Good Times and German Beers at the Ambry
Of all the places I've checked out, my favorite German joint is the Ambry off of Bayview Drive and Commercial Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The restaurant -- which from the outside looks like a medieval castle with German and American flags on the ramparts -- was opened in 1981 by famed German footballer Gerd Mueller. Mueller left the business soon after, and it's been run by the Huber family ever since.
Inside, the dark, winding corridors reveal private rooms anchored by warm hearths. Up front is a bar that's covered with so much German soccer memorabilia that you'd half expect to find World Cup hero Bastian Schweinsteiger chilling there with a pint of Tucher Hefeweizen in hand. Instead, you'll find plenty of regulars, some of whom have decorative steins held behind the counter.
One regular, a jovial guy named Sam, sipped Warsteiner lager from a ceramic stein with one of those cool little hats you pop up and down with your thumb.
"This is my favorite place to come in all of Fort Lauderdale," he said as he took a pull from his foamy beer. "They make some of the best prime rib around."
We didn't sample the prime rib, but we did try the Ambry's house-made sausages, including a few currywurst -- a brat that's been smeared with curry-flavored ketchup (a true hangover cure if there ever was one). The bratwurst the Ambry makes is damned addictive too ($11.95 for a platter). It's peppery and very juicy but also very soft, like the meat inside was finely mixed into something tender and supple. Dab each piece with some spicy brown mustard that comes in a ceramic bowl and you're just about in sausage heaven.
Also great: the Ambry's famous garlic soup ($3.50), creamy and loaded with the sweet flavor of roasted garlic. A happy-hour-priced plate of schweinsbraten ($16.95) features loads of roasted pork, a textural contrast of juicy meat and crunchy, caramelized bits coated with black pepper.
Best of all, that pig goes perfectly with a pint of spicy wheat beer from Weihenstephan, a German brewery that's been crafting beer since 1040. My advice: Skip the boot and order it by the pint ($6).
3016 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale