Vienna: Eat like the Viennese

Posted on April 26, 2006



by florian brody

Everyone knows Vienna for its cuisine – the meat and the warm deserts (Mehlspeisen) – the eclectic mixture of Eastern and West European dishes emerging from the days when Vienna was the capital of the biggest country in the World and now just that little bit more geared to what we consider healthy these days – i.e. even someone from California is willing to consider it.

Countless are the possibilities from the tourist trap to the corner Beisl in a part of Vienna you may never end up unless you truly search for the “original”, to the well designed, expensive and well designed and/or insider place. Only you don’t have time to try every single one – what to do?

Recently I was confronted with a similar quandary. I live in the San Francisco Bay Are and only have a few evenings with friends every time I go home to Vienna and – unbelievably, my Stammbeisl, my favorite restaurant of 20 years recently closed. I leave the name out – you cannot go there anyway. They have been at the same place since 1906 – and suddenly they close – friends sent pictures from the last evening. Oh Well.

Now comes the interesting part – I discovered a great place I want to share with you as it may well become the place you go to every evening of your stay in Vienna – why bother switching when the restaurant adapts to your needs. From a simple Wirtshaus dinner at a very reasonable price (say gebackene Leber (breadcrumed liver) with a beer) to an extensive five-course dinner with a selection of wines, Schnaps, Grappa and a Cuban cigar (legal in Austria), the Restaurant Stadtwirt can serve whatever you desire. You want to play “wine degustation” there is an elegant wine bar – you prefer 1/8 Mailberger (local wine from Vienna – most likely considered to dry for many a taste) standing near the entrance – you will be helped.

The secret lies with the owners, Mr. & Mrs. Lang, who run the restaurant themselves and after it is clear that for tonight there will be absolutely no table for you, someone will come five minutes later while you contemplate what to do with the rest of your life to tell you there is a table after all. The Stadtwirt has a Web site, but their expertise is in running a restaurant not a Web site so don’t judge after what you see online but head for the real thing and spend an evening – or several there. Check out the inside panorama (by day).

For timing purposes – if you are used to US-style dining where you plan what you do after dinner and where the check arrives after 45 minutes with a friendly invitation to leave and after 90 minutes a much less friendly invitation to finally give up the table as now that you have eaten your share you become an economic burden to the proprietor who plans how often he can sell a table per evening – forget everything you know.

But then it is not like in France either where you eat for three hours and then need to be carried away on a stretcher. You come, you have your friends joining you, you eat, you sit, you talk, you drink. Like at home. And all this close to the big hotels, the center of town and the next subway station. After two or three hours you may get hungry again and your order the desert – or another desert – without any guilt. Any questions? When you go, tell them I sent you. And next time you are in Vienna, you don’t have to tell them as they will remember you.


Stadtwirt – Lang & Lang, Untere Viaduktgasse 45, 1030 Wien
Phone +43 1 713 38 28 (call for reservations)
Open: Monday-Friday 10 AM – Midnight (Kitchen until 11 PM)