Contrary to popular belief, Vienna is better known for its array of eateries rather than its gourmet temples. The world’s best city to live in dishes up food in social places that will connect you with local life easily. Here are 5 places to eat in Vienna that will make you feel like a true local right away.
The first place I head to when back in my Austrian home country is my family’s place. From there, it’s almost straight to the next Heuriger, or wine tavern.
Most of Vienna’s and Eastern Austria’s traditional wine taverns serve excellent Austrian food. They are a popular destination for family Sundays and dinner feasts with friends. While there, you can take your pick of cold platters of meat, salads, and savoury bread spreads.
My personal favourite warm meals are Surschnitzel (rosy meat left in brine with slightly salty taste), Krauftfleckerl (pasta with cabbage and smoked red pepper), and Styrian Backhendlsalat (crispy breaded chicken breast on salad tossed with pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil).
A Heuriger is run by vintners, and is hence not always open, due to the vintners’ own winemaking schedules. Always check a local Heurigenkalender when you’re planning what to do in Vienna. Neustift and Stammersdorf are great winery villages in Vienna, while Grinzing is nice but touristy.
Asta’s Vintage Paradise
Dining in the private home of a local opens up a world of insights you can hardly get anywhere else. For instance, my dinner with Asta, a BonAppetour host, was no different from being at one of my Viennese friends’ places. Except Asta cooks better than most of them.
When I was there, she had invited her friend Bianca as well, and we had a fantastic chat about topisc ranging from a great health app to living in Neubau (7th district), and our grandmothers’ food. Asta is an art historian and interior designer, and has an interest in Viennese vintage and modern art.
Her Griessnockerlsuppe (semolina dumpling soup) and Tafelspitz (boiled beef with savoury sauces and crispy roesti) were absolutely delicious. If you have a little time on your hands, you can also help Asta prepare your Austrian food and get a local cooking course on top of your meal.
Würstelstände, or sausage stands, are an essential part of local subculture. They were originally created a hundred years ago to help war-disabled soldiers to secure an income. There are more than 400 sausage stands in Vienna, which offer a variety of sausages, from the classic Frankfurter to spicy Debreziner, savoury Waldviertler to cheesy Käsekrainer.
Be sure to try a Leberkässemmel as well, which is a traditional roll with meat loaf.
Vienna’s best Würstelstände is probably Bitzinger’s, which can be found between the Vienna State Opera and Albertina museum. Other outstanding ones include Leo’s Würstelstand in the 19th district, and the sausage stand at Hoher Markt in the city center.
This private little restaurant is the perfect hybrid between stylish eatery and local diner. A magnificent 160 sqm townhouse apartment, Mezzanin 7 was refurbished by local hosts Martin and Thomas. Expect grand French doors and windows, original parquet flooring, and an eclectic design that exudes bold charm and a feel-good atmosphere.
The kitchen is no bigger than usual private Viennese apartment kitchens, which made me wonder how chef and gourmet critic Wolfgang was able to create professional dishes of such quality. Dining there had a unique “private dinner party” feel – your own conversations are wrapped in soft lounge music, only disrupted by occasional door bell ringing and friendly welcome chats between hosts and new arrivals.
You can choose between vintage dinners, Sunday brunches, and “table hopping” for a group of eight guests here. The afternoon teas have gathered a reputation of being extremely cosy, so do try them out.
Sibylle Fellner-Kisler’s dream of becoming a chef and hosting her own guests resulted in Vienna’s second private dining restaurant. To achieve that, she and her husband Wolfgang turned part of their traditional villa in the leafy suburb of Döbling into a six-table small boutique eatery.
Hofzeile 27 is a beautiful example of local middle-class lifestyle. Sibylle excels at Austrian food with a modern twist that can take on any gourmet style restaurant in the city. In the summer, guests can use the decked terrace and barbecue in the courtyard as well. Sibylle’s feel for interior design was so successful that she had recently added an interior design showroom, too.