Bavaria is the city in which to knuckle down and eat, writes Ute Junker.
Munich isn't a great destination for vegetarians. A good meal in Munich, by definition, includes large amounts of meat, preferably with a generous portion of potatoes as a side serve. That doesn't mean the cuisine is monotonous; on the contrary, Bavarians have turned the creation of meat meals into an art form, with specialities including schweinshaxe (a grilled pork joint) and the delicious sauerbraten, which is slow-cooked beef in a vinegar marinade that leaves a pleasantly sour taste on the tongue.
The local drop
What else can you drink in the home of the Oktoberfest except beer? The most popular beer is helles, a pale, malty lager, although the more traditional darker dunkles and wheat beer (weizen) are also popular. In cold weather, locals head for the bierkeller; in summer, it's the outdoor ambience of the bier garten. For a true Munich experience, try the massive Augustiner Keller (Arnulfstrasse 52, +49 89 59 43 93) which comes complete with a playground for the kids and which, despite having seating for 5000, is packed on summer evenings.
Plenty of bierkeller rely on the tourist crowds. So, if you want a genuine local experience, head for the town hall, which is also home to the wonderfully atmospheric Ratskeller, complete with beamed, vaulted ceilings covered in frescoes. Don't be put off by the English-language menu (with pictures, no less). The food is good classic Bavarian cuisine - try the jagerlendchen (pork loin with mushroom sauce). 8 Marienplatz, +49 89 21 99 890.
If your inner carnivore has been sated, head for Austernkeller near the Isartor. Ignore the slightly kitschy decor; what keeps foodies coming back is the seafood menu, which has items ranging from sea snails to swordfish medallions in herb vinaigrette and the specialty of the house: the freshest oysters in town. Stollbergstrasse 11, +49 89 29 87 87.
The funky Cafe Mozart near the Sendlinger Tor is a great place to hang out over a coffee or a cocktail, but it's even better if you're hungry. Its tasty wiener schnitzel may be the largest serve available anywhere on the planet. It's easy on the wallet, too. Pettenkoferstrasse 2, +49 89 59 41 90.
One of the secrets Germans like to keep to themselves is their gourmet restaurants - France is the only country to have more Michelin-starred eateries. Tantris is one of the country's best fine-dining experiences. In addition to delicious dishes such as beef cheeks served with leek puree, its sexy Asian-inflected decor and superb service make any night here a night to remember. 7 Johann-Fichte-Strasse, +49 89+ 36 19 590.
The Viktualien Market, Munich's gorgeous open-air food market. Centrally located just behind the Marienplatz, locals come here to pick up fresh food and vegetables, cheeses, smoked meats, seafood and sushi, as well as traditional specialities. (Horse meat, anyone?) Grab a meal from one of the vendors and enjoy it outdoors in the sunny square.
Don't leave without trying
A sausage or two. Germans are proud of their sausage making and many of the best are from Bavaria. The small, spicy nurnbergers are always popular but Munich's favourite sausage is the mild veal weisswurst, which is traditionally eaten before noon.