For a taste of old Germany, plan a visit to Hofbrauhaus Chicago in Rosemont, Ill.
The restaurant, an offshoot of the legendary 400-year-old Hofbrauhaus in Munich, Germany, officially opened in Rosemont's MB Financial Park March 18 with a grand celebration. It had a soft opening in January.
Hofbrauhaus Chicago is one of only four official Hofbrauhaus's in the United States.
It's easily Oktoberfest every day during a visit to the restaurant, brewery with the massive dining hall.
"It's a fantastic addition to the culinary market in the Chicago area," said Klaus Lotter, chef at Hofbrauhaus Chicago. "What we wanted to do is bring a sample of Bavaria to the community and to tourists."
Authentic German specialties fill the menu and include items such as Schweinebraten, which is pork roast with vegetable garnish, dark beer sauce and potato and bread dumplings; pretzels; Hofbrauhaus Hahnchen, a grilled chicken breast with creamy mushroom sauce; and various sausages, including Nurnberger Rostbratwurstle. Black Forest cake and apple dumplings are among dessert specialties. Hofbrauhaus brews, made inhouse, various spirits and wine, star on the premises.
Chef Lotter said guests can easily have a communal dining experience at Hofbrauhaus as the hall features large, long tables that can seat families, parties of friends or even strangers dining together.
The chef said 90 percent of the cooking is done from scratch in the state-of-the-art kitchens at the dining establishment.
"The experience is as close as you can get to a Munich Oktoberfest style experience," Lotter said.
In addition to the food and brews, guests are treated to entertainment by a live band. There's even audience participation during regular performances of the "Chicken Dance" and "Sweet Caroline." The dining hall seats 700 and chef Lotter said they can easily get about 2,500 guests coming through the restaurant on Saturdays.
Lotter, a Chicago native, is a first generation American with German immigrant parents.
"I grew up on a lot of these recipes," he said, about the menu favorites at the restaurant.
The chef is a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont and spent three years cooking in Bavaria.