More so than anywhere else in Austria, Vienna has a huge variety of places to eat and drink , from Beisln , the Viennese version of a local pub, to upmarket restaurants, as well as a wide range of cuisines, from Balkan to South American. Even the country's ubiquitous protein-heavy food is given a new lift in the capital thanks to the popularity of Neu Wiener Küche , the Viennese version of nouvelle cuisine , which uses fresh produce to give a slightly Mediterranean bent to traditional dishes.
Vienna is, of course, also home of the Kaffeehaus , and has by far the largest selection in the country. While the rest of the world queues up for fast food, the Viennese Kaffeehaus implores you to slow down; as the sign in one such café says, "sorry, we do not cater for people in a hurry." For the price of a small coffee, you can sit for as long as you like without being asked to move on or buy another drink. Understandably, then, the price of this first drink is astronomical and will regularly set you back around öS35/?2.54.
Eating and drinking establishments are divided into Kaffeehäuser , incorporating snack bars and Kaffee-Konditorei, and restaurants , which includes some of the city's Beisln . Phone numbers have been given only for those restaurants where it's advisable to book a table . Don't get too excited by those places that boast a Schanigarten , as this is rarely much of a garden; simply a few tables alfresco. For more pleasant, atmospheric alfresco eating and drinking, you need to head off to one of the simple Heurigen in the wine-making suburbs.
The Viennese take their cafés seriously - on average they drink twice as much coffee as beer - and the capital's Kaffeehäuser are by no means a uniform bunch. As well as the traditional Kaffeehaus - the smoky type, with a wide range of newspapers to read, and a waiter in a tuxedo - there's also the Kaffee-Konditorei, where the coffee is a mere sideshow to the establishment's cakes and pastries. Many Kaffeehäuser serve hot food all day long, with the best choice of dishes at lunchtime. In addition, there are also new modern variants on the old Kaffeehaus which eschew the tuxedos, heavy Viennese cooking and Torten , and consequently attract a younger crowd.
The best place to grab a quick bite and eat cheaply at the same time is the Naschmarkt, Vienna's premier fruit and vegetable market (Mon-Sat), where you can feast on seafood, kebabs, felafel, burek, noodles and much more besides, or, if you prefer assemble a king-sized picnic. As well as the student Mensa , there are plenty of other self-service places, such as Rosenberger , Mayserdergasse 2 (U-Bahn Karlsplatz), and Naschmarkt , Schottengasse 1 (U-Bahn Schottentor), with branches all over the city. More specialized, but equally reliable self-service chains include the fish and seafoody Nordsee , Kärntnerstrasse 25 (U-Bahn Stephansplatz), and the Middle Eastern Levante , Wollzeile 19 (U-Bahn Stephansplatz), again, each with numerous other branches.
Smarter, more congenial stand-up options include Trzsniewski , the minimalist Brötchen bar, at Dorotheergasse 1 (U-Bahn Stephansplatz), that is a veritable Viennese institution. Zum schwarzen Kameel , Bognergasse 5 (U-Bahn Herrengasse), is a terribly smart, convivial deli with stand-up tables only. The veggie restaurant, Wrenkh , has a small weekday-only snack bar at Rauhensteingasse 12 (U-Bahn Stephansplatz), round the back of the Steffl department store on Kärntnerstrasse, while the newly refurbished Julius Meinl , on the corner of Kohlmarkt and Graben (U-Bahn Stephansplatz), has an excellent stand-up buffet at the rear of the ground floor, where you can eat traditional hot dishes and lighter snacks, and a seafood bar upstairs. Lastly, there's a conveniently central Billa supermarket just down Singerstrasse from Stephansplatz.
Inexpensive and mid-range restaurants
Vienna has plenty of affordable restaurants , although prices overall, particularly in the Innere Stadt, are slightly higher than in the rest of Austria. Outside the centre, the Spittelberg area, behind the Messepalast (MuseumsQuartier), has the highest concentration of cafés and restaurants, though there are further options dispersed more widely throughout the surrounding district of Neubau (seventh district), and in neighbouring Josefstadt (eighth district). Prices are slightly lower in a Beisl , or city pub: these places serve standard Austrian dishes and there's often a lunchtime special offer for under öS100/?7.27. In more formal restaurants, you can still eat very reasonably, with prices for most main dishes hovering between öS100-150/?7.27-10.90.
With the United Nations on its doorstep, and a good year-round calendar of conferences to cater for, it comes as no surprise that Vienna has plenty of top-drawer expensive restaurants, where you can find cuisine to match the best in the world. Dining within Vienna's top hotels is nearly always superb: the Korso in the Hotel Bristo , Kärntner Ring 1 and the restaurant in the Palais Schwarzenberg , Schwarzenbergplatz 9, are both particularly good, with the latter also offering a beautiful Baroque interior and garden as well as top-quality food. The following is a tiny selection of non-hotel places; each one will set you back around öS800-1000/?58.14-72.67 a head.
Drei Husaren , 1 Weihburggasse 4 (tel 512 1092); U-Bahn Stephansplatz. Although only opened in 1933, this place plays heavily on nostalgia for the days of the Empire, with a menu packed full of Austro-Hungarian specialities. Daily noon-3pm & 6pm-1am.
Kervansaray , 1, Mahlerstrasse 9 (tel 512 8843); U-Bahn Karlsplatz. This is the city's top fish and seafood restaurant, which specializes in lobster ( Hummer ), though a few meat dishes are also served up. On the ground floor, in the Hummerbar , there's a slightly cheaper array of dishes available.
Steiereck , 3, Rasumofskygasse 2 (tel 713 3168); tram #N to Löwengasse. The Steiereck is considered by many Viennese to be the best restaurant in the city (if not the entire country). It serves up international and Austrian dishes with an emphasis on Styrian cuisine, has an impressive wine list, superb cheeses, and a bargain set brunch for around öS100/?7.27. Mon-Fri noon-3pm & 7pm-midnight.
The city's traditional Heurigen are located out in the wine-producing villages, at the foot of the Wienerwald, that now form the outer suburbs of Vienna. These are good places to go in fine weather, preferably during late summer and autumn. In addition, however, Vienna boasts a handful of centrally located wine-taverns known as Stadtheurigen , often housed in the cellars of the city's former monasteries. These are not real Heurigen at all, but are still great places to drink wine and eat the simple food on offer.
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