I remember going to Jacob Wirth as a kid and, when we were in the neighborhood this weekend, I had to try it out again for nostalgia's sake. The funny thing is that it is almost exactly the same as it was 25 years ago and it is probably the same as it was over a hundred years ago when it first opened. This brings us to one of the most notable features of Jacob Wirth which is that it is one of Boston's oldest restaurants. It is also notable because it is one of the very few German restaurants in the Boston area.
Jacob Wirth's is located between Chinatown and the Theatre district on Kneeland street in Boston. It is across the street from an office building and next to a parking lot which provides a sort of dismal setting. However, if you have tickets to a show or are near the Boston Common, it is not too far and worth a quick walk to check out.
Well, of course being a German restaurant, they serve quite a bit of German food. I ordered the German mixed grill ($15) which came with red and regular sauerkraut, German potato salad and two large sausages, one beef and one pork. The pork sausage and side dishes were all really terrific and the German potato salad was the best I have ever had. The beef sausage was a little too greasy for my taste but I am pretty picky on that point. The presentation was nice. The meal came stacked on a huge, white plate. My daughter got a $8 cheese burger that was way too large for her to finish and came with a plate of very good french fries.
We ate from the lunch menu which had standard pub fare including burgers, salads and even a veggie burger. There were German appetizers including potato pancakes and many German entrees as well. In general, the German food was a bit pricier than the rest of the menu and lunch entrees for German food ran about $11-18 but I thought the quality and quantity of food justified the price. There is a separate dinner menu which we saw posted on the wall just inside the front entrance which has more and higher priced entrees.
DECOR / AMBIANCE
Jacob Wirth has been around for over 100 years and they haven't updated the decor much in that time. The main part of the rather large restaurant is simply a big open room. Around the perimeter about two-thirds up the wall is dark wood sporting hooks to hang coats and bags. The top third of the wall has assorted signs, beer memorabilia and mementos from the history of the restaurant. Some appear to be more than 100 years old while others are newer.
I didn't see any booths. The old wood tables (check out the huge one in the back with the carved legs) look like they have been around for a long time. The overall color scheme is brown and creme and the feeling is turn of the century. This is not a glamorous or trendy location.
There is a bar with a couple of large tvs which breaks up the turn of the century feeling. The bar has a few bar height tables nearby and next to the main dining room.
The overall effect is casual and we saw lots of families and the pre-theater crowd dining for lunch. You could feel comfortable in jeans here or quite dressed up like many of the theater goers. This is not a rowdy-bring-your-friends-and-drink place and it is certainly not a romantic date place.
I thought the service was quite good but not particularly friendly. They sat us right away and brought us menus, water and lunch quickly. We got our bill when needed so we could get to our show on time.
OTHER THOUGHTS AND INFORMATION
Jacob Wirth's is in a congested area. There is some street parking in meters but it is very hard to find. Otherwise, you will have to pay $10-20 to park in a lot. Consider public transporation or walking.
The have a full bar with beer on tap. Sure they have German beer but there was Sam Adams as well.
There are two steps up to the front door from the street and one step up to the dining room. Those are the only steps in the place and it is fairly handicapped accessible.
There are salad on the menu but I wouldn't call this restaurant vegetarian friendly.
There was no kid's menu and I didn't see any high chairs. My eight year old ordered a $8 burger from the menu that was too large for her to finish. Two children could split one. There wasn't much else on the menu that appealed to her.
My soda cost $2.25. What a cruddy way to run up the bill.
The clean ladies room had two stalls. We had to wait in line to use the bathroom when the restaurant was only a third filled. Hey, this isn't Fenway - we shouldn't have to wait in line to pee!! I also thought the ladies room was very teeny and it would be very tough for someone handicapped if they needed room for a walker or wheelchair. I didn't see another handicapped bathroom but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
I like Jacob Wirth's once in a while for good German food and a different kind of experience. The restaurant itself is rather blah compared to many, more trendy establishments but sometimes I don't want stimulation overload or the latest color trend to accompany my meal. If you are not into German food, then I would tell you to dine elsewhere since the German food is really what makes this restaurant special. Overall, I think it is worth a try if you are in the neighborhood.
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Kid Friendliness: No
Vegetarian Friendly: No
Notes, Tips or Menu Recommendations If you are going to a Gernman restauarnt - try the German food.
Best Suited For: Friends