Where to eat Vienna: Traditional Austrian food

In Vienna, Vienna Restaurants by Carly11 Comments

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Where to eat traditional Austrian food in Vienna – the best schnitzel, strudel, schnapps, and snacks version!

When visiting for the first time, or even as someone living in Vienna, it can sometimes be overwhelming trying to figure out where to eat and more importantly, where exactly, you should go to find the best traditional Austrian food in Vienna.

Sometimes it’s the pubs that look like the dingiest, weird, old-man bars that end up having the most incredible food.

Sometimes the highly rated restaurants are overrun by tourists.

Sometimes you might just be looking for somewhere different to satisfy your major schnitzel craving when you come back from holiday (our first meal coming back from holidays is always Schnitzel or brunch!)

Whatever the reason, I wanted to put together a handy list of the best places to satisfy your schnitzel craving, or, if you’re visiting Vienna, where you should go to get your ‘proper’ Austrian food.

It’s always good to have at least one meal from the local cuisine on your travels, and these restaurants are the best in Vienna for traditional Austrian food. We’ve tried and tested them all on visiting family, friends and they’ve lived up to Stefan’s exacting standards for good meals. (For the best sauasage stand check here instead).

After 5 years here in Vienna, I can safely say these are the best restaurants for delicious Austrian food & traditional atmosphere.

Where to eat Vienna: Traditional Austrian Food

#1 Wratschko Gastwirschhaft

A cosy little beisl pub, with oak and wooden simple bench seating, a historic bar from the 1800s, atmospheric decor and the most unbelievable chef serving up traditional dishes for a mostly local crowd. This is one of the best restaurants in Vienna, but also one of the most unassuming – from the outside it just looks like a regular pub, nothing too fancy to advertise the place, which is why the locals can still enjoy it.

Before Anthony Bourdain visited and anointed it the best restaurant in Austria, we had been coming here quietly for a few years to enjoy the schnitzel, beuschel, knudel dumplings and seasonal dishes.

The thing I like most here is the food is very simple Austrian cuisine done well, and the prices for the quality are unbelievable.

Best Traditional Austrian Restaurants Vienna

Wratschko’s is the baseline we use when comparing to other, more expensive restaurants, like ‘well this was only ok, AND more expensive, we should have gone to Wratschko’s instead!’ (Looking squarely at you, Sofitel Das Loft rooftop restaurant – absolutely not worth the prices).

If you’re looking for where to eat in Vienna for the best Austrian dishes, this is the first stop.

You’ll have absolutely no chance reading the menu here though, it’s all written in flowy, flowery script, and even knowing some German I find it impossible to decipher.

Best bet is to ask the waiter for the specials of the day and take your chances. The only difficulty you might find here is vegetarian options, but at the very least even their hearty salads are fab. Plus the location normally leads to shenanigans in surrounding bars after dinner, as you’re in the heart of the 7th district.

#2 Zwolf Apostkeller

Tucked into an unassuming side street in the 1st district, Zwolf Apostkeller is a deceptively cavernous old style beer hall, hidden in a centuries old cellar. Perfect for stopping by, if you are looking where to eat in Vienna, after a long day of sightseeing!

The food here is hearty, straight up Austrian and the menu comes in English, so for travellers it’s a perfect option to get a feeling for Vienna dishes. Although the translations can sometimes make the dishes seem less appealing than they really are!

Here you can get all the classic Viennese and Austrian dishes: Pork Knuckle, Käsespätzle (like a macaroni cheese but better), Schnitzel, Tafelspitz and some sharing platters of meat and cheese with pickled vegetables if you’re feeling more snacky.

 

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Stunning interior gives that rustic feel…

I’ve never had a bad night here, and some of them have been outright crazy, as they also serve delicious schnapps and encourage a rowdy atmosphere with the bank seating that feels like you’re in the feasting hall from the medieval ages.

You should definitely come here just for the historic cellar itself, with remains dating as far back as 1339, Gothic arches from the 1500s and the gorgeous baroque facade from the 1700s.

