Best Restaurant in Plano – Awarded Best in USA – Press
Many race to grab a schnitzel at the Grill
Plano’s very own Bavarian Grill gained national attention for its good food, good service and down right good attitude.
It may be the bier steins hanging from wall to wall, the authentic German food or the waitresses running around in traditional Bavarian dresses. Bavarian Grill’s classic German entrees like schnitzel, sauerbraten, bratwurst and roasted ham hock are complemented by a selection of more than 50 imported beers.
They top it all off with nightly live music with a distinctly Bavarian vibe, and we like their sense of fun, which is not only visible during this Oktoberfest time, but all year long.”
Juergen Mahneke, Bavarian Grill owner, said he has maintained the same authentic feel since the restaurant’s inception in 1993.
“Being voted the best German restaurant in America is great,” Mahneke said. “It feels very good. From the beginning we wanted authentic German food and we will not compromise.”
Bavarian Grill also received the majority of positive judging forms from “undercover judges”, and they scored well with teams of expert judges who dined incognito at the highest scoring German restaurants.
“The goal of the annual competition is to recognize German restaurants that serve up a truly ethnic experience,” Bowyer said. “Millions of U.S. citizens trace their ancestry back to Germany. It’s only fitting that we celebrate restaurants that connect us with that heritage.”
Mahneke, who was born in Braunschwieg, Germany, said the majority of his guests have some type of German ancestry or have visited Germany. His bartenders maintain the authenticity of Germany by serving beer in steins and wearing Drind’l dresses, the authentic Bavarian dress worn to express culture.
“I love what I do,” Mahneke said. “I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
The restaurant’s menu includes food descriptions written in both German and English.
“Having the words in German brings back a lot of memories,” he said. “The English is a helping hand.”
Pick a schnitzel, any schnitzel. Plano’s gem, Bavarian Grill, which has offered fine German/Bavarian fare since 1993, is still totally worth the drive north. Their lightly pan-fried Rahm schnitzel with a light cream sauce is divine indulgence (the heavier, breaded Jäger schnitzel is also a crowd favorite). The rouladen (beef rolled and stuffed with onions, bacon and pickle spear) is a rich, filling and homey experience. And oh the Spätzle. The fresh pasta is a perfect counter to red cabbage and an excellent target for extra gravy. Bavarian Grill also offers a vegetarian menu (and it isn’t sparse) as well as nightly musical entertainment. If you can’t visit Germany, you can, at least, eat there…via Plano.
COME FOR THE WURST? You’re in luck: At Bavarian Grill, there’s plenty and it’s terrific. Order an entree plate of sausages – mix and match bratwurst, weisswurst, knackwurst, smoked brat and Nürnberger – or order the platter as an appetizer for the table and the kitchen will slice everything into nibbles.
COME FOR THE SCENE: That doesn’t disappoint, either. The Alpine decor charms without ever becoming Disney Bavaria. Waitresses sport dirndls and milkmaid braids; the male staff runs to shorts and suspenders. Images of the German countryside sigh from the walls, which are also decorated with charming plates and steins.
Steins at a German restaurant, of course, are no mere decoration. The staff will keep yours filled and busy, with toasts to every birthday in the house – and to the day of the week (“It’s Tuesday! Prosit!”). A stein club invites regulars to test their palates and expand their beer lists. More than a dozen brews, a thoughtful mix of lights and darks, are pumped from the taps nightly.
But the party isn’t just for adults: Kids are welcome and catered to by the staff.
MEAT OF THE MATTER: Jäger schnitzel is still the star of the menu – the pork is pounded, breaded, fried and served up so big it flops off the plate. The cornflake-crunchy breading is as flavorful and buttery as ever, but there’s still not enough of the yummy brown mushroom gravy to slather all of the meat.
Schweinebraten, Bavarian-style pork roast, was a hit at our table. The succulent meat is served up in a puddle of savory sauce, the precise reason that Gott im Himmel created caraway.
SEASONAL SPECIALS: Roast duck, a half-bird rendered crispy and delicately herbed, was a fall delight with a potato pancake and spring vegetables. On other platters, sides were uniformly generous, hearty and served at the right temperature: tart, al dente red cabbage; a bread dumpling that would make any Middle European kitchen proud; creamed spinach; and a lusty herbed potato salad served warm.
