Think of these as culinary “sights.” You haven’t fully experienced Graz until you’ve sunk your teeth into at least one of them. For one, pumpkin seed oil has the rich flavor and health benefits to take the world by storm. But for now you have to come to Graz to drizzle this dark-green oil on anything from salads to vanilla ice cream. If you pay attention you’ll see that pumpkin seeds (and their oil) find their way into everything here. For a typically Styrian brunch, try pumpkin seed oil scrambled eggs at Martin Auer bakery (Stubenberggasse 10.)
The Styrian runner bean is the size of a quarter and tastes best with a bit of salt and your favorite salad dressing (may we suggest pumpkin seed oil?) You can mix it with greens, potato salad, or cut in crispy bacon bits. Get your already cooked runner beans at the Kaiser Josef Markt farmer’s market and eat them straight out the bag for the full local experience.
If fried chicken doesn’t sound like a refined delicacy to you, you haven’t tasted Graz’ take on it. The meat is thick and tender, and the batter wonderfully crispy. Locals eat it with a side of fingerling potatoes or rice, or sliced on top of salad with — you guessed it — pumpkin seed oil dressing. Get a mean fried chicken at Der Steirer, along with other regional specialties.
There is nothing trendy about the farmer’s market that spreads out in front of Graz’ Baroque opera house. The Kaiser Josef Markt brings fresh eggs, meat, fish, cheese, and produce to Graz since 1883. A lot of the vendors look like they’ve been there from day 1, but that’s part of the charm. Find seasonal specialties and ready-to-eat snacks at the stalls and people-watch with a glass of regional wine in hand.
For a younger, unconventional experience head to the Lendplatz farmer’s market on the other side of the river. This is Graz’ up-and-coming neighborhood and a hotspot for students and creative types. Particularly popular is the market stand Die Süße Luise, which sells delicious pastries and coffee. In the summer months the quirky outside seating area is teeming with locals.
Graz is full of great restaurants, but some go above and beyond with the originality of their menus and quality of ingredients. Stainzerbauer has a long history in the city and prepares traditional Austrian food with international influences. They also do a monthly pumpkin seed oil tasting that lets you experience the distinct flavor profiles of oils along with other local snacks.
Aiola Upstairs is a fabulous restaurant at the top of Schlossberg mountain in the city center. It does regionally-influenced fare with stunning views over the city. The restaurant design allows for year-round operation: its open-plan glass structure can be lowered into the ground, turning the Aiola Upstairs into an open-air location in the summer. If you want to start your morning looking at the roofs of the Old Town, we recommend a relaxed breakfast or brunch.
The husband and wife team behind Aiola Upstairs also runs the more elegant Landhauskeller in a historic location. It’s housed inside the regional government building, a beautiful Renaissance structure with an iconic courtyard. The Landhauskeller’s menu and overall ambiance is decidedly classic, but there are modern touches that make the restaurant feel fresh and cosmopolitain.
Chocolate is a big deal in Austria. It’s made with regional milk and because of the country’s rich dessert culture, it has to please demanding taste buds. To satisfy your sweet tooth in Graz, head to Linzbichler confectionaries, which are tucked into a tiny shop at the city’s Franciscan church. Linzbichler sells an incredible array of chocolates in all shapes, sizes, and flavor varieties, and has become a local institution.
Café Sacher in the Herrengasse street serves the world’s most famous chocolate cake: the Original Sacher-Torte. This cake originally hails from Vienna where it ignited a 25 year-long legal battle from which the Sacher Family emerged victorious. Sit back on the velvet-cushioned benches and let the bowtie-clad waitstaff of Café Sacher bring you a piece of their house specialty.
Finally, you don’t need a Golden Ticket to visit this real artisanal chocolate factory near Graz. Chocolate manufacturer Zotter makes exceptional chocolates largely by hand and lets you tour the facilities where their chocolate-magic happens. You can taste chocolate in all stages of production and bring home Zotter’s most outlandish creations from the gift shop. We recommend working up an appetite before visiting the factory, as you’ll be eating plenty while you’re there. To a chocolate lover, this really is the experience of a lifetime.
Drive just 40 minutes south of Graz and you’ll find yourself in a different world. Gentle, sun-soaked hills, small historic villages, and a sing-song-y local dialect make the wine region of southern Styria one of the most charming patches of land in the country. Come here to visit a Buschenschank, a traditional wine tavern that serves home-grown Sauvignon Blanc and other wines, as well as hearty Styrian food. Try Weingut Schauer in Kitzeck and take a walk through the meandering vineyards. Weingut Kästenburg also offers cozy rooms for an overnight in the country.
Can’t get out of town? Sample a wide variety of local wines directly in the city center at Wein & Co. The food here is excellent, so order a few small plates to go along with your wine selection. Expert staff will guide you through the extensive menu.
Discover the vast wine region just outside the city of Graz.Graz’s Wine Region