What should two older foodies from Pacific Northwest see/do in Vienna?
February 25, 2018 3:29 PM   Subscribe

We would be tres sad to eat expensive frou frou food that is not also surprising and good. Or to stand in line at Disneyfied tourist attractions. Or to stay in town the whole time if there's something not to miss if you have a rental car.

Is it plausible to dress up and go to the opera on a week-ish long trip? Or is the best you can do, to see a repertoire act or two put on in the afternoon for soda-slurping tourists in Bermuda shorts?

[May 2018]
posted by spacewrench to Travel & Transportation around Vienna, Austria (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Is it plausible to dress up and go to the opera on a week-ish long trip?

In May 2017 we saw Die Walküre at the Staatsoper, so yes. I wore a sport coat and jeans and did not feel underdressed. Here's what the Staatsoper has in May. (We almost saw Das Rheingold as well but decided that that might be overdoing it...). Here's the Volksoper, which is a little more, well, volksy.

Re: food, if you are offered a dish with asparagus in it, eat it. Austrian asparagus is much better than American asparagus, and you'll be there when it's in season. Go to the Naschmarkt . The Saturday flea market there is overrated, though, speaking as someone who went on a Saturday. If you like sparkling wine made from unusual grapes go to Sekt Comptoir near the Naschmarkt, but only if you have room in your luggage. (My wife is pregnant now; a bottle from them will be in the fridge for when we get home from the hospital, so we can toast the baby.)
posted by madcaptenor at 4:09 PM on February 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

I also really enjoyed the Naschmarkt, lots of really good food and drink to buy or eat on the spot. I also though the flea market didn't add a lot.

You can see the ferris wheel from The Third Man but it is at a larger funfair so may be too disneyfied for you.
posted by biffa at 4:17 PM on February 25, 2018

A Vienna food question and no one has yet mentioned Sacher Torte? Inconceivable!

When I was a kid you could still get a piece with real (thin) gold foil on top of it, but I don't know if they do that any more.
posted by seasparrow at 4:22 PM on February 25, 2018

Can't tell you about food. One year though, a friend and I arrived in Vienna on Christmas morning and attended a performance of the Vienna Boys Choir. At least then, you could only hear them, not see them. But it seems they perform regularly for Sunday service. Some nice Viennese coffee and a pastry afterwards might be a nice cap to the morning even for two serious foodies from the Pacific Northwest. If I remember right, the Hofburg Chapel is within walking distance of the train.
posted by CollectiveMind at 4:50 PM on February 25, 2018

Viennaeats is a good Instagram follow that shows some of the best of the city. It's a small enough city where you will be able to explore a lot of it in the week you're there. As always, Rick Steve's has great advice including where to see music performances
posted by Think_Long at 5:08 PM on February 25, 2018

If you like architecture and radical humanism I can only tell you what I would definitely have checked out IF i'd ever made it Vienna: Hundertwasser haus and Kunst haus .
If you are so inclined, take a look (for this long obsessed Hundertwasser fan) and report back, as askmefi seems generally favorable towards it.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 5:11 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

See the Lipizzarners if you like horses.
Tafelspitz at Plaschutta
You'll be there during ice cream season.
The Wurst stand on Hohermarkt
Music, art, Esperanto museums.
posted by brujita at 5:20 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’m a huge food person who went to Vienna with my family last fall.
There used to be someone on chow hound who gave great color on places to go but he’s mostly bailed so it’s not totally up to date.

We ate at Rudi’s Beisl and Petz im Gusshaus for more traditional things and Mraz & Sohn at the creative high end. Strong recommend on all three. Can also recommend Zum Schwarzen Kameel if you are cool with the crowd - food is excellent and the sandwiches are great. We didn’t go to Stiermark or Palais Coburg as we had our young kids with us, but I hear nothing but good things about them from people I trust. There are some pretty good German language resources - falstaff.at

Can’t recommend Plauchutta - the tafelspitz is fine but I feel like there are many many better places with better scenes and better prices.

