The folks in Cologne are fiercely proud of their food. Ask anyone for best Cologne restaurants recommendations, and you'll receive a generous list of at least 5 or 6 restaurants, dishes you must try, along with their favorite Kölsch brewery.
Indeed, Cologne is home to a colorful restaurant scene, serving up true German classics that we know and love, as well as many other global cuisines from Chinese to Lebanese.
Best Local Food in Cologne
Brauhaus zur Malzmühle
Over here, Colognians simply refer to it as Malzmühle, one of Cologne's oldest traditional breweries. Its been serving up traditional Cologne cuisine and Kölsch beer since the 1850s and has even survived World War II.
Many Cologne residents frequent the brewery, making it the perfect place to get the real Cologne experience. AND if the locals love it, you know you'll get *legit* Cologne fare.
The menu features classic Rhineland dishes like Sauerbraten, pork knuckle, and hearty potato dumplings. The beer is also said to be "is one of the best that Cologne has to offer"!
Address: Heumarkt 6, 50667 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Thursday, from 4 pm - midnight
Friday, from 3 pm - 1 am
Saturday, from 12 pm - 1 am
Sundays and public holidays, from 12 pm - 11 pm
Bei Oma Kleinmann
The name Bei Oma Kleinmann comes up a lot when searching for good German food in Cologne, and for a good reason.
They're best known for their big, honking schnitzels, so insanely delicious that you'll get angry when you start to feel full.
I mean it, these schnitzels are large enough to send you into a blissful "food coma" - so don't plan to head to the clubs after.
The hearty portions reminds me of eating at grandma's house (hence the name, which means "At Grandma Kleinmann's") so don't expect anything too fancy.
The restaurant's atmosphere is relaxed and warm, just the way it should be.
It's no surprise Bei Oma Kleinmann's one of the most highly-recommended restaurants in Cologne! 
Address: Zülpicher Str. 9, 50674 Köln, Germany
Opens Tue, Wed, Thu, & Sun, from 5:00 pm - 12:00 am
Fri & Sat, from 5.00 pm - 1.00 am
The chefs at Hanse Stube have perfected the art of combining French cuisine with Rhineland produce.
Perfect for special occasions, this Michelin-starred restaurant is tucked away in the elegant Excelsior Hotel Ernst, opposite the Cologne Cathedral.
The food has been described as "magic" and I can see why. From the amuse bouche to the best pralines I have ever tasted, every dish exceeded expectations.
A small detail, but something I liked was the pace. Their experienced team carefully watches how fast each person eats and makes sure the food doesn't come out too quickly or too late.
Address: Trankgasse 1, 50667 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Friday, from 12 pm - 2.30 pm and 6 pm - 10 pm
If you ask the locals for a place to enjoy Kölsch beer, chances are you'll hear "Päffgen!" recommended many times.
Located near Friesenplatz, this family-owned brewery is known locally for brewing one of the best Kölsch beer in Cologne. The food they serve is quite decent too. Good, straightforward fare that's unpretentious.
While you can purchase bottled Kölsch from other breweries, Päffgen Kölsch can only be drunk fresh from tap. Some locals actually purchase barrels of their Kölsch to takeaway!
Beware, they only accept CASH, so be prepared or risk having to hunt for an ATM.
Address: Friesenstraße 64-66, 50670 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday to Sunday, from 12 pm
Früh Am Dom
This Cologne brewery was founded over a century ago, in 1904, by Peter Josef Früh. Over the years, it's earned a reputation for being a quintessential meeting place for locals.
Although some may argue the Früh has become a little 'touristy' because of its popularity, I find it still captures the traditional Cologne spirit. Good food, great people, and superb Kölsch.
Conveniently situated right across from the Cologne Cathedral and near the train station, you can choose an outdoor table at the Früh to enjoy a nice view of the Dom.
They offer many traditional Cologne foods like Himmel und Äd and Kölsche Kaviar, and German staples like Knusprige Schweinehaxe (crispy pork knuckle) - amazing when paired with fried potatoes.
