Break out the Dirndl dresses and Lederhosen and bring your hearty, meat-and-beer-loving appetite—and your sense of adventure. It’s time for Oktoberfest! The traditional German fall festival that celebrates Bavarian food, beer, and fun may have started in Munich 183 years ago—and continues to attract upwards of six million people to its annual celebration in the city!—but there are plenty of places to revel right here. We’ve gone up and down the coast to find the best spots to raise those beer steins. Prost!
If you want to take part in Oktoberfest festivities in Lake Tahoe, you’ll probably head straight for Himmel Haus. Recently named one of the 10 Best Bars and Watering Holes in the Lake Tahoe Area by USA Today and a nightly hotspot for its Open Mic Nights and Trivia Nights, the restaurant really comes alive at this time of year.
For Oktoberfest, they have new beers on drafts and are hosting their third annual Miss Oktoberfest Pageant on October 1.
Suppenküche isn’t just fun to say; it’s also fun to experience any time of year, with food and beer from all over Germany, but concentrated on Bavarian specialties. You’ll find wiener schnitzel, bratwurst, German potato salad, pretzels with Bavarian cheese plus an abundance of German beer. The restaurant has been rated Best German Food by San Francisco Weekly and one of the best bars in San Francisco by Sunset, among numerous other accolades.
Wirtshaus German Restaurant is known from its variety of specialty sausages, from smoked buffalo to duck bacon to wild boar to chicken schnitzel, and 35 different German beers. Every Friday and Saturday night during Oktoberfest, you can also enjoy live music, stein-holding contests, and free giveaways.
If you’re not able to make it out for Oktoberfest, you can still get your celebration on. The restaurant hosts a Bavarian Night on the first Saturday of every month, and, “It’s pretty much all the fun of Oktoberfest in one night,” they said, with “live traditional German music, food & drink specials, fully-costumed staff in Lederhosen and Dirndls and much more.”
L.A.’s Vegan Oktoberfest also bears mention, if only for the opportunity to see how some of LA’s top vegan food trucks pull off traditional German festival fare, which is typically a meatfest. The festival is being held on Saturday and Sunday, October 3–4 at L.A. Center Studios in downtown L.A.
What better time to partake in the Bratwurst that was voted the best in California than during Octoberfest? In what is maybe our favorite food review ever, the Orange County Register called the food at German restaurant Old World, “Das Bomb.” If you’re in the area, head to Old World’s Oktoberfest for what they call, “Orange County’s biggest party since 1977.” Not only can you fill your belly with traditional food and all the beer you can imagine, but dance the day and night away to live music featuring German bands, play games, and even take part in the Oktoberfest Parade on Sunday, September 25.
Old World also hosts a special family-friendly Oktoberfest event called Kinderfest, with dog races, carnival games, face painting, and a bouncy house, every Sunday during the festival through October 30.
Kaiserhof Restaurant has been voted “Best German Restaurant in San Diego” for 32 years in a row by San Diego Magazine readers, and with a menu that includes a variety with schnitzels and numerous types of German sausages, plus a Biergarten, it’s not hard to understand why.
For Oktoberfest festivities in San Diego, this is the spot to check out. Last year they kicked it off with a pig roast!