Plate of German food

A Taste of Germany on the Boise Bench

Das Alpenhaus Deli throws second-annual Oktoberfest

by Lex Nelson

When Germany’s most-lauded party comes around, where better to turn in the City of Trees than its one and only authentic German deli? While there are a half-dozen Oktoberfest celebrations taking place in the Boise in late September and early October, none is quite like the one at Das Alpenhaus on Vista Avenue, where co-owner Jamie Webster said he and his staff have already been preparing the festival’s signature dishes for nearly two weeks.

“One of our products, a locally smoked pork hock, we have to order two months in advance,” Webster said.

The 500 pounds of pig hale from Gem Pack Meats, which has been smoking pork for Webster since mid-August, and the rest of the year supplies meat for occasional weekly lunches at the deli. During the Oktoberfest celebration on Friday, Sept. 28, and Saturday, Sept. 29, the smoked hock will appear alongside a range of other Bavarian meats (including half-pound bratwursts that have to be special ordered from a supplier in Seattle), imported German pretzels finished in-house, mounds of sauerkraut and roughly 400 pounds of potato salad, made from a closely held recipe Webster called his “secret weapon.”

Webster said friends, family and staff have all shown up to help prep for the second-annual celebration. Last year, he estimated 2,000 customers passed through the deli in the two-day span, quaffing traditional German and Austrian märzen and fest beers, listening to live music and chowing down on iconic dishes.
“We all just pitch in and go for gold,” Webster said with pride of his volunteers.

Though his name doesn’t sound particularly German, Webster’s family is from the old country, and he’s part of its first generation born in the states. He also lived in Thüringen in the early 90s, on an exchange trip just after the Berlin Wall fell.

“I grew up hearing German my whole life, eating the food and hearing the music,” Webster said.

He hopes that Das Alpenhaus’s Oktoberfest, while offering a taste of home to what he described as Boise’s large German-speaking population, will also serve to educate newcomers on German traditions. To that end, Webster invited German students and foreign language clubs from Capital and Timberline high schools to join in the fun, a partnership started last year that is fast becoming tradition.

“They come in and get to do a little Oktoberfest before our actual Oktoberfest launches,” he said.

The deli will offer its Oktoberfest menu exclusively from 3-10 p.m. for both days of the festival, closing each morning to prep—and as Webster expects this year’s attendance to exceed the 2017 crowd, it might be wise to come early, before that signature salad is gone for good.