Naschmarkt was a shadow of what it was ten years ago but Gegenbauer vinegars are still amazing.

We didn’t go because the weather wasn’t great but consider a visit to a heuriger- wieninger is pretty consistently the best reviewed and I liked their wines a bunch when tasted elsewhere.

Oh and if you like sweets make sure you check out multiple places beyond Demel. Which is good but not a be all end all.
posted by JPD at 5:39 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

See the Lipizzarners if you like horses.

It can get booked up fast. Inquire ASAP about space.
posted by BlueHorse at 7:06 PM on February 25, 2018

Konditorei. If you can spare a couple days to zip to Salzburg, the ice cave (and get some nockerl while you're there). Get a kaiserschmarrn. Almdudler. Sweet fruit dumplings. Palatschinken. Nthing the Lipizzaners even if you don't like horses; they're still amazing.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 7:28 PM on February 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Don't miss the street food -- the sausage in a French roll labeled "Hot Dog" makes the American version run away and hide in embarrassment.
posted by Rash at 7:57 PM on February 25, 2018

have you brushed up on your German? The food section of DerStandard and "Wien,wie es isst" on Falter are the places to look for the best and the newest. Restaurant owners in Vienna (I know this firsthand) wait for a review there with more trepidation than they usually do with international guides (this is somewhat part of a very viennese Geist, in a way).
posted by _dario at 8:12 PM on February 25, 2018

Oberlaa for cakes, Felzl for baked goods. Demel is nice too, and has a sweets gift section. Didn't like Aida (another chain) as much. For some classic Viennese cafes: Cafe Central and Cafe Pruckel amongst many others. For a very quick bite: Treszniewski, a well-known sandwich shop that specializes in delicious open-face sandwiches. I kind of like that the restaurant was started by a Polish immigrant; speaks to Vienna's central location in Europe and the people it drew from all over.

I prefer Brunnenmarkt over Naschmarkt - fewer people in-your-face about samples and more reasonable prices, great selection of cheese.

Visiting a heurige after walking along a Stadtwanderweg (accessible by public transportation, one of the best things about Vienna) is always a nice way to spend the day.

Things found in grocery and tobacco stands: Almdudler (soft drink), quark, milchreis, quark -- the latter two are German but still something I jump for every time (I guess quark would be topfen in Austria), a wide selection of canned herring.

Tasty gifts to take home: Manner (hazelnut wafers) and maybe pumpkin seeds or pumpkin seed oil. I am also a big fan of Hussel which is also admittedly German and not Austrian, but still always fun to stop by when on Mariahilfer Str.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 8:51 PM on February 25, 2018

In Innsbruck I found flower flavored low sugar soda; not sure if it's sold in Vienna.

The Heeresgeschichtliches(war) Museum revamped their galleries a few years ago for the Great War centennial.
posted by brujita at 9:04 PM on February 25, 2018

The Staatsoper offers tickets online, if you buy tickets now it should be possible. Or queue for standing room tickets. When you click on the link buy tickets you are directed to CULTURALL, the official ticket vendor. DOn't buy anywhere else. there are any number of scammers that in the best scenario add useless surcharges and handling fees, and in the worst case you pay but never get the ticket delivered to your hotel.

Have dinner at Stomach (named for the owner, not the English word)
Rustic ambience combined with lovely food. They have cats however, so don't go there if you have a cat hair allergy or are grossed out by a cat walking underneath your table. Reservation is required, in May I recommend to get a reservation for the garden.

Also recommended, performances at Theater an der Wien , their
Programme in May
afterwards have dinner at ON Market just a block away.

If you look for a lovely Heurigen off the tourist track go to Schübel-Auer Located in Nussdorf, and run by two friends, their buffet is of a much higher quality than the usual fried chicken or pork and potato salad followed by apfelstrudel tourist menu typical for touristic Heurigen in Grinzing. The also offer vegetarian, vegan an gluten free which is not at all typical. Try the roast beef or suckling pig.

