Neighborhood Joint: Oktoberfest, All the Time
And yet there has been a resurgence in Bavarian fare. Following the success of Zum Schneider, which opened in 2000 in the East Village, beer-and-brat joints began appearing throughout the city (Radegast Hall & Biergarten in Williamsburg, Loreley on the Lower East Side, and Hofbräu Bierhaus in Midtown, to name a feather-hatted few). But to Heidelberg regulars, the original is still the best.
“I’ve been coming here since 1982 and eventually married a woman from Hanover,” said Kevin Conway, 59, a security engineer who was sitting at the bar and nursing a Warsteiner. “And now she loves it too.”
Ms. Matischak describes her clientele as generational: “We get grandkids, families, a real mix. With a great younger crowd that shows up on Fridays and Saturdays.”
The younger people seem to be enamored with its retro Bavarian-ski-lodge aesthetic.
“The first time I came here I kissed a girl,” said Natasha Dalanah, a 33-year-old radio executive. “You wouldn’t think that’d happen in a bar like Heidelberg, but it did.”
“You can feel the authenticity as soon as you enter the place,” said Seven Chaperon, 45, who was sipping Pinot Grigio on the patio. “And the food will transport you to another time.” Since Ms. Chaperon is a vegetarian, it was unclear if she was being ironic.
Most of the crowd were noshing on knackwurst (much of the meat at Heidelberg comes from a farm in Windham, N.Y., that Ms. Matischak owns). A number of them were drinking lager out of an oversize glass resembling a knee-high boot. (Note to newcomers: “Das Boot,” as the stein is called by regulars, requires a $60 deposit; you break it, you buy it.)
“The bartenders are friendly, but you better order something German-friendly!” said Samantha Judge Terrio, 31, while taking a long pull from her pint of Hofbrau. “Don’t order anything with spritzer in it, and enjoy the fact that it’s not a place for your typical Upper East Side stereotype.”
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