“This doesn’t seem like a fusion,” remarked my dining companion as we perused the menu at Heidi’s Restaurante Alemán y Biergarten (German restaurant and beer garden) in Guadalajara.
This was a more authoritative observation than I probably could have made, and my friend Sam Allan has the wherewithal to back it up, having been raised in Europe. So, shamelessly taking advantage of his experience, I plunged ahead. Had he noticed many fusion restaurants in Guadalajara?
“Oh yes, they never go full on international here, except for Italian. Even at Indian restaurants, they can’t resist throwing is some jalapeño.”
However, Sam, a vegan, then went on to order possibly the least authentically German item on the menu: the Dogo Vegetariano (75 pesos), which is falafel in the shape of a hefty sausage, in a bun, with tzatziki (Greek yogurt with cucumbers and garlic), black olives that were not canned (hurray!) and the fixins. (Sam was pleased to find there was a 2-for-1 special that day, so he took one Dogo home.)
The featured items on Heidi’s menu are, to my eye, an impressive array of truly Germanic items: Salchicha Blanca de Ternera (white veal sausage), Schüblig (smoked pork or beef sausage normally eaten uncooked), Bratwurst (which I ordered for 119 pesos at the waiter’s recommendation—savory!), Weisswurst and—uh oh, Sam—Currywurst, which seemed to me a bit on the fusion side, even though the menu claims this is the typical sausage sold on the street in Germany. But hey, Germany, like all of Europe nowadays, has a lot of immigrants, right?
Ranging hither and yon on the menu also revealed many other authentic-seeming German items, Vienna sausages, for example, named Perro Alemán, and Dogo Heidi’s. (Okay, Vienna is in Austria but it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin.) Three items with overwhelming names were Kartoffelkuchen (meat and potato cake, 109 pesos), Käseschnitte (grilled cheese!) and Fleischkäse (said to be a creatively spiced, fine textured, baked meat loaf). If these don’t at least sound authentic, I don’t know what does. The waiter informed us that the supplier is local, but this person obviously knows his Weisswurst from his Schüblig.
Side items included Pan Pretzel (which promises to be more substantial than your average Rold Gold), Sauerkraut (called Col Agria, which I chose and liked), Käse Und Wurstsalat (salad with cheese and sausage), potato salad and mustard dressing (a chipotle dressing is one of the few nods to Mexico).
However, many other items on the menu should, I think, have given Sam more pause (except that by “fusion,” he seems to have meant fused German-Mexican food). These clearly non-German items are Polish (smoked Kielbasa), Swiss (Raclette, or melted Raclette cheese with potatoes, and fondue), French (Quiche Lorraine and French Fries), Greek (a salad and the aforementioned tzatziki and olives), Hungarian (goulash), Italian (lasaña) and Scandinavian (tuna sausage with tartar sauce).
Whatever its level of Germanness (which I think high), you must admit the size of the menu is staggering, and we haven’t even gotten to the aperitifs, beer, wine and liquor yet.
There are two types of German draft beer (Red Munich and Dortmund for 69 and 99 pesos per 300 and 500 ml draft) and ten German or German-style bottled beers. There are five types of Russian and nine types of imported, artisanal or special beer. And Mexico sneaks in here with six kinds of beer.
As for wine, there are eight varieties of red or white. My wine informant tells me they do not include any Mexican varieties, but are German (Anselmann Riesling and Pinot Blanc and Oppenheimer Krötenbrunnen), Spanish, Chilean and Argentine. The bottles range from 219 to 360 pesos.
If you might appreciate the effort and discernment that obviously went into Heidi’s, located a block from Centro Magno shopping center and the Lopez Cotilla gastronomic corridor, don’t hesitate to patronize it, because, as the former owner of an excellent, recently closed restaurant told me, scores of eateries are constantly opening in Guadalajara, making it a feat for even the good ones to survive.
Heidi’s Restaurante Aleman, Avenida De La Paz 2537, (33) 3615-4000. Open Monday to Thursday, 2-11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. to midnight; Sunday, breakfast buffet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 179 pesos, closes at 6 p.m.