Guten Appetit! What to Eat in Austria

Influenced by Italy, Hungary, Germany and the Balkans, Austrian food is a hearty mix of meat and vegetables, topped off with some delicious dessert options and a nice collection of alcoholic treats as well. There’s something really comforting about a big schnitzel or a slice of sticky Sachertorte. Here’s our round-up of what to eat (and drink) in Austria.

Wiener Schnitzel

Wiener Schnitzel with fries and cowberry jam.
Wiener Schnitzel with fries and cowberry jam in Suatens.

A classic Austrian dish of thin veal (now more commonly pork), fried with a coating of flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. It’s usually served with Kopf salad (lettuce tossed with a sweetened vinaigrette dressing), cowberry jam and a side of lemon. You might also find it served with a cucumber salad, potato salad or fries.

Spätzle

Gulasch with spaetzle in Zell Am See, Austria.
Gulasch with spaetzle in Zell Am See, Austria.

A cross between a noodle and a dumpling, it’s the Austrian answer to pasta. It usually accompanies a meat dish, like goulash or Sauerbraten (a German meat dish) in the place of rice or dumplings but it’s sometimes served by itself with a thick creamy sauce and cubed bacon or sausage. I’m a big pasta fan, so this was a highlight for me.

Brettljause

Brettljause. Image from wiki commons.
Brettljause. Image from wiki commons.

The Austrian version of a Ploughman’s lunch or Antipasto platter. ‘Jause’ in Austrian translates to snack between meals, and ‘Brettl’ is the wooden board this snack is served on. It’s a mixture of cold cut meats, olives, cheeses, pickled vegetables and bread.

Sausages

The Käsekrainer. Image from wiki commons.
The Käsekrainer. Image from wiki commons.

Austrian cuisine has many different sausages. The most common is the Frankfurter, the go-to fast food sausage. You might also find sausages called wieners, wursts or hot dogs. They’re usually served in a bun (or on a stick) with your choice of curry, mustard or ketchup. My favourite is the Käsekrainer, which is made with small chunks of cheese.

The Grillteller or Mixed Grill

The Grillteller, the Austrian version of a mixed grill.
The Grillteller, the Austrian version of a mixed grill.

If meat is your thing, order a mixed grill. Bacon, pork, chicken, steak, fries and the odd fried tomato served with your choice of sauce. Neil prefers the garlic butter.

Anyone for dessert?

Apfelstrudel

Apple strudel, I love you and your appley-goodness.
Apple strudel, I love you and your appley-goodness.

Arguably the most famous of all Austrian foods – Maria from The Sound of Music even lists it as one of her favourite things, the Apfelstrudel or apple strudel is must eat. It’s apples, sweetened with cinnamon, raisins and sugar and wrapped in a crispy filo pastry jacket.

Sachertorte (and other cakes)

Sachertorte with whipped cream in Zell Am See, Austria.
Sachertorte with whipped cream in Zell Am See, Austria.

Austrian’s famous chocolate cake, featuring layers of chocolate sponge split by a thin layer of apricot jam was created by Franz Sacher in 1832. This torte is so famous it even has its own day official day – 5th of December.  Other must try cakes include Esterhazy-Schnitte (vanilla buttercream, sandwiched between layers of almond meringue), Rehrücken (a chocolate almond cake) or Punschkrapfen, a rum flavoured pastry cake, similar to a petite four.

And now for the alcohol…

Austria has somewhere in the region of 70 breweries and micro brewers scattered across the country. The most popular style of Austrian beer is Märzen, similar to a German Helles beer. The most common brand is Salzburg’s Stiegl brewery but you’ll also come across

Schnapps is a common digestif and typically contains up to 60% alcohol or fruit brandy. It’s common throughout Europe, but in Austria, it’s typically made from a variety of different fruits including apricots, rowan berries (which I thought were poisonous but hey…) and various herbs. Some of them are pretty potent and it’s not uncommon to be offered them as a complimentary digestive. Watch out though, the boys usually get the 60% proof ones!

Have you ever been to Austria? What was your favourite dish?

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