Eating in Vienna
By Rick Steves
Countryside Ambience in the Center of Old Vienna
The Heuriger is a uniquely Viennese institution. When the Hapsburgs let Vienna's vintners sell their own new wine (called Sturm) tax-free, several hundred families opened Heurigen (wine-garden restaurants clustered around the edge of town) — and a tradition was born. Today the Heuriger do their best to maintain the old-village atmosphere, serving the homemade new wine (the last vintage, until November 11, when a new vintage year begins) with light meals and strolling musicians. Of the many Heuriger suburbs, Grinzing is the most famous, lively...and touristy (accessible by taxi, tram, bus, or a goofy tourist train). Wine gardens might be closed on any given day; always call ahead to confirm.
Gigerl Stadtheuriger offers a friendly near-Heuriger experience, often with accordian or live music, without leaving the center of town. Just point to what looks good. Food is sold by the weight; 100 grams (10 dag) is about a quarter pound. They also have menu entrées, along with spinach strudel, quiche, Apfelstrudel, and, of course, casks of new and local wines.
Palm Trees and Strudel
Café Restaurant Palmenhaus overlooks the Palace Garden (Burggarten). Tucked away in a green and peaceful corner two blocks behind the Opera in the Hofburg's backyard, this is a world apart. And, since it's at the edge of a huge park, it's great for families. If you want to eat modern Austrian cuisine with palm trees rather than tourists, this is it (serious vegetarian dishes, fish, and an extensive wine list ).
Finger Sandwiches and Tiny Beers with Aristocrats
Buffet Trzesniewski is an institution — justly famous for its elegant and cheap finger sandwiches and small beers. Three different sandwiches and a kleines Bier (Pfiff) make a fun, light lunch. Point to whichever delights look tasty (or grab the English translation sheet and take time to study your 22 sandwich options). Take your drink tokens to the lady on the right. Sit on the bench and scoot over to a tiny table when a spot opens up. This is a good opportunity to try Austria's fancy grape juices — Most or Traubenmost.
Sushi with Mozart?
Akakiko Sushi: If you're just schnitzeled out, this small chain of Japanese restaurants with an easy sushi menu may suit you. The bento box meals are a tasty value.