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Vienna is famous for its cuisine! The former capital of the Habsburg Empire has adopted specialties from around the world and infused them with its unique charm. From Schnitzel and mouthwatering cakes to sausages and Strudel, here you can learn more about the top Viennese dishes and where to find them in Vienna:






Wiener Schnitzel


@vienna_austria

This world famous dish's origin is often attributed to Field Marshal Count Joseph Radetzky, who encountered a similar dish known as "cotoletta alla Milanese" during his campaign in Italy in the 19th century. Upon returning to Vienna, the chefs in his employ adapted the recipe, using thinly pounded veal instead of a traditional veal chop.


Nowadays this thinly breaded and pan-fried veal cutlet is a beloved Austrian delicacy and it became a signature dish in Viennese coffeehouses and restaurants. Traditionally it's accompanied by a classic potato salad or buttered parsley potatoes and garnished with lemon and fresh parsley. However, no authentic experience is complete without a dollop of lingonberry jam - it's an absolute must!

Fun fact: Arnold Schwarzenegger, the famous actor and former governor, loved this dish so much that he named his own dog "Schnitzel" - now, that's what we call true commitment!


You can find this dish served in almost every Austrian restaurant but here are our recommendations:


📍 Where to find it:

  • Figlmüller (They also serve a vegan alternitive)

  • Schnitzelwirt (They serve 15 varities of Schnitzel)

  • Brandauer (Schnitzel with a view above Vienna)

  • Plachutta Gasthaus zur Oper (serves authentic Schnitzel)




Kaiserschmarrn


@with.in.food_

There's a funny story behind this delicious meal! According to legend, this ethereal dessert known as "Kaiserschmarrn" (meaning 'Emperor's mess' in English) was born during imperial times. The story goes that Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I was journeying through the picturesque Alps when he made an unplanned stop at a farm to satisfy his hunger. The farmer, flustered and taken aback by the unexpected royal visit, accidentally scrambled the pancake. Trying to cover up the mishap, he generously spread a luscious berry jam over it. The Emperor loved it. And thus, the delightful Kaiserschmarrn was created.


Today, Kaiserschmarrn remains a favorite dessert in Austria and beyond, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. It's typically served with powdered sugar, fruit compote (stewed plums) or applesauce, providing a delightful combination of sweetness and indulgence.

You find Kaiserschmarrn on many local restaurant menus. Here you get tradtional versions:


📍 Where to find it:

  • Café Central

  • Heindl's Schmarren & Palatschinkenkuchl

  • Café Landtmann

  • Café Eiles


If you want to learn more about it and how to make it, book our Kaiserschmarrn Workshop here.





Sachertorte


@am.surintorn

The history of Sachertorte, a famous Viennese chocolate cake, is a tale of indulgence and culinary excellence that dates back to the early 19th century.

In 1832, Prince Metternich, the Austrian State Chancellor, requested his personal chef to create a special dessert for an important gathering. Unfortunately, the head chef fell ill, leaving his 16-year-old apprentice, Franz Sacher, with the task of creating a dessert fit for royalty. Franz rose to the challenge and crafted a chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam, coated with a smooth chocolate glaze - the first iteration of what would later become the iconic Sachertorte.

Franz Sacher's son, Eduard, followed in his father's footsteps and further refined the recipe. He established the Hotel Sacher in Vienna in 1876, where the Sachertorte became a permanent fixture on the menu, drawing connoisseurs from all corners of the world. The Hotel Sacher continues to be a renowned landmark to this day, and their Sachertorte remains a symbol of Viennese culinary heritage.


The legal battle over the rights to the name "Sachertorte" in the 20th century between the Hotel Sacher and the Demel bakery added to the cake's mystique and fame. Eventually, the two establishments reached an agreement, and today both the Hotel Sacher and Demel proudly serve their versions of the celebrated dessert.


Over the years, the Sachertorte has evolved slightly, with variations introduced by other pastry chefs and establishments. When visiting Vienna, you definitely have to try a slice of Sachertorte in one of Vienna's cafés, offering a delightful taste of history that has stood the test of time.

These are our favourite cafés where you can try it:


📍 Where to find it:

  • Café Sacher

  • Café Demel

  • Café Diglas

  • Café Sperl

  • Café Aida Konditorei




Apfelstrudel


@foodly_vienna

The origins of strudel can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire, where similar pastries were popular. During the 17th century, the Ottoman Turks brought this flaky, filled pastry to Austria through their military campaigns. However, it was in Vienna where Apfelstrudel truly evolved and gained fame. The recipe was refined and adapted by Viennese bakers, who began using local ingredients, particularly the abundance of apples grown in the region.

By the 19th century, Apfelstrudel become a symbol of Austrian culinary tradition. With its flaky pastry and sweet, cinnamon-infused apple filling, Apfelstrudel became an essential part of Viennese cuisine.


Today, Apfelstrudel remains an iconic dessert, widely enjoyed not only in Vienna but also across Austria and beyond. It's a beloved treat served in traditional Austrian cafés, bakeries, and restaurants - and here are some of them where you can try this delicious dessert:


📍 Where to find it:

  • Café Oper

  • Café Mozart

  • Café Alt Wien

  • Café Ritter




Tafelspitz


@foodly_vienna

According to the story, Emperor Franz Joseph I not only loved his shredded pancake Kaiserschmarrn but also was fond of simple and hearty dishes, and he especially enjoyed boiled beef. His personal chef, Franz Sacher (also known for creating the Sachertorte), developed a special recipe for the emperor, which later became known as Tafelspitz.


