The 5 Best Things To Eat In Helen, GeorgiaBecause you’ll eventually need something to soak up all the beer.
About two hours north of Atlanta sits Helen, a mountain hamlet of alpine-themed architecture and German-influenced cuisine that’s just weird enough to be more charming than corny. It’s the kind of place where you’ll see bachelorette parties, quinceañera photo shoots, and dogs floating down the Chattahoochee on inner tubes—and no one bats an eye. As home to the "longest-running Oktoberfest in the United States," you'll see plenty of folks in dirndl and lederhosen, too. And it’s also a town where good bratwurst, beer, and even bison chili are always on the Deutsch-tinged menu. And if you know anything about us, it’s that we’ll happily don a Bavarian hat if it means getting to a good meal.
As the name suggests, Cafe International offers a menu of global bites, from a German brat board to a greek salad and french dip. But it’s Nebraska’s own reuben sandwich that the world should be taking notice of here. The sandwich is at its traditional best with tangy sauerkraut, generous portions of tender, finely chopped corned beef, and melted Swiss all piled onto toasted rye. Since their spacious patio overlooks a scenic stretch of the Chattahoochee River, we suggest settling in with a few drinks. We’d say order Poland’s greatest export, vodka (and some cranberry juice), while watching folks partake in the classic Deep South pastime of tubing down the Hooch for a UN-approved experience you never knew you needed.
If you’re here for a weekend lunch or dinner during festival season, expect a wait. The steakhouse has a laid-back vibe that visitors love, yet the lengthy menu of pastas and proteins still somehow leaves you feeling like you should tuck in your tank top. This place is for meat lovers with filling items like routine ribeyes and burgers, along with more gamey flavors like the coffee-rubbed elk chop. But our hands-down favorite is the smokey bison brat. By itself, it can hold its own next to all the standard pork links around town. But with the hearty bison chili topping, it’s one of the best sausages on the strip.
Fried Cheese Kebob & Fried Cheesecake
Mueller’s is memorable for doing some things other spots in Helen aren’t. For starters, they’ve got Czech dishes like goulash and bread dumplings. And they’ve also elevated fried cheese to a must-have entree instead of a forgettable app. Get the hand-breaded fried cheese kabob (a mix of brie, mozzarella, and cheddar) for epic cheese pulls. Just don’t ask us why it’s served with tartar sauce instead of marinara or anything way more compatible. And if that’s not enough cheese, finish off your meal with their warm, gooey fried cheesecake. Is all this worth the hour-long wait to sit in the cramped dining area? That all depends on how much you love cheese.
German Potato Salad
With its original owners hailing from Heidelberg, Germany, this three-story restaurant has been a Helen staple since the late ’70s. In addition to a stage for live performances inside, they’ve got one of the best patios in town, overlooking an always lively, central courtyard. When you want to lean into the Helen vibes with a true German meal, there’s enough schnitzel, spaetzle, and sausage options to make you feel like you should say danke to your server. But what makes this place a must is the kartoffelsalat—the best German potato salad in town. Tender chunks of potato, onion, and pork mix together for a delicious, tangy dish. And while we were hesitant about a warm potato salad (we could feel legions of Southern grannies scoff as we took our first bite), it mixes just right with a cold beer.
Giant Pretzel & Beer Cheese
King Ludwig’s Biergarten has one of the most lively scenes during Oktoberfest. Musicians serenade the crowds while servers usher steins of beer and light bites to the courtyard picnic tables. After approaching double digits on our Bavarian pretzel count, we feel confident enough to name King Ludwig’s our favorite. That’s largely due to the excellent beer cheese that packs a flavorful punch and speedy service (which comes in handy after a few pints of beer). Plus, the warm pretzel had a good amount of chew, salt, and crunch—which adds up to a perfect excuse to sneak away to the service counter for another pretzel and to readjust your lederhosen.