Visit the World’s Only Airport With a Brewery and a Michelin-Starred Restaurant

Grab a Bavarian breakfast, pretzel, and wheat beer brewed on-site in Munich International Airport.

<p>Courtesy of Munich International Airport</p>

Courtesy of Munich International Airport

It’s 11 a.m. on a bracing December morning as the winter market springs to life. There are plump bratwurst browning on a grill, sweet, sugar-coated almonds caramelizing in a copper kettle, and kids squealing as they skate gingerly across an ice rink surrounded by brightly decorated pine trees. I’m sipping a mug of glúhwein that’s fragrant with cloves, gazing across the charming wooden huts dotted around the square as I toss up whether to stand in line for the sausage. The scene is just like many others playing out in cities all over Germany during the holidays, with one notable exception — I’ve just passed through customs, grabbed my suitcase, and exited an airport terminal. 

Munich’s international airport hosts the market annually from mid-November until late December in the vast covered space between its two terminals. As someone who transits through here every year to spend Christmas with family in the Bavarian Alps, I am no stranger to its charms. There’s something quite festive about disembarking a flight and being immediately greeted with the smells and sounds of home and the holidays.

It’s not the only reason I hold Franz Josef Strauss Airport (as it’s also known) in such high regard — it has some pretty serious food and drink chops all year round. For starters, it has its own brewery on-site, Airbräu, whose seasonal lagers and wheat beers are poured alongside traditional Bavarian dishes at its 400-seat brewpub at the Munich Airport Center. I’ve lost count of how many Bavarian breakfasts of weisswurst, pretzels, and wheat beer I’ve enjoyed here before hopping on a morning flight back to the U.S. (Before you judge, beer before noon is entirely normal in Bavaria; we call it früschoppen.)

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Munich’s airport is also the only one in the world with a Michelin-starred restaurant, inside the Hilton Hotel next to Terminal 2. It makes a strong case for staying at the airport overnight and catching dinner at Mountain Hub Gourmet before an early flight. (The hotel is actually quite lovely as airport hotels go, not to mention convenient.) The restaurant offers a four- or six-course tasting menu that leans into produce from the region — trout from Penzing, an hour west in rural Bavaria; beef from Bärnau, two hours north in the Pfalz. As you sit by the fire and dine on elegant plates thoughtfully paired with German wines — including some stellar n/a options – from the restaurant’s impressive cellar, it’s easy to forget you’re in an airport. It’s not surprising that the restaurant also attracts a local and loyal following.

If Munich is not your final destination and you happen to be looking for car or train snacks as you head out of the airport, there's a really handy Edeka supermarket on the way to the S Bahn in Terminal 2. This is not just a little convenience shop but a generously sized grocery store that’s even open on Sundays, which is a big deal — everything, including supermarkets, is shut on Sundays in the southern state. They have a hot food counter where my husband and I always grab a warm leberkässemmel — a Kaiser roll filled with a slab of warm meatloaf smothered in sweet mustard — Bavaria’s answer to a hot dog.

What all these experiences underscore is that Munich is an airport that really elevates local flavor and hospitality. Sure, there’s the obligatory smattering of international fast-food chains, but you’ll also see local brewpubs amply represented, such as Hofbrau, Erdinger, and Paulaner, as well as an outpost of gourmet delicatessen Dallmyer. The mothership in Munich proper is one of the largest delicatessens in Europe and the airport location sports a patisserie, cafe, and a bistro. I also have a soft spot for Sissi & Franz, a cafe and bar named after Bavarian princess Elisabeth von Wittelsbach and her husband, Emperor Franz Josef of Austria. I often grab a few buttered pretzels from the counter to take back to the U.S.; they’re my snack of choice on the car ride home from Newark, a true taste of Bavaria, championed by an airport, no less.

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