On Tuesday, January 3, 2006, Allan and I visited [for the last time], the famed Loop German restaurant, Berghoff. We just had to go have lunch there because we had just read that it is closing forever on February 28.
Today I learned that Berghoff is open now as 17/West [December 28,2006.
We had to stand in line outside in the cold for about 15 minutes, but we took that opportunity to soak up the ambiance, peruse the menru posted outside, and to relish, for the final time, the almost extinct family-owned restaunts in Chicago's Loop.
Berghoff is 107 year old. Today, Herman and Jan Berghoff own and operate this German-style restaurant that Chicago families have loved so much. Herman is now 70 and has worked in the restaurant since 1952. It was his grandfather who founded it. Fortunately, the Berghoff family did not put this priceless place on the market because their daughter, Carlyn Berghoff, plans to move her catering company [Artistic Events] to this location. She will rename the bar, calling it 17 West at The Berghoff. She also plans to reopen the adjoining cafe; however, the restaurant will be used for private, catered events only.
We discovered that Berghoff's was the first Chicago establishment to be given a liquor license after Prohibition ended.The "men-only" bar tradition ended in 1969 because seven women from the National Organization for Women demanded it.
We enjoyed this old-style restaurant, especially the black jacketed waiters, the multiple old photographs, the remarkably lovely wood throughout, and the enchanting old hanging lights.
I feel so sorry for all of us in Chicago, but I especially feel sorry for the 92 full-time employees.
Some of these waiters have worked here for 30+ years!
Favorite Dish: Berghoff's has its own beer, simply called Berghoffs. Although lines are long, it is run efficiently. We were given a two-person table next to the wall where we were able to see all the historical photographs. Next, we were give two kinds of rye bread with delicious butter. Words are insufficient to describe the breads. Allan ordered a hot corned beef sandwich, German potato salad and Apple Strudle for dessert...oh, yes, and two German beers! I had a toasted Ruben Sandwich [corn beef, swiss cheese, and sauer kraut. I never have Thousand Island dressing on it...spoils the taste in my estimation. This delicious sandwich was served with Berghoff Chips [homemade potato chips]. For dessert, I had German Chocolate Cake with a dab of whipped cream.
An added benefit to our visit was the beautiful Christmas Decorations and enormous Christmas Tree.
What a marvelous afternoon we spent at Berghoffs and then a visit to the bar with its enormous stand-up bar. A real "treat" that will not be ours to savor again. How sad for us; how sad for Chicago.
2nd photo is stained glass inside the Berghoff.
3rd photo is at our table as Allan looks at the menu. Note lighting and beautiful wood.
4th photo was taken while looking into the main dining room with Christmas tree.
5th photo is of the attached bar. Note the size of this mammoth stand-up bar at Berghoff.
Berghoff, the oldest restaurant in Chicago, closed it's doors for good on February 2006!!!! Well, not really, after a short stint as 17 West, the owners quietly reopened Berghoff's, rumors at the time the original restaurant shut was that they no longer wanted to pay union wages to their waiters. So perhaps the plan was to wait just long enough.
Berghoff's website says that at the time of it's closing, it was the oldest restaurant in Chicago, opened in 1898. It held Chicago liquor license #1, the first one issued after Prohibition ended and served its own brand of beer. It was a Chicago institution at the time it closed, now that it is reopened, I haven't been back and likely won't, there are much better German options out in the neighborhoods like Laschet's or Chicago Brauhaus.
Have a look at the reviews on Yelp, under both Berghoff Cafe and Berghoff Restaurant, if you are interested in dining here, a lot of Chicagoans were pretty ticked off about what now appears to be a ploy to avoid paying union wages. And quite honestly, I never thought the food was good enough to deserve the hype and the long lines. Plus those gruff crabby old waiters were part of the charm. I assume those lines are now gone, I never see anyone recommending this as a place to eat anymore.
Saw the old-fashioned neon signage outside and walked over to gaze at the menu. Seeing all the German dishes on such a cold Chicago day, we decided to give it a try. It was the day of the St. Patrick's parade, so there was a sea of people, but it only took about 10 minutes to be seated.
Wonderful, warm restaurant with lots of wood. The place is loud, without being obnoxious - it sounds like FUN. Glasses clinking, people laughing - not at all stuffy.
