Wondering what to eat in Vienna? Read on to discover 20 must-eat Vienna food favorites including a few tasty tipples. You’ll find traditional Austrian dishes in this Vienna food guide plus a few fun surprises.
Walking along the streets of Vienna is like walking through history. Famous people did extraordinary things here and their legacies haven’t dissipated. But, despite its impressive history, Vienna isn’t stuck in the past.
Today’s Vienna has plenty of street art as well as rooftop bars. Specialty coffee fuels the city’s hipsters who live and work both inside and outside the city’s ring.
Vienna sparkles with Christmas markets during December and blooms with flowers in the summer. It also has a vibrant food scene that reflects the city’s international pedigree and goes way beyond traditional Austrian food.
Table of Contents
- Vienna Food Guide | What to Eat in Vienna
- 1. Traditional Austrian Food
- 2. Wiener Schnitzel
- 3. Gastronomy
- 4. Wiener Würstel
- 5. Asian Food
- 6. Pizza
- 7. Middle Eastern Food
- 8. Market Food
- 9. Classic Cafe Culture
- 10. Wiener Melange
- 11. Sachertorte
- 12. Kaiserschmarm
- 13. Palatschinken (Pancakes)
- 14. Eis (Ice Cream)
- 15. Café Maria Theresia
- 16. Manner Neapolitan Wafers
- 17. Specialty Coffee
- 18. Vienna Bars
- 19. Wine
- 20. Spritzes
- Useful Vienna Facts
- Food in Vienna FAQs
- Vienna Planning Checklist
Vienna Food Guide | What to Eat in Vienna
Returning to Vienna wasn’t just a vacation for us – it was a food trip twenty years in the making. That’s literally how long we waited to return to Austria’s most cultured city. We arrived prepared and we stayed busy.
We stayed at a tony hotel located inside a redesigned building. As we toured the city at all hours, we walked and walked and then we walked some more. Mostly, though, we reacquainted ourselves with the city’s food. Lots and lots of the city’s food.
As we quickly learned, food in Vienna has come a long way since our initial visits decades ago. No longer a one-trick pony, the city has a range of food and drink options that literally span the globe. And, when it comes to desserts, the city rivals both Paris and Copenhagen in terms of both quality and quantity.
You’ll want to taste all these things when you visit Vienna for the first time. However, you’ll want to start your culinary exploration with traditional Austrian food.
1. Traditional Austrian Food
If we had just two words to describe traditional Austrian cuisine, those two words would be comfort food. Meals from this underrated cuisine capital feature a lot of hearty dishes and even more decadent desserts.
Sure, it would be easy to lump Austrian food with German food, but that would be a simplification. Austrian cuisine has influences from other neighboring countries like Italy and Switzerland. Plus, many German food favorites were actually created in Austria and not the other way around.
Traditional Austrian dishes include Tafelspitz (boiled beef), Käsespätzle (cheesy noodles) and Erdäpfelsalat (potato salad). You’ll want to eat all of these dishes at a beisl, Austria’s answer to France’s bistro. And you definitely don’t want to miss eating Wiener Schnitzel – a dish forever linked by its title to Schubert’s city.
2. Wiener Schnitzel
Wiener Schnitzel is a simple dish that involves breading a thin slice of veal cutlet and pan frying it until it’s crispy on the outside but still moist in the center. Typical accoutrements include lemon wedges and parsley. And there’s usually some sort of potato side such as fried potatoes, potato salad or buttered potatoes with parsley.
While non-veal eaters and bargain hunters can find Wiener Schnitzel made with pork, traditionalists will want to eat authentic Wiener Schnitzel made with veal. We went the traditional route just hours after our arrival and we weren’t disappointed. After eating Schnitzel in various cities including Graz, Trento and Vilnius, it felt right to eat Wiener Schnitzel in Vienna.
Vienna’s status as a global leader in the arts isn’t limited to music and paintings. The city also excels when it comes to the culinary arts, i.e. gastronomy.
This is a city where top chefs create dishes that are as visually appealing as they are tasty. Many of these chefs have Austrian roots while others bring influences from countries like France, Germany, Greece and Japan. Regardless of where they were born or their cooking styles, they’re all elevating Vienna’s food scene to world-class levels.
We’re not the only ones to notice the upscale dining scene in Vienna. Michelin has awarded 11 Vienna restaurants with Michelin stars. One restaurant, Amador, received three stars while four others received two stars. TIAN, a vegetarian restaurant in the city center, has also received a green star for sustainability to go with its one star for cuisine.