Visit the Museumsquartier and eat at one of the many outdoor places in the big court, I especially like Corbaci

In May , Naschmarkt will be absolutely crowded with tourists, best avoid tbh.
Depending where you stay, it is also worthwhile to wander around Spittelberg.
Someone mentioned Brunnenmarkt, if you want to visit a Viennese food market it is the much better choice, and when at Brunnenmarkt eat at Kent (Turkish food only). Or at one of the many cafes around Yppenplatz.

If you memail me where you stay I am happy to recommend more (I live in Vienna) places off the beaeten track.
posted by 15L06 at 3:13 AM on February 26, 2018 [3 favorites]

Bitzinger Wurstelstand near the Albertina if it's convenient for you at some point.
posted by aramaic at 4:08 AM on February 26, 2018

Highly recommend Vollwert Restaurant Lebenbauer, mostly veggie, delicious and buzzy, just make sure you reserve a table in advance. Treszniewski (mentioned above) is also yummy and worth seeking out.

Vienna is so lovely. Enjoy.
posted by Ziggy500 at 4:23 AM on February 26, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks everybody! It looks like there's a lot more out there than I was getting out of Google. Now I'll just keep my fingers crossed for good weather!
posted by spacewrench at 9:45 AM on February 26, 2018

If you're going to the Naschmarkt and like fish, try Umar Fisch. Unlike most eateries at the Naschmarkt, you may need to make a reservation, but it's perhaps the best fish restaurant in Vienna (and it's located right next to a Nordsee, which is an awful chain fish restaurant, so stay away from that one).

Demel is well worth a visit, despite being in all the guidebooks. But don't waste your time waiting in line at the Hotel Sacher.

If you're looking for good expensive frou frou food, I've had some very good meals at Restaurant Walter Bauer. Steirereck is world famous (and probably mentioned in all the guidebooks), but I've never been there myself, so I can't say if it's worth the fuss.

I'll add Landtmann to the list of classic Viennese cafes.
posted by klausness at 3:11 PM on February 26, 2018

Also, both of the big museums in the Museumsquartier (the Leopold and the MUMOK) are well worth visiting if you like 20th century (and 21st century) art. For dining in the Museumsquartier, I've always liked the Glacis Beisl, which has a very nice hidden garden.
posted by klausness at 3:24 PM on February 26, 2018

Re. Steirereck: if you are interested in going there, get a reservation soon.
However, they also have (on the ground floor of Steirereck) the "Meierei - the food is just as nice but less expensive and not quite as posh. Brunch at Meierei is lovely.

Other expensive eats are:
Silvio Nickel at Palais Coburg
Das Triest
Das Schwarze Kameel
All of those you will need a reservation, best done at least 4 weeks in advance.

Do&Co (both the one at Albertina and at Haas Haus) is well past their prime, only the prices remain high. Tourists tend to go there because it was all the hype some years ago but it is not worth it.
They also still run Demel quite successfully, but it is also more hype than it is worth imo.
posted by 15L06 at 1:16 AM on February 27, 2018

As others have mentioned, a Heurigen visit is worthwhile, at least if it's not raining (so that you can sit outside). Keep in mind that Heurigens are more about the wine than the food (which can be disappointing). I was at Schübel-Auer (mentioned by 15L06) just last summer, and the food was as good as any that I've had at a Heurigen, which puts it on a par with maybe an above-average Gasthaus. So, good enough, but probably not worth a trip just for the food. I think there's an unfilled niche for a Heurigen that also serves food that foodies would love.
posted by klausness at 3:17 PM on February 27, 2018

Fellow Mefite, omnomnom, gave me a lovely tour of Vienna. It was all delicious, from the hole in the wall schnitzel places, kaiserkrainer/sausage stands to hunting lodge food. Confirmation that if is is asparagus season then take every opportunity to get it any way you can. Gelato/ice cream is fabulous and the Viennese take theirs seriously. An inside tip: if you are flying Austrian Air, keep your boarding pass so you can get discounts at the museums and check out which nights the museums have their free nights or their extended hours so you can plan.
posted by jadepearl at 1:47 AM on February 28, 2018

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