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Zum Roten Ochsen


Zum Roten Ochsen  Zum Roten Ochsen Heidelberg

Hauptstraße 217 69117 Heidelberg

When a restaurant has been up and running for as long as Zum Roten Ochsen, it’s unreasonable to expect the same quality of cooking and flair to persist over the years.  Tastes change, ingredients transform, and modern dishes are invented.  New owners surface and the menu receives an overhaul.  But here, things are different.  Built in 1703, Zum Roten Ochsen has been owned by the Spengel family for over 6 generations for more than 170 years.  The rich tradition of this historic establishment has continued to the present day.


Sitting in this historic pub, surrounded by ancient relics of the past, one can only wonder which famous historic figures have set foot here.  Pictures of prominent people as well as distinguished students of the University of Heidelberg line the walls.  In fact, it can give you goose bumps just being here.

The ambiance is a bit dark, but also romantic.  The aged wooden walls give a clear indication of the history here.  Antlers are also proudly displayed from successful hunts of days past.  Additionally, other random objects dangle from the ceiling.  Of course, the head of a red ox (Roten Ochsen means red ox) oversees the dining room.  Here, the menu, written in both German and English, is focused.  There isn’t a huge selection of entrées, rather a restricted number of dishes done well.  Typical dishes from the Swabian region makes this restaurant unique compared to the others along the Hauptstraße.


The lentil stew with spätzle and sausages, priced at 9,50 euros, is listed as the national dish of the Swabian region.  In this dish, the lentils are perfectly cooked in a beef broth along with diced onions and chopped carrots.  The stew is rich, thick, and hearty.  Small chunks of beef can be found amongst the lentils – rewarding bits of meat that remind you of the long cooking process involved.  The sausages are typical wieners (frankfurters) – they aren’t overly salty and the casing has a pleasant snap.  They add substance to the stew.  Pieces of spätzle can also be found in the stew.  Overall, the flavor combination works extremely well.  Although the portion size appears to be on the small side, the dish is absolutely satisfying.  This bowl is even more gratifying on a cold, snowy night – the contents are steaming hot and ultimately soothes the soul.


Zum Roten Ochsen is an excellent place for a quick beer or a complete quality meal.  Whether it’s a romantic get-together, a group dinner with friends, or a meeting with old buddies, visiting Heidelberg isn’t complete without a stop at Zum Roten Ochsen.



Located along the main street in Heidelberg’s Altstadt, Zum Roten Ochsen is a historic pub serving traditional German cuisine as well as regional Swabian (Schwäbisch) dishes in an old-fashioned setting.  Reservations recommended.

Overall – 4.5 stars

  • Lentil Stew with Spätzle and Sausages (Schwäbisches Linsengemüse mit Spätzle und zwei Würstchen) – 4.5/5
  • Service – 4/5



Written by geschmack

December 18th, 2009 at 8:26 pm