2019 has already seen the opening of another addition to York Boulevard’s bustling foodie culture. Hinterhof, a vegan German restaurant and beer garden, opened a month ago and seems set to be a popular spot for vegans and omnivores alike.
Matthias Brandt, co-owner of Hinterhof and a native German, said that the idea for the restaurant and bar was born about five years ago when he was bicycling up York and spotted the plot of land where a vendor used to serve tacos. After that, he began to dream of transforming it into a beer garden that served food on the side. Brandt said that the building that previously existed had to be demolished by law, so he and his partner, Eric Funk, began the process of creating the new structure. It was around that same time five years ago that the pair became vegan, so creating a menu to match their lifestyle seemed natural.
Inside, the decor is modern and welcoming. Candles and miniature flower arrangements on the wooden tables add romance, while the dark walls and bare light bulbs are right on trend (think hipster, think Silver Lake). On the walls are pictures by photographer Juergen Hohmuth, which nod to the restaurant’s namesake. They show the Berlin courtyards (hinterhöfe) which Brandt says serve as a kind of social gathering space — a role he hopes Hinterhof can play in Highland Park.
German beer is a key attraction at Hinterhof. They offer a broad selection of 11 different varieties on tap and five different bottled options, all of which are vegan.
The food itself seems to be going down a treat as well. The restaurant has already achieved a four-star rating on Yelp, while Brandt said that people have been traveling from far and wide to visit. Their first few days of business were even sold out.
“We’ve had people drive here from San Diego, San Bernardino, from Orange County, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, because they are vegans and they really wanted to try us out the first week when we opened. It was really amazing to see that,” Brandt said.
Close neighbors have been calling by, too. Occidental College student Naomi Hodges (junior) said that she noticed the beer garden when she was walking along York after returning from winter break.
“I was attracted by the bustling atmosphere. The restaurant inside looked cozy and the garden out front was really cute with lights and blankets for cold evenings,” Hodges said.
On the menu is an array of traditional German food — the only twist is that what is conventionally a meat-heavy cuisine has been re-imagined and refined into an uncanny and delightfully deceptive vegan version of itself. From soft pretzels and salads to currywurst and schnitzel, there is something for everybody. The price range leans a little bit toward the expensive side; starters range from $5 to $12 and entrees from $14 to $19. Having said that, they hold nothing back when it comes to servings: the food may be German, but the portion sizes are most certainly American.
Looking ahead, Brandt said that he hoped to create a truly German environment at Hinterhof by hosting German movie nights, participating in Oktoberfest celebrations and screening German National Team soccer games.
“Once we are established, I’m sure we’re gonna have happy hours, maybe with a trivia night, and include a lot more German culture,” Brandt said.
A brunch and lunch menu is also on the horizon, coming soon. For now, Hinterhof is open for dinner hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. all week.