When one thinks of Austria and Vienna, the first things that come to mind are frankfurters and beer. But the former capital of the Habsburg Empire has received influences from all the peoples who were under Austrian rule for many years and even today in Vienna you can enjoy cuisines from all over the world in excellent restaurants.
The city centre is synonymous with tourist menus and, for those who can afford it, fancy restaurants, but you can have an ‘authentic’ experience without spending a fortune by dining in a historic café or grabbing a sausage sandwich at one of the many kiosks scattered around the city.
For a taste of typical cuisine, it is good to keep an eye on the main signs to look out for. Heurigen are places that offer Austrian wine accompanied by typical Viennese dishes. Bierkolake are perfect for those who want to drink beer, while kellerkolake and beisel offer regional dishes.
Your mission while on holiday will be to find the perfect schnitzel and sacher cake: it’s not mission impossible, the right addresses for finding the best traditional restaurants and patisseries in Vienna can be found below, along with vegetarian restaurants, pizzerias and upmarket restaurants.
Here’s how our map of where to eat in Vienna works: first we recommend typical dishes, then the best places by type, and finally the best areas to go out to eat. Don’t miss anything, the diet only starts when you return!
Every self-respecting meal usually starts with a soup(suppe). The tastiest are Frittatensuppe with omelette strips, Griessnockerlsuppe with semolina dumplings, Kurbissuppe with pumpkin, Nudelsuppe-Rindsuppe which is a noodle soup, Tomatensuppe with tomatoes and Zwiebelsuppe with onions.
Among the main dishes, one of the most famous is Goulash, a slightly spicy beef or veal stew. Rostbraten (roasted beef ribs) and Tafelspitz (boiled beef) can be tasted in typical restaurants, although one of the most famous meat dishes remains Wiener Schnitzel. All dishes are accompanied by cooked vegetables of various kinds, gemischter Salat (mixed salad) or the classic pommes frites (Chips).
Austrian desserts are excellent, especially the stuffed cakes. The most famous is the Sacher torte, but you should also try the Mozart cake, made with pistachio cream, apricots and chocolate mousse. Apfelstrudel, or apple, sultana and cinnamon strudel, is very popular.
Assuming that the most typically Viennese experience you can have is to eat a hot sausage at one of the kiosks scattered around the city (Vienna’s famous würstelstand), make a note of this word: beisl. These are typical Viennese taverns, simple but with a warm atmosphere, wooden furniture and ceramic stoves.
Popular with Viennese from all walks of life, they are the best choice for those who want to sample schnitzel, tafelspitz, zwiebelrostbraten and other hearty specialities of Austrian cuisine.
Far more informal are the Heurigen, the traditional inns, found mainly on the outskirts of Vienna, where you can enjoy exclusively Viennese wines on tap or by the bottle with the tasteful culinary accompaniment.
Below you can find a selection of recommended traditional taverns and restaurants where you can eat in Vienna.
This is one of the best beisl near the centre, beloved by the Viennese, where you can choose from four different types of schnitzel, Austrian classics and seasonal specialities.
It is a lovely beisl with a warm atmosphere, wooden furniture and red and white checked placemats, and a menu of traditional dishes cooked with great care.
It is a pretty little heurigen in the Josefstadt district, inside the Grüel. It is a small place with wooden tables and a lovely garden with outdoor benches, unfortunately a little difficult to find because it is only signposted by a lamp outside.
Viennese cafés are a real institution, so you cannot fail to visit at least one during a holiday.
Tourists often imagine Viennese cafés as elegant pastry shops, but the mouth-watering (and super-caloric) chocolate or cream cakes, delicious pastries and fine chocolate pralines are only a portion of the cafés’ gastronomic offerings. Many Viennese go to the city’s cafés, historical or modern, for something more substantial than a snack of coffee and cake.
After biesl, cafés are the best places to sample typical Austrian cuisine.
This is an elegant venue that was once a haunt of intellectuals and artists. Embellished with marble columns, arches and glittering chandeliers, it will make you relive the opulent atmosphere of 19th-century Vienna. In the afternoon you can enjoy your snack with the background notes of the piano, played live.
This is the historic imperial patisserie that has employed only women for sales and customer service for over 200 years. Its shop window overflowing with mouth-watering cakes is legendary, but don’t just look at the pictures: step inside and indulge in chocolate, custard and other sweet wonders.
Three floors of sweetness await you in the historic shop of the Gernster family, founders of a confectionery empire. Head upstairs to the first floor for a coffee and cake break at the Gerstner Bar, where you can enjoy a splendid view of the State Opera House.
For more information read our article on Vienna cafés and the most famous of them all, Café Sacher, the birthplace of the famous cake.
The elegance of Vienna makes you want to indulge in some luxury: if you want to feel as rich and powerful as an emperor, if you want to celebrate an important occasion or if you want to add something exclusive to your holiday, choose one of the Austrian capital’s chic restaurants. The most ‘in’ are located in the Innere Stadt and adjacent districts.
