From fish rolls to a five-star restaurant

HafenCity invites you to come and eat - and has something to suit every taste. The range of eateries in the west of the district already offers everything from a snack through lunchtime specials to gourmet dinners

Photo shows the crowded outside area of a bakery. Many people sit at tables, people stroll past

The local bakeries are there to wake their clientele with a good strong coffee early in the morning; later on they offer lunchtime specials and a place to sit in the sun (© ELBE&FLUT) Start slideshow

It’s just about 6 am and the scent of fresh bread wafts along Kaiserkai. Following it back to its source, you quickly arrive at the Schanzenbäckerei which, like its neighbor Dat Backhus, a few doors down, is one of the city’s leading bakeries. Now they’re supplying early risers in HafenCity with fresh bread rolls; two construction workers stand at the counter, swallowing a quick coffee.
But coffee - any way you like it: filtered, espresso or cappuccino - can also be had in the many cafés that have sprung up between the Speicherstadt and Marco Polo Terraces, such as Café + Bar Kehrwieder, Oh it’s fresh, Café HafenCity InfoCenter Kesselhaus, Campus Suite or K.u.K. Kaffeehaus. At midday almost every eatery offers a fast, inexpensive lunchtime menu - after all, the 6,000 or so people working in the district need to restore their strength in their lunch break. Anyone with more time to spare, or planning a business lunch, will find plenty of upmarket restaurants, and even more in the evening. Two excellent restaurants - Sala Thai and Tai Tan - both serve authentic Thai dishes. Carl’s Bistro and Carl’s Brasserie are offshoots of the legendary Hotel Louis C. Jacob, which also have outstanding cooking, as do Vlet and Wandrahm.

The three latter eateries are also examples of the discriminating taste of many foodie entrepreneurs in the neighborhood: instead of simply rooting their own concepts here, they have let themselves be inspired by the location. Wandrahm’s chef, Oliver Widmann, for example, sees his restaurant as homage to the former Wandrahm neighborhood that had to make way for the free port at the end of the 19th century: "Historically this neighborhood is so interesting, it would be a pity to forget that," he thinks.  "The high columns set between the large glass façades on the ground floor are one reference to it. They have an abstract red-brick appearance, with silver and gold accents, and are a reminder of the old walls of days gone by."

HafenCity is already a place where all kinds of residents, local workers and visitors mingle - and the choice of places to eat is just as varied. It ranges from ice cream delights at Miss Sofie or Häagen-Dazs, through the interesting spectrum of museum catering, such as Dinner in the Dark (at Dialog im Dunkeln - a dinner in complete darkness,  by reservation only), the Erlkönig cafe and bistro (Prototyp auto museum), or cafe Kaispeicher B and the Austernbar restaurant (both in International Maritime Museum Hamburg). Special visual appeal can be enjoyed, for instance, from Kaisers, Bistro KaiserPerle and Häagen-Dazs, which are situated on the basement level of Kaiserkai and open out onto busy Dalmannkai promenade. When the weather is nice, guests can enjoy their meals on the outside terraces and appreciate the immediacy of the sparkling water below.

"You get a real Hamburg feeling in our branch on the waterfront," says Jan-Peter Becker of Häagen-Dazs. “Many tourists stroll along the promenade, but locals and office workers like to come down here for an ice cream or a cocktail after work.” Going out to eat or drink in HafenCity is about much more than just lovely views, it’s about discernment - about people being together. For instance, in the evening it often doesn’t take long to get drawn into conversation in or outside Heli von Boetticher’s KaiserPerle. "And if it’s raining, that’s when the fun really begins," says the hostess. "We only have eight seats, but we sometimes have up to 25 people in here. They just have to improvise and squeeze closer together - and that always breaks the ice." But when the weather is fine, there are 38 more seats outside the eatery (specialty: homemade potato salad), some of them on a special "neighborhood bench" with a terracotta garden, which is a  popular meeting place with local residents. And when that "one for the road" has been downed, it is only a couple of hours till that wonderful scent from the bakery wafts over Kaiserkai again...