Address: Am Hof 12-18, 50667 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 11 am - 12 am
Best International Cuisine In Cologne
Die Fette Kuh: Best Burger Joint
For the best burger experience in Cologne, it has to be Die Fette Kuh, hands down.
Living up to their name, which translates to "the fat cow" in English, their beef patties taste like thick, juicy and buttery steaks fresh from the grill.
You may even need a fork and knife, because the portions are quite generous!
The beef patties are prepared daily from scratch, not from frozen, and I believe you can really taste the difference.
Lastly, Die Fette Kuh is not just a favorite among tourists; many Colognians frequent this burger joint (and that's the only stamp of quality you really need).
Address: Bonner Str. 43, 50677 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday to Sunday (Except Tuesday), from 12 pm - 10 pm
Kaizen: Best Sushi Restaurant
This sushi joint is located in a blink-and-you-miss-it part of Belgian Quarter, on the hip Lindenstraße, but is actually one of the best Japanese sushi restaurants in Cologne.
And it's easy to see why.
Their nigiris are prepared the traditional way - a generous slice of (very, very fresh) fish or seafood on a small hand-pressed bed of sushi rice... with just the right amount of soy sauce or wasabi.
So this isn't the all-you-can-eat sushi buffet type of sushi...
And what makes Kaizen even more special is their creative twists on Japanese dishes.
Such as Ebi Volcano Roll, a genius combi of deep-fried shrimp roll topped with spicy mayo and fish roe...
And top-seller Green Diamond Roll, which pairs tender salmon and creamy avocado, beautifully rolled in crunchy pistachio bits.
Address: Lindenstraße 67, 50674 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 12 - 2pm and 5 - 10pm
Ramen Bar Takezo: Best Ramen Restaurant
If you're looking for the best ramen in Cologne, head straight to Ramen Bar Takezo.
The restaurant takes great care in crafting its broths (boiled for over 10 hours!), noodles, and toppings to ensure the bowl of ramen you get closely mirrors what you'd find in Japan.
According to a glowing review, Takezo serves "the best ramen in Europe" thanks to their authentic broth, handmade ramen noodles and melt-in-your-mouth Chashu pork belly.
Another reason to keep coming back? Their generous portions and affordable prices.
Don't let the unassuming look of the restaurant mislead you, you won't regret giving Takezo a try!
Address: Mathiasstraße 24-26, 50676 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday to Saturday, from 11.30am to 9pm
Great Wall: Best Chinese Restaurant
To be more specific, Great Wall mainly serves dishes originating from China's Sichuan and Hunan provinces - which are known for really bold flavors.
Go here if you want authentic cuisine from those regions, NOT the kind tailored for the European palate.
I'm talking sizzling plates of Mapo Tofu featuring silky tofu cubes in spicy, oily sauce and fermented black beans...
Or famous Hunan specialties "chicken with chili peppers" and "fish head with chopped chili" - where the main ingredient is stir-fried with copious amounts of chili peppers.
If you're ready for real Chinese grub, you'll be heavily rewarded at the Great Wall.
This fantastic Chinese restaurant is located just a stone's throw away from Cologne Central Station.
Address: Komödienstraße 37, 50667 Köln, Germany
Opens Mon, Wed, Thu & Fri, from 11.30am - 3.00pm and 5.30pm - 10.30pm
Tue, from 5.30pm - 10.30pm
Sat & Sun, from 11.30 am - 10.30 pm
Ginti Indisches Restaurant: Best Indian Restaurant
Everything you love about Indian food; the luscious creamy gravies, tantalizingly spicy curries, warm slices of smokey naan, and succulent flavor-bomb meats... Ginti delivers.
Their specialty seems to be North Indian dishes, recognized for the use of the tandoor cooking method.
This uses charcoal fire in a clay oven, which imparts a smokey, slightly charred flavor that makes my mouth water just thinking about it...
