The 10 Best Schnitzel & Traditional Restaurants In Vienna

Viennese love their local food and, in turn, they are well-served by 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: knödel from the Czech parts; goulash from Hungary; cheese and potato-filled ravioli (kasnudeln) from Slovenia. 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 quintessential 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) and a side of generously portioned 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 downtown (District 1), which makes the existence of Gasthaus Pöschl, hidden just blocks away 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 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 one comes from. Most famous is Tafelspitz, once the favorite of Emperor Franz Joseph, from the upper part of the rear leg of a young ox (also known as top round).

#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 that 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 Franz Joseph paintings and busts throughout. Positively quirky.

#4 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: unadorned white walls, simple wooden wall panels, increasing noise levels as the night progresses. Most Austrian classics are available and they taste pretty good.

#5 Gasthaus Wolf

Don’t be deceived by the unusual and 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 schnitzel, knödels, slow-cooked duck layered with braised red cabbage. The wine list is local and very well curated, featuring many top producers (Weninger, Uwe Schiefer). Mains are €17-23.

#6 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.

#7 Gasthaus Grünauer

Opened in 1957, Grünauer is a small, traditional restaurant in a District 7 side street, a bit away from Vienna's city center. There are only a few tables here and an informal atmosphere 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. Sour lungs, veal kidney, dumplings filled with pork cracklings (Grammelknödel). The extensive wine list covers all regions of Austria. Open weekdays only and advance booking, by phone, is a must.

#8 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. The mains, which are priced €10-17, aren’t all 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.

#9 Zu Den 3 Hacken

Besides Gasthaus Pöschl, Zu Den 3 Hacken is your best bet for a traditional Austrian meal in downtown (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).

To remain unbiased, I visit all places incognito and pay for my own meals and drinks. I never accept money in exchange for coverage. But this means I must rely on readers to support my work. If you're enjoying this article, please consider making a one-time payment (PayPal, Venmo) or becoming an Offbeat Patron.

#10 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 here are informal and cozy: 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.