In my short time in Vienna, I tried to experience as much of the food culture as I could, from visiting the coffee shops, to the trendy places and high end dining…and of course the wine! Here are my fourteen luxurious things to do in Vienna for food lovers.
1. Coffee and Cake at Café Central
Viennese coffee culture is rather an art form and a central part of local city life. A pastime so important to the cultural heritage that it has been listed by UNESCO and the coffee houses have become known a ‘the city’s public living room.’ The coffee-house culture isn’t about grabbing your favourite caffeinated beverage on the way to work, it’s about lingering over your cup, meeting friends, gossiping and debating.
Personally, I’m a huge coffee lover and I couldn’t wait to indulge in this aspect of Viennese culture. Café Central opened in 1876 and is known as one of the grandest and most famous coffee houses in Vienna. With this reputation it has become a little touristy but on this freezing January day it was pretty empty and we could pretend that we were back in the 19th century when it was a meeting place for the intelligentsia of Vienna such as Sigmund Freud, Leon Trotsky and Lenin.
With it’s high ceiling, elegant furnishings and silver service, I loved Café Central and the cakes were utterly wonderful. I also became partial to drinking Viennese Melange style coffee, half coffee and half milk which is pretty much how I have it at home.
2. Buy Sweets at Demel
Established in 1786, Demel is the most famous pastry and chocolate shop in Vienna and was even loved by Empress Elizabeth. Part café, part sweet shop and part bakery, Demel is truly confectionary heaven.
I loved this gorgeous shop and picked up some gifts for Mr Silver to take home.
Also be sure to check out their famous window as this beautiful display is all made from chocolate.
3. Champagne with a View at Das Loft
The view from Das Loft, the restaurant at the Sofitel Hotel is utterly spectacular and well worth a visit. From the 18th floor location you can spy a total panorama across the city including St Stephen’s Cathedral.
At lunch we loved the freshly baked bread, Thai soup, tuna and a rare venison and though it was rather quiet I’d attribute that to it being a mid-week January lunch time.
4. Cocktails at Do & Co
For a different view head to the 6th floor of boutique hotel Do & Co and check out trendy, Onyx bar.
At this location you couldn’t be closer to a view of St Stephen’s Cathedral from the window.
5. Dine in splendour at Vestibül
Located adjacent to The Burgtheater, the Vestibül restaurant was once the private coach entrance for Emperor Francis Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth. The restaurant’s opulent marble interior has been totally preserved and is now a historic monument which still honours the Imperial family by proudly displaying the coat of arms.
The quality of food is suitably fitting for the grandeur of the building and Chef Christian Domschitz offers a menu of traditional Austrian cuisine with a modern twist. I’d recommend the lobster with creamy cabbage (a dish that the chef has been cooking for two decades!), the signature roast pork and the fish of the day.
6. Eat Wiener Schnitzel at Café Imperial Vienna
You can’t come to Vienna without trying the national dish and Café Imperial Vienna, reputedly serves the best in town. Here the traditional breaded and deep-fried escalope of veal is served with parsley potatoes and salad, and it’s utterly delicious.
Schnitzel is Mr S’s absolute favourite so of course I sent him lots of photos to make him jealous!
7. Visit a Winery
Did you know that Vienna is also known as the city of wine and is the only world capital to produce large quantities of wine within the city limits. There are actually 700 hectares of vineyards with 2.4 million litres of wine being produced every year, 80% of which is white wine. We visited Weingut Wieninger, a beautiful family-run winery in Stammersdorfer which was about a thirty minute uber ride from Hotel Imperial Vienna.
Here we were given a full tour of the cellars and learnt all about the nature-oriented biodynamic wine produced by the winery for generations. Owner Fritz Wieninger has over 25 years of experience and the winery is known by many as the best in the city.
Of course we also tried the wine and we were told that the soil and climate in the city is what gives each wine its unique flavour. I don’t think I’d ever tried Austrian wine before but I loved the fact it was particularly dry and very drinkable.
