Somewhere between the time a buddy and I snuck inside our first 10,000-person beer tent and woke up two days later in a Munich motel stupor, I came to the realization that beer halls are man’s greatest communions.

Ludwig’s German Table in downtown San Jose is not Oktoberfest, but it’s the kind of restaurant and beer garden the city didn’t know it desperately needed. Operating out of Germania Hall a block over from St. James Park and longtime German haunt Teske’s, I joined a few friends for beers and brats and enjoyed the late summer camaraderie best experienced over cold ones.

The laugenbretzel mit senf (pretzel with mustard; $4) came out piping hot, easy to tear and soft enough to remind that fresh baked bread is a luxury. The small snack had just enough salt and a nice smear of spicy mustard to swirl across the plate.

We started with a couple mugs of Fruh Kolsch ($6.50 half-liter; $13 1L), and then we went with a couple more Fruh Kolsch. The beer goes down smooth in the way excellent German beer always does. This isn’t an exaggeration—no culture honors its beer more than the Germans. Villages across the country brew their own provincial brand and typically have a specialized style of glass in which it’s best enjoyed.

The currywurst ($9) was a delicious mix of tomato sauce and spices that provided subtle heat. The meat was cooked just right and the sauce paired great with the side of pommes (French fries; $4.50 individually). Because I eat like the last night before fat camp, I also had no problem scooping up hunks of scrumptious potato salad ($4.50)—the menu offers it with mayo or vinegar; mayo, please—with the fries and a small dash of curry. I stand by the opinion that truly outstanding cuisine (i.e. Mexican food, Thanksgiving) should be enjoyed frenetic and indistinguishable like a Royal Rumble ring. The Dittmer’s bratwurst ($8) came with spicy mustard and sauerkraut; just enough for the missus with the potato salad and pretzel. The beer filler certainly didn’t hurt.

Ludwig’s patio already rivals anything downtown San Jose has to offer, while the small interior, which includes a bar and dining area, are suitable for an upscale date or dinner party. Service is attentive and good spirited and the beers arrive tall and cold. Communal seating might be an issue later in the evening when they get busy, but that’s kind of the point: good food, good beer and good company.

261 N Second St, San Jose.
Open Wed-Sun; 4pm-12pm.