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10 Unmissable Vienna Cafes & Restaurants

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Viennese cuisine is known around the world for rich and indulgent dishes such as Apfelstrudel, Wiener Schnitzel and Sachertorte, marking out Vienna as one of the world's great food destinations. Here is a look at 10 Unmissable Vienna Cafes and Restaurants for the true bon vivant.


Braunerhof cafe

Vienna's cafes have attracted literary types for hundreds of years, and one of the most famous of these bookish haunts is probably the Braunerhof. The favourite coffeehouse of Austrian polemicist Thomas Bernhard, the cafe is a great place to spend a few hours perusing the wide selection of free newspapers available while enjoying a cup of espresso. As an added bonus, white-clad waiters offer free refills on glasses of water, and customers can stick around for as long as they want.

Cafe Sacher

On the grounds of the estimable five-star Hotel Sacher, this opulent and refined cafe is where Vienna's favourite dessert, the Sacher-Torte, was first invented. This rich, but surprisingly dry, chocolate cake dates back to 1876 and is sweetened with apricot jam. Order a slice served with a generous dollop of whipped cream and complete your afternoon treat with a cup of freshly roasted coffee. Just don't ask for the cakes's recipe; it's a long held family secret!


Cafe Central

Vienna's coffeehouses are the stuff of legend, and one of the most influential cafes in the 19th and 20th centuries was Cafe Central. Located in the First District, some of the notable personalities to patronise the cafe include Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Adolf Loos, Sigmund Freud and Peter Altenberg. The cafe was also a hotbed of political fervour, with revolutionaries and thinkers such as Vladimir Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Josip Tito and Adolf Hitler dining here, often at the same time as one another. Today the Cafe retains an allure of this golden age, and Vienna's budding writers are still to be found scribbling away in their notebooks or nursing a cup of dark coffee waiting for the muse to arrive.


Demel

The city is awash with cafes and patisseries serving sweet goods like Palatschinken crepes or Buchteln apricot buns, but the most respected has always been Demel. For decades this viennoiserie was the confectioner to the Imperial court, and visitors can still get their hands on sweet goods such as violet sorbet or carnival doughnuts, favourites of the Emperor Franz Joseph I. Sweet tooths should make sure to pick up a delectable gugelhupf, cream filled horns of rich, sugary pastry.


Griechenbeisl

This historic tavern has had many names down the years, but the current appellation comes from the Greek merchants who used to live in this part of town in the 17th century. The tavern is reputedly Vienna's oldest, tracing a linear history back to 1447, and has served customers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner and Brahms down the ages. Stop in for a hearty meal of Wildschweinterrine, a comforting dish of rabbit and wild boar served with pumpkin and marinated red cabbage.


Zum Schwarzen Kameel

A Vienna institution since 1618, the Black Camel was Beethoven's favourite hang-out, and where, for eight years, he nightly consumed his regular order of two and half litres of Austrian white wine. Today there is an exquisite, but expensive delicatessen selling everything from caviar to lobster and a sandwich shop serving delicious open-faced delights in addition to the restaurant. Order herring and potato soup on a cold winter's day to warm your cockles, or just pop in and pick up a ham sandwich topped with freshly grated horseradish.


Kardos

Vienna was once the capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire, so it makes sense that this city also hosts a number of wonderful Hungarian restaurants. Perhaps the best of these Magyar eateries is Kardos, where hearty goulash spiked with liberal amounts of paprika, and freshwater fish soup, a dish originating from the shores of Lake Balaton, are long standing favourites.


Altwienerhof

To truly dine out in style, try the Altwienerhof, a short distance from the Schonburnn Palace. This sophisticated dining room dates from the 1870s, but benefits from a recent makeover, and specialises in only the finest nouvelle cuisine with seasonal Austrian ingredients. Ask about the restaurant's very own wine cellar; with over 18,000 bottles of plonk stored on site, there's bound to be something that pairs well with your food.


Walter Bauer

Some visitors can find the heavy sauces and rich meats of Viennese cuisine a little too decadent at times, so for a lighter, inventive take on Austrian classics head to Walter Bauer on the Sonnenfelsgasse. An intimate space without the airs and graces of its more storied counterparts, this friendly restaurant is noted for signature dishes including hummerkrautfleisch, or lobster with cabbage, as well as pigeon saltimbocca.


Plachutta

Fine dining in Vienna doesn't get much better than at Plachutta, where chefs keep an eye on tradition. Meat dishes like Wiener Schnitzel, Kruspelspitz and Lueger Topf will delight carnivores, but the lead attraction here is the famed Tafelsplitz, boiled tri-tip beef with apple-sauce and horseradish cream. Celebs such as Placido Domingo and Woody Allen, Better Midler and Wim Wenders, have dined here, and all agree that this is one of Vienna's finest traditional restaurants.

 

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