On my second day in Nuremberg, the sun was hot, but that wasn’t going to deter us from exploring the city. Our goal was to grab lunch and then take the train to Erlangen to board our Viking River Cruise. But first… lunch at the historic Heilig-Geist-Spital.
Heilig-Geist-Spital sits on bank of the Pegnitz river and has been in business for over 600 years! This historic restaurants sits on one side of the hospital, which was constructed between 1332-1339 and is now a retirement home. The restaurant was originally built as the refectory (dining room) of the city hospital, but now diners can enjoy traditional Franconian food and over 100 wines at this popular wine tavern.
After entering the restaurant, you can choose either to go up the steps and dine inside, where you can request one of the coveted tables with a river view or like us, choose to dine outside in the open courtyard.
Our server was dressed in a traditional German dirndl and was both patient and helpful with us as we casually perused the menus and asked for suggestions.
While the menu was large, here are what I believe to be the most important pages during my visit. Namely, the Franconian specialities page as well as the seasonal asparagus menu.
But first a beer! My beverage of choice was a Tucher Ürbrau beer, Karla opted for a glass of wine, while our two little Duerer friends (#meandmyduerer) cheered us on. Prost my little Duerer men. Prost!
Imagine my surprise and delight to discover I was in Germany during the height of asparagus season! I am super crazy about asparagus and to see white asparagus is a vegetarian’s idea of hitting the lottery. A sign that winter has drawn to a close is the beginning of the asparagus or “Spargelzeit” season. Asparagus or “spargel” is a vegetable enjoyed by Germans, especially during the many “Spargelfest” or asparagus festivals. Total national asparagus consumption per year is estimated at 70,000 tons. While green asparagus is common in North America, white asparagus is the norm in Germany and grows completely surrounded by soil, producing a white, slender, and delicate vegetable.
At Heilig-Geist-Spital, there was an entire menu dedicated to the joys of asparagus. Naturally, I had to indulge first in the asparagus cream soup (Spargelcremesuppe) followed by the asparagus salad with vinaigrette (Spargelsalat). I can honestly say that I would have eaten an entire pot of that soup as it was insanely good. I still dream about that soup! The salad was a plate of the largest white asparagus I’ve ever seen dressed in a light, sweet vinaigrette. It was more food than I could possibly finish and it was delicious.
TSG Tip: Did you know that asparagus season traditionally starts in May and ends on June 14th, St. John the Baptist’s Day, when one says: “Kirsche rot, Spargel tot” (cherry red, asparagus dead).
A Franconian specialty is the Nuremberg Bratwurst. Served in groups of six, eight, ten, or twelve with mustard or horseradish, you can’t visit Nuremberg without trying them. Karla opted for a plate of twelve served with hearty German bread, mustard, and sauerkraut. These small finger sized sausage are the size of breakfast sausages and are super popular. But why are they so small? Tourism Nuremberg has one possible answer:
In the Middle Ages, the pubs (and the gates in the city wall) were required to close early. The legend says that Nuremberg innkeepers found the sausages practical, because they were small enough to fit through a keyhole … so they could even feed guests who were locked out at night.
You won’t have to purchase sausage through a keyhole if you visit Nuremberg — I can promise you that. But I do recommend paying a visit to Heilig-Geist-Spital for great views, a relaxed and authentic Franconian meal, and great beer while being surrounded by hundreds of years of history.
90403 Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany
*While Tourism Nuremberg generously provided me with information and my accommodations during my stay in Nuremberg, all opinions and photographs are my own.*