First held in 1810, the original Oktoberfest has evolved into the world’s largest fair, with over six million annual visitors descending upon the Bavarian capital of Munich. Over the years, cities all over the world have established their own Oktoberfest events to celebrate the German culture with delicious foods, generous amounts of beer and traditional Bavarian music. With a rich history of German immigrants in the San Francisco Bay Area, stretching back well before the California Gold Rush, it’s not surprising to find several local German restaurants, beer gardens and Oktoberfest parties. When the festival season begins at the end of September and through mid-October, the following are five of the best places to celebrate Oktoberfest in the Bay Area.
Oaktoberfest in the Dimond
MacArthur Blvd. and Fruitvale Ave.
Oakland, CA 94602
www.oaktoberfest.orgDates: Oct. 5, 2013
This one-day event is held in an historic neighborhood known as Oakland’s “Little Germany.” The largest East Bay beer festival to celebrate Oktoberfest, Oaktoberfest is a family-friendly event highlighted by a traditional beer garden, live entertainment and several food booths selling plenty of German cuisine and other delicious offerings. There’s also a home brewing beer competition, a home brewers’ alley and beers from 20 local breweries, such as Trumer Pils, Oakland Brewing Company, Anchor Brewing Company and Linden Street Brewery. Oaktoberfest will have three free entertainment venues, with everything from street performers and dance groups to DJs and German brass bands. The 2013 Oaktobefest in the Dimond is Saturday, October 5, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Oktoberfest by the Bay
San Francisco, CA 94107
Dates: Oct. 20 through Oct. 22, 2013
Widely regarded as one of the top Oktoberfest celebrations in the country by Gayot, Travel Channel and others, this is the largest beer fest in the Bay Area. Oktoberfest by the Bay is a three-day celebration of the Bavarian beer fest on Pier 48, not far from AT&T Park and San Francisco’s Cal Train Station. Tickets for Oktoberfest by the Bay are on sale online and may sell out, leaving no tickets available at the door. Children are welcome on Saturday and Sunday during the day but are not allowed during the evening sessions beginning at 6 p.m. A VIP ticket is $75, which includes a German food buffet, a commemorative one-liter mug, the first beer and private bar and seating. There is no fee for children ages 12 and under and $5 for children ages 13-18, who must be accompanied by parent.
Oktoberfest in Campbell
Campbell Ave. between 3rd St. and Railway Ave.
Campbell, CA 95008
Dates: Oct. 19 through Oct. 20, 2013
Held the third weekend of October in downtown Campbell, this South Bay Oktoberfest is expected to draw 40,000 people to the family-friendly event. Festival goers can expect an outstanding selection of fine beers, traditional German foods like bratwurst, sauerkraut and apple strudel, over 100 arts and crafts booths, a children’s play area, German oompah music and polka dancing. In previous years, Spaten Beer representatives have made appearances to pour the official beer from the Munich Oktoberfest. There is no charge for admission and parking is free, although spaces may be at a premium. The Campbell Chamber of Commerce, who hosts the event, encourages the use of the Valley Transit Agency (VTA) light rail, with the downtown Campbell station a few minutes’ walk from the festival. Oktoberfest Campbell is October 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m and October 20 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
240 Front St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
Dates: Sept. 27 through Oct. 4, 2013
Established in 1893, Schroeder’s is the oldest and largest German restaurant on the West Coast. Located in San Francisco’s financial district, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and reservations are recommended, particularly during Oktoberfest. Both lunch and dinner menus offer a variety of traditional German and American dishes, in addition to an extensive beer list, with Spaten, Hofbrähaus München and Schöffenhofer among the top brands. Beer sizes range from 20 ounces to a Giant Schroeder’s Das Boot container made from mouth-blown glass. Schroeder’s will host Oktoberfest events with live polka music on the following Fridays: September 27 and October 4, 11 and 25.
525 Laguna St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Widely acclaimed as the best German restaurant in the Bay Area from multiple online reviews, Suppenküche will be a top draw during Okotoberfest. Located in the Hayes Valley district, near Civic Center, the restaurant describes itself as a German tavern (wirtshaus), with an Old World feel. Visitors can enjoy an extraordinary selection of German beers and Bavarian cooking in the traditional open-air beer garden, complete with long benches and imported wooden tables from Regensburg or inside the cozy tavern. Among the favorite German dishes favored by locals are potato pancakes with homemade apple sauce for starters and grilled pork sausage with sauerkraut and mashed potatoes for the main dish. Festival beers are sold year round, with Paulaner Oktoberfest and Ayinger Oktoberfest on the list. However, during Okotoberfest, Suppenküche will aso feature a special selection of beers. Suppenküche is open daily for dinner and Sunday brunch.