German Village in south-central Columbus gets its name from the huge number of German immigrants who found their way to the city. Indeed, its close houses and brick streets evoke a very European semblance of closeness. Almost as old as the streets themselves is one of the best known restaurants in town: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus, a 125-year-old centerpiece of culture in the quaint neighborhood. It serves up custom sausages and German beers in a festive atmosphere with old-time musicians and costumes. It may as well be the German Village town hall.
If you watch food TV, you’ve probably heard of this place. It’s been on Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food, and Food Network’s Best of Ohio. The iconic restaurant has seen quite a bit, and the tried-and-true menu items will attest to a restaurant which has maintained its traditional roots while staying in business over the decades. Everything on the menu is outstanding.
- Bahama Mama: The beloved sausage that is the signature of Schmidt’s, as well as often considered the signature dish of Columbus. Just a little bit spicy, with that wonderful smokiness and not too fatty. Delicious!
- Bratwurst: Served chopped or on a bun with sauerkraut, the bratwurst is fattier than some of the other sausages but still good.
- Garlic knockwurst: This sausage is more savory, a little more salty and leaner. The heavy garlic flavor is great.
- Sauerkraut: The sauerkraut has a certain sweetness about it that makes it uniquely tasty. Still has that good sour flavor.
- Pretzels: The house-baked pretzels are great, and served with honey mustard but also go well with spicy mustard.
- Applesauce: The applesauce is completely fresh. Chopped apples stewed and served without too much sugar. Not overwhelming.
- German Potato Salad: Unbelievable, not too greasy but a bit more on the bitter end. Still good!
- Orange cream puff: The seasonal flavor of cream puff here for the summer, a thick orange cream inside the flaky pastry and topped with whipped cream and a little candy. Not too sweet! Very pleasant.
The selection of sausages, however, is simply top-notch. There is a buffet for the most ambitious diners, but the craft sausages can usually be enjoyed in meals of their own. A number of beer pairings also mean you can enjoy a good draft with the meals, further adding to their allure. It’s hard not to find something to like.
Schmidt’s Sausage Haus has all the festivities of an outstanding restaurant experience. Across the street, the business runs a different store entirely, Schmidt’s Fudge Haus.
For all the great things this place has to offer, I do have one major complaint that ruins this restaurant’s shot at perfection: getting in the door can be a major hassle. The historic restaurant has limited seating, and it does not take reservations. The first time I came here happened to be during the dinner rush. We waited 90 minutes to get a table. While the historic nature of the place belies its popularity, it’s not a sustainable business model to tell people they can’t avoid waiting 90 minutes to eat at your place. Not when there are so many other places to eat in close proximity.
- There is a sausage buffet to try if you’re in the mood for a lot of food. Or a dinner is just as good. One way or another, there is plenty of tasty cuisine to appreciate.
- Definitely try the imported German beers. Pair with a dish for best effect.
- Evening guests are also treated to traditional music and entertainment.