Where to Shop in Munich: Dallmayr, Manufactum, and Viktualienmarkt

Posted on
May 21, 2012

Mmm ... "mit hackfleisch!"

I’m not a big shopper.

Hold on just a sec, will you? My husband is reading over my shoulder, and has started laughing so hysterically at my opening sentence that I need to make sure he’s not gonna hyperventilate.

Yeah, apparently, he’s fine. The jerk.

But still, his convulsive fits of laughter have me thinking that I should correct myself. I am a big shopper. But I’m not a big buyer. I love going into stores and just, well, looking at stuff. That’s weird, right? But that’s how I operate. I like to browse, to hear the hum of a dozen conversations all around me, to watch patrons pick out something perfect for themselves or a loved one.

In downtown Munich, I often spend hours roaming up and down the streets that wind around the Rathaus. I usually won’t buy much, if anything at all (exceptions include: candied almonds; cakes). I just love being there. Many of the stores are inexpensive chains that you can find all over Europe, and many cities in the U.S., too (Zara, H&M, Promod). I tend to walk passed most of these. They don’t inform me about the city I’m visiting. I’ve been inside an H&M before and forgotten what country I was in. That’s not the point of travel. (Plus, if we’re going to be really honest, let me share the following with you: H&M is cheaper in the states than in Europe. Yeah. I know. It’s marvelous.)

But there are a few shopping destinations in Munich which are unique and distinct, and absolutely worth visiting.

—————

Manufactum

Dienerstr. 12

This German chain has 9 stores across the country, including one in the heart of Munich. It’s an upscale home and garden shop, and the products they offer are manufactured according to traditional methods; it’s like a well-curated Home Depot. The store’s website makes it clear: you will pay more for their wares, and it will be worth it.

Near the entrance of the store is a small cafe, emitting smells of baking loaves and pungent cheeses onto the street, luring in customers. (Note to American hardware stores: please consider installing bakeries.)

Further in, the store smells of wood and leather, the materials which compromise much of their inventory: purses, work gloves, small toys, furniture.

It’s beautiful, but the place feels a bit stiff. I mean, check out the posture of these stuffed animals. They look like enlisted personnel standing at attention:

Also, what child wants to play with an ostrich? Ostriches are TERRIFYING.

This doesn’t prevent Rand from adoring this place, though. Truth be told, the entire shop has a sort of rugged, masculine feel to it while still being upscale. Which, in my lovesick world, is a quality that applies to my hubby, too. Plaid shirt + elbow patches? Upscale and rugged. YES.

He was kinda upset I wouldn't let him buy a crossbow that shot suction-cup arrows (but seriously, it was 50 bucks and he was gonna shoot his eye out).

Everything is so delightfully random and lovely. You have trouble discerning whether it’s practical or art.

There's a joke here. But being the dignified gal that I am, I won't make. Just kidding! I'm totally undignified. Ahem ... SOMEBODY'S HORNY!!!

Indeed, it feels a lot like the Deutsches Museum.


But here, when you touch the exhibits, no one starts screaming threats of deportation at you. I like that.

—————

Dallmayr

Dienerstr. 14

This place is swank. Dallmayr is a luxury grocery store located right next door to Manufactum, and I like to imagine that there are people with glamorous lives who do all there shopping on this block, have perfect teeth, and never, ever get their credit cards rejected. Their sweat probably smells like Chanel No. 5.

Since I will never be one of those people, I am content to shop alongside them, occasionally taking a whiff of rosiness that characterizes their existence.

Dallmayr dates back to the 17oo’s, but fear not: it’s changed ownership numerous times since then. (Which is a very good thing, since if there’s one thing I hate, it’s shopping in a store with a zombie proprietor. They want you to pay for everything in brains, which is only a good idea in the short term, let me tell you what.)

Rand stands next to a cheese display that exceeds our first apartment in square footage.

Much of what they sell is prepared foods, along with a few cook-at-home grocery items, and a scotch section that made my husband’s eyes bug out (more than a gal would traditionally find attractive, but hey, I went with it).

The pre-made stuff feels distinctly German. Look at these canapes made shiny with a coating of aspic (or, as we call it in my house, “meat jell-O.”)

Fun to look at, but not particularly appetizing for me.

 –

And there are more kinds of ham than you will know what to do with (relax. If ever you don’t know what to do with ham, let me tell you: eating it is a safe bet.)

This is the “salad bar”, which cracked me up. It’s true: in Germany, you can order a salad consisting entirely of meat. They are not a meek people.

VEGETABLES ARE FOR THE INFIRM.

And then there are the sweets.

No, I’m kidding. That’s meatloaf enrobed in pastry crust. I was just seeing if you were still paying attention. Here are the sweets:

Rand: "Shall we head out?" / Me: "Nope. I'm gonna live here."

There are rows and rows of them, beautifully crafted and gleaming under glass cases.

It was nearly Easter when we visited, so there were huge displays filled with eggs and bunnies and other symbols of fertility rendered in chocolate which somehow have to do with the resurrection of Christ (I say this without judgement. If you have a religious holiday to observe, I say do with it candy).

Oh, yes - and antlers decorate the walls throughout the store, because it is Germany, after all.

And then Rand found his equivalent of dessert, which he was rather happy about.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who drink Scotch, and weaklings.

He was like a kid in a scotch store.

—————

Viktualienmarkt

Viktualienmarkt 6

I love the name of this open-air food market in downtown Munich, because you can see a word that looks remarkably like “victuals” right at the start of it. It brings to mind the idea of a bunch of German hillibillies hanging out at a store, which is all kinds of delightful in my mind (“Guten tag, y’all!”). The truth isn’t quite so exciting, but it’s still worth a visit.

There’s stall after stall of meticulously organized food. Every piece of fruit is neatly stacked, every vegetable arranged in lovely, tight rows.

Seriously, the beauty and order of the place makes my local grocery store look like something out of Mad Max.

Yes, the grapefruits are individually wrapped. Anything else would be barbaric.

And for those of you as enamored with lactose as I am, I give you yet another giant display of cheeses:

There’s also a few cafes where you can grab lunch (and if it’s warm enough, you can sit outside like Rand and I did). And let’s not forget the copious number of vendors selling giant gingerbread hearts with German sayings written on them in icing (which, to my American eyes looked to be vulgar proclamations about the human anatomy):

Excuse me?

"So, I'm looking for a cookie in the shape of two conjoined penises wearing bike helmets. Gotta anything like that?"

—————-

So there you have it: all the places at which I shop in downtown Munich. Except I don’t so much “shop” as “look at and smell the food therein.” Whatever. You get the idea. Damn, I could go for a chocolate Easter egg right now.

 

Leave a Comment

  • It’s a good job you’re such a good writer and so funny and cool and all that, I could be So jealous otherwise. I must accept that jealousy and then use it to better my own life in some way. I just learnt that today, how handy! Not that I’m jealous …

  • I love the gingerbread, who else but the Germans.

  • Hilarious post, as always! I remember visiting Viktualienmarkt and going totally overboard with everything there was to eat!

  • I’m just about to move to Munich for a couple of months so this post was a great bit of inspiration 🙂 I also am to a big ‘shopper’ in the sense of spending lots of money, but I do love a good browse particularly when it’s food…

  • Heather

    I love how one of the chocolate eggs has fried eggs on it. Chocolate oval eggs are so 1920. The stores should sell fried egg shaped chocolates for Easter. Or maybe deviled egg shaped chocolates. Scrambled? Quiche? The possibilities are endless. I’m gonna go eat a fried egg sandwich now.

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