We at Grassroots have a strong affinity for many things Austrian, the first and foremost being Riesling and Grüner. Austria produces some of the finest white wines in the world with a precision and vitality unique to their hills and valleys of loess and primary rock. BUT we’re not here to talk about Austrian wine (gasp), we’re here to talk about what to do/see/eat/drink in Vienna. Vienna is the hub of our wine buying trips to Austria with our importer Skurnik Wines, it’s where we begin and end our visits to the vineyards, and over the years we’ve formed some pretty solid opinions about what to do in this luxurious one-time capital of a vast empire.
So if you’ve got a few days in Vienna—before, during or after your trips to the vines in the Kamptal, Kremstal, Wachau, or Burgenland—here’s what’s not to miss:
Zum Schwarz Kameel: Or, the Black Camel. This is THE spot for hungover-Sunday-morning-open-faced-finger-sandwiches, people watching of the chicest kind, and a late afternoon aperitif after strolling all day. This historic café is always a scene—you can walk-in and perch at the counter or seat yourself at an outdoor table. Then choose whichever brightly colored tartine you’d like (curried egg salad, ham with freshly shaved horseradish) and order a glass of bracing Sekt (sparkling wine) or riesling. I hear the adjoining restaurant is wonderful too.
Naschmarkt: An outdoor market that is open daily, but is especially fun on Saturdays when there is a flea market tacked on. This is not your average American-style farmers market: there are over 100 stands, plus restaurants, wine bars, and one of the best vinegar purveyors we’ve ever seen. Vendors of note: Neni for falafel, sabich, and the beverage call Sturm—barely fermented grape juice available only during harvest, Rafael’s Vinotech for top notch wines BTG drunk while leaning on upturned barrels used for tables, Gegenbauer—the speciality vinegar selection here—both fruit- and wine-based—is UNREAL.
O boufés: Cool spot for natural wine and elevated snacks.
Palais Coberg: One of the deepest cellars in Europe—deep as in the depth of offering is outstanding (while I was there last we had a dueling tasting of some ‘82s), but their cellar is also literally deep in ground, and ancient.
Petz: The former chef of Palais Coberg has opened Petz, a tavern-like space with fantastic tradition-inspired Austrian cuisine (we ate a dish featuring starlings and another with pork lung and stomach; both were crazy good).
Bar Lemmon: For karaoke and Fernet. Extra points if you close out the bar with everyone singing “Africa” by Toto.
Passage: A subterranean dance club in a subway station, open ’til 5AM, ideally head here after Lemmon closes at 2.
Bitzinger Wurstelstand Albertina: The Best Sausage Stand in Vienna. This is in the shadow of the Albertina and I’m pretty sure is open 24/7. They have a contraption that hollows out baguettes and then shoves delicious cheesy sausage inside. Truly the most wonderful late night snack invented by man; solid beer and wine selections are a plus. (Editor’s note: Harry in fact thinks the best wurststand is at 1 Hoher Markt…to each his own.)
Hotel Daniel: This hotel isn’t in the city center, but is close to a tramline and has very nice rooms and a bustling restaurant. If you’re looking for something more high-end, the Hotel Sacher (of tarte fame), is beautiful.
Belvedere Museum: This palace is a world heritage site that happens to house some incredible art from the 20th Century…most notably “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt.
The National Library, State Hall: Visiting a library while traveling may sound sort of meh, but this one of the most breathtaking libraries there is. The room itself is gorgeous, and they have stunning antique collections.
Leopold Museum: Houses the world’s greatest collection of the modern Austrian artist Egon Schiele. This is perfect if you’re feeling like you need a dose of kaleidoscopic melancholy to balance you out after walking amongst the pristine palaces, royal architecture, and manicured squares that make Vienna so spectacular.
Hit us up with some of your favorites!
– Marie Stitt