A culinary stroll down Nordstrasse


A culinary stroll down Nordstrasse

Today, we are taking you on a culinary excursion along Nordstrasse, stopping off at some popular cafés and restaurants, including the Hitchcoq and Café Dulce.   

Strolling along Nordstrasse, the Pempelfort district’s main shopping street, you quickly realise that there is a remarkable range of food on offer here. From crunchy hot chicken and vegan bowls all the way to handmade macaroons, it would be impossible to sample everything in just one visit. But if you want to try, go right ahead! Or you could always return another time. In any case, we highly recommend these eight eateries, some of which also do takeaway, meaning you can enjoy their sweet treats, savoury snacks or even spirits at home as well.  

The autumn sun is shining on Düsseldorf. This afternoon, the temperature has actually managed to reach 20 degrees once more. After a short journey through Hofgarten Park and along Kaiserstrasse with its bridal wear shops we lock our bike to a pole near Nordstrasse U-Bahn station. Then we turn right, keeping on the left-hand side of the road. After a few metres we find ourselves outside The Max, a fabulous concept store located at Nordstrasse 12. Through the shop windows we admire the eclectic range of vintage furniture, Medicom toys, art objects and trendy fashion – brand new or from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s. The Max is famous for this fascinating mix. But today our focus is on food, not fashion. So on we go, to Eat Tokyo at Nordstrasse 28, where a couple are enjoying their salmon and tuna sashimi on the small outdoor terrace. However, the building is split, and we’re more interested in the other entrance:

CENTRO, Nordstrasse 28

The sign on the wall proclaims ‘Italian delicatessen since 1992’. The original CENTRO on Ackerstrasse has sadly long since gone, but the shop on Nordstrasse is a reliable fixture – resplendent in red, white and green. It’s a real family business as well, now involving three generations. Across the shop counter we learn that they celebrated their 30th anniversary in April. The place is virtually bursting at the seams with the amount of products on offer. There’s the sheer range of antipasti for one thing! Not to mention the different types of salami, as well as goat’s cheese, pecorino and buffalo camembert, and also vitello tonnato along with veal meatballs in tomato sauce. Dessert is equally well catered for, from fresh cornetti with whipped cream and Amarena cherries to beautifully wrapped panettone and cantuccini. The shelves are stacked with rows of Italian wines, as well as amaro, spumante, grappa and limoncello, of course. We opt for a classic dish – freshly prepared lasagne to take away – and start to look forward to dinner.     

Hitchcoq, Nordstrasse 30 

On Nordstrasse you only need to walk one door down to travel from Japan and Italy straight to the United States. At number 30, the Hitchcoq does pretty much one thing only, but it does it amazing well! The menu consists almost entirely of fried chicken, particularly the specific variety known as ‘Nashville Hot Chicken’. As well as being extremely tender and perfectly seasoned – thanks to the restaurant’s own special blend of herbs and spices – the chicken is also guaranteed to have been raised without the use of antibiotics. According to the Gault&Millau restaurant guide, the idea may be simple, but the execution is top-notch. We actually manage to spot a free table in the bright, unpretentious restaurant, but we know from experience that the later it gets, the less chance there is of finding one. The place has been buzzing ever since brothers Fabian and Ben Schmidt-Pereira opened the Hitchcoq in 2018. You can choose between wings, drumsticks and fillet, as well as between five levels of spice, from ‘mild’ to ‘afterlife’. A choice of four sides – fries, coleslaw, Caesar salad and macaroni cheese – completes the meal. Then there are the various dips, including a spectacular mango-and-lime mayonnaise. How about an ALTfred beer to wash it all down? On top of everything else, Fabian and Ben are running their own microbrewery on site, with the help of two experienced Düsseldorf brewers. We’ll drink to that! On a day like today ideally on the beer bench in the courtyard. 

Café Dulce, Nordstrasse 32  

Sweet dreams are made of this! Number 32 is home to Café Dulce, where temptation is sure to get the better of you! The various crumbles are particularly delicious, from plain apple to cherry and almond, raspberry and coconut, and plum and cinnamon. Make sure you order them with a scoop of homemade ice cream and plenty of whipped cream! If you feel like something a bit more savoury you can choose between six different types of flammkuchen. At the Dulce, everything is made from natural ingredients, without any artificial additives or preservatives. The roomy dining area contains a mix of functional bistro furniture and quirky items such as a vintage sideboard on the wall and chequered floor tiles near the counter. They also sell ice cream to go. We opt for sorbets – sour cherry and passion fruit.   

