Although it might not be the first place that comes to mind, Vienna is definitely in the running for being named foodie heaven. Here’s a guide on what to eat in Vienna and where to eat it–including the best schnitzel and cafes in Vienna.
At the beginning of June this year, Daniel and I made a long-awaited trip to Vienna to visit friends who also work at the summer camp where we first met: Leoni, who lives there full time, and Astrid, who was studying abroad in Vienna for the semester. We spent four days there exploring the majestic and lively city and eating as much cake as we possibly could (and in Daniel’s case, a lot of schnitzel–he had it every day we were there).
Because of this, it seemed only fitting that I talk about our trip to Vienna through the lens of everything we ate, much like I’ve done with Belgium and Seville in the past. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
WHAT TO EAT IN VIENNA: THE BEST CAFES IN VIENNA
Having both studied German for years, Daniel and I were most excited by the prospect of experiencing Kaffee und Kuchen culture while we were in Vienna, and insisted that we go to at least one cafe every day. Our awesome hosts graciously obliged and took us to some pretty great cafes
A BRIEF INTRO TO KAFFEE UND KUCHEN CULTURE
Just a quick note: If you’re not familiar with the concept of Kaffee und Kuchen, it translates literally to coffee and cake, and is a v. classic Austrian practice of taking a break in the afternoon for some cake and coffee. Vienna is absolutely full to the brim with cafes and Kaffee und Kuchen is definitely still a part of daily life.
If you, too, are interested in embracing Kaffee und Kuchen in Vienna, then be sure to check out these great cafes:
THE CLASSIC: CAFE CENTRAL
Cafe Central, along with Cafe Sacher, is one of the two most classic Viennese cafes and is where we went to get our Kaffee und Kuchen fix on our first full day in Vienna. Cafe Central is said to have some of the best sachertorte in Vienna (the famous chocolate cake), so we clearly had to get a slice to try.
The only problem was that literally ALL of the cakes looked good, so it was basically impossible to decide on what kinds to get. In the end, our party of four ordered six slices of cake and absolutely destroyed them.
Did we feel totally disgusting afterward? Yes. Was it worth it? Also yes.
If you’re looking for a classic, fancy, and delicious spot for your afternoon cake and coffee in Vienna, then Cafe Central is definitely the place to go. It has my vote for one of the best cafes in Vienna!
THE FANCY: DEMEL
Demel Vienna was recommended to us by our guide on the free walking tour of Vienna that we took, and his recommendation did not disappoint. After the tour let out, we walked the short ways to the cafe, got a table for three (Leoni needed to study for her exams so it was just Daniel, Astrid, and I for the afternoon), and ordered our coffees and cakes.
Demel Vienna is super duper fancy, so we felt a little bit out of place having just come from a very sweaty walking tour, but the cake and coffee were both good. The only weird thing? A waitress came to take your order for coffee, but you had to go up to the counter to order cake. Like… just choose one?
THE OFFBEAT: CAFE VOLLPENSION
Cafe Vollpension might just have been my favorite cafe in Vienna even though it isn’t your typical fancy Viennese coffee house.
Rather, Cafe Vollpension is the most adorably offbeat cafe ever, run by a family with their grandma as the mascot (and it definitely looks like a grandma’s house on the inside!). We ordered our cakes and coffee from grandma and had to speak up to make sure she could hear and sat outside sipping our coffees and eating our cake on a beautiful summer day.
Perhaps the thing that speaks the most to just how good Cafe Vollpension is, though, is that Astrid was a regular while she was living in Vienna. Definitely one of the best cafes in Vienna!
Really want to get into the spirit of Kaffee und Kuchen? Here’s a guided tour of Vienna Coffee Houses that lets you fully immerse yourself.
WHAT TO EAT IN VIENNA: THE BEST SCHNITZEL IN VIENNA
Of course, in addition to the cafe culture in Vienna, the best known Viennese food is schnitzel. This delicious breaded veal dish is definitely a must eat in Vienna. Here are a few of the places we had schnitzel during our time in Vienna (Daniel ate schnitzel literally every single day of the trip so he’s basically an expert now).
THE BIG: FIGLMÜLLER
Figlmüller is the top recommended place for schnitzel basically everywhere–from Tripadvisor, to tour guides, to random locals you stop on the street. They even call themselves the ‘home of schnitzel’.
It’s pretty touristy, sure, but the schnitzel there definitely lives up to the hype–and it might just be the biggest schnitzel I’ve ever seen. We were four people and only needed two schnitzels to be full (and remember how we ate 6 pieces of cake earlier?). They’re also super reasonably priced!
Pro Tip: Figlmüller’s original location can book up months in advance, but if you head just around the corner they have another location with WAY more space–and the schnitzel comes from the same kitchen as the original location.
THE RANDOM: JUSTIZCAFE
To be perfectly honest, I can’t exactly tell you how we ended up on a private tour of the Justizpalast (courthouse) with a lawyer who worked there. Apparently, he was Astrid’s study abroad advisor’s dad or something like that. But hey, who am I to complain: it was super cool (even though I understood exactly zero of his extremely heavy Austrian accent).
The reason I mention this is because before our tour we grabbed lunch at the Justizcafe on the top floor, and Daniel, of course, got the Schnitzel. While the food wasn’t really anything to write home about, the view definitely was.
If you’re looking for a cool birds-eye view of Vienna, then definitely head to the Justizcafe for a meal!
THE HOMEMADE: LEONI’S APARTMENT
On our second to last night in Vienna Leoni treated us to some homemade schnitzel and it was by far the best schnitzel in Vienna that we had. She even taught us how to make schnitzel and it was probably the cutest thing I’ve ever done.
Of course, Leoni’s schnitzel isn’t really a realistic recommendation, BUT if you can somehow manage to get your hands on some homemade Schnitzel DO IT. Alternatively, you can take a schnitzel cooking class.
OTHER GREAT PLACES TO EAT IN VIENNA
If you’re not in the mood for schnitzel or cake and coffee, here are a few other great places to eat in Vienna:
Rinderwahn is an excellent and well-priced burger place located right in the center of downtown. Their branding and design are also on point.
TEL AVIV BEACH
We went to Tel Aviv Beach Bar on the Donau Canal for drinks to catch up with another friend and I totally fell in love with the atmosphere. The entire edge of the canal is basically lined with bars with outdoor seating and truckloads of sand, and everyone is pretending that they’re at the beach when they’re really in the middle of the city. It’s such a cool place to chill!
HONORABLE MENTION: NASCHMARKT
We intended to go to the Naschmarkt. We really did. But then we got there and it was completely closed. It was a public holiday. Oops.
That being said, wandering the Naschmarkt and sampling the food comes highly recommended–so definitely head there if you can. Just maybe check the hours first.
In conclusion, the food in Vienna is great. If you’re wondering what to eat in Vienna, the answer is everything. Like honestly, you can’t go wrong. BUT if you stick to this list you definitely won’t!