Beers and wursts on a cool fall day, what could be better? Absolutely nothing. It would almost be easy to walk past this tiny, delectable, Austrian restaurant without noticing it but that would be a travesty. I was introduced to Cafe Katja by Rick’s cousin, Dan, who clearly should be showered with love & affection for bringing us here. It’s easily become one of my favorite places to eat in the city and that’s saying a lot coming from me. It may not be the type of place you can eat at frequently, as the food can be rather heavy, but once fall rolls around and it begins to get a bit nippy outside, there is nothing that makes me happier than cozying up with a pint of beer and some Austrian grub.
As I mentioned, Cafe Katja is tiny. As in, there are probably 6 or 7 tables that hold 2 people apiece, a small bar, and a wall of stools for when it gets really crazy. That shouldn’t deter you. If there’s a wait you can always stop by the Dressing Room next door, which is both a clothing store and a bar, and have yourself a “waiting boyfriend” (a Miller High Life and a whiskey shot). The people who work at Katja are wonderful. They make you feel like family from the second you walk in and the owners are frequently there to ask you how things are going. The bar serves mixed drinks and wine but you should have yourself one of the carefully selected German and Austrian beers they have on tap or in bottles.
Where to even begin when it comes to the food? It’s really well done. I believe at this point in time I’ve tried all of their appetizers. Each one is spectacular but the liverwurst ($8) and landjäger ($9) are my two favorites. The liverwurst comes with red onion jam and toasted bread. It is incredibly creamy and full of flavor. They also give you a massive amount. The landjäger, which is a cured meat, comes with liptauer, a creamy, soft cheese and bread. Ask for the mustard, which comes in a little pot, if you want to spice things up.
The salads are equally as good. They only have 3 but I’ve had two of them and they both blew me away. The beets with goat cheese, pumpkin oil, and caraway seeds (8) is in perfect harmony. I don’t even like beets that much but I could eat this salad every day. The caraway seeds give it the little bit of crunch that the salad needs to keep it interesting and obviously I will eat anything with goat cheese. The other is the red cabbage with lingonberry, apple, and walnuts ($7). Oh my god. One of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth. Everything just works together so well and the flavors are incredible. Order this. Seriously.
They have 3 sandwiches and I’ve only tried one because once you try it you won’t really want to eat anything else ever again. It’s their Katja Reuben ($12) with pork belly, cabbage, cheese, pickles and mustard. It is a giant sandwich. It could feed two people, though I doubt you’ll really want to share it. Their smoked pork loin sandwich ($9) also sounds fantastic so perhaps I’ll get around to trying that soon.
As for their entrees, I’ve really only ever tried two of them – the sausage sampler ($15 each – must be shared with at least one other person) and the bratwurst (8). The sausage sampler is the way to go, assuming you enjoy sausages. It comes with pork belly, emmentaler sausage, bratwurst, and then something that can only be described as a hot dog on top of a bed of sauerkraut and quark dumplings. What are quark dumplings you might ask? Little pillows of heaven, that’s what they are. Quark is a type of curd cheese and these dumplings are not to be missed. If I don’t have someone who wants to share that plate of awesomeness then I usually opt for the bratwurst because it comes with sauerkraut and I love sauerkraut. I always get a side of dumplings. No meal is complete without the dumplings! Or the spicy mustard that comes with the sausages. Best mustard ever. See how much of it you can spread on before your eyes well up with tears and your sinuses are cleared.
I’ve never had dessert here because by the time I’ve plowed my way through all of the food I’ve just mentioned I’m in danger of needing to be rolled out of the restaurant. I’m sure the dessert is just as good as everything else here but I come for the savory, not the sweet. I also listed all of the prices to show you what an incredible deal Cafe Katja is. None of the portions are small and everything is so affordable. I love it here.