TNT Diner

Beers, brats and wiener dogs at Oktoberfest Northwest this weekend

Beers, brats and … wiener dogs?

Yes, that really is the signature lineup for Oktoberfest Northwest, a Puyallup festival full of German grub and glug.

Now in its 10th year, this weekend’s festival is not just about food and beer, although those are pretty central to the three-day event modeled after Munich’s Oktoberfest.

There’s also running — lots of it — for dogs and people. The 5-kilometer Stein Dash begins at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, right before the wiener dog races. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve seen the Oktoberfest wiener dog costume contest. Trust me on that.

Musical acts will cycle through the weekend. Here’s one performer not to miss — not that you could because she’s 6-foot-2. Manuela Horn will yodel her way around Oktoberfest with performances on stage, as well as from a giant swing overlooking the beer hall.

She’s a past contestant on America’s Got Talent and once hosted her own children’s television show. At nearly 7 feet tall in heels, she earns her self-proclaimed title of Austrian amazon.

Did I mention beer? As with all things Oktoberfest, there will be plenty of that — and taxi service to get attendees home safely.

On the brew menu find Trumer Pils, Warsteiner Dunkel, Warsteiner Oktoberfest, Hacker-Pschorr Weiss, Hofbrau Oktoberfest and a local beer, Snoqualmie Harvest Moon. Wine drinkers will find wines from Washington Hills.

The South Sound is notoriously short on German restaurants, which is why you won’t want to miss out on the food. A half dozen pop-up restaurants will serve authentic German eats ranging from stuffed buns to schnitzel plates. With full meals priced at $10 and jumbo bratwurst at $6-$7, you get more value here than at most festivals of this kind.

Here’s something restaurant watchers should note: Pierce County’s only full-service German restaurant (not counting Lakewood’s Hess Deli and Bakery or neighboring German Pastry Shop), Bruno’s European Restaurant in Parkland, will cook at the event. In the kitchen will be Bruno and Krystyna Tomaszewska, owners of Bruno’s. The booth next door to Bruno’s? That will hold Greg and Maria Goch, the son and daughter-in-law of Krystyna Tomaszewska, and the owners of Europa Cafe in Enumclaw, a restaurant they’ve owned for five years (in various locations). Those two booths are ones where you’ll want to stop and eat — trust my gullet on that one.

Here are the menus for the four restaurants and the bakery serving at this year’s festival:

Bruno’s: I rated their potato latkes high last year, and they’ll return this year, along with the restaurant’s famous cabbage rolls, currywurst and bratwurst. New on the menu from Bruno’s will be pyzy, potato dumplings with sauerkraut; Bavarian schweinshaxe (pork shank) with potato salad and red cabbage; and schweinebraten (roast pork) with potato salad and red cabbage. Prices range from $6.50-$10 for sandwiches or plates.

Europa Cafe: Find bierocks, also known as runza, at Europa Cafe, which is making its debut at this year’s Oktoberfest. The baked rolls, pronounced bee-rock, are stuffed with meat and cabbage. The restaurant’s specialty, beef goulash, will be served by the bowl. Laberkase, also known as German meatloaf, will be served as a plated meal as will a pork schnitzel sandwich. Prices here range from $5 for bierocks to $10 for the dinner plates.

Gutes Essen Haus: This restaurant’s pork schnitzel plate with warm German potato salad and sweet-sour cabbage has topped my favorites list the last two Oktoberfests. The plate returns again this year along with a schnitzel sandwich, grilled bratwurst and homemade apple fritters. Prices last year ranged from $5 for fritters, $8 for sandwiches and $10 for plates.

Ziegler’s: This festival mainstay will return with a menu of brats and curly fries. Last year’s prices ranged from $5-$7.

Kringles Bakery: This is the first Oktoberfest for the three-year-old Redmond-based bakery that specializes in the German apple pastry called kringle. They’ll also serve German pretzels, pumpkin scones and pretzel strudel-topped brownies.

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