Address: Händelstraße 33, 50674 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 11am - 11.45pm
Cafe Especial: Best Mexican Eatery
Cafe Especial is hard to miss, with its bright red awnings and chairs that seem to invite anyone passing by for a good time. It's also the place for some pretty authentic Mexican food in Cologne.
The first time my wife and I visited Cafe Especial, we were in the Deutz neighborhood.
We were feeling thirsty and came in for a drink, but ended up staying for lunch after smelling the aroma of sizzling meats and freshly toasted tortillas.
Each table got a free nachos basket, and we ordered the dishes we'd spotted others getting: the Chili Colorado and Mexican Wrap.
By the time we were done with our meal, we knew we had stumbled upon something special. Now Cafe Especial is our go-to for Mexican food cravings (although I wish prices were friendlier)!
Address: Neuhöfferstraße 32, 50679 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 12pm - 12am
Gangnamstyle Korean BBQ • Bulgogi • Bar: Best Korean Food
Gangnamstyle Korean BBQ has been called a "paradise for Korean food lovers" and the large crowds speak for themselves, the place is as packed as a bear's den.
With its upbeat atmosphere, you'll feel like you're dining in Seoul's popular Gangnam district!
While they serve a large variety of Korean dishes such as Bibimbab and Fried Chicken in Honey Garlic Sauce, the star has to be the Korean BBQ.
Portions are generous for only 19.90€ per person. Fresh cuts of perfectly marinated meat are presented and a large (very hot) cast-iron grill on a portable stove is placed in front of you.
Here, you're the chef and it's up to you to grill each piece to your perfection.
Once the meat is ready, you scoop it up and pair it with a spoonful of warm, fluffy rice. Each bite is to-die-for; smoky, savory, and slightly sweet that hits all the right spots.
It's enough to want to come back the next day... so consider yourself warned!
Gangnamstyle Korean BBQ • Bulgogi • Bar consistently tops the list of top Asian food spots in the city, and has been called the top place for the best Korean food.
Address: Thurnmarkt 7, 50676 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 5pm - 10.30pm
Caruso Pastabar: Best Italian Food
It's not possible to forget a meal at CARUSO Pastabar. This beloved Italian restaurant now has a new home in Cologne's Kasparstraße, and is a tiny, family-run place that serves pasta dishes prepared with attention and love.
It's also a Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand restaurant.
Their pasta, made by hand, is arguably the best in Cologne. Our top choices are the fusilli pasta with ox cheeks, and the Tajarin al Nero (squid ink pasta with seafood).
I always order the burrata too. It's consistently fresh and pairs perfectly with the sweet and smoky peperonata peppers.
However, given CARUSO's popularity, booking a table in advance is a must, sometimes even a few weeks ahead if needed.
Address: Kasparstraße 19, 50670 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Saturday, from 6pm - 11pm.
Best Breakfast Places In Cologne
Café Schmitz: Best Breakfast Spot
Cafe Schmitz is a cherished neighborhood cafe near the Hansaring and Ebertplatz stops, perfect for breakfast in Cologne.
Unlike other cafes, their offerings lean more towards the traditional German breakfast style; cheese, cold cuts, hard-boiled egg, bread rolls, and fresh vegetables.
That said, their menu is pretty extensive, and you'll definitely find something you like. Think from buttery croissants to fluffy French toasts, stacks of pancakes to hearty scrambled eggs paired with crispy bacon, muesli, freshly-pressed orange juice...
So your breakfast may not be Instagram-worthy, but it makes up for it in flavor.
I like that Café Schmitz gives a glimpse of ordinary breakfast life and people in Cologne.
You'll notice a mix of local patrons; some engrossed in newspapers, others popping in and out for a quick bite, while many slowly sipping coffee and enjoying the street view through the cafe's panoramic windows...
Address: Hansaring 98, 50670 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 9am - 12am.