Over time, Tafelspitz became an integral part of Austrian culinary tradition and a beloved comfort food for locals. Tafelspitz is traditionally made using cuts of beef from the top of the sirloin, which are simmered in a broth with root vegetables and spices, such as bay leaves and whole peppercorns. The slow and gentle simmering process allows the beef to become tender and flavorful. It's often served with traditional accompaniments like boiled potatoes, spinach, and apple and horseradish sauces.

Tafelspitz is frequently found on the menus of traditional restaurants and continues to be enjoyed by both locals and visitors seeking a taste of history and the flavors of old-world Vienna and here you can try it as well:


📍 Where to find it:

  • Plachutta

  • Gasthaus Pöschl

  • Café Landtmann

  • Restaurant zum alten Fassl




Käsekrainer


@foodly_vienna

Käsekrainer, a popular street food in Vienna was created in the 1980s as a variation of the traditional Austrian sausage, the Krainerwurst. The innovation came about when an Austrian butcher decided to experiment by adding cheese to the sausage mixture. The result was a sausage filled with gooey, melted cheese, giving it a unique and delightful twist. That sounds delicious, doesn't it?

Käsekrainer (which comes from the german world "Käse" meaning cheese and "Krainer," referring to the original sausage style), gained rapid popularity and became a favorite among street food vendors, particularly in the bustling city of Vienna. The savory and cheesy sausage became a staple at Viennese sausage stands (Würstelstände), where it's often served with fresh bread, mustard, and pickles.

Whether enjoying it as a quick snack on the go or as part of a casual meal with friends, you have to try this combination of the classic Krainerwurst and oozing cheese for example here:


📍 Where to find it:

  • Bitzinger at Albertina

  • Würstelstand Leo

  • Würstelstand am Südtirolerplatz

  • Zum scharfen René

  • Würstelstand am Schwedenplatz

  • Zum goldenen Würstel





Wiener Saftgulasch


@peterbasun

Wiener Saftgulasch evolved from traditional Hungarian goulash in the 19th century. As trade and cultural connections between Austria and Hungary flourished, culinary influences were exchanged, and elements of Hungarian goulash found their way into Viennese kitchens.


Wiener Saftgulasch is characterized by tender pieces of beef simmered in a flavorful sauce made with onions, paprika, and other spices. The dish is slow-cooked to achieve its signature tenderness and rich flavor.

There are also differnet variants of Gulasch: for example the Esterházy-, Kalbs-, Salon- or Fiaker-Gulasch. But Wiener Saftgulasch was the most popular one in Vienna.

It became a beloved comfort food in Vienna and an integral part of Austrian culinary heritage. It remains a cherished dish to this day and continues to be served in traditional restaurants and homes across Vienna.


📍 Where to find it:

  • Gulasch & Söhne

  • Café Anzengruber

  • Zur eisernen Zeit

  • Bastei Beisl




Palatschinken


@lukas_rappitsch

Palatschinken, also known as Austrian pancakes or crêpes, have a history that can be traced back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 19th century.

The term "Palatschinken" has Hungarian origins, reflecting the cultural influences exchanged between the Austrian and Hungarian regions during the empire's heyday. The dish is believed to have been introduced to Austria through the intermingling of culinary traditions.


Palatschinken are thin, delicate pancakes made from a simple batter of eggs, flour, milk, and a pinch of salt. The batter is spread thinly in a hot pan and cooked until golden brown on both sides. They can be served in various ways, from sweet fillings such as apricot jam or Nutella to savory options like cheese and spinach.

Palatschinken are an integral part of Austrian cuisine, enjoyed both as a delightful dessert and a savory treat. They can be found in Viennese cafés and restaurants, as well as at street food stalls.


📍 Where to find it:

  • Café Ritter

  • Heindls Schmarren and Palatschinkenkuchl

  • Wiener Wiaz Haus

  • Café Hummel

  • Zum schwarzen Kamel

  • Zum Wohl




Melange


@foodly_vienna

The Viennese Melange is a classic coffee drink with a history deeply rooted in Vienna's coffeehouse culture. In the 19th century coffeehouses began flourishing in Vienna. They quickly became social hubs for intellectuals, artists, and the city's elite, providing a space for discussions, creativity, and relaxation. The Viennese Melange was created as a response to the rising popularity of espresso-based coffee drinks.


It's a delightful combination of strong espresso and creamy milk, similar to a cappuccino. However, unlike a cappuccino, the Viennese Melange is topped with frothy milk rather than dense foam, giving it a distinct and velvety texture. The name "Melange" is derived from the French word for mixture, reflecting the harmonious blend of coffee and milk in this beverage.

The drink is often accompanied by a glass of water, as is customary with coffee in Vienna. It's also typically enjoyed with a slice of cake or pastry, adding to the pleasurable coffeehouse experience.

Over the years, the Viennese Melange has become an integral part of Viennese coffeehouse culture and can be found in every café and restaurant. Here you'll get really good ones:


📍 Where to find it:

  • Café Hawelka

  • Café Eiles

  • Café Central

  • Café Jelinek

  • Café Sperl

  • Café Hummel


If you want to learn more about Wiener Melange book our tour here.

Typical Viennese Dishes

12 mins reading time
Jun 8, 2023
Kathrin Schwarz

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