If you stay in downtown Minneapolis you will be faced with a dilemma; which German restaurant within walking distance should you visit; The Black Forest Inn or The Gasthof. (Kramarczuks is a third possibility inside Target Field)
But if you are like me, and say calories be damned, I’ll visit both you will inevitably think to compare the two. Both are excellent, authentic, and as advertised. No cheesy Las Vegas veneer, both serve real, heartfelt American German fare, with great beers on draft and the ubiquitous bratwurst.
You can walk to both from downtown. Black Forest Inn is right down Nicollet to 26th street and The Gasthof is down Hennepin, across the bridge and up University. I wouldn’t walk either at night, but during the daytime you should be OK.
The pork shoulder at the BFI is a sumptuous dish; just the right amount of vinegar in the brown gravy, and the meat is tender and falls of the bone. It was probably the best dish we had at either place. The Gasthof has the better bratwurst, a tender, perfectly charred sausage with just a hint of spice.
The Gasthof is the larger facility, so to compare, the BFI with its outdoor beer garden feels more intimate (and therefore more authentic?) We didn’t visit the Gasthof when Mario’s Beer Keller was open (check the website) so I can’t comment on how wild it might get, but I imagine if you visit on a night when it’s open, you can have a rowdy time.
You can’t go wrong with either place. Service at both is “Minnesota Nice” and with both walking distance from downtown you won’t feel bad about indulging in some extra spaetzle or schnapps.