Where to Experience Upscale Dining in Vienna
Vienna Restaurants with three Michelin Stars: Amador
Vienna Restaurants with two Michelin Stars: Konstantin Filippou, Mraz & Sohn, Silvio Nickol Gourmet Restaurant and Steirereck im Stadtpark
Vienna Restaurants with one Michelin Star: [aend], Apron, Edvard, Pramerl & the Wolf, Shiki Fine Dining and TIAN
4. Wiener Würstel
Wiener Würstel is the go-to street food in Vienna. It’s basically a Viennese sausage that’s made with both beef and pork and served in a long roll. While you can find them at restaurants and coffee shops, the best places to eat Wiener Würstel are at sausage stands called würstelstands.
While it would be easy to discount würstelstands as junky hot dog stands, that would be a mistake. The better würstelstands serve a variety of wieners that include Bratwurst, Currywurst and Käsekrainer. Some wurstelstands even offer vegan Frankfurters.
Where to Eat Wiener Wurstel in Vienna
Alles Walzer Alles Wurst and Würstelstand LEO are two of the city’s best würstelstands. Würstelstand am Hohen Markt is centrally located on the same block as the Wien Museum Römermuseum. However, the best würstelstand is often the closest würstelstand.
5. Asian Food
Vienna’s culinary riches extend beyond its Central European geography. Yes, it’s true, not all food in Vienna is traditional. Equally true, some of the city’s best food options originated in Asia.
Asian food in Vienna isn’t limited to fancy-schmancy restaurants or down-and-dirty dives. While Vienna has both of these options, many of the city’s best Asian restaurants are cosy spots located in the center of town. And the best part? As previously noted, these Asian restaurants are serving some of the best food in Vienna.
Where to Eat Asian Food in Vienna
Virtually travel around Asia by eating Pad Thai at All Reis Bangkok Street Food, Banh Mi at Banh Mi Hoi An, Korean Cuisine at Kim Kocht, Dim Sum at Mama Liu & Sons, Ramen at Mochi Ramen Bar and Pho at Nguyen’s Pho House.
Beyond sharing a border, Austria and Italy share an appreciation for culinary art that spans the centuries. And, as we confirmed during an extended trip in Italy’s Alto Adige region, the two cuisines often collide.
Now, while we weren’t particularly thrilled to eat schnitzel in Italy, eating pizza in Austria is another matter since, you know, pizza!!. After eating great pizza in Graz, we’re were delighted to find great pizza in Vienna too. However, the pizza we ate in Vienna had an extra benefit – a spinning oven shaped like a giant disco ball.
7. Middle Eastern Food
Finding Middle Eastern food in Vienna is no problem. Local markets are filled with vendors selling a range of spices typically sold in countries like Egypt and Jordan. They city also has numerous Doner Kebab stands that feed hungry locals at all hours of the day and night as well as a type of Middle Eastern cuisine that surprised us – Israeli.
Despite our surprise, Israeli food is not new in Vienna. Bahur Tov has been serving Hummus and Falafel since 2005.
Other restaurants like Neni am Naschmarkt have brought Tel Aviv’s style of dining to the city. Diners at Neni not only can eat Shakshuka, but they can do so while sitting outside at the bustling Naschmarkt. It may not the same as sitting on a Tel Aviv terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea but it’s still pretty good.
8. Market Food
While it’s fun to eat at market restaurants like Neni am Naschmarkt, it’s even more fun to wander through the market stalls. And by wander, we mean nosh.
Take a Naschmarkt food tour if you don’t want to nosh alone.
Noshing at Vienna’s markets is like eating at a movable smorgasbord. Options run the gamut from pickles in barrels and sardine-stuffed olives to pastries and the city’s freshest fruit. You’ll want to bring a canvas bag in case you buy food to eat later or spices to take home as edible souvenirs.
Where to Nosh at Markets in Vienna
Brunnenmarkt, Karmelitermarkt, Kutschkermarkt, Meidlinger Markt, Naschmarkt, Rochusmarkt and Vorgartenmarkt are all great open air markets in Vienna. As a bonus, they’re all near cafes and restaurants if you prefer to sit while you eat.
9. Classic Cafe Culture
Vienna’s cafe culture is so long and deep that UNESCO recognized the Viennese Coffee House Culture in 2011. As UNESCO notes on its website, Vienna’s coffeehouses are places “in which time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is listed on the bill.”
