Friends who stumbled into Wunderbar reported dreamlike tales of delicious grilled bratwurst, tasty taps and enormous 1 liter biers served in glass boots.
Needless to say, I was intrigued. So I finally decided to make the long trek out to the far Western reaches of LIC to see what all the fuss was about.
I was happy to discover that Wunderbar is indeed one of the neighborhood’s coolest hidden gems. It’s an inviting oasis in a desert of city side streets, right down to the refreshing exterior, which is painted a vibrant hue of sea blue.
Inside, there’s very little pretense and loads of character. Long communal tables and chairs are as abundant as the beers on tap. The cheery gold walls are adorned with kitschy artwork, German flags, Octoberfest paraphernalia and a couple of TVs for thirsty sports enthusiasts. There’s even a makeshift stage where local bands and Alpine Squeeze (a German polka group) frequently play.
A handful of regulars can be found hanging out near the bar, but it’s rarely crowded and, well, that’s largely part of Wunderbar’s appeal. It’s winter’s answer to the beer garden: a cozy, one-of-a-kind place where you can spend all day sampling great beers and food in warmth and comfort.
From Hofhrauhaus dunkel stout to Radeberger pilsner to Weihenstephaner hefeweiss, the beer offerings are plentiful and, of course, all German.
A “small guy” 1/2 liter will only set you back $6 (or, if you’re brave, $15 for the 1 1/2 liter beer stein known as “bunch of guys”). There’s also an impressive selection of bottled brews and wine, as well as a few German specialty drinks including the Diesel, a daring concoction of dark beer and Pepsi. You can also sip your drink from the aforementioned boot for $11 (and a pricey deposit).
If you’re looking to nosh while you drink, you certainly won’t be disappointed with the tasty (and surprisingly authentic) German fare. You can grab a big pretzel and a side of sauerkraut and red cabbage or try something a little heartier from the sizable menu, which offers up ten types of grilled and boiled wursts (the beef and pork currywurst is especially delightful) and everything from schnitzel to hot grilled leberkaese sandwiches to German herring. Don’t leave without sampling the amazing cheese spaetzle with bacon and ham, which his is creamy and downright divine.
And don’t wait until Octoberfest to check out Wunderbar. It’s a fun, laidback and truly unique addition (alternative, even) to the often overcrowded, overhyped local “beirhaus” scene and has quickly become one of my favorite go-to winter watering holes. I’ll gladly raise a boot to that!
Wunderbar German Grill and Beirhaus
37-10 11th St.