Restaurants / Bars / Openings

Houston’s New Beer Paradise Sticks Up for Overlooked Food in an Outdoor Wonderland: Taking the Beer Garden to New Heights

BY // 05.12.17

While Houston’s streets are paved with a surplus of diverse cuisine, German fare is oft overlooked. It’s a trend 25-year-old Phillip Sitter is working to eradicate with the debut of his new German-American beer garden restaurant King’s Bierhaus, now open at 2044 East T.C. Jester Boulevard on the edge of The Heights.

Alongside his father and co-owner Hans Sitter, Phillip takes their original Pearland concept — King’s Biergarten, which has dominated the Houston-area suburb for six years — to new heights with this encore outpost, a move that marks the German father-son duo’s first foray into the Houston city limits.

The result is a massive 9,000 square-foot hybrid beer garden and restaurant, the first of it’s kind in an area brimming with residential housing and various strip malls.

“We don’t get influenced by the area or the outcome or what’s hot right now because our concept is so unique,” Phillip Sitter says. “That’s kind of our thing. This is what we do, and we do it well.”

Waltz through the doors of the Bierhaus’ new digs, and it’s easy to see its inimitable charm. A mural created by Houston’s own Donkeeboy greets patrons at the entry, touting painted figures of hometown heroes such as JJ Watt, Beyonce, Selena, Willie Nelson, and Matthew McConaughey.

Iconic song lyrics adorn the walls: Journey’s “Don’t stop believin’, hold onto that feeling,” and Drake’s “Started from the bottom now we’re here” appear in bold font — both translated into German. (Phillip Sitter graciously decoded the lyrics for me.)

Reminiscent of Germany, the sprawling venue sports Oktoberfest-style seating for 400, which includes an 85-foot-long bar that is equipped with seating for 60.

Guests place their food order at digital self-ordering systems, before heading to their choice of booth, two/four tops, or communal tables to place drink orders with a waiter, a streamlined process which cuts down on long wait times.

“The weekend before we opened, we hosted a preview. We had 200 people lined up before the doors even opened. Luckily we got them all in and seated within 25 minutes thanks to our ordering system,” Phillip Sitter tells PaperCity.

On the menu: German classics such as Hungarian Gypsy Stew fashioned with spicy sauteed pork and paprika sauce; Oma’s Famous Fried Chicken crafted with King’s secret recipe; Vienna Goulash, an authentic beef stew spiced with savory paprika; and Wiener Schnitzel, a classic Austrian dish made with breaded pork or chicken and served with Austrian potato salad.

A diverse spread at the new King’s Bierhaus

Of course, no self-respecting German restaurant is complete without a collection of bratwurst. King’s offers 13 sausage renditions, but highlights include the traditional German brat made with pork, onion, lemon, and white pepper; the Kasewurst, a cheese sausage filled with pork, beef, Swiss cheese, and caraway; and the Spicy Kielbasa, a mix of pork, beef, garlic, and red pepper.

Non-Germanic items also grace the menu. There’s German-American hybrids such as the giant beer pretzel served with mustard or the Bavarian fried pickles crafted with schnitzel breading or the gourmet deviled eggs toped with fried chicken schnitzel and bourbon-bacon jam.

Then there’s downright American bar classics. Take the King’s Burger made from a chuck, short rib, and sirloin blend, or the King’s Smoked Wings, which are slow smoked, then fried and served with bleu cheese and celery.

“When we have non-Germanic items, we try really hard to make them exceptional so that we build trust with our customers,” Phillip Sitter says. “If you try the burger and it’s excellent, you may be more willing to go out on the limb and try something German from the menu.”

Also on hand are sweet treats like cream cheese and apple strudel, or gelato, which papa Hans still makes from scratch at the Pearland location.

But a Bierhaus wouldn’t be complete without the beer. Nearly 30 German drafts fill the menu including three of the best beers in the world sourced from the oldest and most revered breweries and monastery breweries in the world.

Opt for a beer flight, perfect for tasting multiple brews; or go for the Das Boot — a 2.5 liter boot-shaped glass priced at $55.

Not a beer drinker? King’s is also showcasing a bevy of cocktails including the 99 Luftballoons, named for the famous 80s song “99 Red Balloons,” it comes aptly adorned with a single balloon. Or there is the Lufthansa, a bourbon cocktail named after the famous German airline.

Enjoy a libation amidst King’s outdoor biergarten, which is decorated with bright murals, hammock seating, ponds, and sunflowers — a cherished flower in Germany.

“Austrian biergartens have water and trees and flowers. We have a different approach to biergartens [than America]. It’s an actual garden,” Phillip Sitter says. “As a German-inspired bierhaus, we have to look the part.”

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