and seasonal mimosas. While the brunch menu items I’ve had are good, I choose to go with my main menu favorites since they can’t be found on other restaurant menus.
We can’t talk about Hofbräuhaus without featuring the ample entertainment offerings on a daily basis and for special celebrations such as Oktoberfest and New Year’s Eve. The main entertainer you will find in the beerhall is Steve Grkman who plays the accordion during lunch hours to add to the German atmosphere. At night featured bands & entertainers continue the German-style music and engagement for guests.
During Pittsburgh sporting events you’ll find fans gather here to cheer on their team together. For international soccer events you’ll also find a celebratory atmosphere for games and gathering. Food and drink specials are often offered for these events throughout the year depending on sports schedules.
In September Hofbräuhaus celebrates Oktoberfest with amped up entertainment schedules, special drink & food menu offerings, and lots of toasts to… well, I’m not really sure what we’re toasting to during this celebration but the two weekends of the German holiday makes you feel like you’re celebrating something special with your beer stein held high in the air.
For New Years Eve Hofbräuhaus goes all out with continuous entertainment up until midnight, champagne toasts, special menu items, and interactive games for willing guests to participate in. I rang in 2020 here and had a blast partying with other German-loving attendees. I even took part in a cowbell-ringing competition that landed me a special Hofbräuhaus t-shirt.
Whether you’re meeting up with friends, catching a sports game, or having brunch with family, Hofbräuhaus is a great choice for all occasions. The vast indoor and outdoor areas of the restaurant offer guests of all preferences and types to to dine in their element of choice. And German by ancestry or not, you’ll leave here with a new appreciation for Bavarian food, beer, music, and celebration.