Centuries ago, Prussia was the clear winner when it came to discipline and order for the competing Saxonian and Prussian royal houses. But it couldn’t compete with Dresden’s glamorous celebrations hosted by kings and nobility, nor its culture, architecture, food and hospitality. Today, the best restaurants in Dresden reflect all of this and more.
Throughout the last century, the city elegantly managed historical change, which might be the reason for its laid-back and cool modernity, and down-to-earth approach. A Dresdner is never shocked, they are at most curious. In Eastern times, Dresden was flirtatiously called “the valley of the unsuspecting” for its media isolation. But today, it’s everything but unsuspecting.
Noble vaults, ancient treasures, architectural gems. The valued heritage of a clever pharmacist who by chance forged the white gold known as porcelain.
Over the last few decades, the hip, modern Neustadt arose, surprising with its glass manufactory for electric cars, a booming industry, modern art and science. Cutting through, the majestic river Elbe leads spectators into the Southern Wine Route, which has gained worldwide recognition thanks to young winegrowers rediscovering ancient techniques and traditional recipes whilst modernizing what seemed long forgotten.
At the best restaurants in Dresden, the scene ranges from Michelin-starred dining to modern street kitchens. Design lovers find what they are looking for, as do fans of great architecture. A variety that gives Dresden its unmistakable character. Too much goes unseen in this noble town at the eastern borders of Germany. What better way to illuminate its hidden potential than by eating? A culinary journey, portraying how Dresden still casts its spell on people from all around the globe, who come with an open heart, looking to be enchanted.
“Seek and ye shall find.” Deep in the fashionable Neustadt of Dresden lies a hidden cosy gem. In a backyard decorated with art and Gingko-trees, seasonal dishes paying tribute to modern German cuisine are being served in jars. Often soft-toned music and a demanding “Plié” reaches the ear from the open windows of a ballet school right above the picturesque place. On warm summer nights, guests come to rest on simple relaxed folding chairs and a blackboard offers seasonal dishes. Local wines create a delightful addition to the small, well-chosen menu. A more honest and affectionate approach to dining is hardly possible.
Highly recommended: Der Kleine Schwarze, a local wine with top marks, served with sesame goat cheese, vegetable spaghetti, risotto and king oyster mushroom.
Make sure to book a table because the locals know how good this place is.
Impressing with the historic premises of the traditional company Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau, this place is a must for architecture and design fans. Recommended by Guide MICHELIN, it is also a pioneering and long-time supporter of the Slow Food movement and connoisseurs appreciate the conscious, regional and sustainable ethos. The locals cherish its stunning design. Some even say that the food is addictive and they are delighted with the latest addition: a five course menu offering the clientele's favourite dishes in small portions.
As soon as the large Bauhaus-inspired red shutters open again for the guests, the daily changing evening menu reads: scallops, artichoke ravioli and a crème brûlée made of porcini mushrooms to die for. Schmidt’s won’t leave you disappointed.
Romantic sandstone vaults, a Mediterranean garden, authentic French cuisine; only a few Saxon wines reveal that we’re not on the French Riviera, but right in Dresden. Frank Olhoff, owner of the Petit Frank says: “I can't do anything but cook.” Trained as a chef in Strasbourg, it is his personal vision to offer authentic French delights to his guests. Here, one is on first-name basis when the chef himself serves a crémant whilst giving recommendations from the light and classic menu.
The Petit Frank regularly ranks among the best restaurants in Dresden. White tablecloths, dark bentwood chairs, a candle…grilled watermelon with caramelized goat cheese, thyme reduction and wild herb salad from their own garden.
“C'est beau, la vie.”
Minimal architecture, floor-to-ceiling French doors, Nordic style furniture, natural materials and lush, feathery flower arrangements define the Elements Deli. The dishes, inspired by a mix of Asian and European cuisine, are served on elegant black slates on the spacious terrace with grapevines offering shade.
An airy, luminous space with a light atmosphere to dine and relax. As a counterpart, the Elements offers a second restaurant under the same roof: The Fine Dine. It awaits guests with a warmer interior and a more earthy kitchen. The name sets the tone for the menu: fine dining. Heavy leather chairs and dark wood welcome guests for dinner and a cigar.
The beautifully revitalised mansard, in which this special eatery is situated, is part of an old industrial building complex. On the grounds of the Zeitenströmung, a cultural hub in Dresden, and close to the church of St. Martin and the baroque centre of the city, it truly offers bliss on a plate.
Awarded a Michelin star, the Caroussel can easily keep up with the best in the business. Their faux gras, a vegetarian version of its better known goose counterpart, is famous beyond Saxonian borders. All of their exquisite dishes are served on Meissen porcelain and no matter what you order, it’s gourmet French cuisine. With over 500 high-quality wines, even the most discerning critics will find what they’re looking for.
In 2019, touched by Swiss star designer Carlo Rampazzi, the place underwent a full makeover, adding international elegance to its gourmet dining experience.
At night, when illustrious guests enjoy the shimmer of stars through the glass ceiling, one can imagine that this is probably where Augustus the Strong would have taken his Prussian counterpart Frederick II to show him Saxony's epicurean excellence.
Coming to a place like the Caroussel, where everyday elegance and outstanding hospitality create a new sense of luxury, one could well imagine that Canaletto would once again choose Dresden to recreate his famous Canaletto View. Well done, Dresden.
Words: Esther Seibt