HEIDELBERG, Germany — By its crab, ye shall know the Cabaña Beach restaurant. That’s how I first noticed it: a big Dungeness crab, sitting atop the weathered wooden building like a beacon. Holding a cigar.

I was new to Heidelberg and lost when I saw the crab and pulled over to phone a friend and ask for directions. “I’m looking at a restaurant with a big red crab on it,” I told my friend.

“Turn around,” he said. “You’re going the wrong way.”

Eventually, I went there on purpose. It turned out that the deceptively small-looking restaurant does have a bunch of seafood on the menu, if not actual crab.

The current menu lists eight fish dishes, including grilled sea bass, butterfish in tandoori sauce, salmon in lemongrass sauce and something called barramundi filet, served on lobster mousse. No crab except for the “battered crab surimi,” which, correct me if I’m wrong, isn’t actually crab.

But there’s much, much more. Although the restaurant, at least from the outside, reminded me of fish joints in Key West, the theme here is “Spanish-Cuban-Pacific.”

It means all sorts of tapas, including those with chorizo and Serrano ham. It means Thai chicken soup, Andalusian potatoes, ostrich steak, and, for some reason, a salad “Provence” with lamb strips, and the American Supreme Burger.

That last one might have to do with the restaurant’s location: directly across the street from Patton Barracks.

The place has a great-looking bar, several rooms with wooden tables and wicker chairs, a space covered by a pretty beige tent and an outdoor area featuring striped booths that look like beach chairs.

It’s busy at lunch, due to its noon-to-2:30 p.m. buffet for $9 that offers fish, chicken, pasta, salads, bread and desserts like chocolate pudding.

In about five visits, I’ve never had a great meal here; the food has been decent to good. It’s a comfortable place to spend time, especially in summer.

See previous After Hours reviews here.

Cabaña Beach

Prices: Prices are moderate. The full bar has daily drink specials.

English menu: Yes.

Specialties: Fish, pasta, burgers, tapas, salads.

Dress: Casual. Americans are numerous but so are Germans.

Location: Right across from Patton Barracks, 150 Sitzplatze. Hours: Weekday lunch buffet runs noon to 2:30 p.m. Dinner is 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until midnight on weekends. The bar stays open until 1 a.m. weekdays, 2 a.m., weekends. On Sunday, a brunch buffet runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., dinner from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.


author picture
Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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