Krista the Explorer
7 Historical Places to Eat in Vienna
Updated: Aug 23, 2021
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When people think of Vienna they think of its beautiful architecture, its ties to classical music and the arts, and of course its deep rooted history. I have to admit, one major reason I wanted to go to Vienna was to walk through its historical streets and visit all of the points of interest that had played an important role in its history. There are definitely a lot more things to do in Vienna than I thought there were, and plenty of experiences in Vienna to have, no matter what your interests are. One thing I wasn't prepared for, however, was Vienna's food scene. I had done a bit of research for places to eat in Vienna before arriving to the Austrian capital, but it wasn't until I was actually walking around the city that I realized just how many unique restaurants in Vienna there were to choose from.
If you're short on time, perhaps visiting Vienna as part of a day trip from Bratislava, I would recommend going on one of the many food tours the city has to offer. We went on an evening food tour with Vienna Food Tours which took us to a number of off the beaten path places to eat in Vienna, and our tour guide knew a lot about the city which was great. We also did a food market tour which I mention a bit further down. We spent a week in Vienna and had a lot of time to source out the best historical places to eat in Vienna, so here's a short list I put together to help you plan your future trip to this fantastic European capital.
1. Café Central
One of the most famous cafés in all of Vienna is Café Central. If it’s your first time visiting the city, you need to take time out of what is probably a very busy schedule to make a stop here. This café is known for its traditional Viennese dishes, coffee specialities, and for the well-known artists and thinkers that have frequented its tables. It was opened in 1876 and soon became a popular meeting place for intellectuals. It sits right in the centre of the city, at the intersection of two popular streets, so it’s very easy to locate as you make your way around the key points of interest in Vienna. The name of one of those streets refers to the nobles who used to live there in their mansions, as it was within very close proximity to the imperial court at the Hofburg.
Places to eat in Vienna don’t come much classier than Café Central. You can either have a meal here or just pop in for a coffee and a cake like we did. If you’re just wanting a dessert you’re in luck because they have an amazing selection just near the entrance and they’re all beautifully decorated too. Visiting the coffee houses is an experience in Vienna you can’t miss, and Café Central is well worth the long waiting time to get into.
2. Café Sacher
Speaking of coffee houses in Vienna, another very popular café to visit in the Austrian capital is Café Sacher. It’s also located in the heart of Vienna, very close to popular attractions such as St Stephen’s Cathedral. The café itself is part of the Hotel Sacher Vienna, and sits on a corner looking out over the busy shopping streets. The café opened in 1876, and still retains much of its original charm, which makes it a lovely atmosphere to sit in and soak up the Viennese culture.
Café Sacher is world-famous for its Sacher Torte, which is a thinly layered chocolate cake with apricot jam in between each layer and a side of whipped cream. It was actually invented for a banquet at the request of Prince Metternich in 1832 by an apprentice chef. The head chef had become unwell so it was Franz Sacher who stepped in and created the now very famous Sacher Torte. His son later opened Hotel Sacher, and the torte is now synonymous with Vienna. I would also recommend trying out Café Sacher’s strudel if you haven’t already sampled some elsewhere in Vienna. This is one of the most historic places to eat in Vienna so make sure it’s on your itinerary!
A market may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking of places to eat in Vienna, but the Naschtmarkt is one spot in the city that you can’t miss. It’s the largest street market in Vienna, dating back to the 16th century, and is open daily selling all sorts of food from around the world. What’s interesting about this market is that the food stalls are a representation of the different cultures that make up the Viennese population. Throughout history, Vienna’s location made it an important trading point between people from all parts of the world, and the Naschmarkt has been a popular trading and selling point for centuries. If you want to learn more about the market, I would recommend going on a 3 hour walking tour with GTours who explain more about its history and the different food you can find here.
4. Bastei Beisl
One of the most traditional restaurants in Vienna that we came across was Bastei Beisl. It was actually one of the stops on our tour with Vienna Food Tours, and the food was amazing. This restaurant has been in Vienna’s first district since 1978, and is popular with both locals and tourists. Since its opening, it has played a popular role within the Viennese gastronomy scene, and is a fantastic historical place to eat in Vienna. On our food tour, we were seated in the basement of the restaurant, which still boasted all of its original charm. We sampled a number of delicious Austrian dishes which were served in large portions so we definitely didn’t leave hungry! If you’re looking to try some traditional food in Vienna, this is the place to go.
5. Hotel Bellevue
During our one week in Vienna, we stayed for 2 nights at Hotel Bellevue. I'm not one to normally eat at hotels, but the traditional feel of their café-bar pulled me in that direction after we had finished checking in. The hotel itself was built in 1873 for the Vienna World Exhibition by a Jewish architect born in Bratislava, and still prides itself on its traditional elegance. While the hotel is centrally located, it's in a quieter district of Vienna, which is nice if you want to relax during your trip. The main attractions are very close though by public transportation - there's even a tram line right outside of the hotel.
After looking at their menu we decided to order a few different dishes that were recommended to us by the barman, and of course try out some cocktails from their drinks menu. Hotel Bellevue also offers their own version of the Sacher Torte, so if you don't make it to Café Sacher for whatever reason you can always pop over to Hotel Bellevue - they tasted the same to me! Even if you aren't staying at the hotel, this is definitely one of the more unique historical places to eat in Vienna, and you won't be disappointed if you stop by.
For those of you who have been to Vienna before, chances are you queued up for what seemed like hours to get into what is arguably the most popular restaurant in Vienna - Figlmuller. What started as a small wine tavern in 1905 has continued to grow over the decades, and is now a Viennese institution which is run by the fourth generation of the family. Why exactly is it so popular? Quite simply, it's known as the home of the schnitzel, which is a must-try food in Vienna. I prefer the pork version of the schnitzel which is often made using veal, but that's just because I'm a slightly picky eater. Schnitzel is now popular all over the world, so if you're in Vienna you can't miss the opportunity to eat at this historical location.
Lugeck sits on the same street as Figlmuller, and is actually owned by the same family. Their idea was to create a new restaurant where they could revive traditional Austrian cuisine and its classic tavern culture. The restaurant sits in the Regensburger Hof building, which is one of the most picturesque buildings in Vienna, originally dating back to the 14th century (rebuilt in 1897). It may be a relatively new restaurant, but it still gives off that old-world atmosphere and the food that they serve is incredible. We stopped at Lugeck as part of our tour with Vienna Food Tours and were fortunate enough to be able to try out 3 sample dishes as well as some freshly baked bread. It's one of the best new restaurants in Vienna to visit, and it sits inside a beautiful historical building too which is a win-win situation.
Vienna has so far been one of my favourite capital cities to visit in Europe. Putting aside its spectacular historical buildings and its charming streets, Vienna has a lot of cafés and restaurants that you just can't find anywhere else. If you're planning a trip to Vienna in the future, make sure you take some time to try out its traditional cuisine and soak up the atmosphere of its many coffee houses and taverns. In my opinion, the historical places to eat in Vienna far outweigh its modern counterparts.
If you're planning on staying in Vienna, or perhaps are planning a day trip to the Austrian capital, I would love to answer any questions you have in the comment section below. Remember to follow me on my travels on Instagram as well!
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