Remember, however, that luxury is never cheap!
Considered one of the 5 best restaurants in Austria, it is a restaurant of understated elegance with a splendid view of the Graben, famous for its wine list of over 750 labels.
On the top floor of a hotel on the centrally located Stephansplatz, this chic restaurant serves Austrian specialities, sushi and fresh fish of the highest quality presented with great care, because the eye wants its share too! And speaking of views, you have none other than St Stephen’s Cathedral.
If you are for classic, imperial-dining elegance, choose this restaurant located in the vestibule of the magnificent Burgtheater, the National Theatre, comprising the former imperial carriage entrance and the adjoining hall, embellished with dark marble columns, arches and beautiful chandeliers. Equally impressive is the outdoor garden. The menu includes traditional dishes reinvented with modern flair.
Can’t get enough of schnitzel and sacher? If the time has come for you to return to your homeland, gastronomically speaking, Vienna will not disappoint: you can also find excellent Italian restaurants and pizzerias in the Austrian capital.
Ligurian atmosphere in one of Vienna’s best-loved Italian restaurants. Original modern-industrial décor with warm lighting. The menu changes constantly to always offer fresh products.
This small Italian restaurant with an intimate and cosy ambience and minimalist décor is located a little outside the city centre, in the museum district. The pizza is very good, but the restaurant is most famous for its aperitifs.
Austrian cuisine is not known for being light and its specialities are almost all meat-based. The renewed focus on health and the animalist choices of an increasing number of consumers have also led to the emergence of interesting vegetarian and vegan bars and restaurants in Vienna, where there is no need to compromise on taste.
Vegetarian-chic restaurant serving creative dishes by chef Christian Wrenkh. Recently he has also introduced meat and fish dishes but it remains the preferred choice of Viennese vegetarians who want to dine in a classy restaurant.
A vegan supermarket with a self-service area where you can enjoy sandwiches, salads and hot bulgur or quinoa dishes. All ingredients are guaranteed cruelty-free. It is a fantastic opportunity to eat something good and healthy while spending little.
Small vegetarian and vegan restaurant in the Innere Stadt is very popular with the Viennese. The menu is extensive and imaginative and the value for money is excellent.
A must-do during a holiday in Vienna is to have lunch or dinner at Naschmarkt15, Vienna’s most famous market, popular with tourists and locals alike.
One area of the market is entirely dedicated to food, with a long line of bars and restaurants of all kinds, suitable for all budgets; one area is entirely dedicated to fish restaurants.
For more information, read the article on the Naschmarkt.
In the following map you can see the location of the main places of interest mentioned in this article
Where are the best restaurants in Vienna? Where do you spend less? Where can I sample typical Austrian cuisine? Here’s our guide to the best places to eat in Vienna, from the centre, District 1, to the outskirts.
TheInnere Stadt corresponds to Vienna’s District 1, the historical heart of the Austrian capital. As in many tourist cities, the historic centre abounds with restaurants offering set menus at affordable prices, but often the quality of the food is not the best.
At the opposite extreme are the fine restaurants, including some of the best in the city: the concentration of upscale restaurants in the centre of Vienna is particularly high compared to other European capitals. Perhaps this is a legacy of the Habsburg period?
If you can’t afford an imperial meal, don’t despair: even in the Innere Stadt you can find nice little restaurants that won’t blow you away. To find them, avoid the main streets and look in the side streets.
Along the Ringstrasse, restaurants and bars are scarce: if you plan a stroll along this elegant boulevard, leave after a hearty meal, just in case!
More interesting is the gastronomy on offer in the Museumquarter, where modern cafés and restaurants have recently opened, attracting a young clientele, with some unabashedly hipster establishments.
The Grüel is the part of Vienna comprising districts 2 to 9, inhabited by a mix of students, professionals and wealthy residents: the neighbourhoods within it are very diverse, each with its own personality, and this is reflected in the diversity of bars and restaurants you can find.
Generally speaking, dining in one of the Grüel districts will allow you to choose between traditional Austrian cuisine and the most imaginative ethnic cuisines from around the world.
One of the best areas to eat in Vienna is Leopoldstadt, in district 2, close enough to the centre to be convenient to reach and architecturally interesting, but much more cosmopolitan and much less snobbish than district 1. You will find excellent restaurants at slightly lower prices than in the Innere Stadt.
The second district is also home to the Prater, which, besides being a fantastic amusement park, is an ideal area to stop for a quick bite to eat or dinner because of the quantity and variety of venues available. You can choose from kiosks, traditional taverns, biergartens, cafeterias but also fine restaurants recommended by food guides.
If your hotel is located in the centre or within the Grüel, you are unlikely to go any further: districts 10 and up make up the outskirts of Vienna and, with the exception of Schönbrunn Palace, have no particular tourist attractions.
If something pushes you into these areas, you will enjoy some interesting advantages for your meals: you will be more likely to find an authentic atmosphere, not built for tourists; prices are much lower; many restaurants have parking facilities.