Ever since I arrived in Vienna for the first time on a last minute bus ride from Budapest back in 2011, I’ve been coming back. Why you might ask? There’s the history, world class museums, and beautiful ambiance of course, but it’s also for the food.
Vienna has all of the Austrian classics you expect and plenty you won’t. So whether your Viennese muse is The Third Man or Before Sunrise (both come highly recommended prior to a trip) you absolutely shouldn’t forget to try traditional Viennese fare. So before you finish your long city tour and realize you haven’t got a clue where you can fill up, check out these 7 top affordable restaurants in Vienna.
1. Schnitzelwirt: it’s all there in the name
When your bus pulls into Vienna, there’s a good chance you have museums, tours, of coffee houses on your mind. But it’s only a matter of time before your wandering thoughts turn to the real star of the city: crispy fried pork cutlets with just a squeeze of lemon.
Whether you’ve a few beers in or just want to discover the local cuisine, a good schnitzel is a must. Schnitzelwirt is a cheap little Viennese eatery with generous portions and that uniquely cosy Austrian style. Are the lederhosen bar stools a bit much? If you think so, have the staff pour you a beer, cut into a fresh schnitzel, and you’ll be in the right mood in no time.
2. Vienna Sausage: it’s a classic for a reason
If you grew up in the US like I did, you’ve heard about (and eaten) plenty of Vienna Sausages. These tubes of pork and beef are slowly smoked before being grilled to perfection. If people half a world away associate Vienna with these classic sausages, you just know they’re going to be great.
That said, the Vienna Sausage restaurant has everything from the local classic to New York and Texas inspired variants (and a super spicy one for the daring among you). But the Viennese version has everything you need: mustard, horseradish, and onions. Not ideal for a date night, but you have plenty of more romantic options elsewhere.
3. Gasthaus Elsner: for your goulash cravings
If you’re eager to discover what all the fuss is about when it comes to the classic Vienna Gasthaus, this is the place to learn. It’s got schnitzel, goulash, sauerkraut, potato salad, everything you’d expect (and at affordable prices to boot!) There aren’t many spots in Vienna where 4 friends can enjoy a full meal for around 50 euros, but Gasthaus Elsner provides just that.
It’s no wonder this cozy spot is highly rated by locals and tourists alike. Personally, I think the Roast pork with dumplings is the must-try menu item, but I tend to feel that way about all dumplings.
4. Swing Kitchen: something a little different
We can debate whether you can get tired of Schnitzel, goulash, dumplings, and sauerkraut all day but sometimes you just need to discover something different. Affordable and delicious vegan burgers might just hit the spot. Swing kitchen was started by an Austrian couple who wanted to bring the cuisine of their home country to the world in a vegan friendly way. After their successful pub restaurant they turned their skills and attention to that holy grail of world cuisine: the burger.
The results are delicious and surprising. For anyone who thinks vegan food can’t be exciting and deeply satisfying, Swing Kitchen is a must-try.
5. Cafe Benedikt: Breakfast, coffee, lunch, & more
Every traveler knows that a good breakfast goes a long way towards a successful day touring a city. That said, hotels and hostels are often pretty disappointing in this regard. Fortunately, Cafe Benedikt has a classic Viennese breakfast and much more. You can sample classic breakfast combinations from Austrian regions from Styria to Corinthia on top of classic English and French variations.
Of course Benedikt also has a lunch menu in case you get a later start. Whenever you’re there though, you can find all the traditional coffeehouse fare you expect served on marble tables amidst dark wood paneling that creates a perfect Vienna vibe.
6. Nguyen’s Pho House: Vietnam in Vienna
You may not know it from hearing about Vienna in popular culture, but the city has a long multicultural history both as the seat of empire and as a global city today. The city’s small but vibrant Vietnamese community has created several delicious restaurants where you can sample a little piece of Vietnam in Vienna.
Don’t miss this chance to try something that contrasts nicely with most of the other food you’ll discover in Vienna. Also don’t forget to try their excellent and very affordable set lunch menu.
7. Tofu & Chili: great chinese at great prices
Locals and Chinese visitors alike praise Tofu & Chili for its authentic dishes with a flair for mouth-tingling spiciness. Hearty portions of classics like crispy duck alongside vegan options like cucumber salad are sure to please a variety of hungry travellers. They also have a takeaway “lunch box” available if you have a bus or tour to catch. That means you can get a soup, main, salad, and small desert for just 5 Euros, hardly a deal you can beat.
Just be ready to stand in line to fulfill your cravings, this is an unsurprisingly popular spot!
Hungry already? Get yourself to Vienna by bus!
With the city nestled in the heart of Europe, chances are you’re not too far from its shining neo-Gothic spires and packed museums. Whether you’ve never been before or consider it a second home as I do, there’s no bad time to enjoy all that Vienna has to offer. So, book yourself a bus to Vienna today and start discovering.