Restaurant Review: Kaiserhof Restaurant & Biergarten in Ocean Beach

by on August 21, 2017 · 17 comments

in Ocean Beach

Restaurant Review

Kaiserhof Restaurant & Biergarten
2253 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92107

It’s been almost 30 years since I have had a meal at Kaiserhof. The last time I did they were still located in the Mission Valley/State College area.

I remember going with my husband Bob, and not being allowed in because he was not wearing a jacket.  (Times have certainly changed!)  They had jackets available for him to wear and it was very comical, because he had long arms – wore a long jacket – and all they had available for him was a regular.  Reminded me a little of “Popeye”!

When my friend Barbara suggested that we go to lunch at Kaiserhof I jumped at the chance.  My background has German/Hungarian heritage and I thought it would be nice to see how authentic Bavarian food would taste compared to what I make in the kitchen.

Although there is a parking lot in the back of the building, there were no available parking spaces available and we parked in the Chris Liquor lot.  I don’t think that is acceptable, and I did notice that parking is available at the oil change lot after 5:00pm.  The inside of the building did not look as busy as the parking lot indicated, and we wondered if the employees were parking in the lot.  (Not a wise thing if this is the case.)

Beef Goulash

The inside of the building reminded me of “Thee Bungalow” – when that restaurant was in its heyday.  The paintings on the wall are beautiful and beautifully framed.  There are two dining rooms, a bar, and, of course, the “biergarten”.  Several tables were occupied in each of the dining rooms, but I did not see anyone in the outside patio.

The menu is very extensive, and, there was also a Lunch Special menu that was intriguing because it was a “Martini $2.95 Friday lunch.” The specials were served with soup of the day, which happened to be lentil, or salad and choice of one side dish.

Paprika Schnitzel

There were six entrees; stuffed peppers ($16.50); Baked Meatloaf ($14.95); Lamb Shank ($18.25); Leberkase – which is a sausage loaf, onions and au jus, for $15.95; Seared Bigeye Tuna ($18.95) and Halibut ($19.95).  German pretzels were listed – Regular $3.75 and Giant $8.75.  For an additional $2.95 Beer-cheese sauce made with Spaten Optimator was available.

It appeared that this menu was a special only for the Friday we were there, and I wonder if every Friday has luncheon specials.  They are closed on Monday, and only open for lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They close at 3:00pm and open again at 5:00.

Their regular menu is very extensive.  The lunch menu appears to be the same as the dinner menu, but the prices are more expensive at dinner time.

There is a very extensive wine list – I was disappointed to find that they did not have a “May Wine” – (a white wine flavored with Woodruff, that only grows in the Black Forest in the month of May) – but did have Liebfraumilch, one of my favorite German wines.

cucumber salad

There are hot and cold appetizers; cold entrees; veal, pork, chicken, seafood, steaks, sausages, and beef to choose from.  There are many side dishes to choose from – apple sauce, bread dumpling, creamed spinach, spatzle, red cabbage, Potato pancakes, etc.  Almost all of the entrees come with your choice of a side dish.  The deserts are two “in-house” made – Apple Strudel and Crème Brulee.  The pastries are purchased at a bakery.

As expected, there are many different varieties of beer from draft to bottles, to imported.  The liquor list was very extensive, even listing “bitters” from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, etc.

The items are not inexpensive; what one would expect to pay at a nice, atmospheric restaurant.  It was obvious that they were many regulars eating lunch there because of the repartee between the servers and the customers. (Note:  There were at least two male servers and one female server that we saw.)

Potato pancake

Barbara and I did not order from the lunch special, although the idea of a $2.95 martini was appealing, I was driving and do not drink and drive. I also felt that since this was a German restaurant, I wanted to have German food, and with the exception of the “Leberkase”, all of the other items were American.  We ordered off the dinner menu, not realizing that there was a lunch menu also.  When the server – Scott – asked Barbara if she wanted her order off of the lunch menu we were surprised, and it wasn’t until we got the bill did we realize that there was a difference in price – $17.50 for lunch; $24.95 for dinner.

Barbara ordered the Beef Goulash Kaiserhof.  This was cubes of beef round braised with paprika.  I ordered the Paprika Schnitzel, which consisted of pork cutlets in paprika-sour cream sauce.  We both opted for the cucumber salad – we could have had lentil soup or a regular green salad – and she had potato pancakes and I ordered creamed spinach as our sides.

Cream spinach

To say that we were both very disappointed in our meals would be putting it mildly.  Barbara’s goulash was so salty that neither one of us could eat it.  If our waiter would have come back and asked us how everything was, we would have requested it to be taken back, but he was very busy and never came to check on us.  He seemed to enjoy talking to the “regulars”, but it was difficult to even engage him in any kind of conversation.

My pork, although very thin, was tough to chew.  The flavor was a puzzlement to me, because I make a paprikash but I could not place what the flavors were in the sauce.  Neither of us finished even a half of our meal.

The potato pancake was very good; might order that again if we ever go again, and the creamed spinach was good. The cucumber salad was good, but nothing different that other cucumber salads.

(I do want it on record that this was the third time Barbara has been to this restaurant in the past six months.  She was satisfied with the previous meals; and was satisfied with the service.  Our waiter just seemed to have too much to do  – he had sweat dripping down the side of his face – and this was not very conducive to presenting a clean environment.  And yes, the air conditioning was on and the inside was quite pleasant.)

Apple Strudel. All photos by Judi Curry

We decided to split an Apple Strudel, and we were told it was baked there.  We declined whipped cream or ice cream, and it was very good. Hot, nice crust, and just a hint of raisins.  We would order it again, too.

