• Germany's news in English
 

Alligator, ostrich and snails: Germans grill up exotic burgers in San Diego

Published: 17 Sep 2010 16:32 GMT+02:00

Restaurateur Wolfgang Peter Schlicht and head chef Lothar Manz teamed up in the southern California city in 2006 to create “Crazee Burger,” a restaurant not for the faint-hearted. Deciding not to serve the usual German fare, they came up with burgers made from unexpected meats, once even making a snail burger.

Schlicht, 64, and Manz, 52, initially wanted the name “Crazy Burger,” but it was already taken, so the duo simply decided to spell it their own way, “Crazee,” for their daring entry into the area’s highly competitive restaurant business.

“I’ve almost tried everything on the menu - ostrich, wild boar, kangaroo, deer and even the alligator burger,” says regular customer Nerin Gonzales proudly. “Naturally I’ve also tried all the varieties of beef, but my favourite is definitely deer.”

Manz, who honed his culinary skills in France and Switzerland, said his favourite burger is “deer meat with red-wine soaked pears, bacon, a little cream and plum sauce,” calling it a “fine” combination.

The two Bavarians have proved to Californians that they can serve American food “with a European feeling,” they said. Interest in their daring fare was initially just local, but soon came the restaurant critics, TV-cameras, tourists and finally the award for “Best Burger” in San Diego.

“Despite the recession, our place is always packed full of customers,” says Schlicht.

What began as a small operation now sees around twelve thousand burgers per month on its grill.

By the early evening “happy hour,” the forty places in the restaurant are filled. Bavarian beer bunting festoons the ceiling, and on the menu guests can also find bratwurst and sauerkraut to sooth any cravings for traditional German cuisine.

But it’s all about the burgers, $5 for a “classic” beef burger and up to $40 for a “crunchy gator” burger with a fruity curry sauce.

“You do need a little more courage to eat some of the more daring stuff, like alligator,” admits regular Gonzales. “It certainly doesn’t taste like beef, more like a kind of chicken from the ocean.”

But she insists that everyone must try it once in their life, “if only so you can tell your friends about it.”

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for the Bavarians, though. Their menu originally featured a rattlesnake burger, but they sourced the meat from the neighbouring state of Nevada where the sale of rattlesnake meat is forbidden. They were unaware of this until the authorities arrived at the restaurant one day. The meat was then confiscated and the burger removed from the menu.

Now the pair says they are extremely careful about sticking to California’s exotic meat regulations. But Schlicht maintains that, barring regulations, “technically you can throw anything on the grill.”

Their snail burger, however, failed to make a positive impression on their customers.

“For this we pureed the snail and mixed it with turkey meat, but our customers just couldn’t seem to get along with it,” says Manz sadly. He estimates that around sixty percent of their orders are for the “normal” meats.

Still the “Crazee Burger” concept appears to be catching on. Manz and Schlicht plan to open a new branch in San Diego's Old Town in October, set to be double the size of the current branch.

But they are unlikely to bring their burgers to Germany any time soon – they’d miss the California sun too much.

DPA/rm

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Family's ten-year quest for truth about dead son
Jeremiah Duggan. Photo: Justice for Jeremy

Family's ten-year quest for truth about dead son

The family of a British student killed in Wiesbaden over 12 years ago made a fresh step towards justice on Thursday, after a London coroner disagreed with German authorities' belief that he killed himself. READ  

Property of the week
Property of the Week: May 22nd
Photo: Mr Lodge

Property of the Week: May 22nd

Modern and sophisticated: This week’s property combines classic architecture with chic furnishings to create an elegant and luxurious living experience. READ  

83-year-old gets second drug dealing sentence
The judge said, given his age, he was not the ideal candidate for therapy. Photo:DPA

83-year-old gets second drug dealing sentence

An 83-year-old man was handed a six month suspended sentence on Thursday after being caught carrying seven bags of heroin in Düsseldorf. READ  

Carnival of Cultures in Berlin: six top picks
The dazzling colour of 2014's festival parade. Photo: Karneval der Kulturen

