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Fast Food, Street Food & Hamburgers in Hamburg?


The precise history of the hamburger remains a mystery. Was it originally a flash-fried beefsteak in a roll? Or did it begin with the 'Frikadellen' meatballs so popular in Germany’s north-western cattle-country? Regardless of its food family tree, the etymology of the hamburger is pretty clear: it came from Hamburg.

As Germany’s main port, Hamburg has a serious fast food tradition. But beef patties in a bun are not its only speciality. In fact, you can find a plethora of quick, delicious food across the city. Sailors would land here hungry, dockers always needed a quick meal and emigrants headed for America would pass through with only a few groats left to spend on the Old Continent. All of them sought something cheap and easy, so the city’s food institutions rose up in response.
The beautiful, bustling Fischmarkt is the perfect place to wind down from the Reeperbahn’s excesses

Fischmarkt - Altonaer Fischauktionshalle
Große Elbstraße 9, 22767 Hamburg, Germany

Hamburg’s best-known street food institution is the Fischmarkt near the banks of the River Elbe in the St. Pauli quarter (above), starting from the early hours of Sunday morning until 9.30am. Originally it was the city’s only market allowed to open on the Lord’s Day because it catered to sailors and port workers who couldn’t shop during normal hours. Now that most of them are gone - or shop in late-night supermarkets - the Fischmarkt survives in part thanks to all-night revellers from the quarter’s Reeperbahn entertainment district, who stop by for something to soak up the beer before heading home or continuing the party. Grab a Fischbrötchen - a large crusty roll with a freshly fried filet of fish or, if you really want to go native, the soused herring.
The unassuming exterior of Veddeler Fischgaststätte contains a plethora of culinary delights

Veddeler Fischgaststätte
Tunnelstrasse 70, 20539 Hamburg, Germany

Veddeler Fischgaststätte is the place where dockers and truckers stop for a quick bite at lunch. It’s essentially a killer little food shack specialising in fried fish and cold bottles of Hamburg’s legendary Astra beer. If you thought fish and chips was just an English thing, then think again. There’s a variety of ways that they present the basics here - and all of them are absolutely delicious. Cross any of the Elbe bridges into the port lands and you’ll find it tucked between the railway lines and the busy Billhorner Brückenstraße. (One of our recommended cycle tours passes right by.)

Fish and chips is not just a London thing

Food Lovers’ Market
Marktplatz, Überseeboulevard 4-10, 20457 Hamburg, Germany

If you’re looking for a modern street-food experience, the Food Lovers’ Market in Hafencity is just the place. Here you’ll find the obligatory (and very good) burger truck alongside a rolling salad bar, a Cajun food van and a Polish stand peddling pierogi and bigos - along with many other types of rib-sticking deliciousness. Be sure to leave room for dessert (there are waffles), a coffee (Hamburg harbour has a long tradition in the trade) and grab an organic loaf of bread. Here you’ll be reminded that while Germany gave birth to meaty treats like the frankfurter and the hamburger, it’s a land of legendary baking prowess and culinary diversity.

Old-school trading is a hallmark of Hamburg’s knockabout food culture

Ottensen Organic Farmers’ Market
Spritzenplatz, 22765 Hamburg, Germany

Farmers’ markets are another thing that Germany does exceptionally well. Hamburg’s markets provide real food at fair prices, connecting local producers to urban foodies. You can also eat well on the go at some, like the Ottensen Organic Farmers’ Market, held every Wednesday and Saturday near Altona station in the western part of the city. Fancy a bratwurst? Why not make it a hamburger?

Hamburg's food culture is accessible and diverse


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