We join Whudat blogger Nico Del Franco to explore Frankfurt in the smart cabrio BRABUS edition asphaltgold – and get bowled over by the city’s charm. The buzzing Bahnhofsviertel (station district), especially, brims with pulsating energy and gears up to host the Frankfurt Motorshow (IAA) evening events of the me Convention by Mercedes-Benz and SXSW – as well as a sizzling party by smart.

Frankfurt is the up-and-coming place to be. The metropolis at the river Main has more in store than its financial center, an international airport hub, cozy traditions, and 1990s techno. Plenty has changed in just a few years: A brand new, lively scene beyond the booming banking business is starting to assert itself in a city that keeps popping up in international quality-of-life rankings. Frankfurt’s transformation and shift towards all things unfinished, ephemeral, improvised, and exciting is most obvious (and fun) in the city’s Bahnhofsviertel district brimming with new bars, clubs, galleries, restaurants, and off-locations. Yet before we head out on our tour of “Mainhattan” in the new smart cabrio | BRABUS edition asphaltgold, we meet Whudat blogger Nico Del Franco in the stylish 25hours hotel by Levi’s lounge where even the table lamps sport cowboy boots. Born and bred in Frankfurt, Nico knows his city inside out – and comes well-prepared with an extensive to-do list for our day of explorations.

Hi Nico, the hood we’re in feels pleasantly rough and unfinished. Is this station district the poster child of Frankfurt’s recent transformation?
Nico Del Franco: I guess you could say that. While there’s still a little bit of a “sin city” vibe about the place, including some socially sensitive issues, this former no-go area has been thriving for several years. In Berlin or Hamburg it would be one of the hot new hoods, since cheap rents have attracted throngs of young creatives. This general trend is encouraged and supported by initiatives like Basis Frankfurt, which offers artists temporary spaces and studios on Deutsche Bahn premises … and people are only too happy to take them up on their offer.

smart cabrio | BRABUS edition asphaltgold in front of the 25hours Hotel Frankfurt

smart cabrio | BRABUSedition asphaltgold with diffuser in atomic yellow

You can literally feel this electrifying buzz at every corner. Has the 25hour hotel, with its Chez IMA restaurant, become a quiet haven in the middle of it all?
Nico Del Franco: Chez IMA, found on the ground floor of the hotel, is definitely a great spot and oasis. Here, you can treat yourself to excellent oriental fusion cuisine, best enjoyed in the beautiful courtyard. Things get a bit wilder on the roof terrace with regular parties – that’s a local secret I’m more than happy to share!

Schnitzel in Frankfurt

The hotel is also the location of the “Construction Party” held on September 16th, thrown by smart as part of the me Convention staged by Mercedes-Benz and SXSW during this year’s Frankfurt Motorshow. Can we expect to see you there?
Nico Del Franco: Sure! The location itself, inside the construction site of the 25hours hotel, is pretty amazing. And then there’s the DJs: Bounce from Berlin and Buck Rodgers from Austin.

No lack of exciting spots in the Bahnhofsviertel, then.
Nico Del Franco: Take Pracht, a blend of café, lunch bistro, bar, and club. It might look pretty tiny from the street, but there’s a sizeable dancefloor tucked in the back with an eclectic DJ line-up. It’s a cool place to have a few drinks with friends.

smart cabrio | BRABUS edition asphaltgold

So, where are we off to next? Isn’t Frankfurt a fairly compact city?
Nico Del Franco: You’re right; Frankfurt is a bit of a village, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While it has everything you need – including a decent soccer team – everything is usually just a few minutes away, which makes the city a great place to live. According to the latest Mercer Quality of Living study, Frankfurt ranks seventh – of all the cities in the world!

The smart smart cabrio | BRABUS edition asphaltgold
spoiler of a smart BRABUS
dashboard of a smart BRABUS
yellow interior details
handbrake of a smart BRABUS

What other factors shape the city?
Nico Del Franco: There’s a unique mix of tradition and contemporary: From the sleek modern living and working district found at the chic Western Harbor, private mooring included at the rear of each house, to more established, cozy neighborhoods like Sachsenhausen for more laid-back lifestyles. This is also where you find traditional restaurants like Fichtekränzi where Frankfurters wash down their hearty schnitzel covered in the local, herb-rich “green sauce” with plenty of ebbelwoi (the dangerously delicious local cider). A must for locals and visitors alike!

smart cabrio | BRABUS edition asphaltgold in Frankfurt

Well, we’ve already eaten …
Nico Del Franco: … but there’s always room for dessert, right? Let’s drive a few blocks to Bizziice. It’s also right here in Sachsenhausen – their organic ice-cream is easy on the conscience and simply to die for. Try the New York Cheesecake, my favorite flavor! My girlfriend and I stop here at least once a week.

Local Secret: Bizziice in Frankfurt

Nico Del Franco eating ice cream at Bizziice in Frankfurt

So delicious! And since the sun is out, it’s also the perfect day for open-top driving.
Nico Del Franco: Good thing we’ve got a convertible that lets us open or close the roof while driving. Next stop on our list is the River Main or, to be more precise, the Montez family’s art association. You can always rely on their curation. The latest exhibition, called What Can Be Done to Make Trouble?, brings together a range of contemporary sculptures, installations, photographs, videos, and paintings. Or we could make a beeline for the association’s café to recharge and soak up some inspirations. It’s worth coming back since they also host plenty of popular parties, flea markets, and events, including a massive New Year’s Eve bash.

