No. 95: Schweinshaxe at Rhein Haus
A LoDo restaurant specializing in beers by the liter and indoor bocce ball hardly seems like the kind of place where you'd find proper traditional German food. Nighttime crowds in the club-heavy zone are typically more interested in two-for-one drinks and loud music than in heavy fare that requires considerable time commitment — and belly space better reserved for more booze. But Rhein Haus balances two worlds, offering a young-skewing bar scene and a menu of old-world dishes with tongue-twisting names more often found at mom-and-pop joints decorated with cuckoo clocks and cowbells.
If you're craving a taste of Bavaria, roll into Rhein Haus and ask for the schweinshaxe. Pronounce it "shwines-hock-zah," or just ask for the braised pork shank. The kitchen uses brined hocks, which results in tender, pink-hued meat with a light flavor of ham. The bone-in cut is slow-cooked until the pork falls apart at the merest glance, held together by an herb-coated crust and topped with seasoned pork cracklings and a dollop of the restaurant's grainy pear mustard.
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This is a mountain of meat, surrounded by foothills of spätzle (the umlauts add more German goodness) and root vegetables roasted to a sweet, caramelized finish. If you're siding your schweinshaxe with a stein of lager (and why wouldn't you?), make sure you get a good start on the beer first, because you won't have room for a drop once you're done with this prodigious platter.
Throughout this year, we'll be counting down the best dishes in the city — from longtime classics that keep us coming back to new additions that have caught our attention. If there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section, or shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2016 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Masala Beef at Biju's Little Curry Shop
No. 99: Bacon Shrimp and Grits at Bacon Social House
No. 98: Porchetta and Kimchi Sandwich at Brider
No. 97: Squab-and-Sunchoke Tortellini at Abejas
No. 96: Housemade Burrata at Viand