You can’t help but arrive in Vienna armed with a hit list of things to eat- from the famed Wiener schnitzel and its decadent pastries to the bastions of street food like sausages and leberkäse (meatloaf)- luckily Vienna is a city which rewards the traveller with a hearty appetite.
The food culture here is as integral to Vienna’s identity as classical music and art- don’t leave the city without seeking out some quintessential Viennese dining experiences- here are our Top 3 to get you started…
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But first, watch our Vienna food video…
1. Apfel strudel at Kaffee Alt Wien
Step into one of Vienna’s coffeehouses and you’re immediately transported to a different time. In 2011 UNESCO listed the city’s coffeehouse culture as “intangible cultural heritage” and they’re a unique part of Vienna’s identity. They became particularly popular in the late 19th century, places where writers, artists and the intelligentsia of the time would patronise to work and socialise. The tradition of whiling away a few hours with a coffee and the newspaper or a beer and a frankfurter at the bar, is still alive and kicking. You’ll find a couple of hours at a coffeehouse is the perfect way to punctuate an afternoon in Vienna.
Stop in at Kaffee Alt Wien a stalwart of the coffeehouse scene- faded red velvet banquettes, dim lighting, wooden floors- it’s moody and cosy. This place does a spectacular apfel (apple) strudel- thin pastry rolled around juicy, tart apples redolent with cinnamon and served with two squirts of whipped cream, a sprinkle of icing sugar and a small sprig of redcurrants. Wash it down with a melange- the signature Viennese coffee.
Eat at: Kaffee Alt Wien, Bäckerstraße 9, 1010 Wien, Austria. Open daily 9:00am to 2:00am.
2. Wiener Schnitzel at Am Nordpol 3
What would a visit to Vienna be without Wiener schnitzel? A slice of veal pounded thin until it’s the size of your head, lavished in breadcrumbs and then fried. Technically it must be veal in order for it be called Wiener schnitzel but you’ll often find pork or turkey on some menus- even the city’s most famous spot for this dish uses pork.
If you’re after the real deal and want a more local experience head north out of the old town to Am Nordpol 3 a neighbourhood restaurant with art strewn all over the walls, wooden floors, friendly staff and a rag tag charm. The menu is full of Viennese classics including a traditional veal Wiener schnitzel coated in a crumb that envelopes the meat in a golden puff. Nothing accompanies the schnitzel better than a squeeze of lemon and the Viennese erdäpfelsalat (potato salad)- a tangy mix of sliced boiled potatoes, mustard and white wine vinegar. Simple, but utterly perfect.
Eat at: Am Nordpol 3, Nordwestbahnstraße 17, 1020 Wien, Austria. Open Monday to Friday 5:00pm to midnight and Saturday to Sunday midday to midnight.
3. Käsekrainer at Würstelstand Leo
Sausages are the food that fuels the city and you will find würstelstands (sausage stands) all over Vienna. They stay open until the wee hours and serve an array of sausages and beers the length of your arm. These bastions of street food became a permanent fixture of the city following the First World War as employment opportunities for disabled war veterans.
Head to the oldest würstelstand in Vienna, Würstelstand Leo which has been around since 1928. If there are a few of you look no further than the Big Mama’s platter which features a behemoth of a käsekrainer, bread, pickles and a choice of six condiments. The käsekrainer is the quintessential Austrian sausage- a grilled, smoked pork sausage studded with emmental cheese which oozes into a gooey mess as you cut into the sausage.
Eat at: Würstelstand Leo, Döblinger Gürtel 2, 1190 Wien, Austria. Open daily until late.
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