So while every local has their own favorite place for crispy, golden Wiener Schnitzel, you’ll also find Vienna is justly famous for its exquisite pastries, crisp wines, cozy coffee houses, delicious beef dishes… there is not room enough here to complete the list. Suffice it to say that the Viennese, as all Austrians, are passionate about their food. They love to cook themselves, and they care deeply about where their food comes from and how it is produced or grown. You’ll find that this passion is reflected in the exceptionally high quality of Vienna’s restaurants.
As you embark on your culinary adventure, be sure to incorporate some of the following trends that define Vienna’s culinary scene:
Viennese coffee houses are an institution and famous for their relaxed atmosphere, or “Gemuetlichkeit.” Aside from a staggering variety of coffee specialties, and scrumptious desserts (think Sachertorte and Apfelstrudel), you’ll also be able to enjoy a range of international newspapers and, most importantly, lots of time. At the turn of the 20th century the Viennese Coffee House used to be the intellectual heart of the city, and to this day people take advantage of the unhurried atmosphere to meet friends, work or hold business meetings. UNESCO declared the traditional Viennese coffee house an intangible cultural heritage in 2011. For a true coffee house experience we suggest the elegant Café Central in Vienna’s city center or the traditional Café Sperl in the 6th district.
In Vienna there is always room for fresh ideas in amongst all of the dyed-in-the-wool coffee house tradition. Alternative coffee houses that are a far cry from the typical marble tables, Thonet chairs and liveried waiters are booming in the city. The majority of these coffee shops celebrate the barista’s art with directly sourced, fair-trade coffees, many of which are roasted according to the owners’ individual specifications. Espressomobil follows a completely different business model having reduced the coffee house format to a three-wheeled Italian moped. These mobile coffee shops park up at some of the city’s busiest squares, switch on the coffee machines and serve up premium coffee to take away.
Did you know Vienna is the only metropolis in the world that grows enough wine within city limits? Seven hundred hectares of vineyards shape Vienna’s cityscape and lifestyle. The mostly family-owned vineyards often serve their wine at their own wine tavern or “Heurigen” or sell to the sophisticated wine bars cropping up all over town. We suggest that you try the “Gemischter Satz,” Vienna’s iconic field blend, or a crisp Gruener Veltliner, Austria’s signature grape. Meinl’s Wine Bar, located in the basement of the gourmet temple by the same name, offers a great selection of wines to taste from. At Wein & Co, which has several locations throughout the city, you can not only enjoy a glass of wine, but also buy some in the adjoining wine store.
The city’s elegant, Michelin-starred restaurants offer world-class gourmet dining, often with a distinct local touch that takes Vienna’s traditional cuisine to the next level. The Steirereck in Vienna’s Stadtpark is consistently ranked among the world’s top 15 restaurants. Opera lovers enjoy the opulent atmosphere at the restaurant Anna Sacher in the famous Hotel Sacher, right next to the Vienna State Opera. If you feel like a more understated experience, we suggest Restaurant Konstantin Filippou or Restaurant Edvard located in the Kempinski Hotel Palais Hansen. Other popular restaurants not to miss are vegetarian restaurant Tian, rooftop-restaurant Das Loft at the Sofitel Vienna with an amazing view over the city center, Restaurant Das Spittelberg and Restaurant Labstelle in the inner city.
A true Viennese Beisl is down-to-earth, cozy, and proudly serves unadulterated traditional Viennese Cuisine. While some feature elegant design, the menu always features time-honored dishes with a strong seasonal element. Look out for dishes featuring mushrooms (chanterelle and Steinpilze) in late summer, roasted chestnuts, venison and pumpkin in fall, asparagus and ramps in spring. Or try a typical Gulasch, which has been simmering in the kitchen for hours. A perfect example of a traditional-yet-trendy Beisl is Skopik & Lohn in the 2nd district, where the ceiling painting will wow you upon entering or Gasthaus Wolf in the 4th district.
The various vendor stalls, eateries and bars of Vienna’s farmers markets are a natural shopping paradise, meeting place and sightseeing destination. Take the Naschmarkt for example: Nestled between Art Deco buildings and only a stone’s throw away from the famous Secession building it has become a true food mecca and a bustling hangout place after work. The Yppenmarkt in the trendy and diverse 16th district features local and artisanal produce as well as many local and international specialty foods. A great souvenir would be a glass of Staud’s jam.
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