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Our honest review of the locally owned and run Vienna Food Tour
As the sunshine attempted to break through the cold cloud cover of May, I circled Dr Karl Leuger Platz once again to try and spot the tourist group I was meant to be joining.
Standing in the heart of a city I knew so well, having cycled to the meeting point, and planning to meet friends afterwards I felt a bit out of place joining a food tour in my own city.
I mean – the Genuss food festival was happening right across the road in Stadtpark, and I already had strong opinions on where to find the best schnitzel in Vienna, so why spend my hard earned cash and precious Friday night touring my own city?
Well, for one, I’m not so stubborn and pig headed to think I have all of Vienna mapped and understood yet, I’m sure there are people and places who know much better than I do!
For another, I was curious to see Vienna through the eyes of a traveller again, to refresh my perspective and in the spirit of slow travelling, enjoy discovering my own city.
So I did my research and found Vienna Food Tours, and in the spirit of making weekends at home as exciting as travelling, booked myself a slot.
Standing in the square was a different story though – now I had to actually do it!
But let’s backup with some details of Vienna Food Tours before getting into the review.
Who runs the Vienna Food Tours?
There are many options for food tours in Vienna – you only need to see the many alternatives listed here to start getting hungry! However, not all tours are created equal.
The Vienna Food Tour is owned and run by a lovely local couple, Melinda and Thomas. Avid travellers themselves, they returned to their hometown of Vienna with a motivation to run their own food tours, after experiencing them on their own travels.
My personal slow travel philosophy is to support local businesses and brands as much as possible, so when I came across Vienna Food Tours on Instagram and online, and confirmed they were locals doing it for the love of food, I knew I had to check it out for myself.
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Melinda has grown up in multiple districts around Vienna, hopping and tasting across many different cultural influences throughout the city. Thomas is from the lively 10th district, Vienna’s melting pot of cuisines, cultures and different communities.
Together they have created a unique food tour that takes you beyond just a strudel and coffee (though they are included!) and show a locals touch of Viennese cuisine.
Why take a Vienna Food Tour?
This was the exact question I was asking myself that fine Friday afternoon.
Sure, you could trawl through hundreds of Trip Advisor reviews, and source Google’s most recommended spots, but there’s something special about having a local take you to their favourite haunts to enjoy select dishes.
A Google review can’t tell you the stories behind the dish. Like Melinda’s love of good goulash, that springs from memories of her mother making it every Sunday for the family. Spiced heavily with paprika from her strong Hungarian heritage, our share bowl of goulash recreated the feeling of family dinners, with a group of complete strangers.
Google never shared their family history and recipes with me. Google never made me feel welcomed instantly, with insider tips on where to get the very best Käsekrainer in the city.
There’s so much more to be gained by doing things face to face, and sometimes, taking the experience offline, trusting an actual person (not crowdsourced ranty reviews) can elevate your experience beyond the ordinary.
What is the Vienna Food Tour like?
Melinda greeted our small group of 6 travellers so warmly, and with such innate enthusiasm, I was excited from the beginning to find out where we were going on the tour.
The exact locations aren’t revealed prior to the tour, so the thrill and suspense for a local is trying to guess where you’re going to go eat!
For travellers, you can rest assured that Melinda and the tour will not only take you to some delicious restaurants, but show you some of the highlights of the city centre in the process.
The tour itself goes for roughly 3 hours – which sounds really long on paper, but believe me, when you are tasting so many different dishes and drinks in quick succession, you want the time between to enjoy walking the city streets!
The vibe is very relaxed and breezy, giving us plenty of time to chat in between locations and get to know each other.
Melinda and her fellow guides are naturally chatty and friendly, happy to share recommendations and insider advice on navigating Vienna, some of the history and quirks of the culture and city, and assisting with recommendations of where to spend your time while in the city after the tour.
What I really enjoyed was the pairings of drinks with the food menus, an unexpected add-on that gave us the chance to taste test local wines. Or, for one of the guests, the local ‘craft beers’ (which in Austria is really just – beer, all beers are generally craft brewed beers!)
So you get more than just a food tasting, but recommendations on drinks to pair with your dishes, and info on which wines match which seasons and meals in Austria.
