Long before Frankfurt hit the headlines as the place most likely to become Europe’s new banking hub in the wake of Brexit, the tidy little German city was already in the game. A centuries-old financial centre, it was the postwar site for Germany’s Deutsche Bundesbank and, in 2014, became home to the European Central Bank’s gleaming new headquarters. Yet there’s more to Frankfurt am Main (pronounced um mine) than its bustling Bankenviertel district, suits and skyscrapers. By Michelle Margherita.
In the past few years, the inner city has shed its strictly business reputation, with the formerly seedy Bahnhofsviertel district and the outskirts of the Altstadt (Old Town) coming alive with a new wave of hip bars, boutiques and chic eateries. For business travellers, that means a whole new batch of topnotch restaurants and cocktail spots in which to throw down the company credit card – all within a 30-minute walk from the Altstadt and never more than a €10 (about $16) cab ride away.
Coffee pit stop
￼Tucked away in Ostend, just minutes from the European Central Bank’s headquarters, is this hip little café that’s worth using Google Maps to find. It’s all about the brew: the beans are ethically sourced and roasted at low temperatures, filtered water is heated to precisely 97°C for brewing and only local milk from a nearby farm is used. The result? Bittersweet coffee and creamy flat whites. One for the coffee connoisseurs.
Hanauer Landstraße 82, Frankfurt
￼Breakfast meetings are not a part of German business culture but if you do schedule one, Walden is a smart café-restaurant in the Altstadt that offers one of the best frühstücke (breakfasts) in town. The Stockholm (smoked salmon and trout, shrimps, horseradish and honey mustard dip) is a popular choice and the coffee is sourced from Wacker’s, one of the city’s best roasters.
Kleiner Hirschgraben 7, Frankfurt
Drinks with clients
￼In the narrow lanes of the cobblestoned Sachsenhausen neighbourhood is an 18th-century shingled building with a curious sign that reads: “I was at home last night.” Inside is a tiny, chic bar unlike any other in Frankfurt – and it seats just 13. Although a host is available to make and serve cocktails, patrons are encouraged to mix their own pre-bottled drinks with flavoured ice cubes or learn how to stir and strain other concoctions. It’s first come, first served but you can book ahead for groups of five or more.
Große Rittergasse 64, Frankfurt
Stanley Diamond La Buvette
￼Three years ago, when the Bahnhofsviertel was still considered a no-go part of town, Stanley Diamond opened its sleek doors. Since then it has become one of Frankfurt’s go-to fine-diners, known for sophisticated comfort food and serving almost forgotten classics such as beef bourguignon and baked cauliflower. Book ahead or risk being turned away.
Ottostraße 16-18, Frankfurt
Just steps away from the tourist rush of the Römerberg, this super-hip eatery specialises in pick-and-mix small bites; order the spicy lentil salad with salted lemon and fetta or the meatballs with tahini-lime sauce. To eat like a local, try Margarete’s grüne soße (green sauce made with seven herbs) with roast potatoes, marinated hard-boiled eggs and thinly sliced roast beef. This place is buzzy, cool and always busy so book ahead and ask to sit on one of the stools looking into the kitchen if you don’t fancy eating at a table for one. ￼
￼Braubachstraße 18-22, Frankfurt
Top image: Margarete/Peter Nonsense