Then we cross the road, ice cream in hand. The windows of Café Dulce reflect the red, white and blue colour bunting of Les Halles St. Honoré opposite. Let’s see what French treats they have in store for us. But first a quick detour to the entrance of the Nord Carree shopping street, where we find My Poffertjes, which relocated from Friedrichstrasse to Nordstrasse 25 at the beginning of 2022. It smells delicious here, like a Dutch market. And it looks like there is more on offer than just the small fluffy pancakes (with assorted toppings, of course!) from which the shop takes its name. They also make traditional Dutch stroopwafels, a type of round waffle cookie filled with caramel. Sadly, we’re still eating our ice creams. But definitely next time!  

Les Halles St. Honoré, Nordstrasse 31 

Les Halles St. Honoré is hard to miss, and that’s not just because it has gone big on the colours of the Tricolore. Here in the heart of the Pempelfort district, this fresh take on a brasserie combines French nonchalance with a formidable range of products. As well as dinner, you can enjoy a ‘plat du jour’ here at lunchtime or even a ‘petit déjeuner’. Très bien! Alternatively, you can buy a baguette de campagne, some brioche or a hearty croque monsieur to take away. Or simply get one of each for breakfast, which is what we end up doing. Now we just need some patisserie, such as tartelettes aux fruits or a traditional apple tart. And how about some cheese, sausage or wine? Les Halles St. Honoré is more than just a café and bistro, it’s also a market hall in miniature. The hot food available at this relaxed venue includes classic dishes such as beef bourguignon and, for a starter, escargots de Bourgogne.  

The sheer range of food on offer on this, the shorter section of Nordstrasse is truly amazing, both in terms of the number of outlets and their international diversity. And there’s more to discover after we reach the crossing. Here, on the corner of Nordstrasse and Duisburger Strasse, for many years the site of McDonald’s, you’ll now find Marketim Gourmet. At the fresh food counter here you can buy meat, olives and meze, and the choice of fresh fruit and vegetables makes it really tempting to cook from scratch for a change. There’s also delicious baklava for dessert. But for now we keep heading up Nordstrasse in search of other ready-made foodie treats.

Funkybowl, Nordstrasse 46  

Time to check out another recent arrival on Nordstrasse. Funkybowl has certainly brought something new and exciting to the mix. They will prepare you a 100 per cent vegan bowl to suit your personal taste preferences. You choose a base, i.e. couscous, mashed potatoes, brown or white rice (with or without quinoa), wild herb salad or zucchini noodles. Then you pick one of the delicious freshly made sauces, which include garlic and ginger, curry and mango, and rocket and mustard. And finally you’re spoilt for choice between over 30 toppings, from roast cauliflower and caramelised onions to wakame seaweed salad and beetroot hummus. Also on the menu are fresh wraps, salads and set bowls that have already passed the taste (and feelgood factor) test at the Funkybowl branch in Berlin. These include Funky Monkey, which contains grilled vegetables, sweet potatoes and pomegranate seeds. Although the shop does have a few seats, the focus is very much on take-away here.  

You could argue that the Himmel & Ähd pub just across the road offers the exact opposite of vegan bowls. Things are pretty low-key at the moment, but once the autumn sun begins to set, the Füchschen altbier will be flowing freely here at Nordstrasse 53. So it’s just as well that the Himmel & Ähd allows you to line your stomach in preparation. It doesn’t necessarily have to be with ‘Heaven and Earth’, the traditional Rhineland dish from which the pub takes its name, i.e. fried blood sausage with mashed potatoes and onions. Other local favourites are also available. 

A number 701 tram rattles past. The Nordstrasse is normally packed, and there’s always something going on. Moving on from the pub, there is also plenty of activity under the red awnings on the corner of Nordstrasse and Schwerinstrasse.  