Dating back to the 17th century, this coffee house culture is far from novel. It’s also not for show as evidenced by the fact that Vienna’s coffee houses are filled with locals who come for breakfast and return for late afternoon snacks. Those snacks typically involve Melange coffee drinks and delicious pastries like Sachertortes, Kaiserschmarm and Palatschinken – each of which deserves a category of its own.
10. Wiener Melange
We have a dream that one day we’ll walk into a classic Vienna cafe and drink specialty coffee. That day hasn’t happened yet. Instead, these amazing cafes make coffee drinks with commodity Julius Meinl beans. And, more often than not, they make a coffee drink called the Wiener Melange the same way that they’ve been making since the 19th century.
Similar to a cappuccino, the Wiener Melange is made with an espresso shot, hot milk and milk foam. While there’s no sugar or chocolate in this paticular Viennese coffee drink, those ingredients are easily found in the Viennese desserts served at the same classic cafes.
Where to Sip a Wiener Melange in Vienna
Every classic cafe in Vienna serves the Wiener Melange. Café Sperl is known for its version but the coffee drink is pretty much the same regardless of the cafe.
Austria has a lot of famous desserts but its most popular dessert is a unique cake created in Vienna. That dessert is the Sachertorte.
Named after its 16-year old (at the time) creator Franz Sacher, the Sachertorte has proven the test of time since it was invented in 1832. Sacher’s ingenious creation that layers chocolate sponge cake with apricot and chocolate icing is as popular now as it was when Austrian royalty first tasted the chocolate dessert almost two centuries ago.
Where to Eat Sachertorte in Vienna
Although you can eat Sachertortes at any of Vienna’s classic cafes, Demel and Sacher Hotel are THE spots for eating this particular dessert. Sacher Hotel gets credit for being the home of the original version and Demel gets kudos for adding an extra layer of apricot jam.
While the Sachertorte is Vienna’s most famous dessert, Kaiserschmarn may be the city’s most interesting and its messiest. We’re not being rude when we call this dessert a mess. Kaiserschmarm literally translates to Kaiser’s Mess. It’s also fluffy, sweet and ridiculously delicious.
The dessert’s place of origin and its relation to the Austria’s royal rulers isn’t clear. However, since it was originally named after the country’s Kaiser Franz Joseph I who lived in Vienna, it’s more than fair to call it a Viennese dessert. That being said, the dessert’s numerous origin stories involving nervous farmers, picky queens and fumbling cooks are entertaining.
Viennese cafes prepare Kaiserschmarm by shredding pancakes and adding extra bits like raisins and powdered sugar. They often serve the messy dessert with with Zwetschkenröster (i.e. roasted plum jam).
Where to Eat Kaiserschmarm in Vienna
You can eat Kaiserschmarm at any classic Vienna cafe.
13. Palatschinken (Pancakes)
The Palatschinken is proof that not all pancakes in Vienna are messy.
The dessert is also proof that not all pancakes are the same – this particular pancake is more like a French crêpe than pancakes served in America or the Netherlands. Palatschinken are typically filled with jam and dusted with powdered sugar. Think of it as a Crêpe Suzette sans orange liqueur.
Where to Eat Palatschinken in Vienna
You can eat Palatschinken at any classic Vienna cafe.
14. Eis (Ice Cream)
If you’re getting the feeling that Vienna is a wonderful city for desserts, you are correct. However, you’re not correct if you think that all of Viennese desserts are made with flour. Case in point – there’s no flour in ice cream.
Popular with Austrian kids of all ages, the best Vienna ice cream parlors sell a variety of ice creams that ranges from classic to gourmet. Some of this ice cream is full fat, some of it is fruit-based and some of it is even vegetarian.
Where to Eat Ice Cream in Vienna
True ice cream fans can lick cones at Eis-Greissler, Ferrari Gelato, Leones, Schelato and Tichy while vegans will want to lick their cones at Veganista. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with wandering into one of Vienna’s many neighborhood ice cream shops like we did when we wandered into Valentino 1060 after eating pizza at nearby Disco Volante.
15. Café Maria Theresia
The Café Maria Theresia is a bit of a hybrid. The Vienna cafe staple is part coffee and part dessert. Though not as prolific as the Wiener Melange, it’s as easy to find at classic Vienna cafes as it is to drink.
Follow our Café Maria Theresia recipe and drink the boozy beverage at home.
The Café Maria Theresia is made with espresso, orange liqueur, sugar and lots of whipped cream. Colorful sprinkles completed the boozy beverage we drank at Café Sperl, which was a fun touch. We like to think that Empress Maria Theresa, the drink’s namesake, would have approved.
