Do you have that one restaurant where you always take visitors to experience your local food? For us, that's Calwer-Eck Brauhaus. This tiny pub serves up some of the best traditional Swabian dishes that I've tasted and just so happens to be Stuttgart's first and smallest local brewery.
Located along Calwer Straße, this tiny pub doesn't look like much from the street. In fact, you'd probably walk right past it if you didn't know where to look. But once you walk in the front door and up the marble stairs, you're welcomed into a traditional pub-style atmosphere with wooden tables and chairs and even wood-paneled walls. However, the most interesting feature of Calwer-Eck are the art nouveau touches in the lamps and window panels, making it all the more attractive as a local beer and dinner destination.
Every time I go to Calwer-Eck I like to try the seasonal beer. On a recent visit with some friends from the States, we tried their Volksfest beer -- a slightly spicy, slighty hoppy blend. I really enjoy their specials because I find them to have a bit more flavor than the usual pils. They also have other specials on a rotating basis, including their Weihnachtsbier over the holidays and their blond spring beer. Of course, they always have the classics, too, for the purists: Pils, Hefeweizen, a dark beer, and their "brew master" special, which is deep caramel in color.
But of course, you can't enjoy a good German beer without a good German meal to go with it. My favorite dish at Calwer-Eck is by far the Calwer-Eck-Pfännle, and we recommend it to every guess we take there. This dish consists of a giant cast-iron pan filled with all kinds of Swabian delights, including Rostbraten (roast beef), Fleischkäse (literally "flesh cheese", though it's really just a large slice of delicious baloney), Maultasche (a kind of German version of ravioli), Bauernknacker (a kind of farmer's sausage), Käsespätzle (cheesey pasta with onions), and Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage). It's a good overview of the local cuisine and really appeals to my love of trying a bit of everything. Though be forewarned: The meal is one of the largest on the menu, and I usually can't finish it unless I'm really hungry.
In the past, I've also tried and liked the smaller Braumeister-Schmaus with Fleischkäse (a large slice of baloney), Maultasche (a kind of German version of ravioli), and Käsespätzle (cheesey pasta with onions) smothered in a dark Bratensauce. It's a bit more manageable than the larger Pfännle. I can also recommend the Calwer-Eck-Kringel that Matt had once with a spicy beef Bratwurst and Krautschupfnudeln, which are like large rolled gnocchi sautéed with Sauerkraut.
I would, however, advise you to go somewhere else for Schweinshaxe (roasted ham hock). Although the potato dumpling and beer sauce were delicious, the consistency of the ham was a bit dry as if it'd been boiled, whereas the Schweinshaxe that I had at once at Schwabengarten had a more fall-off-the-bone consistency.
Perhaps the weirdest dish on the menu that turned out to be a hit with both my husband and my best work friend are the crispy chicken wings. They definitely have a great crunchy coating, but I find the weak barbecue sauce and herb sour cream dip disatisfying. It's just not the same as the spicy wings and ranch back home, although I have to agree with my husband that they hit the spot when we're feeling a little homesick.
In terms of accessibility, I love Calwer-Eck because we can take not only our friends, but Leo, too. He's perfectly content sitting below our feet in the dark bar, though it can get a little crowded on the weekends. I highly recommend you book a table if you plan to go on a Friday or Saturday night, and especially if you need room for a large group.
I find the waitstaff generally very friendly and accommodating, and they'll even bring you some English menus upon request. Just be aware that when the restaurant gets busy you may have to wait a bit for service or be a bit more aggressive with flagging the waitstaff down (which is completely normal here in Germany).
Calwer-Eck is located at Calwer Straße 31, just one block over from the Stadtmitte S-bahn stop in the direction of Königstraße, which is just two blocks beyond that. It's a really nice street with tons of restaurants, and in the summertime most of the businesses, including Calwer-Eck, even have outdoor seating. Calwer-Eck is open every day from about 11:00 until midnight.
So how about it: Do you have a favorite local restaurant where you take your guests in your town?