Fresh off my post about food…I thought I’d talk more about food 🙂
Vienna has a lot of well-known dishes worth trying and their coffeehouse culture is something you must experience when you visit. I think I understood more about Vienna overall from the coffeehouses, just hanging out and observing the people lingering over their newspapers and pastries while slightly aloof waiters moved about the room.
These cafes seem to be on every corner, they are like the local pub or diner in Vienna but open all day and offering coffee, breakfast, pastries, alcohol, lunch, dinner, live music, free newspapers, and a chill place to spend your day. You can sit for as long as you want with the price of a melange. Since we were visiting in winter, the cafes were especially nice as a refuge from the wind outside or as a place to rest our feet between museums. Each of the coffeehouses has its own unique vibe, some are more fancy/upscale than others. I preferred those that were a little worn around the edges, that felt a bit more lived in and welcoming. They all seem to be frozen in time though, which is what is most charming about spending an afternoon here.
The first coffeehouse we went to was Cafe Sperl which came highly recommended by my friend. It is also famously included in the film Before Sunrise, a favorite of mine. We were fortunate to have visited the first day we arrived in Vienna as the cafe was closed the next few days for the holidays. Sperl is one of those cafes that feels a bit worn and I loved it. There was live (holiday) music and my mom and I, both starving after a long day of travel, were overwhelmed by the menu options. We settled on some cheese toasts, soup, and coffees to warm & wake us up.
We managed to visit a few other cafes during our stay and, in that time, try some of the more well-known menu items like Mozart torte (dessert), eggs in a glass (breakfast), and Tafelspitz (dinner). Some of the most famous are Cafe Central, Cafe Tirolerhof (another favorite just around the corner from our hotel), Demel (recommended for breakfast/pastries), Cafe Landtmann, and Cafe Hawelka. The Cafe Weimar, near the Volksoper, is also recommended for a post-show treat.
Of course the other thing Vienna is famous for is Wiener Schnitzel. From my pre-planning, it appeared that there are only a few places that serve what is considered the best schnitzel so prioritize having it at these restaurants: Plachutta, Figlmuller, or Lugeck. Beware, the portions are huge!
I also highly recommend checking out Naschmarkt, one of my favorite food experiences in Vienna. I love tracking down local markets when I travel and the Naschmarkt is a hybrid of food stalls selling produce, spices and more; specialty shops (cheese stores, wine), and restaurants. We came here once just to walk through and a second time for a late dinner at Neni which serves delicious Israeli food (we needed a break from sausage).
I drank a lot of Gruner Veltliner in Vienna because why not drink a local wine? There was also a lot of mulled wine at the Christmas markets. My mom and I did make it to one bar in Vienna as we met up with friends of mine who were also in town: Lemee Rooftop. It’s a rooftop bar not far from Lugeck, has fantastic views of Vienna (especially St Stephans Cathedral) and a nice place to come for a cocktail. We were there in December and the rooftop was open with heat lamps and blankets (and hot wine)!