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The area around the Alster lakes and the canals are dotted with a variety of small restaurants with outside dining and an excellent selection of wine. Visitors can discover a refreshing graubugunder (pinot gris) while watching swans glide on the canal waters, sample classic French fare, or sip a perfect cup of coffee at one of the cafés sprinkled throughout central Hamburg. Here are a few places to start your café crawl:
Café Gnosa. Very much a part of Hamburg's gay and lesbian neighborhood, this local favorite has produced delicious desserts and the perfect breakfasts since 1987. It also serves delicious comfort foods like pasta and schnitzel as well as salads. The friendly service and occasional drag performances both add to its popularity. Lange Reihe 93, St. Georg, Hamburg, 20099. 040/243–034. www.gnosa.de.
Café Paris. This busy restaurant is across from the Rathaus. The excellent traditional French fare includes steak frites, beef tartare, croque monsieur, and other classics. Breakfast here is a treat and a far cry from the traditional German bread-and-meat options. The main dining room is crowded with tables. For a more intimate experience, reserve a table in the salon. Café Paris also has an excellent French wine list. Rathausstr. 4, Altstadt, Hamburg, 20095. 040/3252–7777. www.cafeparis.net.
Saliba Alsterarkaden. Underneath the arches of an elegant arcade, this popular café has superb views of the Town Hall. If the sun peeks out, the inside is empty, because everyone is perched at a canal side table. There they can sip on some excellent German wine and watch swans glide across the water. The menu includes may Syrian and other Middle Eastern dishes. Neuer Wall 13, Neustadt, Hamburg, 20354. 040/345–021. www.saliba.de.
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