You can book a tour and tasting at the winery but do be warned, they are incredibly generous and after trying 13 wines, we left feeling tipsy before midday! If you can, also visit a Heurigen, these rustic wine taverns are found on the outskirts of the city serving food and wine in a garden setting. The winery’s own Heuriger Wieninger comes highly recommended for the beautiful walnut grove setting and high quality traditional buffet.
8. Party at Loos American Bar
There’s something for everyone in terms of nightlife in Vienna but a place that came up time and time again in my research was Loos American bar, designed by influential Austrian architect Adolf Loos in 1908. Mirrored walls, black bars and talented barman make this teeny boxlike bar super slick. It’s a cool and buzzy bar but a word of warning smoking is allowed in there so it can feel rather musty especially with the close confines.
9. Trendy Dining at Fabios
Every city has one, a place that you can always rely on to be packed to the rafters, buzzing with people and serving fantastic food. In Vienna it’s Fabios. As we’d come to the city at the coldest time of year and mid-week, we found many of the restaurants to be very quiet but not here! With a super stylish leather and dark wood interior and a menu of delicious Italian food, Fabios is a celebrity favourite.
If you’re just looking for drinks, there’s a buzzing lounge bar at the restaurant too.
10. Buy food at the Naschmarkt
Vienna’s most famous market has been on the scene since the 16th century when farmers across the city sold their products here. Today Naschmarkt is a thriving international collection of 120 market stands selling fruit, veg and other produce.
Nowadays it’s also pretty trendy with DJs at the weekend and a flea market on Saturday. Even if you don’t buy anything, it’s fun to browse the colourful stands and do some people watching.
11. Visit Beautiful Wine Cellars
The wine tradition continues with the numerous beautiful cellars found throughout the city. Many offer guided tours and tastings and it was easy to choose where I wanted to visit. The wine cellar at the Palais Coburg hotel is renowned as the most beautiful in the city and was constructed from 16th Century historical ruins.
There are six different rooms in the cellar, all unique and very atmospheric. The collection of 60,000 bottles are some of the most precious and rare in the world and it was a privilege to try six of their wines.
Pictured is the hotel’s rare wine cellar which were adapted from the vaults belonging to the Saxe Coburg and Gotha families.
12. Enjoy Sacher-Torte at Hotel Sacher
Perhaps one of the most famous cakes in the world, real Sacher-Torte can only be enjoyed at the five-star Hotel Sacher in Vienna. The recipe for the cake has been a closely guarded secret since 1932 but it is a chocolate cake, coated by hand with apricot jam and best enjoyed with unsweetened whipped cream. It can be eaten in the hotel’s traditional coffee-house, Café Sacher Wien or as we did in the luxurious blue brocade surrounds of the hotel’s Blaue Bar.
13. Fine Dining in the City
Though you may be coming to Vienna for coffee, cake and Wiener Schnitzel there are also many Michelin-starred restaurants in the city boasting a refined menu and making the most out of Austria’s fantastic produce. My top choice is two-Michelin starred Steirereck, a temple of gastronomy serving modern Austrian food. It’s well known to be the best restaurant in Austria and one of the best in the world. Silvio Nickol at Palais Coburg is another two star restaurant in town and serves French food with some Austrian influences.
My other Michelin starred suggestion is Konstantin Filippou an elegant restaurant serving food influenced by the chef’s Greek and Austrian origins.
14. Dine all day in luxury at Café Imperial Wien
You can dine like an Emperor all day at Cafe Imperial at Hotel Imperial Vienna. The day starts was a luxurious buffet accompanied Champagne Laurent-Perrier…
Before moving seamlessly into a lunch of fine Austrian food…
But of course, leaving space for coffee and cake. Choose from the finest pastries from the in-house Chef-Patissière but don’t leave without trying the world-famous Imperial Torte.
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Those are my luxurious things to do in Vienna for food lovers. Have you been to Vienna? What did you eat there?