The Coffee Gang: Best Coffee
While they also serve cakes, the coffee at The Coffee Gang is exceptional. I can honestly say their flat white is one of the best I've had - creamy, well-rounded and hitting all the right notes.
Their baked goods are made fresh too.
Whether it's a small flaky croissant for breakfast or a slice of peanut butter blondie for Kaffee und Kuchen, everything is mind-blowingly delicious.
(Oh, try the cheesecake. You'll thank me later.)
If you're in the Zülpicher Platz area, I highly recommend stopping by The Coffee Gang.
Address: Hohenstaufenring 19, 50674 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Friday, from 8am - 6pm
Saturday & Sunday, from 10am - 6pm
Vegan And Vegetarian Options In Cologne
Try The Creative Vegan Dishes At Trash Chic
This vegan eatery looks just as it sounds – edgy, unique, and brimming with character. The heavily-graffitied post box next to its entrance adds to its charm.
And their creative 100% vegan dishes are sure to impress even to non-vegan/vegetarians buds.
Classic comfort foods are given a vegan twist that rival their meaty counterparts - think vegan Schnitzels, meat-free gyro wrap and hearty plant-based burgers.
Located in a residential neighborhood, Trash Chic might be easily overlooked. However, tor those seeking vegan or vegetarian dining options in Cologne, it's a must-visit spot.
Address: Wiersbergstraße 31, 51103 Köln, Germany
Opens Tuesday - Sunday, from 5pm - 10pm
Vegetarian Menu At Mashery Hummus Kitchen
We had heard good things about Mashery from Isreali friends, and it didn't disappoint!
The highlight of Mashery is, of course, its hummus. They take great pride in crafting homemade creamy, flavorful hummus that warm up your soul.
Whether you prefer it classic or with various toppings like garlic mushrooms and toasted pine nuts, Greek Kalamata olives, or zhug (a Yemeni hot sauce) you're in for a treat.
The scoop of hummus comes with fresh, warm pita bread or just 1.50 euro per extra piece, which is a steal. Also don't forget to sample the complimentary pickles that they make in-house (look around the counter)!
Plus, each week there's a different surprise hummus-of-the-week, which is a delight to look forward to.
Address: Roonstraße 36, 50674 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Saturday, from 12pm - 10pm
Best Halal Restaurant In Cologne
Beirut Restaurant: Best Halal Dining Experience
I've heard that finding good halal food in Germany can be a bit of a challenge, especially when you're in a new country. Beirut Restaurant, however, is a hidden gem worth discovering.
They serve top-notch Lebanese cuisine cooked over a wood fire, but it's not exactly easy to stumble upon. It's located away from the typical tourist paths.
However, if you do manage to find it, the food is exceptional!
The shawarma is tender and flavorful with crispy corners, while the kafta (lamb meatballs) is perfectly seasoned. Worthy of its title as one of our top halal restaurants in Cologne.
But don't expect 5-star treatment. A seat in Beirut Restaurant feels like being in a bustling street market. Bumping elbows with someone else on the next table isn't uncommon.
I'd also recommend making a reservation in advance. Otherwise, you might encounter a short queue outside. And bring cash!
Address: Buttermarkt 3, 50667 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 12pm - 11.30pm
Best Cafe In Cologne
Hommage: Best Coffee And Cake
If you're in Cologne and looking for a quaint, casual coffee spot to enjoy delicious cakes and a rich cup of coffee, Hommage is the place to be.
First of all, their interior is as charming as it gets; you sit on seats repurposed from cable drums, old sewing machines, and even church pews.
Instead of a table number plate, we were handed a miniature toy horse when we ordered our drinks.
The star of the show here are the cakes. Generous, moist slices that sweetly complemented our coffee. We were honestly surprised at how good our caramel and chocolate cake tasted.
There are crepes, vegan nut bars and fruit bowls too.
One minor drawback is the payment - cash or PayPal only.