Café Florian, Nordstrasse 56 

Düsseldorf locals like to sit at the tall bistro tables in front of Café Florian, safe in the knowledge that sooner or later someone they know will come past. This holds true from early in the morning until late at night, and there’s always time for a chat. Taking his cue from Paris, Abed Mansour opened his café-bistro-restaurant more than 30 years ago. At that time, his Francophile notions were fairly unique on the Düsseldorf hospitality scene. Nowadays his son Marcel runs Café Florian. The great thing about this venue, which is furnished in a belle époque style, is that despite its high profile, it has remained true to what it has always been – a much-loved local meeting place. Somewhere you can enjoy a refreshing draught beer outdoors after a spot of shopping. Or meet your friends for breakfast, available in a wide range of variants that reflect the international outlook of the kitchen – from the full ‘Scottish’ to an Asian option all the way to the Düsseldorf breakfast. Or how about an evening meal featuring one of the Florian’s classic dishes, such as Mansour’s bouillabaisse or grilled calf’s liver with truffled potato puree, or Mediterranean specialities like the Lebanese antipasti platter? With customers from all walks of life, this is just the sort of place that makes the Nordstrasse what it is. 

You could say much the same thing about Schwerinstrasse and the Eiscafé Da Forno, so we’ll now make a quick detour there. We spot the first fans of Da Forno’s ice cream sitting under the large chestnut tree on the corner, and the outdoor terrace of the historical ice cream parlour is packed as well. Founder Pietro Da Forno started out by selling his ice cream from a handcart back in 1912. There are other reasons why dipping into Schwerinstrasse, which is notably quieter than the lively Nordstrasse, makes a lot of sense. At Manufattura you can paint your own ceramics -  ready to serve all the delicacies that you’ve picked up on your tour of Nordstrasse once you get home. To find the perfect espresso to round off your meal, look no further than Olga Sabristova’s Die Kaffee coffee roastery, where you can choose from more than 20 different types of coffee and espresso. If you’d like to sample the wares beforehand, visit the café with its outdoor terrace, where you can relax on pallet furniture and coffee sacks that have been repurposed as seating. But now it’s time to get back to Nordstrasse!   

Pure Pastry, Nordstrasse 80  

A pastel-coloured must when you’re visiting Düsseldorf! Pure Pastry’s intricately crafted tartlets, macaroons and chocolates are a delight to behold, and when it comes to taste they are in a league of their own. If you’ve never had the pleasure of sampling one of these miniature masterpieces then it’s about time! Tim Tegtmeier, 2015 Patissier of the Year, originally opened Pure Pastry on Carlsplatz, before launching a second branch on Nordstrasse. Everything is handmade, from the tarts, cakes and gateaux – don’t miss the New York Red Fruit Cheesecake – to the delicate breakfast pastries. Tegtmeier also produces his own ice cream. One of the places where he learned his craft was as head pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Vendome restaurant. We try to restrain ourselves and order a very light, fruity yuzu and mango tartlet and some pistachio cake. But then our self-control deserts us – we’ve simply got to have a salted caramel macaroon and a coffee and cardamom one as well.  

Things are slightly less French but no less melt-in-the-mouth over at Leonidas at Nordstrasse 69, a certified purveyor to the Belgian royal household. Some classy chocolates from here would make an impressive present for any occasion. If you’re after a slightly more substantial sweet treat, then head for the Schüren bakery at Nordstrasse 77, where you can purchase three different varieties of banana bread – chocolate, fig and plain – as well as lots of organic baked goods.  

Barrique, Blücherstrasse 1a  

The Barrique isn’t officially part of Nordstrasse. Located in a building on the corner with Blücherstrasse, which turns off to the right here, it does however mark the end of Nordstrasse, which now becomes Münsterstrasse. And anyway, what better way to finish off our culinary tour than by purchasing a delicious fruit schnapps or grappa at the Barrique, purely as a digestif, of course! Or maybe you prefer a single malt whisky? The Barrique dispenses many of its spirits and liqueurs in the specific quantities desired by customers from the large glass containers lining its shelves. They even sell some of their high-quality vinegars, oils and dressings in the same way. Then there’s delicatessen, such as pasta, spices and tasty salsas, not to mention sekt, champagne and more than 400 bottled wines. When it comes to wine, the Barrique’s proprietor, Stephan Link, is passionate in the advice he gives. With his help, you’re bound to find the perfect accompaniment for the three delicious courses that you’ll soon be serving to your friends, all created with ingredients from Nordstrasse, of course!    

Title image: Düsseldorf Tourism

Want to stay up to date with what's going on in Düsseldorf? Then subscribe to our newsletter!