Nothing better to experience the spirit of Austria’s capital than to try the local food, made with fresh ingredients in the best restaurants in town! Here is my personal list of the best restaurants in Vienna.
Austrian food is very Central European, that is, lots of meat together with either cabbage, potato or dumplings. Although very fond of beef and pork, you will easily find other fancy types of meat here, such as deer, boar, hare, and duck. Austrian butchers are specialists when it comes to special cuts of meat. Those include the Tafelspitz (beef) and Fledermaus (pork).
Apart from that, Vienna has a very strong culture surrounding coffee shops and bakeries. You will taste some of the most delicious coffee and sweets you ever had in your life during your visit here.
What to eat in Vienna
Be sure to wake up early in the morning to visit one of the city’s many coffee houses, for a good classic Viennese breakfast. Timing is key, as close to lunchtime these places get super crowded, thanks to their popularity both with locals and tourists.
For either lunch or dinner, stop at one of the many restaurants in Vienna’s center for a famous Wiener Schnitzel, the classic thin and breaded pan-fried veal cutlet. It is one of the national dishes of Austria, and a favorite of the locals.
For dessert, an Apfelstrudel is mandatory if you wish to experience the best of Vienna. Don’t be fooled, it isn’t a simple pie, but a delicious pastry filled with grated cooking apples, usually of a cristp and tart type such as Winesap apples, mixed together with sugar, cinnamon, and bread crumbs.
Where to eat in Vienna
Coffee & Breakfast
Location: Kärntner Ring 17 | Near Wiener Stadtpark
Opening: Mon-Fri 07:30 – 23:00, Sat-Sun 08:30 – 23:00
In 1861, the Ringstraße boulevard (considered the most beautiful in Europe) was being built. There, one of the buildings owned by Albrecht Zeppenzauer (a famous silk manufacturer) was rented to Mr. and Mrs. Hochleitner, who decided to open a café at the place.
The coffee house received its current name in 1902, and today it is one of the last Ringstraße cafés, out of the 30 total which existed here. It has carefully maintained the typical atmosphere and tradition of a Viennese Café, as if frozen in time.
Schwarzenberg took a large hit during the World Wars, especially during the Soviet occupation of Vienna. But despite all the destruction, it managed to preserve most of its original architecture while adding up certain architectural details from the multiple refurbishings it went through overtime.
Upon entering the place, you will face the classic square tables with tops made out of hammered brass, which is part of its original inventory. The ceiling, decorated with mosaic panellings with colorful glass and gold plating. It has a very fancy vibe to it, while still managing to feel cozy, especially in colder days.
At Café Schwarzenberg you can find quality coffee consisting of organic Arabica beans sourced from FAIRTRADE-certified plantations in Honduras. Apart from that, you can try a multitude of delicious teas like classic black teas, powerful green teas, or aromatic fruit teas.
But to begin the day, nothing better than the classic crispy bacon with scrambled eggs. That’s my personal favourite, but you can always go for combos that are available, such as the Viennese breakfast which consists of a handmade roll, a croissant, a portion butter or diet margarine, a jar of Staud jam or honey, and a soft boiled egg. Anything here has a superb flavour, which earns the place the title of one of the best restaurants in Vienna.
Lunch & Dinner
Location: Augustinerstraße 1 | Near Wiener Stadtpark
Opening: Mon-Fri 11:00 – 00:00
The Augustinerkeller is one of the surviving ancient monastery cellars in the city center of Vienna, and the carefully preserved ancient vaulting of the cellar can attest to that history.
Previously part of the city’s fortifications, only in 1924 it was turned into a restaurant. From 1954 onwards, the place has been owned by the Bitzinger family, who works hard for keeping the Viennese tradition of the place alive.
Augustinerkeller has a typical cellar atmosphere to it, a very private place where locals gather to spend some time together accompanied by great food. It is impossible not to draw comparisons with the beer halls in Munich, as they have a quite similar ambiance.
The best place to sit here is right near the back, inside one of the many dining booths, which can guarantee the privacy and a quiet meal, even if the place happens to be filled with guests.
