Vienna has a varied nightlife scene that includes laid-back pubs, noisy beer halls, hip discotheques, classy wine bars, and stylish cafes. Yes, high brow entertainment, from opera to chamber music, are part of the scene, but so are raucous nightspots and laid-back-but-noisy drinking venues. In short, Vienna’s after-dark scene is much more diverse than most people expect. The same goes for the city’s restaurants. Classic Austrian foods are definitely the headliners of the eating scene, but this international city has a variety of eateries that serve some of the world’s most popular cuisines.
Here are the most important highlights of Vienna’s eating and drinking options.
Vienna is a city of cafes. It does not quite match the cafe lifestyle available to visitors in Paris or Rome, but the city’s coffee houses definitely play a central role in the social scene. Coffee lovers will be in paradise here, with a variety of specialty drinks, many of them espresso based. Viennese coffee is strong, so many visitors find that drinks that add milk (or chocolate) are more pleasant than straight espresso and coffee. Coffee shops are found all over Vienna, with especially interesting venues sitting in the back alleys of the Innere Stadt (the historic center of Vienna). Chains like Oberlaa, a popular Viennese brand, offer scrumptious baked goods in addition to their caffeinated drinks.
Tart-but-sweet Austrian wines (mostly the white varieties) are served at wine bars around the city. “New wine” (partially fermented wine direct from the vineyard – with the alcohol content of beer) is served at some places around the city and offers a unique flavor experience. Wine bars in suburban Vienna are not snooty affairs, but have the same atmosphere as a beer garden…the only difference is that wine is the drink of choice. These are great places to sit back and enjoy relaxing with Austrian locals. A chain called Wein and Company has locations all around the city. These are basically liquor stores with wine bars in the back.
Pubs and Clubs
A variety of pubs are found in Vienna. Places like Flex, a hip bar in Innere Stadt, serve the young, artsy crowd while huge beer gardens like Schweizerhaus draw drinkers with large mugs of quality brew served in a very casual, welcoming setting. Another good option for a typical Viennese beer garden experience is Siebensternbräu, a venue that makes its own microbrews, which are served along with other high-quality options. Austria’s largest and most popular club is the Prater Dome, a cavernous venue that caters to the young, middle class residents of the city. It offers the typical club experience, but there are plenty of other places that offer a more-interesting way to spend an evening in Vienna.
Eating on the street in Vienna is the best way to save money. Small snack bars across the city serve up a variety of sausages, which are Vienna’s fast food of choice. Popular options include the Viennese version of the hot dog, called wiener würstel. Middle Eastern food such as curries and kebabs are available as well. Other snack options include bread and pastries, which are served at snack bars and cafes around the city.
Vienna has some very unique fusion restaurants. One example of this type of eatery is Pancho, a restaurant that serves Austrian/Mexican dishes to go along with its large cocktail menu. The aptly-named WOK, meanwhile, has a variety of Asian dishes, from Thai and Indonesian to Chinese and Korean. If you are looking for local classics, Figlmüller should be one of your top options. It has what is considered by many to be the city’s best wiener schnitzel. The restaurant with the best views in the city is located at the top of the Danube Tower. The uncreative named Danube Tower Restartable is a rotating room that offers great views of Vienna’s historic skyline while serving a variety of popular Austrian and international dishes.
Vienna is a great city for fine dining. It has a variety of world-class, chef-driver restaurants. One such place is Artner I. This venue is part of one of the city’s most famous wineries. The chefs have created a menu that is much lighter than traditional Austrian cuisine, so people who have had their fill of wiener schnitzel and want something fresh, light and creative, this is a good choice. Another creative and atmosphere-rich venue is Brezl-Gwölb, an upscale restaurant located above a centuries-old wine cellar.