Vienna is a city of spectacular grandeur, oozing opulence at every opportunity. This is evident everywhere, from the architecture to the food. So if you want to eat like an Emperor and dine like a dignitary, this is your number one dietary destination. Here are a few suggestions for how you too can find some fancy feasts:

Plachutta

There’s nothing quite like having the Emperor’s seal of approval when it comes to food. Austria’s leader, Franz Josef I, decided that “tafelspitz” was his favourite meal and it soon became all the rage until the end of the Second World War. Michelin starred chef Ewald Plachutta brought the dish back into popularity when in the 1990’s he opened his own self-named restaurant that has become the home of tafelspitz.

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Be aware- you do need to make a reservation at Plachutta and tafelspitz is quite hearty, it definitely covers as both a starter and a main. The main decision is which of the cuts of prime beef to choose, as there is a long list including the shoulder, rump, and ribs. As this is a traditional meal and quite homely I chose the cut that reminded me of lunches at my grandma’s, salted ox tongue.

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There are instructions on how to eat tafelspitz correctly, of course. The meat arrives in a copper pot, floating in a broth of root vegetables. Firstly, you ladle the consomme into your soup bowl and devour the meaty juices. To accompany this you need to scoop out the marrow from the centre of a section of boiled bone and spread it like jelly on to dark rye bread. Don’t forget to season! It’s a light opening round and effectively makes sure that you consume all the nutrients from the meat.

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Next up was the star of the show. You need to fish your cut of beef out of the soup and pile on the side shows- namely a large pot of fried potato rosti, creamed spinach, chive sauce and horseradish with apple. The tongue was lovely and soft, with a good flavour, not too strong. Unless you are really hungry tafelspitz is probably best shared between two (although Plachutta does charge you extra for doing so!). It was gentrified northern fare, boiled meat, potatoes and vegetables made into a meal fit for a monarch. If you are looking for some fancy home-cooked comfort food, tafelspitz fits the bill.  

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Cafe Ulrich

There is no escaping Vienna without trying the most infamous meal of all. Wiener schnitzel is the national dish of Austria and seemingly every Viennese restaurant has the best version. Traditionally made from veal, it consists of a slab of meat pounded into a flat pancake, coated in breadcrumbs and fried. It doesn’t sound very regal, so a schnitzel fit for the gentry requires a more noble meat.

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Cafe Ulrich serves a variation of schnitzel using wild boar, an animal the aristocracy used to hunt for sport. Three large slices of the organic flat pork feature a twist by using pumpkin seeds in the coating and are paired with a light lamb’s lettuce and potato salad. To set the taste buds popping the cranberry sauce successfully marries the meat with the greens.

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Situated in the former bohemian now a designer boutique district of Neubau, Cafe Ulrich cowers in the shadow of St Ulrich church and caters for the local sophisticated crowd. The establishment offers their own take on loaded flatbreads and infuse their spirits with a variety of ingredients from herbs and spices to jalapenos. If you want to try some new flavour combinations this is the place to go, I particularly loved the addition of thyme to red grapefruit lemonade, inspiring!

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Cafe Central

It is kind of eerie thinking about certain former customers of Cafe Central. Since it opened in 1876 the cafe was a popular hangout for the bourgeoisie, from philosophers to poets and everyone in between. Former clientele included Trotsky, Freud, Stalin, and Hitler, to name but a few. Nowadays it’s a patisserie hotspot, where after a short queue you enter a wonderland of sweet delights.

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Once inside, the walls are covered with leather or wood panelling and feature an aristocratic portrait or two as well as grand columns leading up to a vaulted ceiling. You are immediately presented with an impressive display of confectionery creations and the most awful decision, which cake to choose! Obviously, the tactic to employ is that when in Rome you do as the Romans do, and so in Cafe Central, you have your cake and one more for good measure.

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I plumped for the apple strudel, as it is another Austrian national food and a chocolate creme brulee tart. As expected the strudel had perfectly fluffy pastry, filled with a cinnamon spiced apple filling. It wasn’t as heavy as it looked and was not too overly sweet. The tart was satisfyingly gooey: a hit of dark cocoa goodness elevated with a hint of caramelised sugar. I could understand why so many artists took up residence here; it is necessary to keep coming back to sample all of the confectionery on offer!

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The reign of the monarchy may be over, but Vienna keeps serving up meals fit for a king. Just don’t expect the staff to curtsey!

Like this post? Subscribe to the Soulful Travel newsletter for Annie’s packing checklist plus travel related advice, news, competitions and more. Sign up here.

If you need travel advice, request a free 30 minute coaching session. In the chat Annie will help you choose a destination, create your itinerary and review safety precautions. Or she can discuss how you can incorporate more travel into your life by saving, making money, travelling for free or being paid to travel.

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