Austrian Insider Tips

Schweizerhaus

Open 7 days 15 March – 31 October 2013

Now that spring has finally arrived the doors to a famous Viennese institution have opened its doors again for a busy outdoor season. Situated in the heart of the Prater, a large public park comprising the horse racing club, soccer stadium, amusement park, green areas and walking tracks, is the Schweizerhaus.

Dating back to 1766 and trading under different names it has always been a location famous for good food and beer. Since 1868 it is known under the current name and nowadays it is synonymous for its legendary crispy pork hocks accompanied with freshly grated horseradish and radish, Budva beer imported in tank trucks from Bohemia twice a week and a great beer garden. When visiting Vienna do not miss this opportunity as you will experience true Viennese hospitality. The Schweizerhaus is easily accessible by public transport, please check the website for the “Wiener Linien”.

Gourmet Shopping & Dining in Vienna

As a foodie you are spoilt for choice in Vienna. If you want to combine you shopping trip with a visit to an acclaimed restaurant I have two options for you:

Meinl am Graben

Meinl am Graben is an institution among gourmets. Over three floors you will find the finest and biggest selection of cheese, breads, cakes and patisserie items, meat, fish, fresh produce, delicatessen, wine and spirits. With a focus on Austrian specialties and local producers like pumpkin seed oil from Styria, poppy seed pastries from the Waldviertel, finest fruit vinegars and oils from Vienna or chocolates from Tirol among delicacies from around the world, there is nothing that you won’t find.

On the second floor, the tired and hungry shopper can take a break and enjoy not only the fantastic view on to one of Vienna’s main shopping streets “Der Graben”, but indulge in excellent cuisine offered in classy and relaxing atmosphere.

If you are only after a glass of wine and a quick bite to eat visit the Wine Bar in the shop’s basement and you will not be disappointed by the choice of 30 wines by the glass and an endless selection of bottles from around the world highlighting an excellent range of Austrian wines.

Merkur Hoher Markt

Only 10 walking minutes away and next to one of Vienna’s tourist attractions the Anker Uhr (Anchor Clock), you will find the next gourmet shopping experience at the Merkur flagship store “Merkur Hoher Markt”.

Another foodie’s delight over three floors is offering a feast for your senses. Fresh produce, cakes, bread and patisserie, cheese, coffee & tea, meat, fish, delicatessen, wine, champagne and everything else you can think of and much more invites you to browse and shop.

One highlight is the restaurant on the second floor “Kim kocht”. Since 2001 Kim has been cooking in her own restaurant “Kim kocht”, successfully combining Asian and Austrian influences in delicate dishes. In 2010 Kim opened “Kim kocht Shop & Studio” at the Wiener Naschmarkt, Vienna’s biggest market. The latest enterprise is the restaurant at the Merkur Hoher Markt which has opened in late 2012. Since her original restaurant is always booked out well in advance this is a chance to enjoy Kim’s innovative cooking in a casual environment.

Tafelspitz

One of Vienna’s culinary specialties is Tafelspitz. The favourite meal of Emperor Franz Josef has since been refined and is as popular as ever. The best cuts of beef are slowly boiled with lots of vegetables and then served with roast potatoes, cream spinach, apple and horseradish, chive sauce and sometimes a piece of toasted rye bread topped with beef marrow. It is traditionally served in a flavour packed beef broth. My favourite restaurant is Plachutta where the art of Tafelspitz has been perfected. Try one of the 3 locations and bring a big appetite!

Naschmarkt

This is Vienna’s biggest market with origins dating back to 16th century. Visiting the market you get a feeling why Vienna is a melting pot of nations. You can buy fruit and vegetables from all over the world, bread and pastries, meat and sausages, fish, cheese, nuts and spices, oil and vinegar, sauerkraut and the list goes on and on! If you feel hungry just pop into one of the little market restaurants that have sprung up over the last years and start your day with a hearty breakfast and excellent coffee or a light lunch or finish your day with meeting friends over dinner. You are spoilt for choice. Just enjoy the great atmosphere, buzzing surroundings and multicultural environment which represents the quintessential Viennese soul.

The Viennese Heurige

Did you know that Vienna is the only capital city in the world which is also a wine region? This might explain why the Viennese people love their wine and there are so many little wine taverns or Heurigen as they are called. Some are very basic and only open ("ausg'steckt") for a few weeks every year and although you get a local drop there is no food on offer.

Others offer excellent food which can range from a selection of cold meat, cheese and salads to a substantial buffet. A lot of people have their local Heurigen and secret tips so it pays to ask around to find your own little gem. My favourite local Heuriger is Hengl Haselbrunner which is in the 19th district and very close to Grinzing. The food is excellent and do not forget to ask for the Topfenstrudel or Topfendumplings for dessert!

Hengl-Haselbrunner, Iglaseegasse 10, 1190 Wien

Vienna Christmas Markets

There is nothing better than getting into the Christmas spirit by visiting one of the many Christmas markets in Vienna. One of my favourite one is the Christmas Market “Am Spittelberg”. You will find art and crafts, entertainment for the kids such as cookie baking and a puppet theatre, plenty of food and hot drinks to warm you up. Try some berry punch and hot chestnuts.

Another favourite one is the Art and Craft Christmas market in the court yard of Schloss Schoenbrunn, the Emperor’s summer castle. Nothing beats the atmosphere on a cold winter’s afternoon than enjoying Gluehwein (mulled wine) in the shadow of the beautiful scenery.