Checkers’ Old Munchen serves up beer, wurst, schnitzel and gemütlichkeit in Pompano Beach

Looking into Checkers’ from Atlantic Boulevard.

A fixture on Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach since 1982, this eatery seems a vestige of the land of sauerkraut and spätzle, serving up plenty of German specialties and fresh German beer.


What comes to mind when you think about German cuisine?

Sauerkraut and wurst, schnitzel, spätzle, German chocolate cake, and, of course, beer, lots of it.

That’s exactly what you’ll find at Checkers’ Old Munchen in Pompano Beach.

Walking into this Teutonic eatery on Atlantic Boulevard, just west of Federal Highway, you can’t help but feel you’ve stepped into a time capsule. Years ago, German restaurants, just like Checkers, could be found in most cities. But these days, German cuisine is rare – not just in South Florida. That’s because it’s viewed, perhaps rightly so, as stodgy, heavy and fatty.

Indeed, across the country, German restaurants have been calling it quits, according to a Washington Post report from 2018.  In 2015, a National Restaurant Association study found that only 7 percent of respondents said they ate German food at least once a month — less than Italian (61 percent), Mexican (50 percent), Chinese (36 percent) and 11 additional categories, including Southeast Asian, and even Belgian.

Nevertheless, Checkers’ continues to provide gemütlichkeit – a German word that encompasses sensations of coziness, contentment, and warmth – to devotees of German cuisine in South Florida.

Checkers’ interior.

As you enter Checkers, the first thing you notice is the rustic wood-grained beer hall interior and the collection of 500 pewter and hand-painted beer steins on shelves that seemingly cover every inch of the walls.  Beneath the steins are brass plaques with the names of patrons who’ve completed Checkers’ beer tour and gulped down every beer on the list. Checkers’ offers 30 different German brews. There also is a tented outdoor beer garden in the rear.

Checkers was opened in 1982 by the German chef-uncle of the current owner, Detroit native Matthew Moore, according to a 2018 interview with Moore on the local PBS show, “Check Please, South Florida.”  Moore, who arrived in Florida in 2000 and went into finance, bought Checkers in 2007 from his brother, Bill Sand, who currently owns Diner by the Sea in Lauderdale by the Sea.

Let’s face it, Checkers’ is a vestige of the land of sauerkraut and spätzle, providing diners with a meat-and-potatoes heavy menu.

Classic Teutonic dishes, sausage – bratwurst, knockwurst and weisswurst, to name a few, grace Checkers’ menu. There’s also meat on the bone, such as schweinhaxen, boiled and roasted pork shank. Also ubiquitous are various schnitzels (meat cutlets that have been pounded flat, breaded and fried). And there’s a variety of hearty side dishes including potato dumplings, boiled potatoes, potato pancakes, spätzle, potato salad, red cabbage and more.

Soon after we were seated and placed our drink and food orders, our congenial server delivered a basket of fresh rye bread and nuggets of soft pretzels to nibble while awaiting our food.

Apple-Onion Soup.

Bavarian platter with wursts, schnitzel, sauerbraten,. potato dumpling and red cabbage.

To start, there’s Bavarian onion and apple soup ($6.99), a sort of Teutonic spin on French onion soup. It’s a hearty, savory bowl of beef and beer broth filled with sauteed onions and apples and topped with melted provolone cheese (when did Provolone become German?).

A good way to get to know Checkers’ cuisine is to order a Bavarian Platter ($20.99), a platter filled with bratwurst, knockwurst, Wienerschnitzel and a choice of sauerbraten (red wine vinegar marinated beef) topped with gravy or schweinbraten (a slow-braised pork shank) and two sides.

The schnitzel – I opted for veal – played a starring role. Almost paper thin, it was crispy, tender, and tasty. The wursts were tasty, but the portions, alas. were small. And for my other meat choice, I opted for the sauerbraten, a mistake in retrospect, because the meat, unfortunately, was both cold and tough.

Red cabbage, a traditional accompaniment to the meats, was delightfully sweet and sour. A potato dumpling or Knödel the size of a pink ball, known as a Spauldeen in my youthful days in Brooklyn, resembled a matzo ball (which we called knaedel in Yiddish), but was overly bready. Perhaps, spätzle, an eggy noodle, or potato pancakes would have been a better choice.

A stein of beer, or even a half, is a must to wash all this down. For me, it was an Erdinger hefeweissen, or wheat beer. Remember, beer will fill you up as much as the food.

Checkers’ Old Munchen offers a cozy escape – with reservations through Resy a must, due to limited space – providing diners a rare opportunity to sample German food and beer. Prost!

Checkers Old Munchen

2209 E Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach, FL 33062

(954) 785-7565


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