As your wine tasting weekend winds down and hunger sets in, consider a side trip to Sierra Vista for a type of cuisine that’s hard to find in Tucson.
The military town, nestled up against Fort Huachuca and about a half-hour from Sonoita, is home to four German-themed eateries.
Three of the establishments — The Bread Basket, Angelika’s German Imports and Deutsches Eck — are within two miles of each other just outside the base’s main entrance.
The fourth, The German Café, sits on the east side of town, off Highway 92.
Tucson hasn’t had a full-time German restaurant since Mountain View Restaurant closed its doors in 2001, according to Wendell Heckele, president of the German American Club of Tucson.
Heckele says the closest you’ll find is the Polish restaurant Amber on East Tanque Verde Road. There also is the German Food Station food truck, which runs from the fall through the spring.
The lack of options gives Sierra Vista an advantage, says Annette Engols, owner of The German Cafe for the last five years.
“We have regulars from Tucson, Green Valley, Oro Valley,” Engols said. “We have a group of retired law enforcement officials who ride here on their motorcycles on Saturdays.”
The cafe shares a building with a bar called Paul’s Pub. It serves a long list of traditional German dishes for lunch and dinner, including sauerbraten, currywurst, Swabian cheese spatzle and a variety of schnitzel plates.
Like many Germans who find themselves in Sierra Vista, Engols came to Arizona after marrying a member of the U.S. military.
She has run The German Café since 2009, but the restaurant has been in business at its current location and before that in Huachuca City, for two decades.
Engols’ background is as a caseworker for juvenile offenders. She took over the cafe after the previous owners announced that they were closing.
Engols was born and raised near Frankfurt, Germany. She often helped at her dad’s bakery while growing up.
“It was a huge business,” she said. “We delivered to the entire area. I knew what I was getting into with this restaurant.”
The cafe is Engols’ little piece of home. Beer steins line every ledge, and German music is piped in through speakers.
The majority of her clientele are current and retired members of the U.S. military and German expats who live in the area.
Engols said the support from customers outside of Sierra Vista has been enough that she hopes to one day open a second location in Tucson.
“My son is up there now, my nephews, too,” she said. “There is definitely a market there.”
Undine Faubel has owned Deutsches Eck (The German Corner) in Sierra Vista since 1987. It has been in business since 1968, making it the longest-running German market and deli in the city.
A former housewife, Faubel bought the space, which serves soups, sandwiches and schnitzel, in addition to a variety of German products, after the previous owner declared bankruptcy.
“We wanted German bread,” she said. “We were used to having access to certain things. For a while, we couldn’t get that stuff.”
Faubel said business has slowed a bit in recent years because of increased competition and the economic downturn. But “I like it small,” she said. “It keeps me occupied. It’s one heck of a hobby.”
Angelika Gloyd has run Angelika’s German Imports on West Fry Boulevard in Sierra Vista on-and-off since 2004. Originally called Guten Appetit, the restaurant doubles as a market, carrying everything from German magazines and Haribo candies to Flips, a peanut product akin to Cheetos.
“I could very well become my own favorite customer with that one,” Gloyd said.
Gloyd has lived in Sierra Vista for 36 years. Once a pricing manager for Smith’s grocery store, she opened her own shop to get products that she remembered from home.
“I missed a lot of things from Germany,” she said. “When you are young, you dream of your own business. You think you can get all the things that you are missing and do it better than anyone else.”
Gloyd has the largest selection of German groceries from Phoenix to El Paso. She also gets her meat from a German butcher based in Phoenix. Because of that, she has built up a loyal clientele who come in regularly for supplies and meals.
She has visitors from all over Southern Arizona. When her older customers can’t make the trip from Pima County, she has been known to deliver while on runs to Costco and the Restaurant Depot in Tucson.
“People like it here because it is not cold,” she said. “We are a very friendly place. We play German music. We speak German. A lot of older Germans who come in want to speak German with us.”
Gloyd said, like any business, her shop will receive a bump in sales from the holidays.
Traditional German Advent calendars, chocolates and other Christmas products are due to arrive in the store this week.
“I have a lot of customers who come for this good stuff,” she said.
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