Food Fun in Vienna and Berlin!
July 9, 2012 7:24 PM   Subscribe

What foods do I need to try in Vienna and Berlin? Are there any foods I should try to bring back?

I'll be in Vienna (in the Landstrasse area) for 4 days next week and Berlin for 3. I'm looking for interesting, city-unique (if possible) food experiences and items I could return as gifts.

As an aside, we don't plan on checking luggage, so large containers of liquids are sadly a no-go.

(For what it's worth, I'll be traveling with my parents, who aren't big on crowded, loud, touristy things, so keep that in mind.)
posted by Turkey Glue to Travel & Transportation around Vienna, Austria (25 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My girlfriend has spent a lot of time in Berlin. I accidentally stumbled upon a Turkish place in Pittsburgh that had doner kebab and it brought back all sorts of happy memories for her.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:30 PM on July 9, 2012

Currywurst is, in its origins at least, a Berlin thing. Basically chopped up hot dog (but good hot dog) with a tangy bbq-ish sauce on it. Good with fries. Not sure if there are any that are particularly good, but I had a few random take-out ones and various places in the city that made good, cheap meals. I seem to remember there being a decent place in Alexanderplatz, but someone else might have better info than that.
posted by pdq at 7:32 PM on July 9, 2012

In Vienna, you should try a "Käsekrainer." It's a smoked sausage with emmentaler cheese. The Würstelstand in Hoermarkt is probably the most famous place to get one, but any stand will have it. If that isn't enough fat, you can find Bernerwürstel which are Käsekrainers wrapped in bacon (Speck). Naturally, the traditional side is french fries, because obviously that's not enough fat. Funnily, the zoo serves a good one.

On the sweet side of Vienna, you should try Kaiserschmarm which is like a brilliant messy pancake thing with berries or apricot compote. The film festival at the Rathaus (City Hall) goes nightly and there is a Viennese dessert stand that has it. They'll also have marilleneisknödel which are apricots dipped in gelato with a tasty golden crust on it. Then there's the traditional Sachertorte (chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam served with whipped cream) and Esterhazytorte (hazelnut and cream deliciousness.) Have fun eating good food.
posted by montaigneisright at 7:36 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tafelspitz (boiled beef) and beuschel (veal heart and lungs chopped up in sauce) are native to Vienna. What I noticed is that cake (torte) is served in cafes rather than restaurants.

In Berlin, get buletten (meatballs) and eisbein (ham hock)--share this!
posted by brujita at 7:58 PM on July 9, 2012

Duh! In Vienna you must get Sachertorte
posted by pdq at 7:59 PM on July 9, 2012

I agree with Doener Kebab (and Tuete if you can!) and Currywurst. My addition to the list, if you are into local alcoholic beverages, is the Berliner Weisse. It's a mixed beer drink, and if you have the choice, try it with Waldmeister. It's green, but very refreshing in the way Radler is!
posted by neveroddoreven at 8:34 PM on July 9, 2012

Mutter Hoppe in Nikolaiviertel has an eisbein that will knock your socks off. I had green pea soup there that was amazing as well.

The currywurst places I was directed to were Curry 36 and Konnopke Imbiss.
posted by oflinkey at 8:36 PM on July 9, 2012

I sent this question to a Viennese friend (I could call her my Wiener-friend, but that would be... misleading) and she suggested this, a restaurant she loves especially in summer:

Plachutta (the site is in English)

Have a great trip!
posted by Sunburnt at 8:42 PM on July 9, 2012

All kinds of pastries, baked goods, breads, sweets, pretzels. These things are the highlight of the region IMO. Don't skip any desserts. You may be disappointed with USA baked goods forever after your trip.
posted by scose at 9:22 PM on July 9, 2012

I was also directed to Konnopke Imbiss, or to Curry 7 in Berlin for currywurst by my friend from Berlin. Yeah, and definitely eat a bunch of bread and pastries, and enjoy the delicious breakfasts, and coffee, and beer.
posted by grapesaresour at 9:35 PM on July 9, 2012

Oh yes, breakfast. Vienna turned my wife into an addict for cold cuts for breakfast. Real muesli, not the dry stuff in boxes. As to sweets, I think Mozartkugeln are fairly meh, but some people adore them.
posted by Logophiliac at 9:39 PM on July 9, 2012

Maybe too late but for Berlin, white asparagus (spargel) and ham is super duper..
posted by snaparapans at 9:59 PM on July 9, 2012

2nding Käsekrainer. Absolutely my Austrian favorite. My search for käsekrainer in the states has only turned up cheap imitations.
posted by mediated self at 10:23 PM on July 9, 2012

If you are in Berlin on a Tuesday or a Friday there is a wonderful Turkish market on the Maybachufer. I can't remember what they're called but they have these fried doughy things with spinach or cheese in them which are fantastic. There's also a ton of fresh fruit and veg, olives, cheese, meat, fish etc.
posted by neilb449 at 11:36 PM on July 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

In Vienna: From the supermarkets try Acidophilusmilch. Comes in a red carton. Tastes like Russian kefir but possibly better. I haven't seen this in Germany. In the restaurants, seconding Tafelspitz, surprisingly delicious boiled beef dish. If you are looking for patisserie, most Viennese cafes are average: there are good original cakes at Landtmann on Doktor-Karl-Lueger-Ring 4. Take home some fancy fruit schnaps?
In Berlin: a famous currywurst stall is Curry 36 on Mehringdamm. Visit at midnight when there will be a crowd. The Turkish culture is big in Berlin, there are loads of kebab and falafel places. I like the falafels from Dada Falafel on Linienstrasse. Take home some super-alcoholic special brew beer?
posted by londongeezer at 11:49 PM on July 9, 2012

