Munich in English - selected by independent Locals for Cosmopolitans, Newcomers and Residents - since 1989

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November 2004

Bar of the Month: Zentrale

There’s no denying that Munich beer is some of the finest in the world. But what’s the best of the best? According to the travelers’ bible, Lonely Planet, you’ll come close to it at one little bar tucked away in the depths of Neuhausen. The secret tipple? It isn’t Augustiner, Hofbräu or any of the big boys. No, what you’re after is concocted by a small brewery in the Allgäu countryside—Kaufbeuren Aktienbrauerei—and on tap at Zentrale for € 2.80 for half a liter. (Formerly called Froh und Munter, the bar has recently undergone renovation, which seems to have involved little more than a bizarre name change.)

But back to the beer. With such a claim, you’d expect the place to be full of backpackers in search of that holy ale. Yet, surprisingly, there isn’t an Aussie in sight. Instead, the place has that magic ingredient that makes it a rarity in Munich—a diverse clientele. No matter who you are, how hip, how beautiful, how old, how young, you won’t feel out of place here. Indeed, the mere fact that the place is not trying to be cool is precisely the reason why it is. Lookswise, it’s nothing to write home about—plain walls in white and a relaxing pale sage green, simple wooden tables and a functional bar, which, unlike in some places, is not meant to be the focal point of the room. In fact, there is no focal point, which means you can get on with enjoying the company in what is a remarkably laid-back atmosphere. Even the food and drink is simple. Unlike some places, where endless menus divert your attention from the conversation, here, less is definitely more. There are no schmaltzy cocktails, just a small selection of decent beer, wine and food—perhaps a plate of pasta, a salad or some mixed tapas.

Indeed the beauty of Zentrale is that you can make it what you want. Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing glass of wine after a tough week at work or a hip night out with friends, it fits the bill perfectly. And though Froh und Munter had more going for it than its current bland name, in its own, inconspicuous way, Zentrale is still quite a happening little spot.

Wear: Whatever you feel comfortable in—understated is the way to go
Drink: The magic brew, of course
Bring: A good friend

Zentrale, Artilleriestr. 5
Tel. (089) 18 79 97
Open 6 pm–1 am,
Closed Sunday

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