Are your taste buds craving rattlesnake? How about insects or crocodile meat?
Tucked away on a side street in Frankfurt’s bustling Sachsenhausen district is Manitou, a unique restaurant offering Native American cuisine.
Visitors are struck at first by the curved walls resembling the inside of an earthen pueblo, the leather-decorated ceilings, Native American objects and artwork scattered within the cozy interior, and the tribal music sounding in the background.
Whether diners choose to eat at leather-covered tables with fur-coated wooden seats, inside a Native American canoe, or even cross-legged on pillows inside a teepee, the ambience of Manitou is unforgettable.
In fact, the surroundings are so vivid I worried it would turn out to be a gimmicky place with all style but no substance when it came to the food.
My worries were for naught.
After spending a good amount of time talking myself into trying rattlesnake, I was a little disappointed to discover they were out of it. Usually, a sizable portion can be ordered at Manitou for 60 euros, by far the most expensive dish offered. For folks who want the entire snake, the price is based on the size.
Thumbing through the hand-painted and fur-covered leather menus is a treat in itself. Since all this exoticism might not be for everyone, there are two food menus: exotic and regular.
Along with rattlesnake, the exotic menu features a mixed insect platter (locusts, mealworms and caterpillars), elk, caribou, crocodile and bison tenderloin filets. From the regular menu, guests can order entrees of vegetables, pheasant breast, turkey, lamb, deer, beef and salmon.
Although the offerings aren’t vast, what they cooked was done to perfection. My wife and I started with an appetizer sampling of crispy potato balls, plantains, grilled corn-on-the-cob and cactus steaks.
For my entrée, I settled on the bison, a choice I didn’t regret. Two tender and generously sized filets arrived with sides of wild rice, a corn and seed mix and a salad dressed with apple vinegar and maple syrup.
Manitou’s co-owner, Baris Kaya, explained that the bison I enjoyed comes from a free-range ranch north of Vancouver.
Since I opted for more conservative food choices, Kaya brought me a sampling of crocodile tail and challenged me to try it and describe what it tastes like. It sounded simple enough, but after tasting the crocodile — which I loved — I was at a loss for words to even begin to describe the flavor. My best effort: “kind of a pork taste combined with lobster, but not really like either.”
With my belly full and my belt already loosened a notch; I didn’t sample the desserts or tobacco. When a neighboring table of college-aged guests ordered a mixed insect platter, my wife joked with them that I chickened out of ordering one of my own.
In an apparent game of “let’s watch the American eat insects,” the group insisted I try some. Challenge accepted. I was pleasantly surprised; the insects tasted like potato chips.
Since I’m not familiar with authentic Native American cuisine, my impressions of Manitou are based solely on the yummy and cool factors. The owners and staff have a visible passion for Manitou, and it shows in the décor and the quality of the food.
If you go: Manitou
Location: Seehofstrasse 6 Frankfurt am Main 60594
Directions: From Wies- baden, take A66 toward Frankfurt. Take exit 9 (Wiesbadener Kreuz) onto A3. After about 13 miles, take exit 51 (Frankfurt am Main-South) toward B44/Frankfurt-South. Take the first exit off the roundabout onto B44 toward Frankfurt/Stadtmitte. Take the ramp onto B43/44 and stay on the road for a little more than two miles. Turn left onto Stresemannallee (B44) and after .2 miles, turn right onto Schaumainkai toward B43/Hanau/Offenbach. In about a mile, road becomes Sachsenhauserufer (B43). Continue about half a mile, and Seehofstrasse is on the right. Street parking is available, but not specifically for the restaurant.
Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 6 p.m. until closing
Food: Native American
Clientele: Mostly German
Prices: Drink prices run from 2.50 euros for herbal tea and Indian coffee to 14 euros for a bottle of California wine. Starters run from 4 to 15 euros. Entrees range from 14 euros for a small mixed-insect plate to 60 euros for a rattlesnake dish. Most dishes cost between 18 euros and 21 euros. Note: Only cash is accepted.
Phone: 0162-4043462. Reservations are recommended, and if you want to dine in one of the two teepees or the canoe, you must mention that when making your reservation.
Menu: German only, but staff speaks English.
Dress: Come as you are.