If you like falafel, you should definitely head down to Kreuzberg and visit this little hole-in-the-wall place called King of Falafel. Delicious home-made falafel, and if you're lucky the old lady running the place will make you a glass of sweet mint tea and chuck some kind of tasty fig/pistachio sweetmeat your way as you're leaving. It was the food highlight of my recent trip!
posted by Ted Maul at 12:00 AM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nthing Sachertorte, and adding that depending on how much space you have in your luggage you can actually buy boxed Sachertortes of various sizes to take home (and there's a store to buy them in the Vienna airport, even). We've done this a few times and the cake always comes through completely intact, since it's well-packed and all the moisture is sealed in by ganache.
posted by bettafish at 2:20 AM on July 10, 2012

Everything mentioned above, plus the best on-the-go meat snack in the world: Landjäger. Available at butcher's shops - that will often make their own, grocery stores, supermarkets and even gas stations (not recommended). And yes, some are made with horsemeat. Deal with it.

Seriously, I dream about this stuff sometimes.
posted by likeso at 3:24 AM on July 10, 2012

Berlin: Doner Kebab from Tadim at Kottbusser Tor (one of the few with stacked sliced meat as opposed to a mess of ground meat), get breakfast 24/7 at Schwarzes Cafe near Savignyplatz. For Eisbein and other very regional dishes in a traditional atmosphere: Zur Letzten Instanz, just south of Alexanderplatz.

Vienna: seconding Sachertorte, Kaesekrainer, Tafelspitz, Kaiserschmarren. Also eat a Wiener Schnitzel (veal, not pork), all the 27 different kinds of coffee (Melange, Einspaenner, Fiaker, etc.), Palatschinken, all kinds of Knoedel (Semmelknoedel with mushroom sauce! Marillenknoedel, Zwetschgenknoedel, Grammelknoedel, Leberknoedel, ...). Go to Cafe Hawelka in the evening and eat Buchteln.
posted by meijusa at 5:44 AM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for all the great answers! I have a serious hankering for meat and pastries, even though it's only 9AM. Maybe if I eat 10 meals per day...
posted by Turkey Glue at 6:28 AM on July 10, 2012

I just had a very nice meal in Zwolf Apostelkeller which is a treat for Americans since it is hundreds of years old. I had the Wiener Schnitzel which is quite good.

Try local sauerkraut and potato salad, which is quite good.

If you see any leafy, green vegetables grab them as they seem to be pretty rare.

There is a yummy soda called Almdudler which you can only get in Austria.
posted by shothotbot at 6:59 AM on July 10, 2012

Don't miss the street food labeled "Hot Dog" in Vienna. It's really a thick sausage in a French roll, with excellent mustard, infinitely better than what's known as a "hot dog" in the USA.
posted by Rash at 8:26 AM on July 10, 2012

The Chicken Doner Kebab (the main thing they sell) at Mustafas Gemüse Kebab in Berlin is one of the best things I've ever eaten. I say that having had amazing meals at Alinea, French Laundry, Noma, etc.
posted by dbolll at 12:16 PM on July 10, 2012

If you like garlic, try garlic cream soup (Knobblauchrahmsuppe) in Vienna. I had it at a place on Siebensterngasse - I think it was called Siebensternbrau. This place also had good schnitzel.
posted by fromageball at 6:50 PM on July 10, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions; reading up on these foods helped me navigate menus in a language with which I'm unfamiliar. I ended up eating the following:

Kasekrainer: The sausage was very good and the cheese was a nice touch, nothing like a hellish microwaved cheez-dog. I had one "hot dog style" (served in a hollowed-out crusty roll,) which I liked better than a standard-issue hot dog bun but less than the sausage plain (the bread grew tiresome by the end.)

Some kind of horse loaf: A street vendor offered horse (pferde,) so I gave it a shot. It was more like a loaf of hot dog meat in a salami's outer casing. Not inedible, but not good either.

Tafelspitz: The boiled beef reminded me of cooked-through roast beef. I enjoyed it, but I thought it was kind of a one-note dish (the note being lightly salty.)

Pork schnitzel: Like a big chicken finger. It is what it is.

Jager-eintopf (Hunter's stew): Beef stew with bacon, mushrooms, spaetzel, cranberry something, cream, and an orange slice. I liked the combination of flavors, but I was pretty burnt out on meat by this point. Also, mine came served in a pan, which is too damn much to eat at once. (This was probably my best dinner in Vienna. All the cafes seem to have the same menu of meat, fried meat, and stew. Every other restaurant is pizza or Chinese.)

Currywurst (from Curry 36): So good! I love the tomato pastey, kind of spicy, kind of not sauce it comes with. This is the one food I remember from my first trip to Berlin.

Doner kebab (from Curry 27): Even better! I love the spicy yogurt sauce mine came with, especially as a contrast to the sweet kraut. This was my favorite meal of the entire trip (I had only one full day in Berlin, for what it's worth.)

I bought a sachertorte and am saving it to try with my girlfriend this weekend. I think that's all. Thanks again.
posted by Turkey Glue at 1:43 PM on July 23, 2012

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