Why isn't German cuisine more popular in the US?

I visited Milwaukee, where I grew up, a few weeks ago. One thing I’d never thought about much: There are German restaurants there. But there aren’t many German restaurants throughout the country.

At least, German restaurants don’t seem nearly as common or widespread as Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Greek, or Japanese places. Even English cuisine represents, what with the popularity of pub grub. Taco Bell yes, Schitzel Haus not so much.

Why is this? Why is sauerkraut possibly less common than kimchee, unless you’re at a hot dog stand? What is it about German (and possibly Eastern European) cuisine that has left it a rarity, often served in places that require their waitstaff to dress in lederhosen or serving-wench costumes?

The National Restaurant Association seems to back up my impression. And suggests a few ideas, but I’m really curious about the long-term trends. German Americans make up the largest ancestry group in the US, so why doesn’t Tombstone make a pumpernickel-crust pizza?

Two WAGs: it has a reputation as being very fatty and starchy, and therefore not PC. Although, yum?

And two, during WWII anything German was, um, verboten. I imagine there’s some holdover from that. (Most American knitters knit wrong because the right way to knit used be known as “the German method.”)

I realize that this doesn’t constitute a scientific approach to the question but every single time I’ve eaten at a German restaurant it has given me the most massive case of the farts. Unmatched by any other cuisine. Mexican food? No problem. Really hot & spicy food? Love it, no issues.

German food? 76 trombones in my underpants.

After a few tries I’ve pretty much written it off, which is a shame because some of the food is quite yummy.

I’d add Scandinavian as an ethnicity that’s common in many parts of the US, but doesn’t produce a lot of restaurants. Three suggestions:
(1) German, Scandinavian and Eastern European foods have never had a reputation as being excitingly exotic to people outside the ethnic group;
(2) A lot of Germans, Scandinavians and Eastern Europeans migrated to the US more than a century ago, when restaurant-going was just about eating food, not about a cultural experience. (And restaurants tended to be taverns or inns, not what we’d call restaurants today);
(3) Those groups were too busy assimilating to be interested in propagating parts opf their culture to outsiders.

Can’t really answer the OP but you reminded me that when I visit Ohio for the holidays I absolutely must go to Schmidt’s. They’re a german restaurant run by a german family for the last 120 some years. (Actually, the restaurant has been there since the 60’s, they started as a meat packing co in the 1880’s)

Their cream puff is to DIE FOR.

In Sacramento there is this restaurant that I’ve always sort of wondered whether I should try it, but I’m a little frightened of the place. SacDopers may be able to weigh in on this one.

Assimilating? The rest of you are eating OUR food. Except for disgusting things like lutefisk, which we don’t eat, either, now that Granny’s dead.

What’s Classic American Cuisine? Lots of grease, starch, and meat without a lot of spices, plus dessert. What’s Northern European Cuisine? Same thing. We go to restaurants (and there’s lots of us so our restaurant tastes controls the market) for something different because piles of greasy blandness is just “food” to us.

There’s not a single German restaurant in Montgomery (a city of about 250,000 metro). There used to be one in a small town 20 miles away but it closed. I would love to see them become popular- weinerschnitzel, sauerbraten, Schweinebraten… ah, I crave I crave. I even like German potato salad- can’t stand the home version of it.

Some of the best German cooking I’ve ever had was in northern Virginia. It’s apparently big in that area.

It’s pretty good. Try it!

These are both good thoughts. But Japanese and (especially) Italian food have some of the same characteristics yet are wildly popular. Of course, Hitler didn’t eat sushi, so it’s not quite the same, PR-wise. And IIRC the anti-German sentiment started with WWI, so the roots are deeper.