We even visited 1 or 2 places I’d been to previously, but had a tasting menu arranged, that meant I could try local, seasonal dishes that weren’t normally available on the a-la-carte menu.
It was these little touches that made the tour feel exclusive, and out of the ordinary.
Yes I may have been to the restaurant or cafe before as a local – but this time we were experiencing something special, a menu or combination exclusive to the tour.
I was beginning to realise that a Food Tour in your hometown wasn’t such a silly idea after all…
What we ate on our Vienna Food Tour
I’m not going to spoil the surprise and joy of where exactly you go on your tour, but I can happily mention some of the delicious dishes we tried. Keep in mind this was seasonal to the time of year I took the tour (Spring, in early May) so your food options may vary based on season.
That’s half the fun though!
Here are just some of the mouth watering dishes we tried;
- Classic Käsekrainer sausages, filled with cheese, and the Debriziner sausage ,spiced with paprika
- Share bowls of goulash, with chunky potatoes and lashings of paprika sauce and spices, made in traditional style
- A tasting of blood sausage served with dainty asparagus salad to offset the meaty weight of the sausage
- Share platter of desserts with all the Viennese must-haves, Sacher Torte, Strudel, Gugelhopf and Kaiserschmarrn
- Fab selection of wines, Gruner Vertliner, Zweigelt, Blauer Frankish and even a cuvee – all locally produced
It was a wonderful snapshot of Austrian cuisine, without being too cliche. The classics were there, but there was enough variety to keep things interesting – even if you live in Vienna! Plus, you really get your value for money, the dishes we ate would have easily cost more than the price of the tour if ordered separately over many meals.
Final Verdict of the Vienna Food Tour
I had an absolutely delightful time on my Vienna Food Tour with Melinda. The group was fun and chatty, so I didn’t feel left out as a solo traveller, and Melinda made sure to include everyone in the conversations and make sure we were all trying the different dishes.
All dietary requirements were also catered for, so if you are vegetarian and let them know in advance they will provide a special menu for you. What I really enjoyed on the tour was the chance to spend time with people who were newly arrived in Vienna, share with them some tips and soak up their enthusiasm and love for the city.
Its so easy to take for granted how lovely Vienna is when you live and work here, but spending time with travellers who had saved up and were looking forward to every moment of their time here really makes you appreciate the unique experiences in your hometown.
The only bad thing about these tours? They only schedule two departures a week!
So you really need to be on-point in organising your visit in advance to secure a spot. They keep the group size small, which I think works really well to keep the feeling like a group of friends, or family eating together. There is no sense of being herded like cattle on this trip – with just 6 people it truly feels like a gang of friends going to eat and chat together.
Oh and after the tour, Melinda and Thomas email through their recommendations for some other restaurants and special places to visit in Vienna, so you really feel taken care of during your time in Vienna.
Overall it’s a big, glowing endorsement from me to take this tour – even as a local. It gave me a fresh perspective on the influences of the meals we eat regularly, and uncovered a restaurant or two that I may have visited before, but not tried the specific dishes we enjoyed. All in all I can thoroughly recommend!
If you want to check the availability and pricing for the City Food Tour, you can click through here to see available spots.
The Essential Details
- Price: €105 per person for a 3.5 hour tour + more food and drink than you could ever need
- Location: The city tour begins at Dr Karl Lueger Platz, right beside the Stubentor Ubahn station
- Who it’s for: Couples, friends, travellers & locals, kids would need to be 16 or over I’d say
- How to book: Click here to book directly through the Vienna Food Tours website
Some Alternative Options
Though I can heartily endorse Vienna Food Tours as the best option in the city, I can appreciate that not everyone has the time or cash for this exact tour, or maybe your itinerary doesn’t match with the dates that Vienna Food Tours has available.
If that’s the case, here’s some hand selected tours available through the Get Your Guide website. I know and trust Get Your Guide recommendations as I’ve used them before myself to book activities in other cities. I haven’t taken these exact tours in Vienna myself (yet) but they are some good alternatives if you are looking for maybe a shorter food tour, or something incredibly specific.
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