We, at WheelsOnOurFeet, have long maintained — Local food is as important a part of travel as is sight-seeing. Food, after all, is an important part of local culture giving insights into a place’s history and lifestyle. And for serious foodies like us, local food of any place is serious business!! Haha…
Like other countries, Austrian food, too, is a snapshot of its history and has been greatly influenced by the region, and not only the country. The Austro-Hungarian empire was once very strong and not surprisingly, the food has an influence in all the countries that it ruled over. It’s a meat lover’s paradise, quite bluntly, and like Germany, a huge love for everything potatoes!
Here are a few things you shouldn’t miss, look out for, and ask more of….
Wiener Schnitzel: We start with the most popular, the famous Wiener Schnitzel, the national dish of Austria. Meat, boneless and pounded, deep fried in a batter and served with salad and potatoes – fried / wedges / mash depending on your choice and, most often, the restaurant’s. It is available in Veal (the best and traditional), Pork (popular and most common) and Chicken (completely avoidable). And listen – NEVER NEVER have it with noodles even though Julie Andrews sang “Schnitzel with noodles’ in Sound of Music! Sacrilegious! Austrians get animated when you mention the song…..
Next in line are the multitude of beef dishes that I found way tastier and traditional. A few examples and must haves:
Viennese Boiled Beef in Pot served with chive sauce, apple horseradish and browned potatoes. It is great at Figlmueller in Vienna (Read: Must-eat at Figmueller in Vienna, Austria) and one of the best we had in our trip. The broth was amazing and the beef melted in the mouth. Perfectly complimented with the salad and potatoes. Known also as Tafelspitz.
Gulasch / Goulash: Actually from Hungary, but very common in Austria, this is served with delicious dumplings that soak in the sauce
Roast Pork with Cabbage: Another traditional dish that will keep your soul deeply satisfied is the Roast Port – absolutely amazing when served with red cabbage. The cabbages are soaked in apple vinegar and are seasoned with cumin seeds. I, a huge cabbage-hater, was a convert! The pork, served with dumplings, make it a perfect meal.
In Tyrol, eat like the Tyroleans. A must have is Tiroler Gröstl – a hearty meal that is more than enough for one. We were lucky to have it at Gasthof Weisses Rossl, a 600 yr old restaurant. It’s one of the best you can possibly have there. Pork, Onions and Potatoes – all sautéed in butter and served with a fried egg on top. A salad compliments the dish perfectly – not to mention a beer. A favourite of skiers and sportsmen visiting the region
In Hallstatt or the Salzkammergut Region, you must try out the local fish, especially the grilled trout. Served with salad and potatoes, it’s a must have – delicate and tasty.
Fillet Pork in Mushroom Sauce or plain with potatoes is also favourite with locals.
Snacks: It’s a lot of sausages and breads … burgers included. The local Sausage in the markets is highly recommended. Have it on the go!
Desserts: Where do we start?! We had more than what we ever thought we would and were craving for more.
Sacher-Torte: Since 1832, the most famous of them all – to be had at the original Sacher Hotel in Vienna. It’s a chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam, chocolate icing on top, served with unsweetened whipped cream. It’s a classic and frankly over-hyped. We found it very average and nothing that deserved a walk all the way to the hotel. The experience however made it up
Strudel: Its amazing and served warm with cream and make anyone fall to their knees. One of our favourites in Austria
Kaiserschmarrn, a shredded form of pancakes, served with a fruit compote usually plum. It’s delicious and a must have
Salzburger Nockerl: This one is traditional, very popular but an acquired taste. The serving is huge and it takes some 25 mins to get ready … served with Cranberry sauce / compote – its whipped egg, kind of lighter than soufflé. One can easily have it for mains – trust us. Somehow the smell of raw egg is lingering and pushed us off. With the compote, it’s really tasty. One must try – but be warned
Pastries … of all shape and size! Just pick them up, you cannot go wrong … One of our favourites – the Marillenkuchen (an upside-down fresh apricot pastry served with cream and chocolate ice-cream)
Coffee – oh, you need to just sit by one of the roadside cafés and do what most locals do … relax and see the world pass by. In Vienna it’s special – with chocolate and liquor. A must have
Hot Chocolate is also not bad – as you can see!!
P.S: For a complete Austria itinerary and tour details, read — A Perfect Summer Holiday in Austria