PARTY TIME: It’s possible to go to Bavarian Grill for a quiet evening, but why sit far away from that lively German music? The musician can stretch yodeling from art to parody – sometimes in the same chorus – and you’ll never think of the Sound of Music the same way again after you’ve heard the Elvis version of “Edelweiss.” You may hear the “Westphalia Waltz” played with a grand passion – or the theme from Hogan’s Heroes in a sly moment, just to see if you’re paying attention.
Birthdays are a big deal here: Large mugs of dark beer really add a fuzzy aureole of fun to goofy hats and the chicken dance. It’s a favorite destination for anniversary dinners, too; fellow diners here can always be counted on to cheer a waltzing couple on the makeshift dance floor.
THE POLKA SACRILEGE: Polkas, we’re told from the bandstand, are sprightly tunes in Austrian hands but rendered geriatric in Bohemian dance halls. But it’s all in good fun, and before Czechs can take much umbrage, the band has the good grace to acknowledge that the song we all know as the “Beer Barrel Polka” was written by a Czech (Jaromír Vejvoda, if it comes up on Jeopardy). So roll out the barrel of fun!
SWEET FINISHES: Apple strudel, which has an iconic reputation here, seemed flaccid on our visits. But we were totally won over by bread pudding studded with cherries and drizzled with a kirsch-kissed vanilla sauce.
BAVARIA IN PLANO: There are no communal tables at Bavarian Grill, but everything else feels just like Germany. There’s ample beer, with steins and paintings and photos of the countryside prominently displayed throughout the restaurant. The friendly yet businesslike waitresses wear traditional dirndls.
Each table gets a basket of bread and hard rolls. The menu is packed with schnitzels, sausages, potatoes and meat in generous portions.
EVERY MEAL IS A PARTY: We’ve eaten at Bavarian Grill for special occasions and everyday dinners, and every experience is festive. Musicians perform spirited German songs inside every night and a few times a week in the beer garden. If it’s too early for live music, there are still lively tunes – recorded polkas, marches and drinking songs.
SAUSAGE SMORGASBORD: A friend who frequents the restaurant raves about the wurst plate: five sausages, warm potato salad and sauerkraut. We tried it this visit, and as with most of the dinners, it’s near impossible to clean the plate. The sausages are bratwurst, weisswurst, knackwurst, smoked bratwurst and Nurnberger, with ample mustard for dipping. The plate offers a complete range from mild to spicy and is perfect for die-hard sausage fans.
MOST POPULAR: The best-selling dish is the jäger schnitzel, a dinner plate can’t contain the pounded, breaded, fried pork. The only complaint: There’s not enough brown mushroom gravy. The thin breading is golden brown and buttery, the meat is flavorful and its mildness is the perfect foil for the side dishes, many of them tart.
RUNNER-UP: Beef Rouladen, a generous cut of lean beef is rubbed with mustard, then filled with onions, bacon and a pickle spear and slow roasted, served with Bavarian oven potatoes and creamy spinach, is another guest favorite.
SUPPORTING ROLE: Meats are the entree stars, but sides are equally superb. Most menu listings specify two sides, but substitutions are encouraged. Choose from sautéed potatoes, a bread dumpling, warm potato salad, spaetzle, potato pancakes, french fries, salad, creamed spinach, red cabbage and sauerkraut.
Even cabbage-haters could be won over by the tangy red cabbage. The potato salad is the most flavorful of the potato dishes. Dense potato pancakes are also available as appetizers, served with sour cream and applesauce. Spaetzle is bland and relies on accompanying sauces for flavor. Or it’s a good palate-cleanser between mouthfuls of sausage.
YOU DON’T NEED A SITTER: Children – and their parents – can feel comfortable here. The music, boisterous conversation and clattering beer mugs drown out most toddler squeals. A model train chugs along a track encircling the main dining room. The extensive children’s menu offers the same quality as the regular menu – no packaged macaroni and cheese here. A bowl of spaetzle pasta with ham, mushrooms, cheese, onions and a cream sauce is mild enough for picky eaters and sophisticated enough for older kids. They call it Bavarian Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Other pint-size dishes include bratwurst and oven-roasted chicken.
STILL HUNGRY? We weren’t. But the apple strudel is irresistible – and easy to take home. Sturdy apple slices are baked in a thin pastry and served with a vanilla sauce. Other desserts include almond crème cake, Black Forest cake and sponge cake with berrries.