Even in Austria, you can get tired of schnitzel, which is why we scouted out the best restaurants in Vienna during our visit last March. We sampled sushi, tapas, some amazing Italian, and yes, plenty of schnitzel to bring you this guide of where to eat in Vienna. Of course, if coffee and cake are more your think, I’ve also written up the best coffeehouses in Vienna too.
Since most visitors to Vienna stay within the Ringstrasse in the First District or Old Town, this is where you will find our recommendations for places to eat in Vienna. Most are within easy walking distance to the main tourist areas like St. Stephen’s Cathedral, or at most a short 5-6 euro Uber ride.
Eating Out in Vienna
There are a few things to keep in mind before heading out for dinner including:
- Like most big cities, reservations are recommended and usually required. If you are coming from overseas, many restaurants will accept reservations online through their website or booking sites like bookatable.com.
- Tipping is expected, although it is more modest than what you would do in the United States. At a café, round up and leave a few coins on the table. At other restaurants, they may make a point of telling you that service is not included and you can add a gratuity (I’d recommend about 10%) when they bring the credit card payment terminal to the table.
- Some restaurants do not accept credit cards, so be prepared with some Euro.
- You will not see a children’s menu and many portions are large and/or hearty so you may want to share.
- People in Vienna dress elegantly, especially for dinner. So leave the jeans, or at least sneakers, at the hotel and dress up a little, it actually feels good once in the while.
Must Try Foods in Vienna
Even though Vienna is a cosmopolitan city with a range of cuisines, there are still some “must try” dishes that you will find in all of the traditional Austrian restaurants and many of the coffeehouses. These are:
- Wiener schnitzel — of course! This is pounded veal (yes, much to my daughter’s dismay she had to consume baby animal to try this specialty), breaded and lightly fried. A good schnitzel will be very tender, crisp and not greasy. Squeeze some lemon on top to really bring out the flavor!
- Tafelspitz — this classic boiled beef, served in a pot with its “soup” or on a plate, usually with crispy potatoes and apple-horseradish sauce.
- Goulash — Viennese goulash is a bit different than Hungarian, but it is still more of a soup than what I grew up eating as goulash in the United States.
- Apple Strudel — coffeehouses compete for the honor of having the best apple strudel. The secret is the very, very thin layers of apples while still keeping a light a flaky wrapper. I refrain from calling it a crust because that is too much like pie or a heavier pastry. A dusting of powdered sugar completes the dish.
- Kaiserschmarren — I first had this in Delaware of all places, but it is a must try in Austria. It is hard to describe but imagine torn up pieces of pancake-like dough served with a plum sauce and powdered sugar. It is not overpoweringly sweet, which makes not overeating hard.
- Sacher Torte — invented by the Hotel Sacher, people line up to purchase the overpriced chocolate torte pre-packaged for travel. However, you will actually get a more authentic version in a local coffee house (without all those preservatives.)
- Want to try to cook some of these specialties at home? Try these Viennese recipes.
Where to Eat in Vienna
Griechenbeisl — after bringing up all those tasty Austrian specialties, I need to tell you where to find them. Griechenbeisl is very touristy, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. It was a perfect spot for our first night in Vienna and for a second, I thought I’d walked into Peter Luger’s back in New York (except the steaks aren’t as expensive.) They had my favorite apple strudel of the trip (or I was just very jet lagged), and a very good schnitzel too. (Figmüller is another good option for classic Viennese, but they don’t take reservations on the weekends.)
Griechengasse 9, Fleischmarkt 11, A – 1010 Vienna, +43 1 5331977
Brezl Gwölb — also Austrian cuisine, but tucked away and a little harder to find, Brezl Gwölb is much less touristy. Housed in a basement and ground level, it has a very cosy decor with a warm fire that is perfect on a chilly night. Don’t fill up on the giant pretzels, because the schnitzel and tafelspitz is quite good here as well. And, even though everything is cooked to order, the dishes come out fast. My favorite dish was their goulash, served with an egg on top and some very dense and heavy bread dumplings. I think this meal could have fed us all. I loved this little “find” that was also a lot lighter on the pocketbook.
Ledererhof 9, 1010 Wien, +43 1 533 88 11
Bodega Marques — I did not expect to find authentic Spanish cuisine in Vienna but I was pleasantly surprised by Bodega Marques. Don’t be put off by the smoky bar, this tapas and wine bar near Judenplatz has a glassed off dining room to keep the smoke out. The tapas were as good as any we had in Barcelona or Madrid.
Parisergasse 1, 1010 Wien, +43 1 533 91 70
Yohm — This contemporary Asian restaurant near St. Stephen’s offers a two-story dining room with excellent service and even better food. They serve sushi and sashimi, but also dishes from Thai and Chinese cuisine.
Petersplatz 3, 1010 Vienna, +43 1 533 29 00
Fabio’s — On our last night we splurged for our most expensive meal of the trip, but even that wasn’t too bad. It is amazing how inexpensive good wine is in Austria! You will definitely need a reservation at Fabio’s and you will want to dress nice. It isn’t fancy, but it is trendy. More NYC than Rome. The food is superb and the white truffle risotto is beyond.
Bitzinger — To go from upscale to street food, you really can’t miss a stop at the Bitzinger sausage stand near the Albertina. My favorite is the one stuffed with cheese. You can get the sausage on a plate or “hot dog style”, where they cut a hole in the top of the bun, squirt in some ketchup, and then stick in the sausage so you can eat it easily standing up with one hand. They even sell beer!
Naschmarkt — Foodies will also enjoy at stop at the Naschmarkt. This outdoor public market is a kilometer long with everything from a vinegar shop to fresh flowers. There are also restaurants and bars, or tables where you can stop and enjoy the goods.
Melker Stiftskeller — Since it is not all about food, oenophiles will enjoy a stop into the Melker Stiftskeller wine cellar for some local wine tasting.
Österreichische Küche 1m, 1. Wiener Bezirk
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