Really, it’s Vienna in a nutshell – historic, delicious and the best bits are hidden away from the main street.

#3 Zum Blauen Esel

Longtime readers will know by now that I have a soft spot for Blauen Esel, as it’s Stefan and my local hangout.

I can guarantee most Friday nights in winter we’ll be here after work with a red wine in hand, chatting away to the charismatic owner Peter or trying to keep up with Viennese ‘schmäh’ humour with the barkeepers.

But bias’ aside, I can only recommend this place for travellers and locals alike if you want an authentic, traditional Austrian restaurant and dining experience.

 

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Some days only wine and cheese will suffice for dinner #winetime #lovelightleigh

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First documented evidence of our Blauen Esel obsession!

A former theatre and local favourite, this place is very handy if you have spent the day by Schönbrunn Palace and are looking for a warming dish and quality wine with your meal.

Peter has some exquisite wines alongside very good house red wine, the Austrian Zweigelt, which I have taken the trouble to taste test thoroughly for you over many Friday evenings in Blauen Esel.

Best places to eat in Vienna

Here you will normally get a warm welcome as you are ushered through to a seating area out the back that used to house the stage for local theatre troupes, back when Hietzing was the artistic outskirts of Vienna.

The newly appointed chef has elevated the menu from extremely good to excellent.

The cheese platter and seasonal dishes are good, but the absolute must-have dish here is the Kaiserschmarrn, a traditional Austrian dessert. It’s so simple, but mouth-wateringly delicious – chopped up chunky pancakes, browned to perfection, with a sugary crust on the outside and fluffy chewy delight on the inside, slathered in plum sauce and icing sugar.

It sounds boring, but it really is an artform and Blauen Esel have nailed it. I adore their take on traditional Austrian dishes.

Come here for a cosy Friday night drink, dinner with the folks or a warming stew or schnitzel on any night of the week. We’ll likely see you there!

#4 Griechenbeisel

This one is probably in your guide books, and it’s included in many recommendations of best places to eat in Vienna. All for good reason!

It’s said to be Vienna’s oldest restaurant, having been open as a tavern house since the 1500s and still serving up exquisite dishes in their multiple decorated rooms, that were built out over centuries.

This place is a rabbit warren of different rooms – each with their own character and fascinating history, even the walls of the building themselves hold history. There’s a cannonball from the Turkish invasion of the 1500s still wedged into the wall of the entranceway!

The favourite highlight here has to be the ‘Mark Twain Room’ where they have scrawled autographs all across the walls and roof from philosophers, composers, celebrities and artists across the centuries.

Some are so old the wall is protected by a glass plaque – Wagner, Strauss, Mark Twain (who must have started the trend, to earn naming rights to the room) and a host of more ‘modern’ celebrities including Johnny Cash, Phil Collins and the man himself – David Hasselhof.

Where to eat in Vienna? A historic cellar of famous folks of course!

You need to book a table to secure a meal in this room, but, if you pop by on a very quiet Sunday afternoon in the rain with your girlfriends, you might just be able to charm a dour old Viennese waiter to crack open the room for you and point out all the signatures with their custom-made pointing stick (and utter indifference) if you’re lucky.

I haven’t even mentioned the food here yet, but put it this way – centuries of serving up traditional Austrian meals makes Griechenbeisl a very sure bet of high quality traditional Austrian meals.

We always bring my parents here when they’re in town, and though prices vary between €18-27 for a main meal, the service of bow-tied waiters and unbelievable standard of your meal is worth it.

Best places to eat in Vienna

Tafelspitz is a classic Viennese dish

Plus, as I always say, in restaurants in the heart of a popular tourist city, you’re paying rent on the view with your meal, right?

If you want to sit amongst historic parlours, enjoy a good steak, tafelspitz, Zweibelrostbraten or Strudel, it doesn’t get any more authentic and historic than Griechenbeisl, and is definitely some of the best food in Vienna.

Locals should make the effort to stop by here too, as it really reminds you just how special Vienna can be. One of the best traditional Austrian restaurants in Vienna, for many years now.

