Eat Like a Local – Vienna

Paris has its bistros, Madrid its bodegas, Prague its beer halls and London its pubs. But Vienna has three typical gastronomic institutions: the coffeehouse, Beisl and Heuriger.



Entire libraries are full of the literature that has been written about – and in – Viennese coffeehouses. In the Biedermeier period and even more around 1900, cafés were
the focal point of Viennese intellectual life. Today, there are more than 500 such oases scattered throughout the city where you can sit for hours with a cup of melange and the obligatory glass of good Viennese mountain spring water without being bothered. They all have a wide selection
of newspapers and many provide chessboards, bridge cards and even billiard tables to help you while away the time.

The Beisl

The second culinary stronghold of the Viennese way of life – the Beisl – has become trendy once again thanks to an amazing rejuvenation of the Viennese cuisine that is actually a mixture of
Bohemian, Hungarian, Italian, Jewish and other Central European cooking traditions.

For years, the city of schnitzel and Tafelspitz (boiled beef), Beuschel (veal lungs), Knödel (dumplings) and Palatschinken (pancakes) had a poor reputation with gourmets on account of the fat and calories. In the meantime, a new generation of ambitious cooks have adapted their menus to appeal to modern eating habits.

The Heuriger

The third Viennese institution, the Heuriger, still enjoys tremendous popularity. Most of these inns have picturesque vaulted cellars, beautiful courtyards and gardens where guests are served young wine and hearty food – and often to live Viennese music.

Most Heuriger are located in the old wine-growing areas on the edge of the Vienna Woods in the north-west of the city but those in the more peaceful districts such as Strebersdorf and Stammersdorf to the north across the Danube, or Mauer near the southern boundary of Vienna have just as much atmosphere. The genuine Heuriger – which is also known as a ‘Buschenschank’ – can be recognised by a fresh green fir branch over its door and a sign reading ‘Ausg’steckt’ next to it.


Local specialties to try on your trip to Vienna:

Apfelstrudel – the dream dessert made of grated or finely cut apples, nuts, and raisins, seasoned with cinnamon and sugar, wrapped in filo pastry

Beuschel – finely cut offal (mainly heart and lung) in a spicy sauce

Buchteln – Sweet yeast rolls filled with jam and often served with vanilla sauce

Frankfurter – the sausages known as ‘Wieners’ everywhere else

Frittaten – finely sliced pancakes served in clear beef soup

Kaiserschmarrn – desert made of shredded omelette, usually served with stewed plums

Nockerln – the Austrian relative of Italian gnocchi; Griess or Butternockerln (small semolina or butter dumplings) are served in soup; Salzburger Nockerln – a soufflé of egg white – is a legendary dessert

Palatschinken – sweet pancakes filled with apricot jam, curd cheese, nuts or even ice cream

Powidltascherln – Bohemian dessert: choux pastry filled with plum puree

Sachertorte – the classic cake made of egg yolks, sugar, a little flour and beaten egg whites, filled with apricot jam and covered with chocolate icing

Stelze – grilled knuckle of pork – side dishes: sauerkraut and bread dumplings – or veal, with more delicate accompaniments

Tafelspitz – one of the best cuts of boiled beef; usually served with shredded fried potatoes and chive sauce or stewed apples with horseradish

Wiener Schnitzel – the classic: escalope of veal covered with breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown; the perfect accompaniment: potato salad


Restaurants serving traditional cuisine:



Charming place to take a break between the Naschmarkt and Freihaus Quarter. Breakfast is served until 6pm; good cooking and moderate prices, large selection of magazines and games. Sun–Wed 10am–1am, Thu–Sat 10am–2am | Rechte Wienzeile 15 | U4 Kettenbrückengasse

Luxurious café in Venetian neo-Gothic style. This is where men-of-letters and journalists sharpened their pens around 1900. Mon–Sat 7.30am–10pm, Sun 10am–10pm | Herrengasse 14 | bus 1A, U3 Herrengasse

Vienna’s oldest café is a gem, with Persian carpets, red velvet and Biedermeier glass cabinets. Mon–Sat 8am–midnight, Sun 10am–10pm, closed Sat evening in Aug | Himmelpfortgasse 6 | U1, U3 Stephansplatz

This traditional tea house is famous for its many different types of breakfast. There is also a salesroom where you can buy exquisite teas and accessories. The inner courtyard with comfortable wicker chairs is a dream. Mon–Fri 8am–8pm, Sat 8am–6.30pm, Sun 9am–6pm | Stephansplatz 4 | U1, U3 Stephansplatz



Elegant host and high-quality Viennese cuisine, fine wines, stylish living room in the cellar. Daily | Schellinggasse 5 | tel. 5 13 56 44 | | tram 2, D Schwarzenbergplatz

The new mooring place for the shuttleboats to Bratislava lies like a luxurious yacht of glass at anchor on the right bank of the Danube Canal. In addition to a café and bar, it also houses a restaurant that became the in-place for the bourgeois, bohemian and business people in next to
no time. Light, regional gourmet cuisine, fine wines, a spacious terrace with a fabulous view of the canal; lavish breakfast served in the café until 4pm(!) Daily | Schwedenplatz | tel. 2 52 55 11 | | U1, U4 Schwedenplatz

