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Vienna weekend break guide: the best places to eat, drink and stay

In Vienna’s cobbled backstreets and grand avenues you’ll find foraged fruit bourbons and cutting-edge Mediterranean food as well as traditional grüner veltliner and goulash.

Pick up a bag of freshly roasted Alt Wiener Gold coffee, at Alt Wien. An unassuming-looking coffee shop near the Naschmarkt, it does an expert line in fair-trade and organic blends.

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Dip into shelves of cookbooks and own-brand spices before sitting down to the daily lunch special (when we visited, Mediterranean lentil salad with aubergine and sheep’s cheese) at Babette’s. If you’ve got time, book in for one of the shop’s regular cookery classes for tips on everything from pastry-making to preparing the perfect curry.

Doing a brisk trade in fruit and veg since 1793, the Naschmarkt’s stalls brim with everything from glossy olives and Asian spices to Alpine cheeses and Austrian wines. Go for a morning stroll before a bumper breakfast of omelette-topped bagels and fresh-pressed juice at Naschmarkt Deli.

Stop by Henzls Ernte for deli goods made with fruit, herbs and spices grown or foraged by the owners. Their pepped-up sugars and salts and nettle and wild garlic pesto are especially worth seeking out.

Slip down a backstreet near St Stephen’s Cathedral to Michelin-starred Dom Beisl, where chef Harald Riedl boldly juggles Viennese and Mediterranean flavours in an open kitchen. Robustly flavoured dishes such as beef carpaccio with poached quail egg and rocket muffin and Alpine beef goulash with bread dumplings are delivered with flair in the barrel-vaulted restaurant.

The aroma of grilled sausages hits you like a crisp left hook at round-the-clock Bitzinger Würstelstand am Albertinaplatz. Join the opera-goers and late-night grazers and sink your teeth into a bosna bratwurst laced with onion, mustard, coriander and curry powder.

The next morning, stroll through the Stadtpark to Meirei, an all-white, new-age milk bar that elevates brunch to gourmet heights. Try show-stoppers such as beef tartare with toasted rye bread; sautéed porcini with poached egg and wild cress cream; or apricot dumplings with butter crumbs. Or go for lunch to dig into creamy goulash with leek roulade, followed by an outstanding Austrian cheese board.

Freud and Trotsky famously enjoyed the marble splendour of Café Central. Black-vested waiters have been serving a slice of old-world Viennese decadence to visitors in this palatial coffee house since 1876. Try  the linger over apple strudel, which flakes just so, and speciality coffees such as Maria Theresia, an orange liqueur-laced double espresso topped with whipped cream.

Venture deep below the Innere Stadt to 500-year-old Villon, Vienna’s oldest wine cellar. Raise a toast with citrussy grüner veltliner and ruby-red pinot noirs at the vaulted bar.

Trzesniewski has the open sandwich down to a fine art. Try toppings such as crab and egg, pickled herring and onions and wild paprika, all on a choice of different breads. A couple of bites and they’re gone, so order a few.

Say it with edible flowers at Blühendes Konfekt. Confectioner Michael Diewald forages for wild flowers, fruit and blossoms to create edible bouquets and bonbons. Try the quince with orange blossom.

Vienna seems toytown-tiny from glass-walled bar Le Bar & Lounge, on the 18th floor of the Sofitel. Pick out landmarks from the Hofburg Palace to the Wiener Riesenrad ferris wheel over a pomegranate martini.

Wholesomely hip deli and record store Tongues should be on your radar for a quick organic lunch and electro on vinyl. There’s usually a winter-warmer soup on the simmer and daily specials, such as courgette and feta pasta.


For more information, visit wien.info/en


Words: Kerry Christiani

Trust olive Kerry Christiani is the co-author of Lonely Planet’s Vienna and Austria guides and has a passion for the region.

Photographs: Meirei, Sandra Raccanello /SIME/4Corners, Reinhard Schmid/4Corners, Helen Cathcart/Lonely Planet Traveller Magazine

FIRST PUBLISHED DECEMBER 2013


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