The 15 Best Schnitzel & Traditional Restaurants In Vienna

Viennese love their local food and, in turn, there are many traditional restaurants called Gasthaus or Beisl (a Beisl used to denote low-priced eateries but today there’s little difference between the two). Viennese food is a collection of borrowings from territories once under the Habsburg crown: knödels (dumplings) from the Czech parts; goulash from Hungary; even the schnitzel – to which every Viennese restaurant claims primacy – harks back to northern Italy. But no reason to judge what’s most logical!

Almost all restaurants serve some kind of offal dishes too – bone marrow (knochenmark), roasted veal kidney (geröstete kalbsleber), sour lungs (salonbeuschel), blood sausage (blunzen). This is typical everyday Austrian fare and you’ll not regret trying them. And of course a proper Viennese meal ends with shredded (kaiserschmarrn) or flat pancakes (palatschinken) generously sprinkled with fruit preserves.

Except for a few pricey establishments such as Plachutta, price points tend to be very similar across the below restaurants, with €15-22 mains and low-priced local wines and beers.

#1 Gasthaus Pöschl

It’s a challenge to find true-to-Vienna traditional Austrian restaurants in the tourist-saturated city center (District 1), which makes the existence of Gasthaus Pöschl, hidden just blocks from Kärntner Straße, all the more precious. Yes, some tourists also stumble in here, but you’ll notice the lively banter between the kind waitstaff and the longtime regulars (“Christian Gihl, from 6 p.m.” shows a small brass plate bolted onto the bar counter).

#2 Gasthaus Buchecker & Sohn

Gasthaus Buchecker & Sohn is a traditional Viennese neighborhood restaurant, the kind where you won't find an open table most days. The family establishment is located in the old-money, upper-middle-class part of Vienna, behind the Karlskirche in District 4.

#3 Gastwirtschaft Heidenkummer

Gastwirtschaft Heidenkummer masks itself as a neighborhood restaurant, but it’s well-worth a visit from downtown. This being Vienna’s well-off District 8 means a bourgeoisie air pervades the rusticly furnished premises, but not in a pretentious way. Waiters know most customers by name and treat newcomers with friendly deference. The walls are crowded with artworks, most of them modern but there’s a curious concentration of paintings and busts depicting Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph. Positively quirky.

#4 Plachutta (Wollzeile)

Plachutta, the Viennese high temple of boiled beef, hardly needs introduction. Enter this oversized downtown restaurant any time of day, and you'll find elegant local Viennese of all ages (and tourists, too) sitting around tables set with white linen. 13 cuts are available, as are helpful charts of a cow showing where each comes from. Most famous is Tafelspitz, once the favorite of Habsburg Emperor Franz Joseph, from the upper part of the rear leg of a young ox (also known as top round).

#5 Gasthaus Wolf

Don’t be deceived by the strangly puritan furnishings – a taxidermied cow’s head here, a Virgin Mary painting there – Gasthaus Wolf is a popular neighborhood restaurant in Vienna’s elegant inner-District 4. The dishes, which are meat-heavy, are consistently excellent. Spreadable pork fat with rye; roasted discs of blood sausage (blunzenradl) with bean salad; beef tartare; three kinds of schnitzels; knödels; slow-cooked duck layered with braised red cabbage. The wine list is local and well curated, featuring top producers such as Weninger and Uwe Schiefer. Mains are €17-23.

#6 Winklers Zum Posthorn

Zum Posthorn is a charming neighborhood restaurant not too far from Vienna's city center in District 3, run by the Winkler family (it's nice to see that Winkler junior, in his late twenties, is also involved). Some of the weathered furnishings go back to 1870, but my favorite design piece is the giant wooden cupboard behind the bar where they store wine and beer. At all times, especially in the evenings, the small tables are filled to the brim by local regulars that may include the Austrian President, Alexander Van der Bellen, so be sure to book in advance (by phone).

#7 Gastwirtschaft Steman

Located a bit away from the city center near Mariahilfer Straße in District 6, Steman is a classic beisl – local Austrian eatery – that looks and feels the part, too: wooden bar counter, unadorned white walls, creaking floors, increasing noise levels as the night progresses. Most Austrian classics are available and taste pretty good.

