Few dining experiences are as authentic as settling in for drinks and small plates at a cozy Alsatian winstub. Undeniably charming, these quaint “wine rooms” beckon passersby with their alluring charm and eclectic décor (think checkered tablecloths, wood burning stoves, and rustic tables crowded with friends and strangers alike), as well as their simple yet satisfying selections of wines and traditional Alsatian cuisine.
Like many Alsatian customs and traditions, winstubs are as distinct a part of Alsatian culture as the area’s regional dialect (the second most-spoken regional language in France) or its unique Christmastime traditions. From the provincial capital of Strasbourg, to the world-famous Alsace Wine Route, winstubs can be found throughout the region and are a part of everyday Alsatian culture.
Much like brasseries, bistros, and taverns, menu offerings vary from winstub to winstub, but — if the winstub stays true to tradition — patrons can expect to find a variety of traditional Alsatian dishes on the menu, such as choucroute garnie, baeckeoffe, and tarte flambée, to name a few. Not to mention a delectable assortment of Alsatian wines, as well as varietals from outside the region.
Lively with locals and tourists alike, winstubs are similar to a neighborhood pub or café. Full of warmth and chatter, these inviting establishments provide the perfect setting for catching up with friends over good wine and comfort food. Because winstubs are so commonplace, they are easy to find throughout the region. However, if you’re looking for the most authentic experience, there are a few well-known winstubs you won’t want to overlook.
Chez Yvonne, Strasbourg
This popular Strasbourg winstub opened its doors in 1873, but it wasn’t until the 1950s when it was taken over by Yvonne Haller that it became the highly regarded winstub it is today. Warm, inviting, and full of eclectic drapery and décor, Chez Yvonne is one of the best-known winstubs in Alsace. Since changing ownership in the early 2000s, Chez Yvonne has retained its atmospheric allure but evolved its menu to include not only traditional Alsatian dishes like choucroute garnie, but more contemporary dishes as well, such as modern take on foie gras.
Wistub Brenner, Colmar
Patrons looking for a winstub experience with a view needn’t search further than Wistub Brenner in Colmar. With it’s timeless interior, patrons can choose to settle in for dinner at one of the clothed tables inside, or opt to enjoy their meal on the patio, complete with sweeping views of the Lauch river and other surrounding storybook scenery. A delightful setting in itself, the experience is made better by the winstub’s expertly executed cuisine. You’ll find all the classics here, as well as a few welcome surprises.
Au Pont Corbeau, Strasbourg
With its rustic wood-paneled walls, cheery red-and-white checkered tablecloths, and mouthwatering menu of local Alsatian dishes, Au Pont Corbeau is a popular Strasbourg winstub frequented by locals and tourists alike. With a full menu of traditional Alsatian dishes, Au Pont Corbeau is comfort food at its finest. Due to its popularity, the Strasbourg winstub often is crowded and buzzing with conversation. Don’t be surprised if you make new friends while dining at Au Pont Corbeau — the cozy winstub is the perfect setting for striking up a conversation with strangers.
Auberge à l’Illwald, Sélestat
While enjoying the Alsace Wine Route, make plans to stop in Sélestat for food and drinks at Auberge à l’Illwald. A charming dining room complete with elegant chandeliers, ornate murals, and a crackling wood stove, the food at Auberge à l’Illwald can be described as an elevated take on Alsatian classics. And, if after filling up with a satisfying meal of baeckeoffe and tarte souflée, for example, you decide to extend your stay, you can rest up in one of 16 charming rooms available for rent at this winstub that doubles as a hotel.