By Mario Ziino Published May 31, 2004 at 5:40 AM

{image1}When most people think of ethnic dining options, the predictable choices that come up are Italian, Chinese and Mexican. No wonder -- those restaurants are everywhere. But if you're in search of German food, your options are a bit more limited outside of Milwaukee County.

There are five wonderful choices in Waukesha County to satisfy your schnitzel craving. And it doesn't have to be Oktoberfest for you to enjoy fine German and Swiss cuisine. Of course, there's plenty of Bavarian brew to go around. Here are OMC's top five restaurants which are considered among the best in southeast Wisconsin:

Max Meier's Hartland Inn
110 Cottonwood Ave., Hartland, (262) 367-6800

It's known as the House of Swiss Elegance & Gemütlichkeit, but Max Meier's Hartland Inn prepares a Veal Schnitzel Emmenthal that is second to none. A Lake Country area favorite, the Hartland Inn has been family owned and operated since 1967. It offers fine, elegant dining in a casual atmosphere and a menu that features a wide variety of steaks, seafood and authentic Swiss specialties. The Hartland Inn offers banquet facilities, catering, a children's menu and a Friday fish fry. It is handicap accessible. It has a non-smoking area. Reservations are accepted. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Closed Sunday-Monday.

Schwefel's Restaurant
39877 Highway 16, Oconomowoc, (262) 567-6777

Noted for its homemade soups (ask for the Stroganoff Soup), dressings and made-from-scratch items, Schwefel's is set apart from the others. German food prepared like the original at an exceptional dollar value. Open for lunch, Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Dinner hours are Tuesday-Thursday, 4-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 4-10 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Schwefel's also offers a breakfast menu on Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.

Weissgerber's Gasthaus & Beer Garden
2720 N. Grandview Blvd., Waukesha, (262) 544-4460

Considered one of the finest German restaurants in all southeast Wisconsin, the Gasthaus gives patrons a genuine Bavarian atmosphere, authentic recipes and a Beer Garden that makes Oktoberfest a year-round event. Open for lunch, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and dinner, 5-10 p.m., and Saturday, 5-10 p.m. Closed on Sunday.

Weissgerber's Golden Mast Inn
W349 N5253 Lacy Lane, Okauchee, (262) 657-7047

With the same traditions, the Weissgerber's family offers superb German-style flavor in its rustic surroundings and lakefront charm at the Golden Mast Inn on the shores of Okauchee Lake. Dramatic lakeside setting featuring continental dining. Terrace seating in summer. German specialties, steaks, seafood and cocktails. Open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m., Sunday, 2-9 p.m. The Golden Mast also offers a wonderful Sunday Brunch, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. It is closed on Monday.

Weissgerber's Seven Seas
1807 Nagawicka Road, Hartland, (262) 367-3903

Known for outstanding wine, seafood, steak, gourmet cuisine and spectacular sunsets and lake views, Seven Seas is one of Waukesha County's most outstanding lakeside restaurants. Nestled in the scenic hills of the Kettle Moraine on the east shore of beautiful Lake Nagawicka, Seven Seas has been family owned and operated since 1981 and has a reputation for excellent cuisine, attentive service and a hospitable atmosphere. Open for dinner Monday-Thursday, 5-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m., and Sunday, 4-9 p.m. Sunday brunch is served from 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m.