Floridians can experience a taste of the old country without pulling out their passports when they visit a quaint family restaurant tucked away in Pompano Beach. Checkers Old Munchen, located just east of Federal Highway on Atlantic Blvd., serves up authentic German fare in a fun, friendly atmosphere.
The Zagat-rated restaurant was established in 1982 by Detlef Neman, who came to South Florida from Munich where he worked at a 5-star hotel. Although he passed away, his recipes, once tacked to the kitchen wall, have been carried forward by his nephews. Mathew Moore, his second nephew and owner since 2007, has been able to keep Detlef’s vision alive along with adding the largest German beer selection in Ft. Lauderdale. Moore also brought a sense of community to the restaurant where a projector hangs from the ceiling installed so fans could gather to cheer Germany on to its World Cup victory while watching on the big screen.
Guests are welcomed by warm aromas as they enter the restaurant decorated by a vast collection of beer steins displayed on wooden shelves. Make sure to make a reservation before you go as the place is bustling most nights, and the clientele varies from young professionals meeting to sample a new German lager to seniors celebrating a friend’s birthday with delicious apple strudel and ice cream or a family with children enjoying bratwurst and sauerkraut.
My husband and I were seated right away by a polite waitress who served us a basket of pumpernickel and pretzels with spicy mustard as we perused the extensive menu. Always ready for an adventure, I decided to sample a Radaberger draft from the German Beer Tour. Those who return again and again to complete the tour earn a boot-shaped name plaque on the wall and drink from their own stein during future visits.
For starters we ordered their famous apple onion soup. Sweeter than the French version, the soup was rich with onions and apples in a beef and lager broth and topped with melted provolone cheese.
We were then presented with generous plates of the house specialties: veal wienerschnitzel, a lightly breaded veal cutlet “a la Holstein” sautéed in lemon butter and topped with homemade brown gravy and their famous schweinhaxen, a specially seasoned 2lb. pork shank that is boiled and slowly roasted for six hours. It arrived crispy on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside and was topped with homemade gravy. Both meals were tender and tasty and the pork was moist and just fell off the bone.
Each entrée was served with a choice of two sides from the following: spaetzel (German noodles), red cabbage, sauerkraut, potato dumpling, boiled potato, real mashed potatoes, German potato salad (hot or cold) and vegetable of the day. A fan of sauerkraut, I found theirs to be sweet and flavorful.
Though the portions were more than enough, we couldn’t resist sampling a piece of Kelly’s German Chocolate Cake with a hot cup of cappuccino. The tall layered chocolate cake arrived topped with coconut pecan frosting, dollops of whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce. It was the perfect finale to a wonderful evening.
More to explore
Now that we’ve discovered Checkers Old Munchen, we are already planning our next visit. After all there is much more to explore. We were enticed by but did not yet try the kartoffelpuffer, homemade potato pancakes served with applesauce and sour cream, their sausage sampler of Bratwurst and Knackwurst served on a bed of Sauerkraut, and many other authentic German entrees.
In October, Moore said he plans to transform the back lot of Checkers Old Munchen into a German Beer Garden to celebrate Oktoberfest along with a number of specials. He currently offers Two-For-Thursdays (or Wednesdays) where guests buy one entrée and get the second free with the purchase of two beverages. They also offer a special Sunday German dinner special. For more information visit CheckersOldMunchen.com.