Carnival of Cultures in Berlin: six top picks

This weekend Berlin will be lit up by the vibrancy and colour of the Carnival of Cultures, an annual four-day urban festival that celebrates the diversity of Germany's capital. Here are six things not to miss. READ  

Bayern fans bring club's earliest years to light
FC Bayern's first team in 1925, the year of the commemorative publication. Photo: Jewish Museum

Bayern fans bring club's earliest years to light

For decades the early history of FC Bayern München was forgotten, but FCB fans have re-discovered a book from 1925 documenting the club's founding moments. READ  

Top spy admits: We're 'dependent' on NSA
Gerhard Schindler admitted that the BND had made mistakes in its handling of NSA requests. Photo: DPA

Top spy admits: We're 'dependent' on NSA

The head of the German Intelligence Agency (BND) told a special parliamentary committee on Thursday that his agency is 'dependent on' the American National Security Agency (NSA). READ  

Autobahn driver suffers drone windscreen smash
Photo: Polizei Bochum

Autobahn driver suffers drone windscreen smash

After a low flying drone crashed into the windscreen of a car on the Autobahn outside Bochum, police announced on Thursday they are looking for witnesses. READ  

Business confidence slack as growth slows
A worker puts the finishing touches to BMWs at the car producer's Regensburg, Bavaria production line. Photo: DPA

Business confidence slack as growth slows

German business confidence slipped fractionally from its previous high level in May, as the upturn in Europe's biggest economy continues, the Ifo economic institute said Friday. READ  

Two criminals on the run after daylight escape
Two fugitives on the run since Thursday. Photo: Polizei Kleve

Two criminals on the run after daylight escape

Police are searching for two fugitives in North Rhine-Westphalia after a young woman freed a man from custody as he was being taken to the doctor. READ  

Merkel pushes for Greece deal at Euro meet
Angela Merkel with Francois Hollande and Alexis Tsipras in Riga. Photo: DPA

Merkel pushes for Greece deal at Euro meet

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras held "friendly and constructive" debt talks with the leaders of France and Germany Thursday, but gave no sign of a breakthrough ahead of a crucial June deadline. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Travel
Why the train strike is bad for passengers and workers
National
Meet Germany's Eurovision hope
Business & Money
Is 2015 a new moment for jobsharing?
Features
How the LGBT rights movement was born in Germany
National
Why you don't make bomb jokes at the airport
National
Why Germany needs a little less tipple
National
Who Germans and Americans trust... and don't
Politics
What the UK election means for Germany
National
Why Germany is great for mums
Features
The Germans with GI dads
Five ways Germany falls short on gay rights
Travel
Giant tortoise found riding Munich rail
National
FCK CPS? A-OK with court
Politics
Opinion: Brexit's dangers for Germany
Features
Smart kids all want to work for BMW
National
Minister shows off top Denglisch
National
Germany's 'other genocide' in Africa
National
Arms firms get a 'must do better' mark on ethics
Sport
Bayern's anticlimactic 25th Bundesliga win
Politics
A Greek learning politics in Germany
Features
The battle of the "Gates of Berlin"
National
Germany's 'very poor' lobbying record
National
Germany's favourite baby names of 2014
Politics
Merkel's 15 years at the top of German politics
Travel
Lowest of the low: how woman exploited Germanwings crash
Features
Spice up asparagus season with The Local's serving suggestions
Sport
Football and the €30,000 firework
Technology
Why scientists oppose killer robots
National
'Cannibal cop' gets 8 years
National
Which city is Germany's worst for drivers?
Technology
Electrifying 'Ostalgia'
National
Cologne Cathedral returns from space
Pupils mourn lost classmates
National
Freed after 25 years on death row
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
10 things you didn’t know about Zagreb (and why you should go)
Is your workload 'out of control'? You're not alone...
Sponsored Article
What expat parents should ask before choosing a school
Features
Paddy's Day, Berlin style
National
Why east Germans are happy to get it on on camera
National
Uplifting thoughts to get you through the last week of winter
National
What would you do with a 250-year-old pretzel?
National
Who wants the Olympics more - Hamburg or Berlin?
Features
Just why is the German flag Schwarz, Rot, Gold?
Business & Money
Getting German workers and bosses thinking positive
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,778
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd