Vienna City Break Guide - Typical Food and Gastronomy
Looking for the best food in Vienna? Here are our suggestions
Vienna, the city of Franz Joseph, Gustav Klimt, Franz Schubert, Christoph Waltz, and of so so many other important names throughout history. Vienna, the city of waltz, music, and art. What I'm trying to point out with all these is that Vienna is a city for all traveling styles. From fine dining to noisy pubs, the Austrian capital is as multicultural as a city can get.
Therefore, I believe that it's absolutely impossible to try out all restaurants and make an article such as 'Vienna's best restaurants.' I know that the internet is full of them. I've seen many such examples, and I can understand why one could use this title, but I can't agree with them.
But moving on, I have to say that I personally consider myself to be lucky when it comes to getting to know the food culture of Vienna. Why? Because I had the possibility of visiting this city on multiple occasions. Thus, I had the opportunity to attract both good and bad food stories. As a matter of fact, the first time I set my foot on Austrian soil was over 20 years ago, and back then, I ate only Wiener Schnitzel for seven days. Yes, I was so afraid of trying other new Austrian food that I only stayed on the safe side.
Anyway, the time has passed, and today, I am no longer a child. Today, I love to test the traditional recipes of each place I visit. Truth be told, learning about new dishes and discovering new flavors is my top reason for traveling.
But even so, I would be a hypocrite to claim that I am about to tell you where to find the best Vienna restaurants. Even if I were a resident of the city, I couldn't manage to say which are the absolute best restaurants in Vienna.
This being said, what you're about to read is simply a Vienna food guide combined with some recommendations of what you could do while in the Austrian capital.
So the first thing I want to say about the Austrian people is that they love their breakfasts. Naturally, due to this very nice custom, when in this country, we tend to stay in accommodations that provide this type of service. However, if you choose Airbnb, you can always find venues all over Vienna that are more than happy to offer you a lovely "frühstück" experience. Therefore, the question many of you probably are asking is where to eat breakfast in Vienna.
Well, you can literally enter any coffee shop you stumble upon and enjoy a cup of delicious Viennese Cappuccino and a piece or two of their marvelous pastries. There is actually a local brand called Ströck that has coffee points everywhere in the city. I am pretty sure that their coffee is just as good regardless of where you drink it. But if you want a complete breakfast experience, I suggest you visit their Ströck-Feierabend restaurant as it has a super nice vibe.
Furthermore, the food is delicious, and it's very easily reachable by subway. As a recommendation, don't leave without trying their vanilla rolls.
Personal opinion: you are enjoying some days off, so don't miss the chance to drink their kaiserspritzer. This is a beverage made out of wine, soda water, plus syrup, and truth be told, Ströck-Feierabend has the best one we had in Vienna.
Since I mentioned the vanilla roll, I have to tell you that Vienna is world-known for its fabulous desserts. I am not talking here about the apple strudel (which it's absolutely delicious btw). No, I am talking about cakes that are still prepared using original recipes that go all the way back to the Imperial days. The most well-known dessert in Vienna is the Sachertorte, a very dense chocolate cake. Yet, there are many other names that might ring a bell, such as the Malakofftorte or the Esterházytorte. Even though the latter originated in Budapest, it is definitely very popular in almost all Viennese konditorei (remember this name as it means a pastry and confectionary shop).
Probably the most famous dessert shop in the Austrian capital is Demel. Located right in the heart of the city, near Hofburg Palace, Demel has been around since 1786. Truth be told, I never managed to get inside to see if the cakes are as good as I imagine them to be. There is always an enormous queue, and they don't accept reservations. So, if you have the chance to get inside, please tell us if waiting for hours is worth it or not.
Anyway, there are other konditorei you can try and be more than satisfied.
Just a few blocks away, you can find another notable coffee house named Café Central. Even though it is a little younger than Demel (it was opened in 1876), the establishment had its share of famous people knocking on its door. As a matter of fact, Sigmund Freud and Leon Trotsky were patrons of the place. Yes, there is usually a queue here as well, but we never had to wait for more than 10 minutes to get in. And I do believe they also accept reservations.
I am sure you will love whatever dessert you'll choose, but my personal preference is Sissi's favorite.
Finally, the last well-known place I can think of when it comes to desserts is the Gloriette. It's located in the Schönbrunn Palace's gardens, which I strongly recommend visiting.
The view is beautiful, the cakes are delicious, and trust me that you will deserve them after walking all the way to the top of the hill to get to the coffee shop. However, I haven't been there for a while. Yet if I remember correctly, due to the fact that it's right in the heart of a very touristic point of interest, the services are not that great, and the cakes are slightly more pricey.
So, since we've talked about luxurious desserts, I can only move to the fine dining topic. There are many Michelin Vienna restaurants you can choose from. Yet, I cannot recommend any since we have never been to one. Why? Because we are usually transiting the city for our skiing trips or visiting it for a city break. This means that we don't travel with clothes that are proper for these venues. But if you do have more than a pair of jeans and a bunch of t-shirts in your bag and are into fine dining, you have many choices.
Anyhow, as you can imagine, since it is such a touristy destination, there are plenty of restaurants in Vienna city center to choose from. We usually try to avoid them and go to more authentic locations. Yet, I can give you two pretty decent suggestions.
The first one that comes to my mind is Augustinerkeller Bitzinger. This restaurant is located in the Opera area, in a cellar, right next door to an art gallery. The thing about this venue is that sometimes the service is excellent, other times, not so much. However, their pork knuckle is really, really nice.
Another central venue we found to be worth a visit is Zwölf Apostelkeller. This one is right next to Stephansplatz, making it ultra-central. Also situated in a cellar, they offer traditional food accompanied by live music.
Now, as the quality of the dishes goes, I can point to the tafelspitz as being the best meal we had there. We also tried their goulash, schnitzel, and apple strudel. Yet, the schnitzel was dry, and the other two were just average.
But since we are talking about a restaurant for tourists, I can't say that we were disappointed.
Anyway, for us, the best food in Vienna can be found on the city's outskirts. By traveling just a few subway stations away from the crowded central points, you can get to fantastic genuine venues ready to serve you delicious authentic dishes.
For instance, take the U6 metro line and go up to Alser Straße. Right across the street from the station, there is a charming family-owned restaurant called BrauBar.
This small venue is absolutely lovely, making you feel welcomed from the very second you step inside.
Everything we tried here was super delicious, so I cannot recommend anything specific. Yet, I can say that even though we didn't have it, the schnitzel we saw at other tables looked divine. The idea is that I do believe that it doesn't matter what you order because it will probably be amazing.
As a plus, BrauBar has a really wide variety of schnaps. Therefore, if you are into these kinds of drinks, this is the place to give them a try.
Another charming little restaurant is Rado's Gastwirtschaft. To reach it, you will again have to take the U6 metro line, but you will stop at Währinger Strasse station this time. From here, you will have to walk for 5 minutes or so, but I can assure you that it's totally worth it.
The establishment was opened in 1904, and they literally serve the best spare ribs we ever had the pleasure to eat.
The only aspect you should consider before booking a table here is that they only accept cash.
As I mentioned earlier, Vienna is full of wonderful restaurants, and I am sure that you will find something suitable for you. This being said, let's move to more interesting aspects such as beer. Because, if you have ever been to Austria, then you know that their food is perfectly accompanied by this type of beverage. And they do have great beer.
Of course, you can have a pint or more in any pub you lay eyes on. Yet, suppose you want a more interesting experience. In that case, I recommend going to the Ottakringer brewery for a beer tasting.
But as I said, Vienna really is a city for everyone. So, if you are more of a wine kind of person, you can and should go to a wine tasting in the beautiful district of Grinzing. You can reach it very easily by taking the 38 tram. After more or less 30 minutes of a pleasant journey through various neighborhoods, you will get to a picturesque location that doesn't look like anything else you've seen in Vienna.
We choose Bioweingut Und Heuriger Obermann, and truth be told, we would return anytime there. I can only imagine that the whole scenery is even more amazing when there isn't snow on the outside tables.
Their wine selection is really good, and I've seen that they also have a buffet if you are hungry. We haven't tried it, yet everything looked homemade. So probably the food there is also nice.
But if you are in the mood for something else, there are many locations to drink a glass of local wine. Just look for 'heuriger' signs, indicating Austrian establishments serving wine from the latest harvest.
Naturally, we couldn't end our Grinzing trip without getting hungry. It was very hard to choose a restaurant for a late lunch as they all looked as if taken out of a fairytale. In the end, we randomly stopped and asked for a table at Brandl.
The insides of the restaurant were as beautiful as the exterior building.
As for the food, everything was great. I mean, you know you are in the right place when it's full of locals eating their Sunday meal.
So, we've talked about food and drinks. What is there left to say? Well, even though it is not necessarily gastronomically related, I have to tell you that you should not miss the chance to enjoy a day at the thermal baths. There is one big establishment called Therme Wien that is reachable by subway. Just take the U1 line to Oberlaa station. The place is huge, and you can lose a day relaxing here. They also have a restaurant if you want to eat, but the food is of cantina-like quality.
Now, if you want a more intimate experience, you can take the train and go to Baden bei Wien, which is 26 km south of Vienna. Known for its thermal baths, this town was the Emperor's summer residence. And you can still see this today in its elegant establishments.
We were there only for an afternoon, and since many of the restaurants open only for dinner, we didn't have too many choices. However, we found a local venue full of residents eating their lunch. Even the menus were only in German. That's how great Restaurant Badener Eck was.
There was not a single touristy feature here, offering us one of the best experiences we had in the whole region. Definitely recommend this place, but be advised that the plates are huge, and you can only pay by cash.
Last but not least, you simply can't go to the Austrian capital and not have some Vienna street food. There is the Naschmarkt Market, where you can find a wide variety of culinary offerings. But for us, nothing beats the sausages eaten right in the heart of Stephansplatz.
We do this every single time we visit Vienna, and I couldn't imagine a trip without this 'tradition.'
Basically, this is everything you need to know food-related before planning a visit to this wonderful European capital. Again, the venues mentioned in this article are not necessarily the best in the city and its surroundings. They are simply our recommendations of places we tried and liked more or less. The idea is that regardless of where you'll choose to eat, try as much local food as possible.
This being said, here is what you should not miss when it comes to Vienna's traditional food: Wiener Schnitzel, Spare Ribs, Tafelspitz, Goulash, Würst, Kaiserschmarrn, Apple Strudel with Vanilla Sauce, and Sachertorte.
That's it! Please feel free to let us know if you have any suggestions on the matter, as we are always up for another Viennese experience.