Food / Travel

Vienna: Food Around Town

Austria may be known for schnitzel and its famous cafés but I did not eat nor visit them, respectively. With only two days in Vienna, I was more interested in seeing as many things as possible in under 48 hours. There were a few places to visit on my to-do list and the rest of the time we ended up wandering around the city center.

Here’s a look at my non-traditional meals:

Lunch at Das Heinz

I was on one of the morning flights and it was fortunate that some of the hotel rooms were already available and we could check in. After dropping off our luggage, we took a brief break in the room and plotted our itinerary for the day. It would be lunchtime by the time we headed toward the city center so our main goal was to find somewhere to eat. In my very brief research beforehand, I did find one restaurant that looked interesting and had good reviews but when we got there, we found it was closed. There was a note taped to the door but it was in German so I assumed it was about renovations or some sort of maintenance issue.

So we turned to the handy dandy tablet and scrolled through some online listings (I think it was from TripAdvisor). Where we ended up was Das Heinz. The menu near the door looked promising but the only problem was that the sign said “Closed” though it was already past opening hours. Apparently, they forgot to flip the sign when they opened and when we went in, there were already a few non-empty tables. (The nice lady who served us flipped the sign over after we mentioned it to her.) Anyway, onto the food. M ordered a more traditional dish, the “roasted dumplings” which looked nothing like the dumplings we have here and I ended up choosing one of the daily specials, penne with chorizo and paprika sauce. Both came with a choice of soup or salad and we opted for the latter. I also wanted a hot drink so to no one’s surprise, I ordered a pot of Earl Grey.

Sausage Stand

We passed this sausage stand after lunch. I think it would’ve been tempting to grab food here but it’s hard to want to eat outside in the middle of December. I also wasn’t in the mood for meat right after getting off a plane. But there were plenty of other chances for hot dogs or wursts:

Sausage Stall at a Christmas Market

Dinner that night was provided as part of our tour. We went to Stadt Park Bräu where there was a small menu of items we could choose from for our group meal. I went for the fish dish: grilled pike perch, with parsley potatoes, vegetables and herb butter. There was a soup or salad starter that the waiter forgot to bring me but given how many plates of salad were unfinished, that might not have been a bad thing (the soup was pumpkin, which I’m not a fan of in general). The fish was pretty good (the other options were beef or a vegetable dish) and I ate most of it.

Grilled fish with potatoes and vegetables

And when it came time for dessert, the famed Austrian dish won hands down:

Apple Strudel with Whipped Cream

The following day’s meals were less exciting, though lunch was more tasty than dinner.

Paella from Nordsee

In Spain, I had paella in a hotel. In Vienna, I had it at a fast-food seafood chain called Nordsee. And for the record, it was damn tasty, possibly even more so than the slightly more authentic version in Valencia. Quick and cheap, it made for a very satisfying meal. I was tempted by the fish and chips at the takeout side window but I’m easily drawn in by paella since I never have enough of it normally.

Bulgogi Beef Bento

Dinner was far more mundane. Our hotel was conveniently located near a shopping mall (with free WiFi) so we ended up grocery shopping and downloading email and apps (hello travel apps and Google Translate). Since neither of us really knew what we wanted for dinner, I was all for eating at this tiny Asian shop called Rakki Delicious next to the supermarket. It was quick and cheap (under 10 Euros!) and while I wanted more veggies than was in my bento box, it did help sate my fruit and veggie cravings just a bit. And this being Europe, I wasn’t expecting it to taste the same as it would back home so lower expectations definitely helped.

And here’s a parting shot of more traditional Viennese fare:

Demel

Ah Demel. I miss your old shop back at the Plaza Food Hall and wish you’d reopen again. This original shop is a lot smaller than I expected though it offers quite a selection of cakes. Alas, none of them really appealed to me; the strawberry shortcake was my favorite but unfortunately for me, it wasn’t the season for it!