Missing the warm strudel and potato pancakes you enjoyed at German Park’s Oktoberfest? Put your passport away; there’s no need to head to the big bash in Munich when you can find German offerings all over the southside.Here, handmade sausages for tailgating, a sausage platter to pair with your favorite beer, a plate to share over 2 a.m. cocktails and where to find that apple strudel.
Claus’ German Sausage & Meats
Note to grill kings (and queens) for next summer: If you want the best brats in town for your Fourth of July cookout, be prepared to wait in a line 15 customers deep at Claus’ market, which closes each year just before the summer holiday and takes the typical European vacation of nearly a month off. But not to worry. The queue moves at lightning speed, with devoted regulars knowing exactly what they want and clerks deftly tossing three pounds of smoked bacon or five pounds of Nuernberger sausages over the counter, all wrapped in brown paper. The place for fish or fowl this is not (with the exception of smoked turkey). The market-sized case is filled with a carnivore’s paradise of hand-twisted, homemade sausages, every cut of beef and pork imaginable and lunchmeat options you won’t find anywhere else, like bierschinken, a bologna loaf filled with pressed ham. (Assorted dry goods like jars of pickled red cabbage, spaetzli and German farm rye bread are also available.) The old-school butcher shop is impressive, both for its wares and its storied history that spans more than 100 years as a family-owned business, formerly known as Klemm’s. Founder Karl Klemm is current owner Claus Muth’s great-uncle. Claus emigrated from Germany in 1996 after apprenticing in the meat trade and earning a master’s degree in sausage-making. He renamed the market in 2006 and moved it from its Buchanan Street location to just south of Fountain Square shortly thereafter, with the only change being the name and more parking — all the better to get in and out with your weekend’s worth of rib-eyes or kielbasa. 1845 Shelby St., Indianapolis, clausgermansausageandmeats.com.
The Brass Ring Lounge
Regulars like to refer to this Fountain Square fave as a dive bar, though we beg to differ, considering the man bun hairdos we’ve encountered there. But not to worry, non-hipsters: The crowd is refreshingly eclectic, with 20-somethings fresh from a concert at Radio Radio mingling with customers who can recall when they first saw the black-and-white movies playing on the bar’s TV sets. Brass Lounge also features a large selection of top-shelf specialty cocktails and better-than-typical bar cuisine like taco pizza and yellow curry — no greasy baskets of burgers here. You’ll also find a platter of Claus’ sausages served with cheeses and mustard under the Munchies menu, as well as a hot wrap dubbed the Fraulein, filled with a Claus’ bratwurst, sauerkraut, onion and spicy or honey mustard. We prefer the bar area, but the outside seating is a good spot to people-watch on a warm Indiana autumn night. Hip or not, leave your sunglasses at home — the bar is surprisingly dark, even at 4 p.m. — and bring a sweater for sitting on the patio until close at 3 a.m. 1245 Shelby St., Indianapolis, thebrassringlounge.com.
Oaken Barrel Brewing Co.
It’s only natural that a brewery should make the list; after all, Oktoberfest celebrations wouldn’t be the same without beer. Oaken Barrel, one of Greenwood’s first and oldest independent restaurants, is known for its award-winning beers along with a nouveau American menu that runs the gamut of flavors. You’ll find enchiladas, etouffee, an Asian salad and a Greek pizza listed alongside the all-American Cobb and a pork tenderloin sandwich as big as your head. Despite the already-impressive diversity of dining options, owner Kwang Casey decided there was still room for a few German additions. Bavarian pretzel sticks served with beer mustard and a spicy cheese sauce were added to the appetizer menu, and a sausage sampler platter (sausages sourced from Claus’) was tacked under the entrees. “We used to run the sampler as a special,” Casey says, “but it was so popular we put it on the menu three years ago.” The hefty entrée features bratwurst, knockwurst, kielbasa and Cajun sausage, first cooked in Oaken Barrel’s award-winning Indiana Amber lager (or during fall, the Oktoberfest, natch), then grilled to order and served with spicy beer mustard and heaping helpings of German potato salad and sauerkraut. 50 Airport Parkway, Greenwood, oakenbarrel.com.
You might find yourself humming the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein tune on your drive back to this southside staple. Located inside the German American Klub, Edelweiss is especially popular on Wednesday buffet nights. The menu changes frequently, but you’ll always find three of the restaurant’s popular entrees, such as pork schnitzel or German-smoked pork chops, plus a cold salad bar and three sides that might include green beans or German potato salad. Chef Nicole Harris says the buffet, at $14.95 ($12.95 if you’re a club member), is a popular choice, but not to worry if you head to Edelweiss for dinner another night (except Sunday or Monday, when it’s closed). The full menu covered with German phrases is filled with everything you’d find on the buffet and more, including potato pancakes and a platter-sized pretzel to rival the ones served at German Park’s Oktoberfest. Order the wiener schnitzel, which you’ll only find at one other Indy metro restaurant, but save room for the strudel. 8602 S. Meridian St., Indianapolis, indianapolisgak.com.
by Jennifer Uhl // Photography by Stacy Able
PICTURED: The Brass Ring Lounge