Last week I got a chance to visit my first Besen in Germany. A Besen (which translates to ‘broom’ in German) is the name for a seasonal wine tavern/mini-restaurant. They are especially popular in Swabia, the region of southwest Germany where I live in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Winegrowers and winemakers turn their homes, dining rooms or rebuilt barns into temporary restaurants where they serve wine from their own vineyards and hearty home-cooked meals. They can legally run a Besen (also known as Besenwirtschaften or Besenschänke in Württemberg) without a restaurant or bar license, though not for longer than four months out of the year and not for more than twice a year.
How do you locate a Besen? Look for the broom hanging in front of a home or building! This signals that the Besen is open for business.
I first learned about Besen when I attended the Stuttgart Steps tour in Stuttgart last year. Our guide pointed out an old-fashioned stick broom hanging in front of a building in the Bohnenviertel and told us about the Besen tradition. I have been meaning to visit one ever since but I never got around to it – until now!
I’m kicking myself a little for waiting as long as I did – even though I’ve only been to one so far, I loved it. We went to Geiger’s Weinstüble in Ludwigsburg on its opening day. Needless to say, it was packed inside when we arrived around 6:45pm.
I was expecting to pull up to a small little living room but was surprised to find a lovely white building dedicated solely to serving Besen visitors. We had a little trouble finding a seat as all of the benches and tables were occupied, but luckily a group was leaving just as we arrived so we were able to squeeze in at the end of a bench. Besen are known for their cozy atmosphere since they are relatively small – it’s a great way to meet locals and hear the local dialect!
We ordered a Rotweinschorle (red wine mixed with sparkling mineral water) and a naturtrüb Apfelschorle (freshly-pressed apple juice with sparking mineral water) from our red and white-checker shirted server. We read through the simple menu and had a hard time guessing what the dishes were (even S); the one-word menu items left a little to the imagination. I ordered Maultaschen (Swabian meat-filled ravioli) and S ordered the daily special, Fleischküchle mit Kartoffelsalat (meatballs with potato salad). The food came out quickly and really hit the spot on the cool autumn evening. Everyone around us seemed to be having a great time chatting, drinking and catching up with friends. We noticed that some tables were reserved, so if you plan to go with a group, definitely make a reservation first if you can.
To find a Besen open in your area, visit this helpful Besen calendar – you can search by city name, postal code, or day of the week to see what’s open. (Special thanks to Alie from Starting Over in Stuttgart for recommending this website to me!)
Have you been to a Besen before? What did you think? Can you recommend a good Besen? I’d love to go to another one!