Where to Eat Sip a Café Maria Theresia in Vienna
You can sip a Café Maria Theresia at any classic Vienna cafe.
16. Manner Neapolitan Wafers
You can eat Manner Wafers in in many countries around the world. Daryl used to eat them at our local, highfalutin arthouse cinema in Philadelphia. You can also buy them from Amazon. But there’s only one city where you can experience history as well as walls lined with an explosion of Manner pink and that’s at the company’s flagship store in Vienna.
When Josef Manner opened the iconic store in 1890 in the shadow of the St. Stephens Cathedral, he initially sold coffee beans and ‘chocolate for everyone’. Eight years later, the Neapolitan Wafer No. 230 debuted and a brand was born.
St. Stephens Cathedral features prominently in the Manner company branding and can be found on its pink packaging.
For the uninitiated, Manner wafers are five-layer neapolitan wafers with hazelnut spread between each layer. That original hazelnut spread was made from hazelnuts grown in Naples, Italy, hence the Neapolitan reference.
You’ll want to buy at least one packet of this Vienna food favorite in Vienna. We won’t judge you if you buy additional sweets including a Mozart ball or two.
Where to Buy Manner Neapolitan Wafers in Vienna
Although you can buy Manner Wafers at Vienna grocery stores and at the airport, it’s more fun to buy them at the Manner signature store on Stephansplatz.
17. Specialty Coffee
Vienna’s specialty coffee shop scene is a life saver for coffee drinkers like us who prefer crafted single origin coffee drinks over commodity brews. These modern shops serve flat whites and pour overs to a growing clientele that includes local hipsters, traveling gourmands and regular folk who simply like drinking coffee that tastes good.
If you fit into any of these categories, and we suspect that you do, the smart plan is to visit Vienna’s classic cafes for their ambience and desserts. You can later visit specialty coffee shops to drink coffee that will fuel your energy and make your mouth happy.
18. Vienna Bars
Vienna’s bars pick up the slack when day turns to night. Let’s face it – there’s only so much coffee that a human can drink in a day! But there’s not just one type of bar in Vienna.
Some of the classiest Vienna bars are inside and on top of hotels. Others are stylish cocktail bars that are hidden in plain sight. And yet others are dive bars where locals imbibe beer after beer after beer.
Many first time Vienna visitors spend their time strolling on the city’s Ringstrasse and seeing the city’s famous sites without checking out the city’s wine scene. They probably have no idea that Vienna has more than 600 wine producers who create wine at urban vineyards. It’s ironic since this isn’t a recent development – Austria’s capital has been producing wine since the Middle Ages.
Top Vienna wine varietals include Blaue Zweigelt, Gemischte Satz, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc and Riesling.
While it’s entirely possible to visit one or more of Vienna’s vineyards by foot or tram, there are other ways to explore the city’s wine scene. Obvious options are to participate in a wine tasting or tour the Schlumberger wine cellar. Other options are to drink wine at heurigen (wine taverns) or at one or more of the city’s many wine bars. We suggest doing all the options!
Wine may be produced in Vienna by the masses but that hasn’t stopped its residents from joining the Aperol Spritz wave. This wave has taken over the city, as evidenced by the many glasses filled with the orange spritz that seemed to be everywhere we looked.
While we didn’t join the wave, we surfed on its edges by drinking a whipped Garibaldi cocktail that was superior to the Garibaldi we later drank in Milan. It was so good that it inspired us to craft Garibaldi cocktails at home using freshly squeezed orange juice and Campari.
Useful Vienna Facts
Food in Vienna FAQs
While Vienna’s most famous food is the Wiener Schnitzel, other traditional Austrian dishes are equally easy to find in Austria’s capital city.
Vienna’s most famous drink is the Wiener Melange. It’s similar to a cappuccino but it’s made with milder coffee beans.
Food in Vienna ranges from cheap eats to fine dining. In other words, you can easily eat for well under 50€ a day or blow it out and spend much more on fine dining.
No. Tipping is optional in Austria.
Bourdain visited Christkindlmart at Schönbrunn Palace, Gastwirtschaft Wratschko (permanently closed), Herta Gruber at Naschmarkt (permanently closed), Salon Sacher at the Hotel Sacher, Urbanek at Naschmarkt, Würstelstand am Hohen Markt and Zahel Weingut & Heuriger while filming the first season episode of The Layover.
People typically eat dinner between 7pm and 9pm in Vienna.
Yes. Reservations are necessary for Vienna’s better restaurants. However, you should be able to walk into most cafes and bars without issue.
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: November 29, 2022