Beer is flowing from the taps, bratwurst is cooking in the kitchen and Deutsches Haus is back in a permanent home again, this time on Bayou St. John.
Literally translated as German House, Deutsches Haus is both the name of a New Orleans cultural group and the byword for its homebase. Now, the Haus has a new home nestled beside the green banks of the bayou.
It’s a rare amenity along an urban waterway that’s coming back to life, and something different for the social spectrum of New Orleans.
Deutsches Haus is a private club with long historic roots, but it’s new home is open to the public. There’s plenty to drink, with 20 taps pouring mostly German imports, but it’s not a bar. It’s also not a restaurant, but the kitchen still serves German food, like bratburgers on pretzel buns, and flammkuchen, a cheesy pizza-like tarts.
If this sounds a lot like Oktoberfest, that’s no coincidence. Deutsches Haus hosts the region’s biggest Oktoberfest. But Oktoberfest is just one side of Deutsches Haus, in the same way that Carnival krewes are part of the city’s social landscape beyond their parade days.
Here, the year-round draw comes down to food and drink and the ways people convene around them.
This was the case in the old days, when Deutsches Haus was based on Galvez Street, deep in Mid-city, where maybe it took a leap of faith for newcomers to enter and find a family-friendly tap room and a welcoming vibe.
That old Haus was lost, along with its whole neighborhood, to the hospitals built there.
Now though, Deutsches Haus is hard to miss, rising at Alpine angles by the bayou, across from City Park and at a nexus of places where New Orleans comes together.
When I dropped by Deutsches Haus recently, just about everyone holding a beer stein described their feelings about the place the same way.
“Gemütlichkeit,” they said, the German word for good feelings, togetherness, camaraderie.
You can believe I had to practice pronouncing gemütlichkeita few times, but its gist is easily grasped in this ever-social city. And this new Deutsches Haus is restoring a classic way to pursue it.
1700 Moss St., 504-522-8014