Food News

Henk’s German Food Is Solid, and We Want More of It

A proper lunch of kasewurst, potato salad and a potato pancake
A proper lunch of kasewurst, potato salad and a potato pancake Philip Kingston
Henk’s European Deli Inc. & Black Forest Bakery is actually the name of this wonderfully quirky establishment, and you really need that many words to describe it.

After thoroughly enjoying browsing the aisles of European goodies while I waited on lunch, I’d add “& Specialty Grocer” to the title.

It was closing for the holidays when I visited for takeout, and one of the vacant tables used for spacing the occupied ones was piled high with boxes of imported pfeffernüsse. Henk’s takes COVID-19 seriously with staff and customers masked and distanced.

What happened to German food in Dallas? We have a pretty large ex-pat community, and it’s maybe not well known, but a huge amount of Dallas real estate is German-owned.

click to enlarge The beer selection at Henk's - PHILIP KINGSTON
The beer selection at Henk's
Philip Kingston
I can’t be the only one missing the excellent Hofstetter’s Spargel Cafe on Lovers Lane. Like British food, there was a renaissance in German cooking in the late 1990s-2000s, and we used to have some of what resulted from it in Dallas. I’d like it back.

But not every cuisine has to be elevated all the time. In fact, my editor is cringing at my use of “elevated” as you read this. Dallas has many purveyors of delicious, if quotidian, German fare, and Henk’s is solid.

We stuck to sausage on this trip, trying the spicy kasewurst and the spicier Hungarian brat full of hot paprika. Both of these featured extremely finely ground fillings. I can deal with coarser fillings, but if you live with someone who thinks a lot about how sausage is made (literally, not figuratively) this is a welcome refinement.

Stereotypical American German food isn’t known for spice, but Henk’s doesn’t shy away. All dishes come with hot mustard and horseradish, both of which were delightful on the potato pancakes. You can also have applesauce if that’s your thing or applesauce and horseradish if you’re me.

The expected accompaniment of sauerkraut was the scooped-from-the-distributor’s-bucket variety. Lucky for me I like that crap. Conversely, the mustardy potato salad was a standout. Why, why, why in a state as German as Texas do we eat so much horrid mayonnaise-y potato salad? Henk’s version caused minor domestic strife over the last bite.

And of course there’s beer. Not a lot of stuff you haven’t heard of, but Henk’s holds one of the rare TABC licenses that allows for on-site consumption and take-away sales. German auto workers are the highest paid on earth, and they get beer with lunch while assembling products renowned for their reliability. We all need to get paid more for our work and drink beer at lunch. It’s obvious. Someone fax Biden.

click to enlarge Sweet goods at the Northeast Dallas German restaurant - PHILIP KINGSTON
Sweet goods at the Northeast Dallas German restaurant
Philip Kingston
The bakery and deli parts of the Henk’s empire-ette are as lively as the restaurant part. They’re happy to slice you some cold cuts and cheese, and they’ll bake you a custom cake. In fact, they specialize in wedding cakes, and if you’ve ever shopped for one of those bastards, Henk’s price list will be a welcome sight.

There will be a return trip for the rouladen because I can’t resist rolled-up, braised beef, and I also can’t resist the prices. There may not be any liver foam or molecular bullshit, but you’re going to get good value at Henk’s. The prices are far from elevated at this joint. (I’m just picking on my editor at this point.)

Henk’s European Deli, Inc. & Black Forest Bakery, 5811 Blackwell St. (Northeast Dallas). Open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
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