"Beer Gardens: Full Service or Self Service?" Munich Local Custom Tip by travelfrosch
Munich Local Customs: 174 reviews and 163 photos
Another issue that confounds some tourists is figuring out which tables get what kind of service in beer gardens. I remember sitting at a table for 45 minutes one time, only to discover I was sitting in the self-service area!
There are three types of beer garden service: I'll call them "Full Service" (you get beer and food from a server), "Mini Service" (you get only beer from a kellner/kellnerin and buy your own food at "schmankerl" stands), and "Self-Service" (you get up and get everything yourself). Many smaller beer gardens are one type exclusively. The clues to look for are stands serving food and/or beer to customers. If you don't see any "schmankerl" stands, it's probably full service. If that doesn't work, sit down and observe what the other guests are doing: e.g. if they're getting up empty-handed and coming back with beer, you do the same.
On the other hand, many larger beer gardens have a combination of service. If you see an area marked "SB" or "Selbstbedienung," this is the self-service zone. If all of the tables in an area are covered with tablecloths, then these tables are full service.
One final note: some beer gardens allow patrons to bring their own food, as long as they buy beer. Some don't. When in doubt, observe the regular customers and see what they do to figure out what's acceptable.
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