Vienna features an extremely wide variety of pubs and restaurants, ranging from very basic, low-budget eateries to posh and extremely upscale places. Vienna’s restaurants cover a wide range of national cuisines and some fusion thrown into the mix as well, but what eating in Vienna is most famous for is its many traditional restaurants serving Austro-Hungarian classics from Fiakergulasch to Powidldatschgerl and everything in. And Wiener Schnitzel, of course. A lot of Schnitzels!
It certainly isn’t possible to cover all the well-known and much-beloved traditional restaurants, so we have chosen to showcase a few favourites of locals and visitors alike:
This inner-city restaurant, the self-styled “Home of Schnitzel”, is located just a few short minutes walk away from the Stephansplatz and is a heavily marketed, touristy eatery. But it does serve one of the best Wiener Schnitzel, the quintessential Viennese dish, there is to have in the city, and is therefore frequented by locals as well as the masses of tourists that fill up the locale all day, every day.
If you want to try the lauded Wiener Schnitzel but don’t fancy queuing times of upwards an hour (and haven’t managed to snag a reservation ahead of time), there is a smaller branch called Figls in the 19th district where you can taste equally good food (including Wiener Schnitzel) in a more relaxed, pub-like atmosphere.
Where: Wollzeile 5, 1010 Vienna
Opening hours: daily 11 am – 10:30 pm
Phone: +43 1 512 61 77
The pub, which has been mentioned in an official document for the first time in 1766 (yes, that was squarely at a time when the Habsburgs ruled and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was one of the world’s biggest players), is located in the famous Prater (just a few hundred metres from the Riesenrad) and has the most famous pub garden in the whole city.
Locals and tourists alike flock to the Schweizerhaus in search of refreshments (traditionally a jug of the the excellent Czech Budweiser beer) and hearty food (there is no way you can leave the premise without tasting a Stelze, a knuckle of pork), particularly during the summer months.
Where: Prater 116, 1020 Vienna
Opening hours: daily 11 am – 11 pm (season: March 15 – October 31)
Phone: +43 1 728 01 52 – 0
This is the quintessential up-market Viennese restaurant where you get the full experience of waiters in knee-length white aprons, soup and boiled meats served in traditional tin pans, and a lot of style and luxury.
The menu is centred around traditional Austrian meat dishes and -most famously- the Tafelspitz, a boiled beef served in soup, with sides of bone marrow, toasted bread, fried potato rosti, vegetables, chive sauce and horse radish with apple, which is an all-around must-have experience for locals and visitors.
Iconic as this restaurant is, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that tables tend to be fully booked for weeks in advance. There are, however, a few more branches of the restaurant strewn through the city which tend to have a lot more free openings.
Where: Wollzeile 38, 1010 Vienna
Opening hours: daily 11:30 am – midnight
Phone: +43 1 512 15 77
With a history dating back to being a tavern in the 1500s, this is arguably not only Vienna’s oldest restaurant, but also the one with the most colourful history and traditions.
The restaurant itself serves exquisit high-class food (not surprising considering the long years of practice), and is basically a burrow with room after room with their own different atmosphere, character, and history (for example, there’s a cannonball from the Turkish invasions in the 1500s still lodged above the entrance!).
A must-see highlight of the restaurant is the Mark Twain room, whose walls are decorated with autographs of famous philosophers, artists, composers, and celebrities, ranging from very old (and protected behind glass) like the ones by Mark Twain, who apparently started the trend, Wagner, and Strauss, to more contemporary with the signatures of Johnny Cash, Phil Collins, and (sorry for naming them in one breath!) David Hasselhof.
Where: Griechengasse 9/Fleischmarkt 11, 1010 Vienna
Opening hours: daily 11 am – 1 am
Phone: +43 1 533 19 77
The Zwölf Apostelkeller (literally: Basment of the twelve apostles) is Vienna in a nutshell: it’s historic, delicious, and eccentric.
The restaurant (or should we rather call it pub?) is a cavernous beer hall located in a roomy, echo-y cellar, which dates back (in bits and pieces) to 1339, and is done with bank seating all the way through making the room feel like a medieval feasting hall. And if this wasn’t enough, there are Gothic arches dating from the 1500s, and all of it is hidden behind a Baroque facade from the 1700s.
The menu is in English (which brings its own set of problems, as a translation makes some foods sound really unappealing, even though they’re incredibly tasty), which tells you that the audience is rather touristy. However, food is traditional Viennese and very good, and there’s always locals around enjoying the fun, sometimes rowdy atmosphere.
It’s a place very much unlike any other.
Where: Sonnenfelsgasse 3, 1010 Vienna
Opening hours: daily 11 am – midnight
Phone: +43 1 512 67 77
Web: Zwölf Apostelkeller