Our total bill, without a tip was $49.46.  I had an ice tea, which was refilled continually.  Barbara only had water.

I have lamented the fact that there are  not really many “nice restaurants” to take out-of-town guests for dinner in Ocean Beach.  Many of them are too noisy; do not have the ambiance wanted in welcoming people to San Diego.  I was hopeful that Kaiserhof would give me one more establishment to choose from.  But alas, based on this meal that will not be the case.  Will I try it again?  Maybe.  But $49 for a meal that could not be eaten and for service that was almost non-existent – the tea was refilled by a young woman that seated us – is not a “draw” feature for me.  Too bad; I was hoping for better things.




{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Pam Clarken August 21, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Good to know. Why return if the meal is not great? I will not be going. Thanks for the review.


Bruce Miller August 21, 2017 at 5:44 pm

I agree with some of the comments; it can be a bit pricey; service is “on and off”,
Or hit or miss, and parking is very sketchy (I often park in the car repair shop lot across the street at the recommendation of the K-hot staff. But, I still enjoy the restaurant
As it is the only game in town for German food ! It is a special occasion place for us and
I am keen on the homemade sausages, the pork schnitzel, great beers,
and cucumber salad. I think the spartzle could be improved, but it is marginally acceptable! I do feel a bit of a stranger when I visit as the “regulars” seem to have preference of attention. Nevertheless, I am after a good meal not a relationship with the staff ! I lived in Germany off and on for 10 years as an army officer and visit Germany every year in the fall. It is becoming more and more difficult to find German cuisine as the influence of other cultures, Italian, Turkish, Chinese, etc has somewhat overwhelmed the traditional German Gasthaus; I suppose the same thing has happened here and there is a declining demand for authentic German Food ! I will continue to enjoy the Kaiserhof as the only game in town ! The merits far outweigh the negatives !


J August 21, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Horrible review of kaiserhoffs. I am a regular and the food and staff is amazing, always. Although pricey 1 meal can easily be turned into two as they are very large portions.


Judi August 23, 2017 at 10:43 am

Sorry. We called it the way we saw it. If the server had asked us if everything was ok it might have changed because we would have sent back the good. For what we paid it was a big disappointment. Quality control us the key to a good restaurant. Can’t be good some time. Has to be good every time. This wasn’t. I’m as disappointed in the food as you are in the review


Tyler August 23, 2017 at 12:05 pm

We all have opinions. It just so happens that Judi has negative opinions of nearly every Ocean Beach establishment.


Frank Gormlie August 23, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Tyler, not true at all, see Judi’s review of Ortegas; a maybe at Voltaire St house; Pepe’s; the Breakfast Republic; and Jake & Eggs just for starters.


Tyler August 25, 2017 at 8:24 am

For the record…. the Tyler above is not the same person as msyelf who posted below. Not sure if they are trying to make me look bad or just coincidence.


judi August 25, 2017 at 9:42 am

Thanks Tyler. Hope that it is another person and not one that wants to make you look bad. Judi


Dave August 22, 2017 at 12:12 am

I can’t disagree with this take – I’ve visited a few times, and every time the food has been okay, but it’s never been special. It’s pretty much on par with the Alpine Inn, the only other German-themed restaurant I’ve frequented in East County – good, but not overwhelming, and for the price not somewhere to return with any frequency.


Bearded OBcean August 23, 2017 at 8:09 am

The last time I went here, the waiter only stopped at our table long enough to tell us that he was too busy to take our order…and never returned. It was actually quite impressive in its frankness.


Tyler August 23, 2017 at 8:43 am

If you don’t like the goulash there then you just don’t like goulash. My family is from Germany… like born and raise there, and I’ve brought them to Kaiserhof several times. It’s pretty damn authentic in terms of food and quality.


Judi August 23, 2017 at 9:17 am

Wrong I like goulash. I don’t like salty goulash. I make goulash. My family makes authentic goulash. We do not overly salt it. This was unpalatable


Bob August 24, 2017 at 8:44 am

I’d like to suggest that you go to the guidelines/ethics page of the Association of Food Journalists and count up how many of their guidelines you have violated in this and other reviews you have written.


Judi August 24, 2017 at 9:06 am

Bob. I read the ethics code you referenced and do not find that I have violated any part of it. Honesty is the name of a review. There are no violations anywhere


nostalgic August 24, 2017 at 9:59 am

Bob, what are you suggesting? That Judi is unethical? Violations ? You must REALLY like salty goulash. Perhaps it is time for some of these restaurants to raise their standards. Most people enjoy her factual, and sometimes generous, restaurant reviews for what they are – a description of her visit and experience.


Debbie August 24, 2017 at 10:51 am

This is review is one person’s experience. You can comment on your experience at this restaurant if you like.

Here is something factual-SD County Health Rating which shows there is room for improvements:


Steven Ely January 25, 2019 at 10:52 pm

Kaiserhof Restaurant is a part of San Diego’s diverse culture because of authentic German foods, great tasting beers / drinks at the bar, and moderate prices if you’re considering local So Cal. costs. My wife is 100% German. She loves Kaiserhof’s menu choices and German atmosphere even tho, in my opinion, it is a bit manufactured with fake brick walls, etc. BUT, it’s the experience of eating, drinking, and enjoying some German ambiance. We’re not in the Alps. We’re in So Cal. Do not go there to evaluate the food and service. The food is authentic and very filling (a German thing). Have a beer, glass of wine, or cocktail and relax. If you’re not being taken care of speak up! If it’s taking too long, I simply I hail down a wait person or helper ( in a friendly tone of voice). GO EARLY!! We make reservations when it opens. FYI: We’re going there tomorrow for my wife’s B day dinner.


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