In White Center, there is a place much like Germany.
One street removed from White Center’s (rapidly cute-ifying) main drag, the courtyard of Future Primitive Brewing has been converted into an open-air bierhalle.
Buy a beer inside Future Primitive’s skateboard-bedecked taproom. Sit outside at one of several large tables, under the glow of heatlamps, as the early Seattle gloom settles in. Have a game of hammerschlagen or two on the large, nail-filled stump the bar has provided expressly for the purpose of encouraging mildly drunk people to toss hammers around. (What’s the worst that could happen?)
And for food, there is Das Wagon, a food-truck-in-a-brewery serving Central European-inspired favorites like brats and schnitzel to the merry drinkers.
The fare is hearty and filling, and that’s all it needs to be. Most of the ingredients are locally sourced — code, in this case, for the grocery store across the street. The bratwurst ($9) is handmade by the butcher Live Meat three blocks away.
A surprise standout was what the Wagon called its Spicy Dog ($9.50), its version of the Seattle Dog.
This was the first Seattle Dog I have eaten, and it may have been the best in the city — at least per my brother, a noted Eater Of Seattle Dogs, who graciously lent his expertise to my trip.
Like the food truck itself, it didn’t aspire to be anything more than it was.
That is as it should be, for Seattle Dogs are “the ultimate drunk food,” my brother/Seattle Dog Expert tells me.
Trendy South Lake Union versions be damned: Das Wagon’s very, very spicy version of the Seattle Dog isn’t any kind of hoity-toity “elevation” of the stadium-food favorite. The onions are more caramelized than not. The jalapeños are grilled. The cream cheese, in a nod to the brewery’s bierhalle theme, is not Philadelphia but Laughing Cow (oh-so-European!). There is salsa verde.
And it pairs well with the less-hoppy beers at Future Primitive Brewing, including a sweet, light lager inspired by beers drunk at Oktoberfest (“Get your Lederhosen and Dirndl out of the closet,” Future Primitive urges, “and get ready to sing Ein Prosit. Eins, Zwei, G’suffa!”).
Another surprise standout was the potato salad accompanying the Vienna Schnitzel ($12). The schnitzel was a perfectly acceptable piece of hammered, fried meat; like most fried things, it became more delicious the more beer that was consumed. But the potato salad, served room temperature, was light and divine, the potatoes soft but not mushy and the dressing a creamy tang. (I never thought I would rhapsodize over potato salad; and yet.) I found myself taking sips of my IPA just so I could follow it with another bite of potato salad.
Other options for filling your face in between drafts of beer include Bavarian standbys like pretzels, bratwurst and cabbage salad — and in an unexpected twist, lumpia ($6). That’s in line with the ethos of the entire brewery-food-wagon contraption: Everything seems to be one thing, namely a good-natured riff on German drinking culture, and then you notice the dozens of custom-painted skateboards lining the wall. Huh. Not German — but certainly not bad.
There are a couple misses, including the Pickle Dip ($5), which I imagined would be pickles with some yummy sauce yet was, alas, just a very large helping of crinkle-cut potato chips from a bag with a dollop of salty dip. And the food truck’s Currywurst ($6), sliced sausage and French fries covered in curry-powder-tinged ketchup, is very heavy on the Old Bay.
That’s no patch on Das Wagon, which does what it does — help sop up the beers at Future Primitive — very well, and with a good deal of flair.
So have a beer. Have some potato salad and schnitzel. And, in the wooded privacy of a back lot in White Center, imagine yourself in, perhaps, a Black Forest hamlet.
Das Wagon; 9832 14th Ave. S.W., Seattle; opens at 4:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday and at 1 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; located within Future Primitive Brewing; futureprimitivebeer.com