What better to eat in a traditional monastery cellar than the traditional Wiener Schnitzel, accompanied by some great local beer? But be prepared, because this original Viennese veal escalope does not come in a small portion in this Vienna restaurant. There will be plenty to feed you for half a day!
To get the full experience, make sure to order one of the excellent wines from the restaurant’s own wine cellars or a bottle from the refreshing private brand draft beer “Opernbräu”.
Location: Gluckgasse 5 | Near Albertina
Opening: Mon-Fri 09:00 – 23:00, Sat-Sun CLOSED
Gasthaus Reinthaler is the place for those who are looking for comfy and homemade food at the heart of Vienna. Gasthäuser are typically family-owned inns or taverns and commonly have up to three generations of a family working together to serve their guests. To find a place like this in Vienna’s city center is quite a catch.
The interior is mostly wooden, as in the style of the village’s Gasthäuser. It is one of the most home-like environments I have seen in the dining scene of Vienna’s city center, breathing the spirit of Gemütlichkeit.
Right by the entrance, you can sit to have a nice beer with friends, but if you wish to eat make sure to reserve a place in their Speisezimmer. Although this is not a fancy restaurant, it is often packed due to its coziness and delicious homemade food.
Here I always order the king of all cozy Germanic meals: the famous Schweinebraten mit Knödel (roasted pork with dumpling). The one prepared here did not make me think twice about placing it in my list of the best restaurants in Vienna. It makes for a perfect evening meal and a must-try together with the Wiener Schnitzel.
Location: Ledererhof 9 | Near Judenplatz
Opening: Mon-Sun 11:30 – 22:00
If you wish to experience a piece of Viennese history while eating some delicious food, the Brezlgwölb is the right place for you. The building was first mentioned in registries back to 1341 when it hosted the leather and dyers’ guild. But it dates far back: the first basement level was at ground level in Roman times. Taking a staircase on the left, you will be able to see a Roman wall with a window opening.
While most of the restaurants in Vienna have a completely imperial atmosphere, the Brezlgwölb goes a little bit back in time. The basement-like structure, the candlelight dining, and the waitresses dressed in traditional clothing make you feel like you are in medieval Vienna.
I cannot stress this enough, the place is absolutely gorgeous and the perfect place in Vienna for a romantic date. The cozy architecture and candlelight dining, combined with the delicious warm food, contribute extensively to this.
Here you can try any of the most traditional dishes from Austria, like Wiener Tafelspitz and Wiener Schnitzel But if you happen to come on a Thursday during lunchtime, make sure to ask for their Roasted beef liver with puree and fried onions. It is simply too good. To complement the meal, ask for their wine card and you will surely be pleasantly surprised.
Sweets & Desserts
Location: Kohlmarkt 14 | Near Hofburg Palace
Opening: Mon-Sun 08:00 – 19:00
Demel opened its doors officially in 1786 and is one of the most traditional confectionery in the whole of Vienna. Its salons still present themselves today in the beautiful Rococo style of the famous architects Portois & Fix.
The Hofzuckerbäckerei soon became the central meetup place for sweet-lovers, especially members of the bourgeoisie. Franz Josef and Elisabeth themselves loved the food of this place and have it regularly delivered to the Hofburg Palace.
Hofzuckerbäckerei has a very strong imperial feel to it. Upon entering you will face the long halls with tall ceilings, and the classic wooden furniture waiting to accommodate you. The service is very friendly and gentle, making the overall experience of snacking in Vienna a very pleasant one.
Although they also serve hot and warm meals, as well as full breakfasts, I absolutely adore this place do to its broad selection of delicious sweets. On the image above you can have an idea of what to expect: Frou Frou, Obers-Cremeschnitte, Lemontorte, and a wide variety of ornamented cakes.
Also important to mention is that everything here, from cakes and pastries to strudel and petit fours, is made in-house, by hand, and with heart. That is something that very few places can be proud of saying, and adds up to the experience of the place.