Austrian food may not be world famous, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. As a central European country, the local cuisine has been influenced by German, Czech, Hungarian and Italian culture. Austrian food, in general, is hearty, rich and heavy on the carbs and meat. But these days, lighter and vegan-friendly options are popping up everywhere.
I personally love Austrian food, it is the perfect power food after a long day of hiking in the mountains or just exploring the city. Here are a few things to try while you are there:
The number one Austrian food is schnitzel. The fried veal, pork or chicken cutlet was invented in Vienna (hence the name: Wiener Schnitzel). It’s crispy and juicy and traditionally served with potato salad and a side salad, although it is possible to get french fries instead. They are also popular as strips on top of a salad. The best schnitzels are served traditional Gasthäuser, Austrian style gastro-pubs.
For a mid-day or midnight snack, Austrians love a good sausage. They are sold as bar food as well as from street vendors. Every region has their own variety, so you try them all to see which you like the best. My absolute favourite indulgence is the käsekrainer, a sausage stuffed with melted cheese.
Lesser known, but so quintessentially Austrian are the knödel. A knödel is a dumpling, either made from bread or potato and usually filled with meat, cheese or vegetables. Knödel can be steamed, fried or baked. Try the kaspressknödelsuppe, a beef broth with crispy cheese dumplings. Knödel also come in a sweet version and the Germknödel with vanilla sauce will blow your mind!
4. Bread and cake
Austrians know how to bake and the smell wafting from bakeries will make your mouth water. I’m a big fan of the Austrian bread, a soft dark rye with a crispy crust, sometimes infused with cumin. You can get quality bread from bakeries as well as supermarkets and street vendors often sell Bretzels, the perfect handheld bread snack.
Lovers of cake will also be delighted in Austria, where a cake and coffee are a common afternoon indulgence.
The best drink to wash all that rich food down with is beer. Like Germany, Austria has a lot of local varieties of beer with dedicated city breweries as well as a lively craft beer culture. Austrian beer is best savoured by the pint, served in thick glass jugs.