Now before I start, I just do not really want to get your hopes up. Frankfurt is NOT cheap in any way and finding cheap eats around here is just close to impossible. It is considered to be one of the typical consultant’s cities where people take the train every day to work here, but not live here.
There is a certain standard maintained in this city, and restaurants tend to be quite nice, clean and expensive. Eating out is some sort of fashion here – as a lot of people, from what I have seen from the local lunch eateries, tend to eat out.
Lunchtime during the week is almost always overcrowded in the central area (so basically, Alte Oper, Westend, Bockenheimer, Hauptwache, Hauptbahnhof and whatever is in the vicinity). During dinner time, you can get a table, unless it is Friday or Saturday. Sunday is a church day in Germany – and almost nothing is open except the fast-food chains and the touristy restaurants.
Streets to explore
Frankfurt is a fairly small city, so there are three main streets to explore:
- Leipziger Straße
- Berger Straße
- Schweizer Straße
All of them are packed with restaurants and great places to eat.
What to try
Before I start, there are three main things that you need to try in Frankfurt, except the frankfurter sausage: apfelwein, Grüne Soße and Handkäse.
This is a sort of cider, a little tart but typical of the region. Now a lot of Germans drink beer, but the later is not so great in Frankfurt. Unlike Bavaria or the hipster selections of Berlin, here you do not get much, but you get apfelwein plenty. Do not get me wrong, Germany is a beer place, wherever you go there is plenty of beer and plenty of selection. So if you were an outsider like me, you would be amazed – but once you talk to people that have spent some time here – they will put you down easily.
Back to apfelwein. You can have it in three ways: regular – so nothing added, with sparkling water or sweet, with a little bit of sprite. Depending on your taste, if you have never had it before, try the sweet version – as it is more normal.
Grüne Soße (green sauce)
Fairly straight forward – a herbal sauce that it is used for meats or eggs or potatoes. It is interesting and quite flavorful.
It’s a type of cheese, smells like old socks, they like it here (as they like the stinky cheeses in general). Based on that – if you walk in a supermarket and get a strong smell of rotten food, it’s the cheese area. I bought it once, slinked up my fridge – so for the love of what’s holy, please have it in the restaurants only. Give it a try as it has a very strong full flavor.
I know I said three, but there is a special type of sausage for every holiday here. I like them, but humbly, I cannot identify the flavor. Maybe you can! Something to bear in mind – they are served in a small bread with ketchup or Senf(mustard). Why they do not serve them with something else is beyond me though…
Out of all three(four), try the apfelwein, it is a personal favorite of mine.
They are my favorite. Supermarkets in Frankfurt tend to be huge with an immense selection of products, great prices, and a warm food area. At every REWE that I have been in, they had rotisserie chickens, meatballs, a salad station, roast beef and more. Prices are cheap and the quality is very decent. For drink keep in mind that you will be charged a recycling fee. So a 99 cent Redbull will cost you 1.24, and after you drink it, return it to get the 25 cents back.
Sundays all of them are closed except the two supermarkets at the airport.
Fast food chains
Almost any fast food chain imaginable is here and they are open 7 days a week. If you are in Frankfurt for a day, and that day is Sunday, then these are almost the only places that you can actually eat something.
Like everywhere you will get cheap fast food here, somewhat decent, Have not really been amazed by anyone here, but if there is nothing else that fancies you, give them a try
A lot of restaurants practice happy hour incentives. Considering that this is a working city, almost any restaurant is full during lunch and dinner time. Completely free at any other part of the day. Make sure to check them out!
Kleinmarkthalle and other weekly markets
There is this general obsession with markets in Germany. The one that I would recommend is Kleinmarkthalle which happens every Saturday. It is in a very central location and it has everything from local food to try, actual markets and when the weather is good, usually live music and a lot of wine and apfelwein in the back with some music. Konstablerwache u-bahn station turns in a market on Saturdays as well. Similar concept as Kleinmarkthalle, maybe a little cheaper.
Something to be noted is the Christmas market as well – which happens every December in Frankfurt (and everywhere in Germany). This is such a big deal here that people do Christmas market tours in different German cities. The food that you would expect here is typical German, but somewhat not really expensive.
Restaurants that I recommend
These recommendations are all around the business area of the city – an area I tend to explore every day. I am sure that are plenty of other places, but these are the ones I have explored.
For nice burgers, I like Burgerschmiede (Bockenheimer Landstraße 9, 60325 Frankfurt am Main). It is a small place, with a small kitchen but with delicious burgers. UPDATE 2020: Place is closed but we shall keep it in the Frankfurt cheap eats list because I miss it.
There are a huge amount of Italian restaurants in Frankfurt, but most of them are a bit expensive. One awesome place that I would highly recommend is Ciro il lattaio. It’s located at Stephanstraße 13, 60313 Frankfurt am Main.
There are plenty of other alternatives, but they do not fall under this category of Frankfurt cheap eats.
As in any service type of city, pizza places are everywhere. Usually, you will find a lot of Doner/Pizza places which make a very cheap, not not as great pizza. If you are looking for 5 euro pizzas, then that’s your choice. If on the other hand you are looking for something special, it’s another story
Sushi: In terms of Sushi places, Superkato is my all-time favorite(Kornmarkt 3, 60311 Frankfurt am Main). On lunch, there is always a line, but you do not really wait a lot. This is seriously one of those hidden cheap eats here. Prices are cheap and the sushi is DELICIOUS.
Fusion: Berger Streetfood – Fusion Sushi has some of the most interesting selections. They also have a lunch menu that it’s amazingly cheap. You can find it in Berger Str. 83, 60316 Frankfurt am Main or Fürstenbergerstraße 168 F, 60323 Frankfurt am Main. Note that here in the evening you will need to book a table, as the Berger Straße one is always full.
For local cuisine, highly recommend Mutter Ernst (Alte Rothofstraße 12, 60313 Frankfurt am Main). During Friday lunch they have a special Frikadelle(just a big fried meatball/burger) with fried egg and a side of potato salad – which is highly recommended.
For thai – I personally like ASIA thai Food (Freiherr-vom-Stein-Straße 22, 60323 Frankfurt am Main) – but I mainly like this because this is a typical frankfurt cheap eats, portions are massive, food is delicious and it is close to anywhere.
I have not really explored that many to be honest, but one has really made me happy. Yummas in Wested has some deliciously fresh and cheap Mexican food. There was a time that we were going there almost every day. Explore their lunch alternatives. Find them here Feuerbachstraße 46, 60325 Frankfurt am Main
Regarding sweets, to be brutally honest, I have tried a couple of places but I still do not really like them. Cheesecakes are weird, chocolate cakes are interesting but nothing too fancy – nothing is really sweet enough for me! But as I said, still exploring and the ones that I found can’t be part of the Frankfurt cheap eats list.
Btw – if you are interested in the general restaurant vibe in Frankfurt check this out