Christmas in Germany has a whole nother flair than in the US. The weeks prior to it you get 24 tiny Advents gifts and your shoe – provided it’s polished on the morning of the 6th – filled with more presents. Every family has some sort of Advent wreath as well with four candles that get lit one by one the Sundays counting down to Christmas. And the array of holiday cookies must be better than in any other country! But at least just as good are the traditional Christmas markets spread around town. I can’t say that I’ve visited too many in Hamburg, nevertheless I’m sure that the Weihnachtsmarkt an der Apostelkirche is one of the best.
It has a very neighbourhoody feel but offers as if to satisfy – not just the Eimsbüttler 😉 – but every kind of person: the traditional German devourers, poshy or hip vegans, sweet tooths, and shoppers. The other vendors, sourced from local catering companies or freelance designers, each have a peculiar quality and individual flair. The arrangement is like a cute traditional marketplace, with a center pavilion around a warming fire. Circled around are the ten colorful huts … actually 11, including the large entertainment shed reserved for music performances and choirs. Next to it is the covered seating area with some play structures that act as a playground for kids in the afternoons. Late at night it’s the most popular spot for groups to hang out till they can’t get any Glühwein anymore. So it’s cozy, cute, welcoming and fun in every way I can think of.
Now to the food: . . . . . . . . . . . .dutch poffjertes, cakes, and quiche • vegan: burgers, energy balls and coconut milk rice • homemade sweet or savoury waffles and candied nuts • raclette on potato or bread, pulled turkey with holiday sides • grilled mushrooms, German Brat-, Currywurst, soups • Glühwein (mulled wine), apple cider, hot chocolate. . . . . . . . . .
The Classics: Bratwurst & Glühwein
Klein aber fein our Christmas Market at Apostelkirche of course provides exquisite mulled wine (Glühwein) hand selected from a wine-grower and not too sweet apple cider (Apfelpunsch). The other blue shack, left of it, is chef of the sausages. Brat- or Schinkenwurst in a bread roll, or Currywurst served in the german version of mason jars (Weck Gläser) with homemade winterly curry ketchup. You gotta try it, it’s the hit! They offer two more warming soups from the local Souperia. For the veggies, it’s the Malaysian curry or last but not least fried button mushrooms with fresh parsley and créme fraiche.
100% Vegan at Alohachérie
Alohachérie used to be an amazing vegan restaurant, but now they’re a catering company. Luckily, because who knows if they’d be making these burgers here otherwise. Three different kinds of those, but also chili sin carne, power balls and coconut rice pudding. My favorite burger is the Aloha, for 6,50€. It’s supposed to be the “classic burger”, but filled with a spelt (Grünkern) patty, tangy mayonnaise, sun-dried tomatoes, pickles, and lettuce. But they make a BBQ pulled-jack burger from jack fruit, with pumpkin and kimchi, that my mom loves. My closely followed second favorite item was the really christmassy and messy chestnut burger with brussel sprouts. It tasted like and was almost as filling as Thanksgiving 😋. Another decent portion is the creamy cinnamon-topped coconut rice pudding I just tried yesterday. It’s a great portion for only 4,50€, to be topped with apple or cherry compote.
La Douce: Waffles
La Douce also used to be a café that doesn’t exist anymore 😢. I really don’t understand why. Their waffles are awesome. The savory include: Lachs Ahoi! (lox and horseradish-dill cream), Meckerziege (goat cheese, roasted walnuts) or Serrano (Spanish jamón serrano, with tomato cream cheese). And they overdid themselves with the selection of sweet variants: 9 different kinds, vegan upon wish, or with optional whipped cream. My three highlights are the lemon sauce, spekulatius spread (that’s a Christmas cookies spread) or buttered poppyseed.
Poffjertes & Co
This vendor from Die Festemacher makes the Dutch Poffjertes: miniature fluffy pancakes, topped with anything sweet. They also have quiches, lots of different cakes, baggies of cookies and espresso. I’ve only tried the Poffjertes, because… why try anything else? You can get cake and quiche everywhere; all other Christmas markets offer Schmalzgebäck (miniature donuts topped with powdered sugar), Berliner (donuts filled with plum compote) and Crêpes, but I haven’t seen a single one making Poffjertes! What tops it off is the porcelain version of traditional paper curry wurst plates.
Raclette & Pulled Turkey
To me raclette is a classic winter meal. What better than sticky warm cheese to heal you up from the inside? So this is where you can get it (on large potatoes or half a German bread roll). Now they even “give more thanks” on Thursday through Saturday with pulled turkey, red cabbage and cranberries 🦃🍂🎃.
Last but not least are the individual designer vendors selling jewellery, scarves, wall decoration, purses, phone cases… One stand invented the coolest platypus shaped hot water bottles to put around your belly. (German’s use them a lot ❄︎) They’re hand sewn and look like a big platypus stuffed animal. You strap them horizontally around your belly by having the animal bite into it’s tail, when it’s once around. So if you come here and the Glühwein doesn’t warm you up enough I guess you’ll have to get one of these.
This venue is also perfect for a non-Hamburger to mingle among locals instead of going downtown and being lost in a mass of drunk tourists. In contrast to the others, it’s cozy and welcoming. The crowd never gets to dense and you won’t get lost. The great Glühwein and diverse edibles more than keep up with it’s competitors, though the friendly mix of little kids, young people and old (but) friendly Germans makes it more welcoming.
How much money?
Bank cards don’t work for most vendors, so come equipped with cash. And don’t be surprised; you have to leave behind an extra 2€ deposit per cup or bowl…
Glühwein: 3€ – Apple Cider 2€ – Bratwurst 3€ – Vegan Burger 6,50€ to 9,50€ – Savoury Waffle 5,50€ – Sweet Waffle 3-4€ – Poffjertes 3-4,50€ – Raclette 4-5€
November 23rd – December 23rd, 2016
Mo – Wed: 14:30-21; Th – Fr: 14:30-22, Sa: 12-22, Su: 12-20
Bei der Apostelkirche 2, 20257 Hamburg (right at the Apostelkirche)
about 10min walk from the U2 stations Emilienstraße (the closest), Osterstraße or Lutterothstraße (they’re all less than 1km) away
or right in front of the market, there is the 4 bus stop called Apostelkirche (4 bus route picture below)