Vienna is a very walkable city and whenever we visit we use the trams and subways only when our destination are far apart or the weather is inclement. Maybe all that walking peaks our appetite, but Vienna offers a number of culinary delights and an even larger number of restaurants and cafes in which to sample them.Vienna, is, perhaps best known for its coffee shops called “cafés”. It is in these cozy nooks that you will find coffee served in a dizzying array of choices.
Brauner is coffee with milk, mélange is half coffee and half frothy, steamed milk (something like a cappuccino), the Franzikaner is coffee with warm milk, whipped cream and sprinkles of chocolate (named after the Franciscans). There are at least thirty other forms in which coffee is served, so be prepared for some difficult, but rewarding choices.
In addition, in the café coffee is served with a glass of water. Further, cafes offer some of the finest pastries in Vienna, and consuming a coffee and a pastry is a time honored tradition for many of the Viennese. Newspapers are provided and the guest at the café is expected to take his or her time, talking, dreaming, or just observing the world.
There are actually several classes of cafés and some of the older ones, usually wood paneled, may look a little careworn around the edges. but are very comfortable. There are modern version of the café and except for being slightly more utilitarian in looks, provide the same menu items as the older cafés.
Some of the best cafés in Vienna include:
Café Sperl – located at Gumpendorfer Straße 11
Café Mozart, which is near the Opera and considered an “institution” by both residents and visitors to Vienna. The café is located at Albertinaplatz 2.
Cafe Landtman , which is reputed to have been Sigmund Freud’s favorite café, is located at Dr. Karl Lueger-Ring 4
Café Central , located at the corner of Herrengasse and Strauchgasse in the Old Town, has recently been renovated and returned to its former glory. One of the posher cafés in town, it has long a favorite of Vienna’s famous philosophers (including Trotsky). Café Central is a must-visit café.
Two other sweet shop/cafes should be on your list of places to visit.
Demel is one of the finest pastry shops in Vienna, Be sure to stop in for a visit if you have a sweet tooth. The ground floor is the shop and the bakery (where you can watch the bakers in action), but you need to head towards and up the stairway for the restaurant.
Somewhat curiously, the no-smoking section is up the stairs, above the smoking section, so try to avoid sitting near the stairway if you object to smoke.
Although you there are food items on the menu, we recommend that you head directly for the high calorie desserts and pastries.
Demel is located at Kohlmarkt 14 and open daily from 9 to 7.
Hotel Sacher Wien
Not only one of the city’s best hotels, the Sacher is home to the famous Sacher Torte (a delicious chocolate cake with a thin coating of apricot jam between the layers) available (at ;east the authentic version) only at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna and Salzburg. We recommend that you visit the hotel’s Café Sacher Wien, to experience the upper-end of the Vienna coffee house culture, along with a Sacher Torte tasting. The Hotel Sacher is located at Philharmonikerstrasse 4 across from the StaatsOper.
Unless you are a vegetarian, you should try the Wiener Schnitzel (Vienna Schnitzel) to experience one of the classic entrees of Austrian and Viennese cooking. Wiener Schnitzel is a veal cutlet that has been coated in bread crumbs and then fried. It is usually served with potatoes and sometimes a little dab of lingonberry. Although you can find Wiener Schnitzel at street-side stands around Vienna, order it at a good quality restaurant for a real treat.
Another of our favorites is Spätzle, an egg noodle dish, often served with cheese and onion.
Our final recommendation is think “Italian”. Traditional Austrian cuisine (e.g. boiled beef) can be very heavy on the stomach and after a few traditional meals, we think you will be looking for an alternative. Many of the Italian restaurants in Vienna serve fantastic, thin crust pizzas that are to die for, especially when they include white asparagus. Really! Try it.