Nico Del Franco driving the smart cabrio | BRABUS edition asphaltgold in Frankfurt

smart cabrio | BRABUS edition asphaltgold on a bridge in Frankfurt

The smart cabrio | BRABUS edition asphaltgold navigates the Main metropolis like a pro. Limited to just 500 units, the special edition is an obvious eye-catcher, without ever being brash. BRABUS front spoilers, side sills, and a rear diffuser in atomic yellow add subtle style touches. Meanwhile, the high sheen black light-alloy wheels in 5-double-spoke design tie the standout model firmly to where it truly comes into its own: road-grade tarmac. Nico leans back into the black leather seat with its stylish grey stitching and steps on the accelerator. Thanks to 66 kW (90 hp) of sheer power and an automatic stop/start function, the sporty, yet efficient car is a joy to drive. And it keeps us flexible during our spontaneous outings: Frankfurt’s highlights are not necessarily obvious to the casual traveler, but deserve plenty of time and attention to explore.

Building in Frankfurt city center

From majestic river to towering skyline – where should we go for a picture-perfect panorama?
Nico Del Franco: To capture the skyline, I’d recommend the Main bridges, though one of them – the Holbeinsteg – is pedestrian-only. The river banks are also great for jogging or to relax with friends on a spot of luscious lawn. Whenever I head down to the River Main, it feels a little bit like being on vacation.

Where does one go out at night?
Nico Del Franco: Definitely somewhere in the Bahnhofsviertel area.

smart cabrio | BRABUS edition asphaltgold at a traffic light in Frankfurt

Okay, then let’s turn around and head back – after all, parking won’t be a problem with our nippy smart.
Nico Del Franco: True enough, so let’s brave the madness of Münchener Strasse. Almost weekly, new hip bars or bagel shops pop up between the street’s local Asian supermarkets, fast-food joints, or Turkish barbers. There’s Maxie Eisen: Their pastrami even impressed the New York Times. Right across the street, Pizzeria Montana bakes with their huge, Pacman-styled stone pizza oven.

neon sign of the pizzeria Montana in Frankfurt

Local Secret: Pizzeria Montana in Frankfurt with pacman oven

That one probably pushed your gaming buttons?
Nico Del Franco: To be honest, when it comes to food I’m fairly conservative and quality-focused: I don’t think a good pizza place needs gimmicky extras. For the very best pizza, people still flock to Da Cimino, Frankfurt’s oldest pizza joint in Bornheim, my own hood.

Nico Del Franco eating at the pizzeria Montana

Any other great places to eat?
Nico Del Franco: The Club Michel is still a relatively well-kept secret. Everything is very hush-hush and undercover; you need to sign up to their mailing list to book a space at the shared table.

Is it worth it?
Nico Del Franco: Absolutely! Their menu changes every week, the cooking is amazing, you’ll definitely get to know your neighbors, and you will meet some really interesting people.

Where would you wind down with a digestif?
Nico Del Franco: Digestif sounds a bit uppity for Frankfurt. Let’s go to Yok-Yok instead. Although it’s only a small kiosk, it has already become a Frankfurt institution.

Nico Del Franco looking up

nightlife in Frankfurt

Yok-Yok – sounds exotic.
Nico Del Franco: It’s Turkish for “nothing’s impossible” and pretty ironic considering that Yok-Yok sells around 400 different types of beer and even used to have its own DJ booth inside plus empty beer crates for seats on the sidewalk. Nowadays, it’s a little more quiet and laid-back, to placate the neighbors. But it still attracts a very vibrant, heterogeneous crowd every night – many people use it as a quick stop before Plank, the iconic café bar next door.

Since Frankfurt is famous for electronic sounds, where should we go to shake a leg?
Nico Del Franco: We could either drive to the seminal Robert Johnson club in Offenbach our simply try our luck at nearby amp. amp actually joins Pracht, Maxie Eisen, Plank, and Club Michel as one of the me Convention’s “urban hotspots” on September 14-16th. The vibe tends to be relaxed, but picks up after 11pm when international top DJs take to the decks to spin their stuff. Don’t miss!

That’s the true sound of Frankfurt calling …
Nico Del Franco: Exactly. Minus the local Hessian dialect.

Well, you could try and teach us some?
Nico Del Franco: Maybe next time …

Nico Del Franco standing in front of a graffiti wall

Nico Del Franco blogs at Whudat. Founded by MC Winkel, it is one of Germany’s most successful online platforms for lifestyle, street art, and music.

Local Secrets Frankfurt:

Basis Frankfurt
Gutleutstraße 8-12
60329 Frankfurt on the Main

25hours Hotel Frankfurt by Levi’s
Niddastraße 58
60329 Frankfurt on the Main

Bar Pracht
Niddastraße 54
60329 Frankfurt on the Main

Cider pub Fichtekränzi
Wallstraße 5
60594 Frankfurt on the Main

Wallstraße 26
60594 Frankfurt on the Main

Kunstverein Familie Montez
Honsellstraße 7
60314 Frankfurt on the Main

Maxie Eisen
Münchener Straße 18
60329 Frankfurt on the Main

Gallusanlage 2
60329 Frankfurt on the Main
Facebook Seite

Pizzeria Montana
Weserstraße 14
60329 Frankfurt on the Main

Pizzeria da Cimino
Adalbertstraße 29
60486 Frankfurt on the Main

Club Michel
Münchener Str. 12
60329 Frankfurt on the Main

Münchener Str. 32
60329 Frankfurt on the Main
Facebook Seite

Plank Café-Bar-Studio
Elbestraße 15
60329 Frankfurt on the Main

Robert Johnson
Nordring 131
63067 Frankfurt on the Main