• Germany's news in English

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

The Local · 17 Sep 2010, 16:32

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

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

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.

Story continues below…

“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.


Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Parents who don't get nursery spot for kid entitled to pay
Photo: DPA

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) ruled on Thursday that parents whose children don't receive placements in nursery care are entitled to compensation.

Eurowings braces as cabin crew union proclaims strike
Photo: DPA

A union representing cabin crew for Lufthansa's budget airline Eurowings announced that strikes could take place at any time over the next two weeks, starting on Monday.

Mysterious German U-boat wreckage found off Scotland
Photo: ScottishPower

First World War U-boat "attacked by sea monster” thought to be found off Scottish coast.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd