Guide to Leavenworth

Best Places to Eat in Leavenworth

The goofy Bavarian tourist town has sneakily turned into a rich destination for quality dining.

By Allison Williams

Yodelin Broth Company dishes rich soups.

It's been a long time since sausages and giant pretzels were the height of eating out in Leavenworth. A recent bust of creative culinary options means the mountain town can provide everything from novel fast food to fine dining, all under the cheery decor borrowed from Bavaria. Note that the busy tourist hub is rarely slow; reservations, where available, are recommended.

Watershed Cafe

It's not that a meatloaf specialty is odd—it's that it's the signature meal on a menu that also boasts two kinds of carpaccio and a broad cognac selection. But the million dollar meatloaf, topped with a cabernet and green peppercorn herb gravy, bridges the gap between diner classic and subtly flavored meat entree. With a porch hanging off a brick building on the edge of downtown, the low-lit dining room feels restful but somehow more urban than touristy Leavenworth; it would feel at home in Georgetown or Ballard.

The blockbuster meatloaf (center) has earned a reputation at Watershed Cafe.

Larch Handcrafted Pasta and Cocktails

Don't be alarmed by the mountain goat head mounted above the bar; this isn't a fresh game meat kind of place. Rather the star of the show are the handmade pastas, twisted into campanelle or die-pressed into pappardelle. Each dish has so many elements—mushrooms and smoked meats and flavored butters and cheese—that the delicate pastas can sometimes get lost, but the sheer power of the flavor is undeniable. The aggressively seasonal but wholly chill restaurant comes from chef Ben Herreid of Wildflour just outside of town.

München Haus and Leavenworth Sausage Garten

Sausage is inevitable in a town populated by almost as many nutcrackers and locals. Fortunately, bratwurst opportunities abound, best at this downtown pair of mostly-outdoor eateries. Behind the welcoming arch of München Haus, grillmasters carefully temperature-check each sausage. Jalapeno, veggie, and part-veal versions exist, but the 1/3-pound all-pork Big Bob is the undisputed kind, topped with apple cider sauerkraut and a buffet of mustards. Across the street at Leavenworth Sausage Garten, a similar menu hypes a spicy or a currywurst sausage as well. Both feature covered outdoor seating with heaters for even the coldest days; regular visitors may be partial to a favorite, while newcomers can simply hop into whatever line is shortest.

Ready your sausage party jokes for München Haus.

Yodelin Broth Company

Named for an extinct ski resort next to Stevens Pass—not a misspelled take on yodeling—the health-minded Yodelin has effortlessly redefined the signature flavors of downtown Leavenworth. Bone broths made from wild halibut, salmon, or chicken become hearty soups based on noodles and veggies. Protein add-ins are an option, but the 24-ounce portions barely need it; you can taste the rich halibut in the signature Yodelin bowl just from the broth. Rice dishes and burgers share the menu, and the cavernous basement restaurant and bar is bigger than it looks from the street.

Whistlepunk Ice Cream Company

When is there not a line at Whistlepunk? Unsurprising that ice cream is popular in a tourist town, but the shop—its name reminiscent of the local whistle pigs, or marmots—takes it seriously. Flavors come from Leavenworth coffee roasters or local honey producers, and in summer mountain fruits like blueberries and blackberries abound. A waffle cone doesn't come cheap, but scoopers will split flavors.

Whistlepunk's eclectic flavor selection.

Icicle Brewing Company

The decor may be German, but the beers are largely local from Leavenworth-area taps, and Icicle's brand is among the most popular. Many are named for local mountains like Dragontail and Dirtyface, and the founder can claim genuine Yakima Valley credentials as a fifth-generation hop farmer. Some tables are big and shareable, and the food menu of grilled cheese and landjaeger is clearly there to highlight the beer, never overshadow it. Rotating taps and a cheery atmosphere are a blend of outdoorsy bar and European-style brewhouse.

A toast at Icicle Brewing.

Andreas Keller

Dating back to 1989, the cozy basement on Front Street remembers a time when Leavenworth's Bavarian schtick was pretty new and not a guaranteed hit. Feeling like the inside of a beer barrel—in a good way—the curved wooden walls hug diners as much as the cozy comfort food. This is a menu of schnitzel and spätzle, where notes point out that they make the sauerkraut with white wine instead of vinegar, potato salad without mayo. With the bouncing melody of accordion music as soundtrack, the throwback restaurant feels like a tradition even the first time you enter. 

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