Address: Friesenstraße 73, 50670 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 8.30am - 6pm
ST. LOUIS Breakfast: Best Instagram-Worthy Brunch
Sometimes the eyes need to eat too, and this hip cafe is known for their perfectly-plated brunch dishes and beautiful cocktails. If you're looking to create an appetizing Instagram feed and keep your tummy happy too, this is the spot to go.
Located in Neustadt-Sud, this trendy cafe offers tempting breakfast options that look like they've been plucked from the pages of a gourmet cookbook...
Their fluffy Canadian-style pancakes come with a generous side of bacon and extra maple syrup (a home-run with my young boys)...
And the WTF Rösti with Hollandaise Sauce was equally scrumptious and colorful. They even do a decent Full English Breakfast.
Some might say prices are on the steep end, so it's up to you to decide if quality is worth the trip. I must say we left with the intention to return again, considering it a special treat worth every cent.
Address: Meister-Gerhard-Straße 30, 50674 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 9am - 5pm
Best Bars In Cologne
Weinhaus Brungs: Best Wine Bar & Restaurant
Weinhaus Brungs restaurant is considered to have one of the top wine bars in Cologne. Nestled in a quiet side street, mere minutes from the Cologne Cathedral, it's one of the few Cologne wine restaurants that isn't a tourist trap.
With roots that trace back to Roman times, the restaurant's cellar even has remnants of a Roman town wall. The 16th-century building has an old-world charm, featuring lots of wood and excellent acoustics, making it perfect for conversation.
Here, you'll find traditional dishes like Himmel & Äadd and Sauerbraten, along with some tasty vegetarian options such as Käsespätzle. Definitely try the massive pork knuckle - it's a real winner!
Every item on the menu is paired with a particular wine, and there's an impressive variety from Germany, Italy and France, including an large number of choices available by the glass.
Address: Marspl. 3-5, 50667 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 5pm - 12am
Sion Brauhaus: Best Beer And Brewery
If you're looking for the best beer and brewery experience, this microbrewery should be on your list! This family-owned establishment has been around since 1318 and offers some of the most delicious traditional Kölsch beers in town.
Being inside Sion Brauhaus feels like going back in time. The inside looks and feels cozy, with wooden interiors that exude a warm, rustic charm.
You'll get to see the traditional Köbes, dressed in their signature blue aprons, walk around balancing multiple glasses of Kölsch beer on their round trays.
They don't waste any time on formalities; instead, they will swiftly replace empty glasses with fresh ones without even asking if you wanted a refill.
That's the Kölsch way!
As one of the oldest breweries in Cologne, it is no surprise that Sion Brauhaus has become synonymous with traditional Kölsch beer and brewery.
Address: Unter Taschenmacher 5-7, 50667 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 12pm - 11pm
HELLERS Volksgarten: Best Beer Garden
If you're looking for an idyllic spot to enjoy a cold brew in Cologne, HELLERS Volksgarten is the perfect beer garden. Located in the popular green space of Volksgarten park, it's known as one of the most beautiful places to drink in the city. 
With views overlooking the pond and surrounded by natural beauty, many locals and tourists flock here. You even have the option to hire a pedal boat on the river, which is an excellent choice for families with kids and romantic couples!
But what really sets HELLERS apart is that they brew their own organic craft beer, from Wiess and Bock, to Kölsch. This means you can enjoy delicious, organic, freshly brewed beers that you can't find everywhere else in the city!
Address: Volksgartenstraße 27, 50677 Köln, Germany
Opens Monday - Sunday, from 11.30am
Best Romantic Restaurant In Cologne
Brasserie Capricorn (i) Aries
We discovered this brasserie through the Michelin guide, and had a great Saturday night feeling like we were the only two people in the world!
This romantic street corner restaurant in Cologne's Neustadt-Sud, awarded Bib Gourmand, is known for original, mouth-watering French brasserie classics like steak frites, soupe de poisson and duck confit.
The service here was also exceptional, with the staff's genuine love for what they do shining through as they took care of our every need. The attentive yet unobtrusive service also allowed us to focus on each other - something rare these days!