#5 PlachuttaFiglmüller

I can’t write about traditional Austrian restaurants and not mention these two brands, Figlmüller and Plachutta. They are the ‘big names’ when it comes to classic Austrian dishes and both of their inner-city restaurants are rammed every day of the week with tourists wanting to get a taste of the Viennese dining experience.

Which, look, I get it. The Figlmüller alleyway restaurant is adorable! The airport advertises this place the minute you step off your flight! It’s in every single guidebook! But honestly? It’s a *touch* overhyped.

Unless you’ve booked in advance, you’re probably not going to get that table in the window, you might be lucky if you line up for 45 minutes to nab a smaller cramped place down the back, or be sent around the corner to the bigger Bäckerstrasse restaurant.

Best Austrian Restaurants Vienna

Yes, the schnitzel is good in both of these restaurants, and you will get the authentic Viennese experience of the waiters being assholes to you because they are so busy, but my advice is this:

Skip the inner city restaurant versions and go to one of the suburban Plachutta outlets for a much calmer, but equally high-standard dining experience.

Figlmüller even has a smaller outlet in the 19th district, called ‘Figls’ where you can get their classic meals but in a bigger beer garden, urbane setting.

 

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We alternate between the Plachutta in Hietzing and the Plachutta’s Grünspann Ottakring restaurant depending on how lazy and far from home we want to roam. In fact, we aim to have our traditional Ganslzeit meal every year at Plachutta Grünspann in the 16th district because it is the best in town.

The Ottakring location also has a fantastic outdoor beer garden in the summertime, which is perfect for sipping on Radlers and watching the sunset. I won’t lie to you though, you’ll probably be crushing the average age range if you visit, because there’s a retirement village right next door, but it makes for the best kind of people watching!

So skip the overcrowded Plachutta’s in the 1st district and explore where to locals go – Figl in the 19th, Plachutta’s Grunspann, or Plachutta’s Hietzing.

Hietzing has the advantage of being close to Schönbrunn Palace, so you can fit it into a visit to the palace.  Again, in this setting, you’ll likely be surrounded by grand old dames and gentleman who have been coming to Plachutta’s every Sunday for a century, but they are the essence of Vienna, so it’s a true cultural experience!

#6 Schnitzelwirt

Speaking of cultural experiences – Schnitzelwirt is a restaurant that probably hasn’t changed in about 25 years.

Kitschy old checkered tablecloths, simple wooden seating, plastic menus and waitresses serving you decked out in Dirndls, this to me is the most ‘accessible’ Schnitzel spot. And the schnitzels themselves are the size of your face! It may not be one of the very best places to eat in Vienna, but its as authentic and hearty as you could ask for.

We brought my 22-year-old cousin and his mates here when they had just one night in Vienna, and it was the perfect beerhall type option for them.

The meals were huge, cheap and the beers came in litre steins. The setting felt like stepping into another, unchanged world, because you walk through the entry room clouded in smoke, to the restaurant out the back where we had to sit elbow to elbow as it was so busy. 

 

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This is the place to come for huge meals, and wash it down with a schnapps or two before heading out into the evening. What I would call relative cheap and cheerful, but so quintessentially Austrian you won’t forget it!

Where to Eat in Vienna

That’s our collection of go-to traditional Austrian restaurants in Vienna, what about your favourites? Let me know any I’ve missed in the comments below, and I hope we all cure our schnitzel cravings together soon.

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Comments

  1. “Schnitzelwirt” hasn’t changed since 1981 at least, only some refurbishments. Then was my first visit to this place.

  2. Winkler in the third district is great but don’t turn up without booking first!

  3. Finally read this article! Been living here for 5 years and haven´t heard about most of These places! Thanks for enlightening me with more Options for traditional Austrian Cuisine.

  4. Carly, thanks for these great recommendations. I’m gluten free and wondering if any of these restaurants cater for me.

    1. Author

      Hey Caroline, you’re welcome! Its legally required in Austria that restaurants list included allergy related ingredients, so in all of these places it should show which dishes are gluten free 🙂

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