Find a taste of Germany in Waynoka, Okla.
Owner Dieter Dorner says the “pioneer spirit” drew him from Germany to Oklahoma. Photos by Hayley Leatherwood
Bratwurst, schnitzel, fresh bread and German beer can be found on the Oklahoma prairie for those who travel to Waynoka, Okla.
Café Bahnhof, 1725 Cecil St., offers an authentic taste of Germany through recipes from owner Dieter Dorner’s family. Originally from Nürnberg, Dorner has been in Waynoka for 20 years. Dorner said as a teenager, he thought he might like to open a club some day. In the end, his dream turned into a restaurant where he does most of his own cooking.
“I’m not an executive chef,” Dorner said. “I was just trained by my parents. You had to learn how to cook. If somebody was sick in the family, you had to jump in.”
Being a fan of Franconian cuisine, Dorner serves up traditional Nürnberger sausages, bratwurst, schnitzels, wines and about 20 varieties of German beer. Dorner said he procures local German beers from smaller breweries when he takes an annual 10-day tour to Germany.
“Every little town has a family-owned brewery,” Dorner said, adding that he and his companions take a tour, taste local beers, and eat. When he returns to Waynoka, Dorner serves beer from the breweries that will export to the U.S. As for the sausages, Dorner brought his local butcher over from Germany and the pair went to an FDA plant where the bratwurst served at the restaurant is made “exactly like they make it at home,” Dorner said.
So popular is this little taste of Germany that people fly in or drive 100 miles or more to partake of the authentic food.
“I think it’s the best restaurant in Oklahoma,” Howard Betts said. “The food’s really good; it’s different than any other German restaurant. The red cabbage and sauerkraut don’t taste like anything I’ve ever had. Dieter is a great guy and a welcoming host.”
Betts and his wife Patti from Calumet, Okla., served by CKenergy Electric Cooperative, drove two hours to eat at Café Bahnhof. Patti Betts said it “was well worth the drive.”
Travis and Lisa Snell from Tahlequah, Okla., visited Café Bahnhof with their children Sadie and Swimmer. The Snells, who are served by Lake Region Electric Cooperative, made the trip to eat while visiting nearby Little Sahara State Park.
Lisa Snell said she attended school in Salzburg in the country of Austria during her last summer in college and said she really enjoyed Café Bahnhof, adding that when she lived in Germany, she “fell in love with the food and beer.” Probably the guest who came the farthest was Sohana Nasrin from Bangladesh. Nasrin is a master’s student at the University of Oklahoma who worked at the German embassy in Dhaka. Prior to her visit to Café Bahnhof, her exposure to German food was limited to finger foods and pretzels served at embassy functions.
“The food is great,” Nasrin said. “I don’t have a lot of experience with German food, but it wasn’t greasy. The spices were used proportionately and I thought the portion size was just right.”
Whether patrons come from 9 or 9,000 miles away, Café Bahnhof has a reputation for serving up good food and hospitality.
“We have a good reputation,” Dorner said. “In America, when people go out, they want to have a good time. They want to laugh, have good food, and the success to that is consistency.”
The quaint restaurant complete with décor from Germany seats 80 people and has a very cozy, home-like feel. “It’s like my living room,” Dorner said. “I enjoy being here. Everyone who comes in is my guest.”