Got a craving for sausages, schnitzel, potato pancakes or a giant pretzel? How about an extra large side of kitsch served up with that schnitzel? A short trip down to Alpine Village, just off the 110 freeway in Torrance, should be able to get rid of that schnitzelly itch. Opened in 1968 as a touristy old world Bavarian restaurant and marketplace, Alpine Village seems slightly frozen in time, a throwback to a much simpler era. Although it is jam-packed in September and October with revelers at Oktoberfest loudly raising cold pints of Hofbrau, weekdays during the rest of the year can find this surreal gem pretty much deserted. At night live music invites dancing, ranging from oldies and standards to salsa and tribute bands. A visit is worth it however, just for the buffet-style Sunday afternoon brunch where you can stuff yourself silly with all your German favorites and enjoy a couple of beers for $21.95.
Behind the rather large and spread out restaurant, of banquet hall proportion, is a collection of old-European appearing shops which loop around a central courtyard. Built to resemble a village in Bavaria, several of the shops still honor the original old-timey theme: an antique clock shop, several German gift shops, a store specializing in bronzes and arms, and a quaint little wedding chapel. Yet other stores in the “village” have filled their vacancies with specific 21st century needs: a traffic school, a hair salon, an insurance agency and even a dentist.
The Alpine Market, across the parking lot from the restaurant, is definitely noteworthy, especially for lovers of specialty food products. Filled with goodies, such as a full aisle of German and Swiss chocolate and candies, and a whole section of imported beers and wines, it also contains strange foreign products bizarre to American eyes: cured bock-wurst in a jar, anyone? Boxed spaetzele? With a full meat and cheese counter and a bakery selling fresh breads, baked on premises, interlaced with marzipan, rum, or poppy seed butter as well as traditional German cookies and pastries, it is a gourmet’s delight.
Back inside the restaurant’s ornate front doors, you can sidle up to the long bar and order one of 20 on-tap selections of German, Belgian or craft beer. Or instead choose a black leather booth where you can peruse the menu for your favorite hausmade wurst or schnitzel. Vegetarian bratwurst is even available to the non-meat eaters in your party. Other traditional favorites include red cabbage, sauerkraut, spaetzle, goulash, sauerbraten and apple strudel. And don’t forget to have a photo op with the giant German beer stein poised next to the stage.
Alpine Village: 833 W. Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90502; (310) 327-4284.
Sunday Brunch: 11am-3pm
Happy Hour: M-F 3-7pm