Vienna’s gastronomic landscape is as colourful as it is varied, from world-class Michelin-starred restaurants to state canteens that serve surprisingly delicious grub. Sign up for a dinner party with locals in a private home or devour modern interpretations of Austrian comfort food in one of the city’s hipster establishments. Telegraph Travel experts Diane Naar-Elphee and Barbara Cação give the low-down on the best restaurants in Vienna.
City Centre (1st district)
The city’s most glamorous restaurant, on a side wing of Vienna’s famous Burgtheater. Imperial coaches once passed through this marble-clad grand hall, where restaurant guests now tuck their napkins into their collars and indulge in gourmet food. The award-winning restaurant serves up inventive dishes from top chef Christian Domschitz, whose most popular creation is the ‘Hummerkrautfleisch’, a traditional cabbage dish refined with lobster meat; it’s been a winner for over a decade now. Also on offer is ‘Beuschel’: a creamy ragout made from calf’s lung, heart and root vegetables topped with a dumpling.
Contact: 00 43 532 49 99; vestibuel.at Prices: ££ Opening times: Mon-Fri, 11am-midnight; Sat from 6pm-midnight; closed Sun Reservations: Essential
A charming tribute to the hearty cooking that generations of Viennese grandmas have spoiled their families with. Hanno Pöschl, local celebrity and charismatic actor, owns this tiny no-frills restaurant on Vienna’s prettiest cobble-stoned square a stone’s throw away from busy pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse. The signature dish is ‘Paprikahendl’ – chicken seasoned with sweet red pepper – with German spätzle (soft egg noodle). Or go for the excellent pan-fried, crispy veal Wiener schnitzel, which comes with a side of authentic, creamy Viennese potato salad.
Both the daily and gourmet menus will delight foodies in search of refined Austrian cuisine. Think scallops flambéed with cognac Leopold; braised beef cheeks in red wine with glazed pear; and sea bass bathed in rosemary lime emulsion. Expect a thoughful wine list, as well as a good champagne and cocktail menu. The atmosphere is cosy-contemporary, with upholstered dining chairs in soft pastels paired with crisp white table cloths, and sumptuous chocolate-coloured walls. Try and reserve a window table: views of elegant Graben boulevard really make the experience.
At Vienna’s sumptuous Palace of Justice, members of the public not only get decent low-cost Austrian breakfast and lunch but also rub shoulders with local justice officials while feasting on spectacular views of 12 of Vienna’s top landmarks. The location’s uniqueness includes a thorough bag (and sometimes body) search and a stroll past various offices decorated with individuals’ academic and official titles. From Tafelspitz (boiled succulent beef) with roesti, Eiernockerl (egg gnocchi) with lettuce to baked plaice with potato salad, this canteen food easily competes with the more chichi surrounding eateries.
Contact: 00 43 521 52 0 38 28; justizcafe.at Prices: £ Opening times: Mon-Fri, 7.30am-4.30pm (warm meals 11am-2.30pm); closed on Sun and public holidays Reservations: Not necessary
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Landstrasse (3rd district)
Steirereck im Stadtpark
A star amongst Austria’s gastronomic elite, Steirereck’s owner-chef Heinz Reitbauer and his stylish gourmet temple also rank among the world’s 10 best restaurants. Located in leafy Stadtpark, Steirereck’s glass cubes both contrast with and (literally) reflect their lush environment. Using mostly local ingredients, Reitbauer assembles delicious works of art – even his poppy seed noodles line up straight. His love for cuisine hailing from Styria in south-east Austria doesn’t prevent him from experimenting with quite thrilling innovations, such as his signature char cooked in hot beeswax. Menus change with the season.
Contact: 00 43 713 31 68; steirereck.at Prices: £££ Opening times: Mon-Fri, 11.30am-2.30pm; dinner from 6.30pm Reservations: Essential. The restaurant is popular so book well in advance
Just across from Konzerthaus, historic Gmoa Keller presents itself as the picture-book Viennese tavern, complete with warm wood panels, chalk boards announcing the week’s specials, and creaking herringbone parquets. Locals and savvy travellers come here for some of Austria’s best-known dishes: Zwiebelrostbraten (tender roast beef covered with crispy onion rings), Wildzander (fish) on chanterelle risotto, or the yummy Blunzengröstl mit Kren und Krautsalat (fried black pudding with horseradish and cabbage salad). Sweets include Apfelstrudel and pancakes filled with chocolate or jam.
Expect delicious, shameless comfort food like succulent Schinkenfleckerl (baked pasta with bacon), tantalising chocolate-chilli steak and devilish strawberry and nougat dumplings. For decades, urban hipsters have frequented this chic bolthole set in the trendy neighbourhood of Margarethen close to Naschmarkt. The secret to its longevity as one of Austria’s edgiest spots is its constant reinvention. At the moment, the interiors have a rough luxe feel, all plush green velvet meets bare concrete and shiny brass.
Located towards the end of Naschmarkt’s gastronomic mile, this retro-tavern (Gasthaus) reportedly serves Vienna’s best beef goulash. Surrounded by warm, ageing wood interiors, you can share a table with green/white-chequered cloth, chat with the locals and enjoy good home cooking. The menu is small but full of local specialities, including the ubiquitous Schnitzel. Order a ‘Kleines’ or ‘Grosses Wiener Saftgulasch’ (small or large Viennese goulash). If you’re ravenous ask for one of the extras: bread, dumpling or gnocchi.
Contact: 00 43 587 03 31; zureisernenzeit.at Prices: ££ Opening times: Mon-Sat, 10am-midnight; closed Sun Reservations: Not necessary
Alsergrund (9th district)
Sign up for a local dinner party and get a genuine taste of real local life at Mezzanin 7, a palatial, pink-hued 160-year old residence. Owners Martin and Thomas have created vintage heaven in their charismatic home, stuffing it with rare antiques and colourful art. Their soirees are decidely gentile, with opera, chanson and jazz tunes wafting through the rooms and lovingly prepared food. On two to three days per week, they open their three Bel Étage salons to friends and outsiders. Expect cuisine that harks back to the era of empire, such as roast pork with sour cabbage and green chilli; potato soup with mushrooms; and homemade cream cakes.
Contact: mezzanin7.at Prices: £££ Opening times: Varies on website (note that on arrival there’s no signage, so ring the door bell) Reservations: Essential
Döbling (19th district)
Heuriger Buschenschank Wolff
One of Vienna’s most popular wineries on a friendly family estate, located among lush vineyards in the village of Neustift am Walde. Guests can sip on some of the region’s best homemade reds and whites on traditional wooden benches surrounded by vintage viticultural objects. The Heurigen’s traditional buffet vitrines groan with local delicacies: from salads, hearty bread spreads and pickles to baked crispy chicken, succulent pork legs with horseradish to fried mushrooms with tartare sauce. Guests wash their meal down with generous glasses of Riesling, Blauer Portugieser – and sometimes a cheeky apricot schnapps.