Prices were good, portions were large, service was friendly and quick, yet we never felt rushed. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and would return in a heartbeat.
Favorite Dish: I had the Wild Mushroom Ravioli which was lightly savory and very tasty - and surprisingly filling! My companion had the Lamb Stew and Soda Bread, which she loved, but was a little too spicy for my taste. We shared the Dark Chocolate Dome Terrine - OMG! It was so good, we would have licked the plate had we not been in such a nice restaurant! :-)
The Berghoff, founded in 1898 by the Berghoff brothers, is a Chicago institution. It was originally a bar serving beer for a nickel and sandwiches for free, but during prohibition, couldn't rely on beer sales alone and expanded to a full-service restaurant.
The Berghoff is known for it's beers and 14-year-old Kentucky Bourbon, and was the first restaurant in Chicago to obtain a liquor license after the end of prohibition.
As this was in spitting distance from our hotel I wanted to pay it a visit, they have a cafe menu for lunchtimes which is reasonable priced but we never seemed to be in the area for lunches 11-2.30pm. Also they close early in the evenings catering more to an city clientelle 4pm - 9pm or 10pm Fri & Saturday closed on sunday.
We did finally get to have a dinner here and after hearing it is best to order the german fare as its very well done thats exactly what I did. I ordered the classic Rahm schnitzel with mushroom, tomato and sour cream and Sandy ordered Sauerbraten both were delicious and edible size portions.
One of chicago's oldest bars now a restaurant survived the prohabition selling near-beer & Bergo soda pop
The Berghoff is Chicago's oldest restaurant which was opened in 1898. Now called the Berghoff Cafe, the dining environment is very romantic and relaxing. The food is a German style; they serve authentic dishes like Weiner Schnitzel and Sausage Trio (see pictures). The portions are a little small for me and the dishes are on the expensive side (~ $15 to $20). But it is a wonderful dining experience and the service is excellent.
The main restaurant of Berghoffs is closed.
The bar will reopen under another name and the cafe will remain open, but the old panelled dining room will become a space for private catered parties.
You miss German food and beer? You want to get service on the grumpy side? This is the place.
Favorite Dish: The pictured salmon dish was typically Berghoff -- fruit yes, but check out the sauce!
After over 100 years (and having borne the distinction of receiving the first Chicago liquor licence granted after the repeal of prohibition in 1933), this venerable institution has closed its doors as of February 28, 2006. Many items and memorabilia were featued in an auction held on March 4th (more info from website likn below):
After you've had your fill of the native Chicago delicacies (hot dogs, deep-dish pizza, beef sandwiches - with that side order of 'cheezy-fries'), the authenitc German cuisine and atmosphere here offers a quick cure for 'Euro-homesickness.'
They're also famous for their brand of beer of the same name (and we all know how much VT-ers likes their 'suds').
Favorite Dish: This place was among the most frequently listed on the Chicago (downtown area) restaurant pages by VT-ers. A quick web search on "Berghoff + Chicago" lists many reviews, and an online 'guest book' :
A Chicago landmark, this place offers German food as its signature! Oh, but it also has a bar with some of their own Berghoff Beer (and rootbeer) which is quite good (rootbeer too). Anyway, I didn't actually eat here, but I had a beer here, and the atmosphere is nice, with Christmas lights strung around the place!
A perennial tourist favorite, the Berghoff
I'm not sure whether this should be under 'Restaurants' or 'Must See' activities. The Berghoff is a Chicago institution. Located in the heart of the Loop (the center of the city), it has been here for over a century, making it one of the oldest in town. There are two very large dining halls with abrupt waiters (part of the place's ostensible charm) serving standard German fare. If you like creamed spinach, this is THE place for it. They even brew their own beer! (And they'll sell you the steins they serve it in, I'm sorry to report, along with golf shirts, sweatshirts....) Comfortable, casual, moderately priced. Very popular with tourists because of its reputation, its location, and its prices. Be prepared to wait, but because the place is so large, the line moves quickly.
Favorite Dish: Sauerbraten
A landmark German restaurant downtown. Don’t expect too many surprises here, just the traditional German cuisine. The prices are reasonable as well. I’m not sure if this place beats the Brauhaus in Ravenswood but it is definitely more centrally located.
I'm just loading pictures and place holders until I can get back and add some text. Come back in November and see what's been added.