• 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
Poland bridles at German minimum wage
Photo: DPA

Poland bridles at German minimum wage

Germany's newly-introduced €8.50 minimum wage is raising hackles at Polish trucking companies, who say they shouldn't have to pay their drivers at that rate for the hours they spend on their western neighbour's roads. READ  

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire
A man photographs an appeal for witnesses in the death of Christin R. in 2012. Photo: DPA

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire

A Berlin judge on Thursday sentenced four people to life sentences in a sordid conspiracy murder case in which a pizza delivery driver was paid €500 to kill a young woman for her life insurance. READ  

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million
Men at work. Photo: DPA

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million

German jobless numbers rose this month, bringing unemployment up to seven percent, the Federal Labour Agency (BA) reported on Thursday. READ  

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links
Security checks at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links

In a decision announced on Wednesday, a Frankfurt court upheld the dismissal of a man from his job at Frankfurt airport over his close friendship with a foreign citizen with ties to terrorist group Isis. READ  

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float
Image courtesy Festkomittee Kölner Karneval

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float

Cologne's planned Charlie Hebdo float in its Rosenmontag parade was a false start, after the organising committee scrapped its construction over security concerns. READ  

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring
File photo: DPA

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring

Federal police arrested 12 people on Wednesday night after a national raid by police broke apart a smuggling ring. READ  

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties
Former Pegida spokesperson Kathrin Oertel and Brandenburg head of AfD Alexander Gauland. Photo: DPA

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties

Germany's upstart anti-euro AfD party will seek to mend a rift among members on whether to forge close ties with an emergent "anti-Islamisation" movement at a congress this weekend. READ  

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers
Photo: DPA

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers

The Supreme Court (BGH) decided on Wednesday that the children of sperm donors have a right to know who their biological father is at any time. READ  

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: DPA

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal

More than 25 years after the Berlin Wall's fall, Russian lawmakers are mulling a proposal to condemn West Germany's 1990 "annexation" of East Germany as Moscow's answer to Western denunciation of its seizure of Crimea. READ  

No room for scooters on the bus: Court
Photo: DPA

No room for scooters on the bus: Court

A court in North-Rhine Westphalia found on Wednesday that there is no obligation for buses or trains to make room for mobility scooters - and that it's actually dangerous to bring them aboard. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
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

3,448
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd