Tobias Thomas is a DJ and event organiser and works at Cologne-based techno label Kompakt.
I’ve been lucky enough to call the southern part of Cologne, the Südstadt, my home for almost 20 years now. I was drawn to the streets around Chlodwigplatz in the early 2000s. Long before the neighbourhood and its straight old Roman roads, the Alteburger, Bonner and Severinstrasse streets became popular nightlife spots, I had already lost my heart to the majestic historical buildings, the Friedenspark and Römerpark parks, the Südbrücke freight train bridge and of course the neighbourhood’s proximity to the Rhine River. Not to mention the international buzz contributed by the Italians, Spaniards, Brazilians, Turks, Greeks and various other nationalities who arrived here in the eighties and stayed, the history of the former Stollwerck chocolate factory, which was occupied by squatters in 1980, the old industrial Rheinauhafen harbour... the Südstadt felt to me like a slumbering, ancient dragon, ready to breathe fire at any time.
I fell in love with this urban melting pot of all Cologne’s positive (and less positive) sides and I am reminded of this feeling every morning at Merzenich on Chlodwigplatz, the large bakery that serves the whole neighbourhood. Right opposite there you will find the fantastic bookstore, Buchladen am Chlodwigplatz, two doors to the right Der Weinladen, a wine store, and also the city’s best ice cream parlour, Settebello. For lunch you should wander along the Severinstrasse and take a seat at Ludari. Similar Kölsch-Italian vibes can be found at Da Luigi on Friesenwall. I’m a regular there because it’s right next to where I work, near the Stadtgarten park. I usually head to the Espressito coffee bar on Kaiser-Wilhelm-Ring for my afternoon caffeine fix, before returning to the Severinsviertel in the evening to buy groceries. It’s virtually impossible to pick out just one favourite from the many restaurants in the southern part of town. But the legendary Kaimax has the best drinks — after my favourite bar, of course, which can be found in the shadows of Rudolfplatz and only has two letters in its name! See if you can find it!