Ewald Plachutta and his team serve more than a dozen different kinds of boiled beef in their chic city eatery. Daily | Wollzeile 38 | tel. 5 12 15 77 | | U3 Stubentor

The roots of this stylish classic restaurant can be traced back to the 17th century. Chef de cuisine Sevgi Hartl’s cooking is creative while still respecting tradition and Maître Gensbichler guides his guests through the wine and cheese kingdom with the charm of times long past. The ‘Camel’ also has a stand-up bar and exquisite wine and delicatessen shop. Closed Sun | Bognergasse 5 | tel. 5 33 81 25 | | U3 Herrengasse



The essence of the Orient for all the senses: the glamorous combination of brasserie, café and deli with an oyster bar, tea salon and club. It even has a Moroccan steam bath! Mon–Thu Café 11am–2am, Fri/Sat 11am–4am, restaurant Mon–Sat 6pm–midnight, club with DJ Thu–Sat 10pm–4am | Rahlgasse 5 | tel. 5 85 66 45 | | U2 Museumsquartier

The ideal place for a meal after visiting Schönbrunn – don’t be put off by the surroundings!
Cosy restaurant with a wonderful garden with gravel underfoot and chestnut trees above. Excellent local cooking, steaks and scampi from the barbecue, and very good wines. Closed lunchtime and Sun | Hadikgasse 40 | tel. 8 95 51 27 | | U4 Hietzing

Sophisticated and refined home-style cooking using traditional recipes with a touch of Styria in the atmosphere of a cosy pub. Excellent wines. Closed Sun | Am Heumarkt 25 | tel. 7 12 53 10 | | U4 Stadtpark

Wonderful lunchtime restaurant in the cellar of the stock exchange with a view of lush green plants. Modern, light cuisine. Closed Sat evening and Sun | Wipplingerstraße 34 | tel. 5 32 05 42 | | tram1 Börse

Beautiful former imperial hunting lodge with terrace, gigantic chestnut trees and  tangy wine. On balmy summer evenings, you will feel blissful here in the heart of the Prater woods. The kitchen will also satisfy sophisticated diners. May–Sept Mon–Fri noon–11pm, Sat, Sun, holidays to 6pm, Oct–April closed Wed, Thu–Tue noon– 6pm | Freudenau 254 (Hauptallee) | tel. 7 28 95 65 | | bus 77A Lusthaus

Refreshing, aromatic Israeli-Levantine cuisine – mezzeh, kibbeh and salads. Café and charming rooftop restaurant; sandwiches to take away. Closed Sun | Naschmarkt 510 | tel. 5 85 20 20 | | U1, U2, U4 Karlsplatz

This is not the place if you are counting calories but perfect for fans of classic Austrian specialities such as schnitzel, knuckle of pork or fried offal served in a really relaxed inn with a round iron stove, old wooden panelling and floorboards. Closed Mon/Tue | Pressgasse 26 | tel. 5 87 64 37 | U4 Kettenbrückengasse



This local chain of restaurant is extremely good value for money. The menu in the
form of a yardstick offers a great variety of gigantic, thickly-spread open blackbread
sandwiches that you pay for by the centimetre. Daily | Stiftgasse 4 | tel. 4 70
06 06 | | U3 Neubaugasse, tram 49 Stiftgasse

Meat, fish and vegetable curries, served with coconut or lemon rice. Tamil culinary
art of a high standard is served at low prices in this friendly restaurant. There is
an all-you-can-eat buffet on the first Sat in the month (approx. 13 euros) and
brunch is served 11am–3pm on Sun. Daily, closed July/Aug. | Lenaugasse 4 | tel. 4 06
92 33 | | U2 Rathaus

This classic restaurant right behind the MuseumsQuartier serves good home-style cooking in post-modern surroundings. Inexpensive set lunch, wonderful garden. Daily | Museumsplatz 1/entrance: Breite Gasse 4 | tel. 5 26 56 60 | | U2, U3 Volkstheater

Cheerful, laid-back meeting place for people from all walks of life. The vegetarian meals and set lunch are something special. Closed Sun | Bäckerstraße 18 | tel. 5 12 74 51 | | U3 Stubentor

A canteen for government employees in the style of a designer restaurant with bistro cuisine at cafeteria prices. Different set meals every day and snacks. Am Josefsplatz 1/Neue Hofburg | entrance from Burggarten next to Butterfly House (Schmetterlingshaus) or behind the Palace Chapel (Burgkapelle) door on the left | Mon–Fri 9am–4pm | set meal from 11.30am | tel.
06 76 3 09 51 61 | U2 Museumsquartier, bus 2A Michaelerplatz

A typical country inn – in the heart of town! Substantial specialities from northern Lower Austria; friendly, speedy service, cosy, rustic atmosphere and a large garden with chestnut trees – reasonably priced set lunches. Closed Sat/Sun | Schönbrunner Str. 20 | tel. 5 87 34 47 | | U4, bus 59A Kettenbrückengasse

Buy the Vienna Marco Polo Pocket Guide

Vienna Marco Polo Guide

What’s the best thing you have ever tasted in Vienna? Comment below, tweet us @MarcoPoloGuides or tell us on Facebook.

One thought on “Eat Like a Local – Vienna

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.