Take in neon lights, American bites with detour to nostalgic diner along autobahn
Stars and Stripes November 16, 2023
Stumbling upon Freeway Restaurant on a rainy evening while my wife and I were driving back from Frankfurt Airport, the two of us found an unexpected slice of America on the outskirts of Ruesselsheim, Germany.
The eatery is perched inconspicuously on the top floor of an office building. It offers a respite for those caught in the autobahn’s relentless traffic.
The place, located 15 minutes from Clay Kaserne in Wiesbaden, is a canvas of classic Americana, brushed with the broad strokes of a diner along a highway — not the interstate, mind you, but its less hurried cousin of yesteryear.
The decor is a patchwork of the past: a vibrant collection of memorabilia from gas station signs to vintage car parts, all basking in the warm glow of wall-to-wall neon lights.
A life-sized statue of a University of Texas linebacker stands sentinel among the dining booths, with a curiously pint-sized Michael Jordan nearby, while a crocodile head clutches Budweiser bottles in its teeth, providing an odd yet endearing backdrop.
Our booth welcomed us with the promise of comfort and space. Some of them are large enough to accommodate eight or more.
The menu read like a road map of classic meals, punctuated by photos of rusted relics and roadside scenes of the American West.
From burgers to barbecue, the menu playfully toed the line between two worlds, its language blending from line to line. One item described the classic hamburger in a local German dialect, ending with the assertion “simple but good” in English.
Looking for familiar favorites, we went with mozzarella sticks and nachos for starters. The portions challenged our appetite and were nearly meals in themselves.
While the flavors differed from those stateside, they had their own charm. The nachos were blanketed in tomato sauce and cheese, more Italian than Tex-Mex. Missing was the gooey yellow cheese I was expecting.
Dip choices for the mozzarella sticks didn’t include classic marinara. I chose guacamole instead, a surprisingly pleasant detour.
The menu features a full Mexican section of tortilla soft rolls, Freeway’s version of burritos. Given the somewhat questionable nachos, we chose to bypass another visit south of the border.
Having firmly broken food traditions at this point, I indulged in a milkshake while making my final selection. Freeway’s Nutella variant was a creamy delight, a sweet start to the savory adventure ahead.
My wife went with the Forrest Gump Steak, an homage not just in name but in spirit. The dish is a surf-and-turf served with a sidekick of shrimp and a creamy sauce.
The sides continued the theme of ample portions, from a huge side salad to generous helpings of potato wedges.
Freeway also pulls no punches with its burger selection, which includes hot chili burgers, a Tex-Mex cheeseburger and even its signature Monster burger, a 1.5-pound patty stacked high with toppings.
My customizable veggie burger was a pleasant patchwork of vegetables, potato and cheese, though Freeway swapped the expected pickle for a fresh cucumber, which made a surprising difference in flavor.
Likewise, the side of coleslaw was tasty but decidedly German in flavor and lacked the sweetness of its American counterpart.
Our drinks, homemade lemonades infused with berries and mint, were the perfect foil to the hearty fare: refreshing and light.
And though we hardly had room for more, the airy yet satisfying pancake dessert closed the meal with a nod to the classic American breakfast.
The restaurant’s allure didn’t wane as night set in, but our visit was too late in the year to experience the full charm of the rooftop area, which promises 360-degree views and al fresco dining under the stars.
Freeway might not be a complete culinary homecoming, but this bright neon oasis stands as a fun and heartfelt hat tip to American culture and cuisine. If you are feeling nostalgic for the USA and can’t get your kicks on Route 66, a stop along Route B42 surely will do.
Address: Lise-Meitner-Strasse 6, Ruesselsheim am Main, Germany
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 4:30-10:30 p.m.; Friday through Saturday, 4:30-11:30 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 11 p.m.
Prices: Appetizers start at 6.90 euros for the nacho bowl. Steak selection begins at 29.90 euros for the rumpsteak adn tops out with an Irish tomahawk steak for 55.90 euros. Burgers start at 12.50 for the classic. Soft drinks start at 2.80 euros; homemade lemonades are 4.80 euros.
Info: Online: freewayb42.com