#8 Kolonitz Beisl

Looking for a wallet-friendly Viennese family restaurant where tourists rarely set foot? You won’t even need to walk far from the city center for Kolonitz Beisl, a deeply local eating and drinking joint in District 3, near the charming Radetzkyplatz. The inside is cozy and unfussy, fitted with a weathered bar counter, rustic wooden furnishings, and old beer advertisements.

#9 Gastwirtschaft Blauensteiner

Gastwirtschaft Blauensteiner is a longstanding neighborhood restaurant in Vienna's District 8, where the historic Josefstädter Straße sets off (across from it, Cafe Eiles, is a comparably legendary establishment). As soon as you enter, you'll note the creaky wooden floors and the well-earned patina in both of the high-ceilinged halls. Most of the heavy wooden tables are taken up by regulars, judging by their rapport with the otherwise not especially accommodating waiter.

#10 Gasthaus Rebhuhn

Rebhuhn is a tried-and-tested traditional restaurant near the city center in District 9. Both Viennese families and tourists come here for uncomplicated but reliable local Austrian fare – potato soup, fried chicken salad, schnitzel, goulash, roasted pork belly, apple strudel, you name it. Not all the mains, which are priced €10-17, are going to blow your mind, but Rebhuhn is an authentic portal into everyday Austrian dining. Beers and low-priced wines are available. Service is kind and efficient. Advance booking, by phone, is an absolute must.

#11 Gasthaus Grünauer

Opened in 1957, Grünauer is a small, traditional restaurant in Vienna. Lively tables occupied by locals and an informal atmosphere await those who're willing to venture from the city center to this elegant District 7 side street where family members make and serve the food. Despite, or because of, the rustic-puritan decor and the handwritten menu, the dishes are very good – deeply local fare heavy on offal plates.

#12 Zu Den 3 Hacken

Besides Gasthaus Pöschl, Zu Den 3 Hacken is your best bet for a traditional Austrian meal in Vienna if you don't wish to leave the city center (District 1). Elegant local Viennese and tourists share the rustic interior fitted with wooden panels and benches of this historic building that has been a guest house since the 17th century. Besides the usual Austrian standouts, adventurous eaters can pick offal-dishes: bone marrow with toast, roasted veal liver, sweetbread with potato salad. Not everything is a hit, but most plates deliver, as do the local Austrian wines. Mains are priced €15-25. Advance booking is recommended (by phone).

#13 Figlmüller

Globally known as the temple of fine schnitzels, Vienna’s Figlmüller needs little introduction. Starting in 1905 with a humble city center wine tavern, the restaurant has since ballooned into an empire with six locations, hundreds of employees, and an annual turnover in excess of €30 million. Today, Figlmüller is a restaurant for tourists – a big and successful commercial enterprise. Most of my Viennese friends have never been, preferring smaller family restaurants with comparable food.

#14 Weinhaus Sittl

If you’re like me and get a kick out of weathered, run-down neighborhood institutions with a beating heart to them, then be sure to mark up your map with Weinhaus Sittl. The patrons span Viennese young adults, senior citizens, and everyone in between. What draws them here? The friendly price points, surely, but also the surprisingly tasty dishes: cold cuts, schnitzel, meatballs, and even the Kaiserschmarrn can hold its own. And the server-proprietor sisters: Leila and Anna.

#15 Gasthaus Automat Welt

The beguiling aromas of bubbly hot butter fill the low-lit inside of Automat Welt, a casual neighborhood restaurant on the less trodden, working-class side of Vienna's Leopoldstadt (District 2). The restaurant is known for its schnitzels, made from pork and fried in clarified butter. The vibes are informal: part of the space is reserved for darts players and there's a corner with books and board games (the Czech author, Bohumil Hrabal, inspired the restaurant's moniker).

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. To remain unbiased, I visit all places incognito and pay for my own meals and drinks. I also never accept money in exchange for coverage. But this means I must rely on readers to support my work. If you've enjoyed this article, please consider making a one-time payment (PayPal) or becoming an Offbeat Patron.