Steer clear of the kitschy, overpriced traditional German restaurants in the city center and instead head to cozy, tri-level Paul Rackwitz, a pub that’s far off the tourist trail. Settle in at a wooden, candle-lit table and fill up on classics like pork roast in red-wine sauce ($20) and beer goulash ($15), plus fusion fare including a Thai coconut curry soup ($6.50) and Indonesian-style soy-chile noodles ($14). For a cheap early dinner, take advantage of the daily prix fixe menu ($12), available between 5 and 6 p.m.
Have lunch in Outer Neustadt at colorful Lila Sosse, which sits in the Kunsthofpassage, a series of art-filled courtyards best known for its turquoise building fronted by drain pipes and gutters that make music when it rains. The traditional-with-a-twist cuisine is served in glass canning jars, like currywurst brightened by hibiscus flower ($5) and homemade spätzle with parsley pesto ($9). Order a bottle of Saxon red wine to go with it—try the velvety spätburgunder from local winery Martin Schwarz ($39/bottle).
Feast on reinterpreted German cuisine at elegant William, which opened last month at the state theater, Staatsschauspiel. Chef Stefan Hermann adds a contemporary spin to classic German cuisine: Local venison is tossed with pine nuts ($30), and baked chicken with potato-and-cucumber salad ($24) is spiced with a caper aioli. For one of the better deals in the city center, stop by for the prix fixe lunch (from $12; weekdays, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.). Chef Hermann made his name at the Michelin-starred bean&beluga, which is also worth a visit for its monthly menu of humble-meets-haute dishes like frogs' legs, goose liver with nougat, and wild-garlic soup with honey (from $102 for three courses, with wine pairings).