Another thought: Maybe German cuisine is out there and just more thoroughly assimilated – hot dogs, bratwurst, beer …

I am reminded of the Hogan’s Heroes episode with the visiting Italian POW camp commander Major Bonacelli. After a meal with Col Klink he ended up in the hospital recovering from an acute case of** Wiener Schnitzel**.:wink:

Well, I’m glad I have access to the German restaurants of Milwaukee, so I can enjoy saurbraten, spaetzle, schnitzel, kassler rippchen, rouladen, goose shanks, konigsberger klopse, beef and mushroom strudel, pork chops stuffed with saurkraut and served with potato pancakes, metwurst, knackwurst, and a nice Dobos or Schaum torte for dessert!

damn, now I’m hungry.

Growing up not too far from Milwaukee, with my great-grandma from Germany and cooking those foods regularly, I considered them all-american fare! Better than my Dutch Grandma’s cooking (pickled herring, scrambled eggs and brains), for sure!

I sadly discovered they weren’t so common elsewhere in the US!

re: Japanese

No reputation for high fat; the opposite in fact. Also, Japanese and German foods have different histories in this country. The primary difference, I think, is that during the Tokyo Olympics (1964?) the exotic nature of the Japanese diet (they eat raw WHAT?!?!) got a lot of coverage in the news. And there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Probably the influence of Japanese design (through Wright and disciples) also served to give Japanese things a more appealing exoticism than German things. Again, the adjective “German” still evokes images of heavy, dark, archaic design and foods.

The popularity of Italian I suspect might have more to do with the concentrated populations of Italian Americans in America’s largest cities; Italian food had been pretty much adopted as American food, and Italy’s comparatively low-profile participation in WWII (compared, that is, with Germany and Japan) probably didn’t make as much of a negative impression on a cuisine that was already pretty well established in this country’s population centers.

Now, this is all “original work,” as it were, but it’s how it makes sense to me.

A lot of “American” food is really adapted German food. Hot dogs and sauerkraut? Bratwurst? Hamburgers? Egg noodles? Liverwurst? Potato salad? Black Forest Cake? All adaptations of German dishes.

German food is incredibly popular in the USA, it’s just that America has such a strong German background that it’s not considered foreign.

Hamburgers, wieners and potato salad. Doesn’t get much more German than that.

25 years ago Japanese food was impossible to find, unless you count Benihana. Any reference to sushi was of the “ugh” variety. Somehow it became a fad, and the restaurants spread. If German food becomes a fad, we’ll see more of those also, though I agree on the prevalence of German food in the US disguised as American food.

Two World Wars.

Honestly, even the Germans don’t eat a lot of “traditional” German food. Go to Germany. Aside from breakfasts (which are excellent) and the odd diner-type place, you’ll wind up eating… Italian. I’ve had a lot of German food and variations thereof. With the exception of the aforementioned breakfasts and sausages (which are hardly limited to germany) never, not once, has it been worth going back to. Not bad, but never great.

And the breakfasts were actually distinguished mostly by their completeness. They would have a large, healthy spread, where as most Americans hardly even nibble at breakfast. The only particularly German ingredient was the serving of good quality meats.

When I lived in Sacramento, there were a lot of hof brau places like that (also smörgåsbords which were basically buffet restaurants). In particular, I remember Sam’s Hof Brau Haus which had quite a few locations in the Sacramento area. I don’t know if any are still around but I recall they were mainly delis with sandwich-heavy menus and draft beer at some of the restaurants. The Plaza Hof Brau that’s in dangermom’s link also looks like it specializes in sandwiches but seems to have a full menu of German items.

Where I live now, there’s only one restaurant in the entire area (with a population of about 550,000 people) that serves German cuisine. However, its name–Chic-A-Ria–would likely make people think it’s a Mexican restaurant. It’s actually supposed to be pretty good but I haven’t been there yet.

Sausage, Potatoes, eggs, cabbage, letuce, Beef, Chicken, and Pork, ground up, or roasted or fried or stewed. Germans and English were the two largest immigrant groups, and had a fairly similar cuisine that blended into the baseline of American cooking. Neither had the rich varieties of spices that come from tropical climates, so the exotic food are exotic in how they are different than that.