One thing to note, as we were settling our bill, was that the restaurant only accepts German debit cards or cash.
But other than that, if you're looking for the perfect romantic dining experience, Brasserie Capricorn (i) Aries won't disappoint!
Address: Alteburger Str. 31, 50678 Köln, Germany
Opens Tuesday - Saturday, from 6pm - 10pm
Insider Tips For Choosing The Best Restaurant In Cologne
Read Reviews And Check Menus
Many Cologne restaurants have official websites that display their menus, whether they cater to dietary preferences, and prices, so these details aren't difficult to find at all.
Online reviews are also readily available, which give you real details about the restaurant - the good, the bad and the ugly.
Looking at these details beforehand can give travelers an idea of what to expect from the restaurant, such as vibe, portion sizes, service and price range.
Consider Price And Dining Preferences
While Cologne has countless amazing dining options, some can be pricey, especially those found in touristy areas.
However, there are still plenty of value-for-money restaurants that are conveniently located, many of which are on this page.
To avoid exceeding your budget, verify the menu prices online before making a reservation, or before stepping into the restaurant.
Asking locals for recommendations within your budget is an excellent way to avoid overpriced tourist traps too. Some of the best-rated restaurants in Cologne include Malzmühle for traditional Cologne cuisine or Kaizen for sushi lovers.
Make Reservations In Advance
Rule number one of eating at a good restaurant in Cologne is to make reservations in advance. Many of the top-rated restaurants can fill up quickly, even on weekdays.
For example, it's highly recommended that you book a table as soon as possible for places like Brasserie Capricorn (i) Aries, Hanse Stube and Weinhaus Brungs.
Additionally, some popular spots like Beirut Restaurant and ST. LOUIS Breakfast often have long wait times without a reservation.
Ask Locals For Recommendations
I've been visiting Cologne for as long as I can remember, and I'm still learning about hidden gems and neighborhood spots from local friends.
These recommendations don't even show up on popular review sites or tourist guides.
Asking locals can also give you insight into what to order in Cologne - for instance, they might recommend must-try dishes like Kölsche Kaviar (made blood sausage) or Sauerbraten, a real Cologne classic made with wine-marinated beef.
Take Advantage Of Seasonal Festivals And Markets
It's your chance to sample special dishes that are common during that season or festival. Such as Pfannkuchen and Reibekuchen during Karneval, and Glühwein and Lebkuchen at a Christmas Market.
In the summer, visitors can enjoy street food at various outdoor festivals like Kölner Lichter or Rheinkultur.
Seasonal festivals and markets in Cologne aren't just about trying new foods; they're also a great way to steer clear of touristy spots.
Rather than heading to busy restaurants where tourists often gather, you can choose to visit less-known food stalls at these events. These hidden gems might serve up high-quality dishes at prices that won't break the bank.
- Cologne has a diverse and exceptional culinary scene, offering traditional German fare to trendy international cuisines.
- Some of the best local food in Cologne include Bei Oma Kleinmann's and Hanse Stube, while Weinhaus Brungs & Bar and Kaizen offer some of the best international cuisine options.
- There are plenty of vegan and vegetarian options available at Trash Chic or Mashery Hummus Kitchen, while Beirut Restaurant is the go-to spot for halal dining. Hommage is perfect for coffee and cake, while ST. LOUIS Breakfast is great for a photogenic brunch.
- Finally, Weinhaus Brungs offers an extensive selection of wines from around the world while Sion Brauhaus makes their own fantastic Kölsch making it one of the top bars in Cologne.
1: Bei Oma Kleinmann, retrieved from https://www.beiomakleinmann.de/
2: Bestes indisches Restaurant in Köln | GINTI RESTAURANT, retrieved from https://ginti.de/
3: Our beer garden in Cologne | Volksgarten | HELLERS, retrieved from https://www.hellers.koeln/en/volksgarten-hellers/