The area’s largest beer hall opens Friday (Oct. 7) in Puyallup.
And then, sadly, it closes Sunday.
“Giant German beer hall” is the theme of Oktoberfest Northwest, a three-day gathering of all things German beer, food and entertainment at the Washington State Fair Events Center.
For beer drinkers, there will be Trumer Pils, Warsteiner Oktoberfest, Hacker-Pschorr Weisse (and more). There will also be a taxi stand for those who indulge.
German food lovers, prepare yourselves for schweinebraten, schnitzel and bratwurst. This is a three-napkin affair built for sharing. Bring friends. And your lederhosen.
And then there is the entertainment. It includes the Austrian Amazon, Manuela Horn, who will headline shows Friday and Saturday, and a steady lineup of dancers and musicians. And highlights every year are the wiener dog races Sunday.
Here’s a closer look at what’s happening this weekend.
Can’t make it to Oktoberfest? Read below about how to design your own Oktoberfest at local restaurants with German-themed dinners.
Plastic glasses of beer are $6 each and include six choices: Trumer Pils, Warsteiner Oktoberfest, Hacker-Pschorr Weisse, Hofbrau Oktoberfest, Paulaner Oktoberfest and Warsteiner Dunkel. There’s also cider, wine and non-alcoholic root beer and other beverages. Festival steins are $15-$25.
German food can be difficult to find in the area, which is why I look forward to eating my way through the festival. Included are last year’s prices. Some restaurant vendors are cash only.
Bruno’s European Restaurant: The Lakewood-based German/European restaurant will once again serve my festival favorite, Bruno Tomaszewska’s schweinebraten, which is pork roast with mashed potatoes and braised green cabbage. The restaurant’s latkes (potato pancakes), and cabbage rolls with tomato sauce and potatoes will be served, along with bratwurst or currywurst on a bun. Pickle soup comes with a roll. Co-owner Krystyna Tomaszewska said to save room for one item. “The new item is the crème horn (alphorn), very good, made the traditional German way,” she added. Prices: $5 for soup, $7 for brats and $10 for plated meals.
Gutes Essen Haus: Ken Moriarty has served at the festival since its first year. His schnitzel is a reliably good dish I order every year. He coats a pork cutlet in a crunchy, well-seasoned jacket topped with a ladle of beef gravy, a side of vinegar-tinged red cabbage and his secret weapon, a warm German potato salad. “It’s a sweet and acidic style sauce with vinegar, and with lots of bacon in it,” said Moriarty. Also on the menu are a schnitzel sandwich, bratwurst, fries and one of the best desserts at the festival, fried-to-order apple fritters. Prices: $5 for fritters, $7 for sandwiches, $10 for plated meals. He also runs the pretzel booth.
European Deli/Crepe Chalet: Reuben sandwiches built on marble rye and stroganoff will be served at this booth run by Ernie Carlson. Crepes are his real specialty. His black forest ham crepe is a best-seller, but he’ll also make a chicken-artichoke crepe and a vegetarian crepe. He has sweet crepes, too. “We’ll do a strawberry, an apple, a banana and a Nutella crepe, and a turtle crepe (with caramel, chocolate and pecans). On the lighter side, we’ll have a cinnamon sugar crepe and a lemon crepe,” he said. Prices: $5-$8.50.
La Waffletz and Macaron Station: This festival newcomer is a local waffle restaurant located inside Tacoma’s Freighthouse Square. Husband-wife owners Roger Martinho and Mirtha Sanchez will serve their French pastries, macarons. They’ll also serve a few versions of Belgian waffles.
Ziegler’s: Bratwurst, spicy bratwurst, wiener or a Polish dog on a bun with curly fries. Prices: $6-$9.
Kaleenka Piroshky: Fried piroshki, both savory and sweet: beef and cheddar, salmon, vegetable, apple. Prices: $6-9.
In addition to Manuela Horn’s shows, there will be dancers, at least two polka bands and a number of other live bands. At the back of the hall, there’s a store selling German swag. There’s also the wacky game Hammerschlagen, as well as the stein-holding contest, costume contest, the corn-hole toss and holey boards. The wiener dog races start at noon Sunday. There will be activities for kids, too.
DESIGN YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
Two restaurants host occasional German nights. Here are details.
Spring Lake Cafe: The food is so labor-intensive that it takes Scott Clement two days to prepare for the German nights at his Fircrest restaurant. He features a German dish or two every Saturday, but also hosts a monthly Saturday German takeover night featuring five or six German items.
This year, on Oct. 15, 22 and 29, he’ll host additional German-themed dinners. Those nights feature seatings at 4, 5:30 and 7 p.m. (yes, you should make reservations).
The menu changes, but will include beef rouladen, pork or veal schnitzel, poached salmon with hollandaise; sauerbraten; smoked pork chops and sometimes schweinebraten. Dishes come with sides that include house-made spaetzle, cabbage or fried potatoes. Dinners are priced $16.95-$18.95, and an accordion musician provides entertainment. The restaurant recently picked up a liquor license, so this October’s diners will have the option of beer for the first time. 616 Regents Blvd., Fircrest; 253-460-0919, facebook.com/springlakecafe.
Browns Point Diner: For years, Tanja Leek hosted German dinners a few Wednesday nights a month at her Northeast Tacoma restaurant, but she scaled back after she expanded her restaurant and added a bar. Here’s the good news: German night is returning Wednesday. She’s also considering continuing the German plated dinners on a monthly basis. On Wednesday, she’ll serve pork schnitzel with potato cakes and jaeger schnitzel with mushroom gravy. She’ll also have red cabbage as a side dish. Plated dinners are $14.95 and last until they run out. 6620 East Side Drive NE, Tacoma; 253-952-3743, brownspointdiner.com.
Where: Washington State Fair Events Center, 110 Ninth Ave. SW, Puyallup.
When: Noon-midnight Friday (Oct. 7); 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets: $12 Friday and Saturday; $6 Sunday. Free admission noon-3 p.m. Friday. Free parking.
Children: 12 and younger free all weekend; children welcome until 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and all day Sunday.
Info: 425-295-3262, oktoberfestnw.com.