Eating and drinking in Austria

Austrian food is hearty and traditional; often of good quality, it makes use of local and seasonal ingredients. For ready-made snacks, try a bakery (Bäckerei), confectioner’s (Konditorei), or local market. Fast food centres on the Würstelstand, which sells hot dogs, Bratwurst (grilled sausage), Käsekrainer (spicy sausage with cheese), Bosna (spicy, thin Balkan sausage) and Currywurst. In Kaffeehäuser or cafés and bars you can get light meals and snacks starting at about €7; daily specials (under €10) and lunchtime set menus (Tages- or Mittagsmenü) are usually good value. Pizza and burgers are cheaper than main dishes (Hauptspeisen; €10–18) such as schnitzel (tenderized veal or pork): Wienerschnitzel is fried in breadcrumbs, Jägerschnitzel is served with a sauce (usually mushroom or tomato). There is usually something available for vegetarians- often Käsespätzle, similar to macaroni cheese. Two seasonal ingredients worth trying in spring and early summer are Bärlauch (wild garlic), delicious in soups and pasta sauces, and Spargel (asparagus), typically the white variety and served with hollandaise.


For Austrians, daytime drinking traditionally centres on the Kaffeehaus, a relaxed place serving alcoholic and soft drinks, snacks and cakes, plus a wide range of coffees: a Schwarzer is small and black; a Brauner comes with a little milk; a Melange is half coffee, half milk; a Verlängerter is an espresso diluted with hot water; an Einspänner is a glass of black coffee topped with whipped cream (schlag). Coffee is pricey in a kaffeehaus (€3-5 a cup), though for this you can linger for hours. Most cafés also offer a tempting array of freshly baked cakes and pastries, as do Café-Konditorei (café-patisseries), where the cakes take centre stage.

Night-time drinking centres on bars and cafés, although traditional Bierstuben and Weinstuben are still thick on the ground. Austrian beers are good quality: most places serve the local brew on tap, either by the Krügerl (half-litre, €3.50-5), Seidel (third-litre, €2-4) or Pfiff (fifth-litre, €1-3). The local wine, drunk by the Viertel (25cl mug) or the Achterl (12.5cl glass), is often excellent. The Weinkeller is the place to go for this, or, in the wine-producing areas, a Heuriger or Buschenschank – a traditional tavern, usually serving cold food as well.

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