Germanophiles surely have been smitten by Das Alpenhaus Delikatessen since it debuted two months ago on Vista Avenue in the Bench Depot neighborhood.
The small, daytime eatery and market keeps the focus on traditional fare from Central Europe with custom-made deli sandwiches, salads and a daily “luncheonette” hot special that typically sells out before the lunch rush ends.
Das Alpenhaus has a clean, well-kept look, at least on the inside, which should please the germaphobes as well.
Shoppers will find shelves packed with imported food products from Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Need a jar of barrel-brined sauerkraut? No problem. How about some European Christmas chocolates and marzipan? There’s plenty of that sweet stuff, too.
Reach-in coolers get stocked with everything from assorted sausages and liverwurst (from Bavarian Meats in Seattle and other specialty meat producers) to smoked mackerel to cow’s milk cheeses from alpine locales.
There’s even an alcove in the back, a bottle shop, if you will, that’s full of European beers and wines.
Das Alpenhaus doesn’t boast much curb appeal. It’s set back from Vista Avenue in a Cold War-era retail space that was most recently a Papa Murphy’s. Owners Jamie Webster and Gregory Hanson will soon be adding new signage on the awning, which should help the deli with its visibility issues. For now, just look for the tall roadside sign and the Swiss, German and Austrian flags hanging from the inside windows.
Once in the front door, diners step up to the deli case — shining bright with an array of German salads, cured meats and cheeses — and grab a little clipboard with a stack of sandwich forms on it. After penciling in your bread — German rye, white or muesli baked by Vosen’s Bread Paradise, a European bakery in Salt Lake City — you pick what cheese and meat you desire, then condiments and veggies. All sandwiches are $7.99.
One day, I went full-on German with a custom sandwich on dense and dark muesli bread (pocked with hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and dried fruit) layered with a thick slab of braunschweiger liverwurst, buttery muenster cheese, sauerkraut (add 99 cents) and a smear of whole-seed German mustard with a hint of horseradish.
Another noteworthy combination is a ham sandwich made on spongy light rye with sweet and smoky Black Forest ham, stinky-good Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and mustard.
Those with non-adventurous palates will probably like a sandwich constructed on fluffy, thick-cut white bread with shaved chicken breast, sliced dill pickle, lettuce, tomato and a skiff of mayonnaise. No wow factor with this sandwich, yet everything tastes fresh.
I’m surprised the deli doesn’t offer more than two cheese choices (Swiss and muenster, that’s it) on the form, considering all the other imported cheeses they keep on hand.
There’s not much seating at Das Alpenhaus; it’s more like two oversized picnic tables next to the windows where diners sit communally. Word to the wise: Get there early, around 11:30 a.m., if you want to sit down while having lunch. If not, you’ll most likely be taking it to go, unless you don’t mind standing up in the grocery aisles next to the pickled veggies and bags of egg noodles.
You will also want to get there early for the daily hot special (offered from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday), culled from a rotating list of German and Austrian specialties that features dishes such as spatzle and wienerschnitzel. A well-lit hot case gets filled with the daily special, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. But diners can score sandwiches, salads and soups all day.
The deli posts the hot specials for each week on Sunday nights on its Facebook page.
One day I showed up in time to try the roasted pork loin ($8.99) served with a crispy potato pancake (kartoffelpuffer) and tangy applesauce. The sliced pork had a good, herbaceous flavor, but the meat was unfortunately overcooked and on the tough side.
During another visit, I had much better luck with the spatzle ($9.99), a plate of twisty, house-made egg noodles topped with delicious goulash (dark gravy with tender browned beef, mushrooms and green bell pepper) next to a pile of bacon fat-braised red cabbage and apple that adds sweet notes to the dish.
On any given day, the glass case is stocked with traditional deli salads. Expect to find everything from typical three-bean salad ($4.99/pound) to cucumber-sour cream salad flecked with dill ($3/side) to creamy red potato salad ($4.99/pound) with chopped scallion, dill pickle and celery seeds.
Right out of the gate, Das Alpenhaus Delikatessen shows a penchant for quirky idiosyncrasies with its limited daily special, which has created quite the buzz around town. Even if you miss das boat on the hot special, the sandwiches here are surely worth a try.
Statesman reviewers pay for their meals and attempt to dine anonymously. Email James Patrick Kelly: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Das Alpenhaus Delikatessen
Address: 1340 S. Vista Ave., Boise
Phone: (208) 426-0773
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Menu price range: soups, salads and custom-made deli sandwiches $2.99-$7.99; daily hot specials $5.99-$11.99.
Libation situation: A large selection of imported beers and wines from different locales around Central Europe. Lagerheads will love this place.
Kid friendly? Yes
Wheelchair accessible? Yes
Opened: October 2016