7 Ultimately Austrian Foods to Taste in Vienna

7 Ultimately Austrian Foods to Taste in Vienna

Once the center of the vast Hapsburg Empire, stretched from France in the West to Russia in the East, Austria has embraced many ethnic influences in its cuisine over the course of centuries. Many of the country's distinctive dishes reflect its multinational heritage. Coffee culture, for example, the inseparable part of the Viennese tradition, was introduced by the Turkish army invading Europe, simultaneously bringing along coffee beans to Vienna for the first time. Similarly, the Wiener Schnitzel originated in Italy, while the much praised Wiener Würstel (Viennese sausage) was originally German. These and other staple delights of the Austrian cuisine are presented in this article.
(To visit the venues mentioned in this article, check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Vienna)

1. Wiener Schnitzel

Wiener Schnitzel
Image Courtesy of: Jennifer Woodard Maderazo
One of the definite must-try foods in Vienna is the traditional Wiener Schnitzel, a thin cut of meat – originally veal – coated in breadcrumbs and fried. The origins of this dish are still very much debated. Some say it was brought over from Milan, Italy, whilst the others claim that Schnitzel originated in the 18th century among the Viennese bourgeoisie. One way or another, the Wiener Schnitzel has become an important element of the Austrian cuisine and even Austrian culture as a whole. For example, the Austrian law prescribes that all Wiener Schnitzels be made of veal, and that if pork is used instead, it should be named as 'Wiener Schnitzel vom Schwein'. Most usually it is served with a slice of lemon on the side.
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2. Apfelstrudel

Apfelstrudel
Image Courtesy of: Alex Morley
Vienna is known for its love for cafés, which are a big part of the local culture. An ideal stop at one would involve eating Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel) with tea or coffee. Apfelstrudel, together with Wiener Schnitzel and Tafelspitz, are considered the traditional dishes of Vienna. If you have a sweet tooth, then Apple Strudel is for you. Strudel pastry stuffed with apples, raisins, sugar and cinnamon, Apfelstrudel is the most common dessert for all the member-states of the former Austro-Hungarian empire. When served, it is best topped with vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream.
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3. Tafelspitz

Tafelspitz
Image Courtesy of: Christian Kadluba
Tafelspitz is yet another distinctively Austrian dish, which is, in essence, boiled beef with vegetables and spices in broth. The name derives from the beef cut used for this dish, known as tri-tip. They say that Franz Joseph I, Emperor of Austria, really enjoyed Tafelspitz and that, reportedly, no meal of his would ever pass without a fine, boiled slice of beef. A traditional way of serving Tafelspitz is together with the broth, which is to be eaten first and the meat afterwards.
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4. Goulash

Goulash
Image Courtesy of: snapboot
The simplicity of goulash is what makes it truly attractive. Either a stew or soup - depends on how you serve it - its staple ingredients include meat (usually beef), paprika and other spices. A little bit of tomato sauce is added for colour and taste, as well as, sometimes, dumplings or noodles also added to the equation. The origins of goulash are traced back to Hungary, where 'gulyás' is the word for herdsman.

5. Sachertorte

Sachertorte
Image Courtesy of: vjamnicky
Undoubtedly one of the tastiest Viennese desserts – Sachertorte - is a chocolate cake with a thin mid layer of apricot jam, usually served with whipped cream on top. The recipe was invented in Austria in 1832 by Franz Sacher for Klemens Wenzel von Metternich. Ever since, the original Sachertorte is said to be served only at Hotel Sacher, although, generally speaking, Sachertorte can be found all over Vienna in various cafés. They say that the recipe of the original Sachertorte is a heavily guarded secret. The fact that the 5th of December is celebrated as the National Day of Sachertorte vividly illustrates just how much this cake means for and is loved by the country!

6. Kaiserschmarrn

Kaiserschmarrn
Image Courtesy of: Oliver Hallmann
If you haven't noticed, the Viennese are huge fans of desserts! And speaking of desserts, the second most loved by them is called Kaiserschmarrn, also known as the emperor's pancake due to the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph's passionate liking of it. When making the pancake, pieces of apple or other ingredients, like raisins or nuts, are added. Whilst fried, the pancake is shredded into pieces. The ready pieces of pancake are then dusted with sugar powder and served fruit or jam. Very, very tasty!!!

7. Viennese Sausage (Wiener Würstel)

Viennese Sausage (Wiener Würstel)
Image Courtesy of: Christian Kadluba
What could be more typical a street food in Vienna than the Viennese sausages, called 'würstels'? They are sold all over the city from designated stands, known as 'Würstelstand'. Locals and tourists alike, no matter rain or shine, flock to these stands year round to grab a bite. The Viennese sausages, tasty as they are, and usually served with mustard and beer for extra impact. There are also a variety of meals incorporating sausages, such as käsekrainer, in which the sausage comes stuffed with cheese and served in a bun. Regardless of (or, perhaps, due to) its simplicity, this is the top eaten snack in Vienna!
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