I REMEMBER VISITING Leavenworth, WA, on family trips as a kid and loving the magical otherworldliness that the small mountain town exuded. Leavenworth goes so far with its Bavarian theme that it’s nicknamed “Little Bavaria.” The result is a small town in Washington that actually convinces you it’s a village in the German Alps.
I’m pleased to report (with a belly full of brats and beer) that the Leavenworth of my youth not only retains its magic, it’s actually better as an adult (again, beer). For every restaurant, bar, and sweet shop listed here, there are a dozen more that could have easily made the cut. Leavenworth loves to eat, drink, and be merry — and if you’re anything like me, the whimsy and wine is just icing on the gingerbread. Prost!
1. The timeless beer and pretzel combo at Icicle Brewing
Where to find it: 935 Front St.
By far the busiest, friendliest, and boisterous-est place I’ve ever patronized in Leavenworth is
To round everything out, Icicle Brewing also has a very decent selection of Bavarian bar food. A perfect pairing with your ale is their Bavarian pretzel with Beechers cheese dipping sauce (Beechers is a Seattle-based cheese shop, a local fave). The pretzel is hot and soft and salty and the cheese is melty and delicious. Bonus points if you can score the blue chairlift (seats two) at the end of the bar, a relic from nearby Stevens Pass Ski Area.
2. The hard stuff at Blue Spirits Distillery
Where to find it: 920 Front St.
Pony up to the bar at the
Between the darling little martini glasses and the gleaming copperworks in the corner, the whole place is a boozy Instagrammer’s paradise. Last visit, I had the pleasure of trying their Mango Vodka, Espresso Vodka, and the 8 Year Cherry Whiskey — that third one being my favorite. The proprietor, the witty and friendly Heidi, pours the tasters, visiting amicably as she works the busy bar top.
3. Sugar and spice (and everything tasty) at The Gingerbread Factory
Where to find it: 828 Commercial St.
Duck into this cute cottage of confections, and sink your teeth into the best darn gingerbread cookies — men, women, houses, flowers, and obviously dinosaurs — you’ll likely ever eat.
Pro tip: Take a gingerbread man or two to-go as you continue your stroll through downtown — or avail yourself of their full espresso bar and outdoor seating and spend some leisure time on the Gingerbread porch (which puts every other porch to shame).
4. Literally anything at South
Where to find it: 913 Front St.
The least “Leavenworth-y” restaurant in town might also be one of your favorites. Breaking with the Bavarian theme,
We grubbed down on plates of tiny street tacos, grilled corn covered in chili, lime, crema, and queso fresco, and shared a chicken poblano entree. If I wasn’t on a mission to explore all of Leavenworth with my face, I would have gladly eaten my way through South’s menu. But I had to save some room for…
5. The wood-fired pizza at Sulla Vita
Where to find it: 931 Front St.
The fire that bakes your thin-crust pizza at
Their cheesy, gooey, just-enough-crunch pizza aside, they have a hefeweizen on tap from Weihenstephaner, the world’s oldest brewery. Not only is this hef genuinely delicious and a perfect pairing with their pizzas, it’s something to brag about back home.
6. The Cabernet Sauvignon (paired with the mountain views) at Silvara’s
Where to find it: 77 Stage Rd.
While your eyes will be drinking in Leavenworth’s Alpine-like setting in the Cascades, your tastebuds will be getting familiar with a glass of the best Cabernet Sauvignon the area has to offer at
But if you’re more the bike-it or walk-it type and want to stay downtown, there’s also a collection of wine tasting rooms clustered on Front Street.
7. The wiener schnitzel at Andreas Keller Restaurant
Where to find it: 829 Front St.
Hailed as the best in both German food and atmosphere in Leavenworth,
This place is a real sausage fest, so roll up your sleeves and prepare to do face battle with an army of wieners and wursts. The smells from the kitchen you’ll wish you grew up with, and the Bavarian Beef Goulash is what your mom’s beef stroganoff always dreamed of being but never even came close. Sorry, mom.
8. The ice cream and sweets…basically everywhere
Where to find it: 636-733 Front St.
Good luck not stopping at one or two of downtown Leavenworth’s various ice cream, candy, taffy, gelato, or confection shops. Why fight it? Give into your sweet tooth, and get a double scoop on a waffle cone at
9. The traditional German brats at München Haus
Where to find it: 709 Front St.
It’s easy to join the throngs of eager sausage gobblers at this insanely popular outdoor spot, but it’s harder finding a seat. Best bet is to have one person stand in line and order and another hunt for a free place at one of the large wooden picnic tables. But even if you had to stand, it’d be worth it.