How much do you really know about Austrian food? In this post, we will take you through the sophisticated Vienna food culture, with some of the culinary highlights of restaurants in Vienna that we think are worth trying.
We’ll also give you some suggestions on restaurants you can visit if you want to set up your own Vienna do-it-yourself food tour.
Vienna Demel Pastry – Cafe Demel
Austrian food origins
If you trace the geography and history of Austria, it makes sense that traditional Austrian food shares similarities with many other nations. Starting from the rich coffee tradition of Turkey, sausages & bratwurst from Germany, goulash from Hungary, and the signature Viennese schnitzel dish with its Italian roots.
All merge together to form what are now considered to be traditional Austrian dishes.
While each region of Austria has significant cuisine highlights and differences, Austrian food in popular culture often means “food served in Vienna.” So, that’s what we are focusing on here in this post.
Bread rolls at Franciszek Trześniewski
Vienna Food Tour: While you’re in Vienna, we can’t recommend a food tour highly enough. Join a local foodie who will show you traditional and exciting food spots in Vienna while getting insider tips on restaurants and cafes.
The top Austrian dishes
It seems obvious to start with the most recognizable – schnitzel. So we will. This is something you can find just about anywhere in Vienna. “Wien” – Vienna – is even part of the dish’s name. You probably know it as Wienerschnitzel or Wiener schnitzel.
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Each region, and even different restaurants in Vienna, have their own Schnitzel varieties.
1. Viennese Schnitzel – Wienerschnitzel
by Karolina & Patryk
Wiener Schnitzel – The Bank Brasserie & Bar
Wiener Schnitzel is a must-try when you are in Austria. It is a thin piece of veal served with a slice of lemon and potato salad. You can either squeeze a lemon on the cutlet or not.
It’s not surprising why this Austrian food is famous all over the world – it is absolutely delicious and is the most popular Austrian food!
A good suggestion is to try it for the first time at The Bank Brasserie & Bar by Hyatt Hotel in Vienna. Their schnitzel is fresh, crispy, and simply perfect. Usually, schnitzel is really big, so if you are not very hungry, you probably won’t be able to eat everything.
The Bank Brasserie & Bar, Park Hyatt, Bognergasse 4, 1010 Wien
Recipe: Here’s a schnitzel recipe from the New York Times.
1a. Non-veal Austrian Schnitzel
Non-veal Vienna Schnitzel
Traditional Wiener Schnitzel is made from veal – Austrian law even protects its originality. However, if you’re a non-veal type, you can find varieties of chicken, turkey, or pork (appropriately named “Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein” – or Vienna Schnitzel from pork).
While Viennese Schnitzel is the main dish, you can order the local favorite side dish or potato salad and red currant jelly.
A slice of lemon on the side will add depth and freshness to Austrian Schnitzel dishes.
2. Vienna Sausages – Wiener Würstels
While most Austrian food comes from the kitchens of its thousands of restaurants, you can find street food, too. The famous street food in Austria is Viennese sausage. You can find Vienna Sausages – also known as Würstels – in many designated stands, locally known as Würstelstand.
Viennese sausages usually come with mustard and you wash them down with beer. Different varieties include cheese stuffing or the hotdog-style bun käsekrainer.
A variety of spicy bratwurst sausage is called Bosna or Bosner. It originated in either Salzburg or Linz. Bosna is popular in Southern Bavaria and Western Austrian cuisine. Just like a typical hotdog, Bosna usually comes on a grilled bun, with onion, mustard, and ketchup.
by Vienna 101 Facets
Viennese cuisine’s most used meat is veal. Take the wiener schnitzel (veal coated in breadcrumbs and fried), Tafelspitz (boiled veal or beef), Beuschel (a ragout containing veal lungs and heart) as some of the main dishes of Vienna’s gastronomic scene.
Tafelspitz literally means tip (of meat). It’s also the name of the meat cut. It’s boiled veal or beef in a broth of spices and root vegetables, served with a mix of minced apples and horseradish or with potatoes and sour cream with chives, according to your preference.
It is not only popular in the entire Austrian region, but it is also a well-known dish in the neighboring German state of Bavaria.
This dish doesn’t require a lot of preparation, and legend has it that it was one of Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph’s favorites.
The best Tafelspitz in Vienna is in Plachutta, in the middle of the city, a few steps away from the train station Stubentor. Their meats come exclusively from local farmers, tasty, tender, and worth every euro. Just book in advance, since the restaurant is so popular with both locals and tourists. Plachutta opens at 11.30 AM and closes at 12 midnight. Expect an atmosphere of Viennese culture and a taste of home-cooking when you visit.
Plachutta, Wollzeile 38, 1010 Wien
Recipe: Here’s how to make tafelspitz at home.
4. Goulash – Gulasch
Goulash – a Hungarian origin stew that is famous in Austrian food culture
When you think of Goulash, you probably think of Hungary. And you’d be right! But while goulash is a famous Hungarian dish, it’s also popular in the Austrian food scene. There was once a thing called the Austro-Hungarian empire, after all, and they share many things! Goulash is one of those things that made it to the tables of both countries after the empire collapsed.
Goulash is a type of meat stew with vegetables, paprika, and other spices. Sometimes you can find goulash with more broth to make it a soup dish. Unlike its Hungarian counterpart, a side of rolls, bread or dumplings (Semmelknödel) is usually a part of the Austrian goulash dish.
Saftgulasch (Austrian or Viennese Goulash) is a twist on traditional Hungarian goulash. It is a slow-cooked hotpot dish – at least three hours of preparation – consisting only of lean beef and a huge quantity of onions.
The end result is a flavorful tender beef dish with a thin dark brown sauce.
Recipe: Traditional Viennese beef goulash
5. Paprika Bread Rolls
by Travellers Archive
Paprika Bread rolls at Franciszek Trześniewski
High on your list should be a visit to the classy-stylish snack bar of the Brötchenmanufaktur (bread maker), Franciszek Trześniewski, in the city center of Vienna. They’ve been selling bread rolls since 1905, long before “take-away” or “food to go” became popular terms.
Franciszek Trzesniewski wondered how to “eat” a bread with “accident-free” toppings: by chopping up the toppings. This special way of production always remained a secret.
Classics such as cucumber with egg, young herring with onion, or chicken liver have been around forever.
There are 11 branches in Vienna.