1. Beer: This year, locals are leading the pack at Oktoberfest. MadTree, Braxton, Rhinegeist, Rivertown, Hudepohl and Christian Moerlein all have seasonal offerings (like Hudepohl Oktoberfest, MadTree's Great PumpCan and Rivertown Pumpkin Ale). Other craft brewers, such as Bell's, West Sixth and Kentucky Ale, also will be there. Want something more traditionally German? Erdinger, Warsteiner and Weihenstephan all will have a huge presence at Oktoberfest. Prost!
2. Pretzels: Woodstock Pretzel Co. has both Petersberg Pretzels (the huge ones) and Pretzel Dogs, so your pretzel can be a nearly complete meal. If you would prefer a pretzel and beer cheese, head for Cincy Beer Brats.
3. Pork: You have to have a wurst of some sort -- or some other kind of pork product -- at Oktoberfest this year. Try Beckhart's Terminator on a pretzel bun (it's just as big as you think it is) or a BourbonWurst from Cincy Beer Brats, which combines some German flavor with our Kentucky neighbors. Currywurst is very German, something you would find as street food in any major city, and it's deliciously spicy; get it at Germania Schnitzel Haus. However, the most unique item available is Beckhart's fresh pork rinds. You'll want to try these crackling-good bits of pork. They're not what you get at the gas station.
4. Strudel: One of my Oktoberfest traditions is to pick up a strudel from Heidi's Strudel: apple for my husband, apricot-almond for me. We'll still do that this year, but I'm also interested in trying Che's Apple Strudel Bread Pudding, which sounds like a nice twist on a classic.
5. Spaetzle: Germans are pretty famous for their noodles, whether dumpling-like spaetzle or thin egg noodles. Bessie's Homemade Noodles are of the egg variety, including cabbage and noodles with sausage and mashed potatoes, beef and noodles, and chicken and noodles. Hey Hey also offers cabbage and noodles and chicken and noodles, and Kinderhaus has goulash on top of a bed of spaetzle.
6. Bavarian cream puff: Walking through Oktoberfest, you'll see people digging into the seasonal favorite, the cream puff. My favorite is Servatii's (with chocolate sauce, please), but Busken offers cream puffs with strawberries or chocolate chips. Not into a cream puff? Try Busken's schnecken, based on the Virginia Bakery recipe, for another great dose of sweetness.
7. Goetta: Goetta is a German Cincinnati conglomeration of pork, oats and spices. At Oktoberfest, there's almost as much goetta as there is other kinds of German food. Flying Pig Tails has both goetta sausage and goetta balls. Kaiser Schloss features a goetta burger, and Porkopolis Goetta Haus has some non-traditional preparations, like a goetta Reuben and goetta nachos. You also could try a goetta corndog at Strasse Haus or a goetta bier cheese slammer at Beckhart German Cuisine.
8. Potatoes: Any form of German potato is available at Oktoberfest this year. Izzy's Potato Pancake is a favorite: It's deep fried and perfectly crisp, not to mention easy to walk around with while munching. Want German potato salad? Schmidt's of German Village, out of Columbus, has an excellent hot German potato salad that goes well with Schmidt's classic Bahama Mama. Did you grow up with kartoffel knodel, a dumpling made out of potato? Get one at Uncle Dom's Global Cuisine. And don't forget the Kartoffel Nestor, those wispy-thin potato chips at Alpine Hut.
9. The Uberdrome and Moerlein Lager House: So, you want to go to Oktoberfest, but don't quite want to be at Oktoberfest. Head to Moerlein Lager House's Uberdrome. There, you can enjoy German food, house-brewed Moerlein beers and everything from a Wiesnkoenig USA Fashion Show to the Hudy 14K race. Or go inside the restaurant and enjoy German-American favorites like soft pretzels, a meat and cheese board with King Ludwig cheese, hot mett and candied pork belly, or some non-traditional pork belly beer cheese poutine.
What fulfills your German food craving at Oktoberfest or elsewhere? Tweet me at @winemedineme.