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BAUMHOLDER, Germany — How good are the ribs at the Stadtkrug, a Baumholder restaurant that is a magnet for local barbecue lovers?

So good that Texan Matthew Nethercutt, on R&R from his civilian job in Iraq, made Baumholder the first stop on his family’s European vacation.

“This was the destination. We had to come here. I’ve eaten ribs all over the world, and these are the best. This is the standard I compare everything to,” said Nethercutt, 42, who served with the Army in Baumholder from 1986 to 1992.

Granted, Baumholder is not your typical vacation hot spot. But it’s been 15 years since the Nethercutt family had their last Stadtkrug fix, and that was long enough.

The Stadtkrug has been serving up barbecue since 1979, according to owners Irm and Peter Goettel. The building has been in Irm’s family for generations and was a bakery before it became a barbecue restaurant.

The Stadtkrug is one of the places in Baumholder where all types of people can feel at ease. Young, single soldiers feasting on steaks sit next to families carrying babies and bottles.

“Everyone is welcome here,” Peter said. “We’ve never had any problems with GIs.”

The ribs and steak come in belly-busting portions. And the wait staff knows all about doggy bags.

Inside, the setting is cozy. You can watch as the steaks and ribs sizzle in the wood-burning brick stove. There’s a small bar as well. Out back, there’s a garden-like atmosphere with potted plants and ivy growing wild.

The Stadtkrug also serves an array of soups, salads and appetizers; snails served with toast and garlic is one of the more popular dishes.

In addition to the food, there’s a camaraderie and hominess to the restaurant.

The owners say they keep in touch with many of the military families who have passed through over the years. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, an old friend who now lives in Florida called Irm, asking for her goulash recipe.

But for the Nethercutts, it’s all about the ribs. “The menu is just for the appetizers,” Nethercutt said.

“It’ll be ribs every night for us,” said 21-year-old son Matthew Jr.

To see previous After Hours reviews go to legacy.stripes.com/afterhours.

Stadtkrug barbeque restaurant

Hours: 5-10 p.m. Monday to Saturday.Prices: Ribs, 12.10 euros; beef and pork dishes from the grill range between 11 and 19 euros.Specialty: Barbecue ribs with homemade sauce.English menu: Yes.Clientele: Mix of Americans and Germans.Dress: Casual.Location: Downtown Baumholder, Poststrasse 12.Phone: 06783-1010Web site:www.zumstadtkrug.de.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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