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Bavarian tradition, modern cuisine

In a city that offers a vast array of international cuisines, foodies are faced with limited selections for German fare.

For 40 years, Mr. Dunderbak’s has served as the Tampa hot spot for USF students to get schnitzel and beer.

Though the outside of the restaurant creates a modern appearance, one step into the wooden doors instantly transports visitors to a typical, traditional German setting.

With polka music wafting from the speakers and designed to resemble a typical Bavarian village, the decor is warm and inviting.

Sticking true to German tradition, servers tend to sit several groups together at their bench like tables, creating an environment for patrons to relax, enjoy their food and beer and turn strangers into newfound friends.

On Fridays and Saturdays, the restaurant is filled with excited energy as an accordionist performs traditional polka music.

Owner for the past 17 years, USF alum J.B. Ellis moved the restaurant from University Mall to an unassuming locale in the center of a shopping center on Bruce B. Downs Blvd. four years ago — a move Ellis said has tripled his business.

Due to its proximity and assortment of international beers, Mr. Dunderbak’s has become a hotspot for USF students. In fact, Ellis remembers many of his USF days spent at the mall location before he became owner.

When Ellis first purchased the restaurant, he said the menu consisted of mainly sandwiches and sausages. Now, the menu boasts a great selection of typical German food.

“I added my family’s recipes and made a whole bunch of new traditional items,” Ellis said. “I have a little lady that makes pancakes in the back, a Swiss guy that makes the spatzle and a Polish lady making the pirogues. Everything is handmade.”

Weiner schnitzel is a staple to the Germanic diet, and Mr. Dunderbak’s offers seven different ways to enjoy the essential dish.

Other typical dishes they serve are sauerbraten, which is a delicious slow cooked, marinated beef roast; gulasch, a spicy beef stew; and leberkase, a German veal meat loaf.

Prices are higher than most students may be used to, but with the large portions, meals can easily be consumed in two sittings.

For the smaller appetites, they offer a large sandwich selection as well as small snacks.

“All the bars from my USF days are gone,” he said. “Mr. Dunderbak’s is the only one that remains.”

Kimberly Chadbourne, a senior majoring in history, said she frequents the establishment once or twice a month.

“I started going while I was taking German,” she said. “I continue to go because the food is great and I absolutely love the beer selection.”

With the close proximity to USF, the delicious food and wonderful service, every USF student should make at least one stop to Mr. Dunderbak’s during their time here.

“It’s a historical landmark. It really is,” Ellis said. “It’s a historical USF landmark, no one else has lasted that long.”