My Chef husband and I will do 3 days in each city. Maybe one or two high-end places, but casual cafes will do...it's all about the food. He'll eat anything, I don't eat a lot of red meat. Desserts, absolutely. Would love to hear the top 3 picks in each city--or whatever you foodies have to offer would be appreciated! Leaving March 29. Thanks!!!
Vienna is a two-sided place:
After March 29 Vienna will be overrun by tourists, since the week before Easter is always a very popular time for tourists. Vienna is also full of places to eat, and has as many tourists traps as Venice, Paris, or Rome.
On the other hand there are a lot of very interesting places to go, as well at the high end as on the low and very low end. To give just "3 top picks" is a guarantee for failure...
I would suggest you check the Europe board for prior Vienna posts and get back with more specific questions.
This is a good timing and a very good location.
You might be aware that on top of the Sofitel is one of the few high-end restaurants still in existence in Vienna. The "Le Loft", on the other hand, is a strictly French/Alsacian cuisine place. And you may enjoy the same spectacular view over town by just visiting the bar, which I herewith strongly recommend.
For casual lunching there is a mediterrean restaurant in the shopping mall located in the same building, called "Neni im Zweiten". Great for falafel and mezze, but also offering steaks and lamb chops.
BTW: the address of the Sofitel Vienna Hotel is "Praterstrasse 1", but actually it is located at the beginning of Taborstrasse. They chose "Praterstrasse" because it sounds better...
Now for some Viennese cuisine within walking distance from your hotel:
Beim Czaak is the closest beisl. It is a very old place, operated by the same family since 4 generations, and will give you an authentic experience of simple Viennese food, such as boiled beef, fried blood sausage or Wiener Schnitzel.
And just around the corner from Beim Czaak is one of the best in Vienna, a real left over from the golden days of the past, but operated with the best quality of food and service:
But if you just want classic Viennese cuisine at best quality (better than at Beim Czaak, but also more expensive), go to Plachutta on Wollzeile.
Another area quite close to your hotel and with a nice arrangement of restaurants is the Judenplatz, which is dominated by the Holocaust memorial. There you will find Ella´s, a high-end mediterrean restaurant, and Zum Scherer und Gustl Bauer, two Viennese beisl with a long history. Just around the corner is Ofenloch, another Viennese restaurant with more touristy flavor...
The best Kaffeehauser closest to you Hotel are the Cafe Engländer, the Cafe Prückel and the Cafe Diglas, all located in the same area at Wollzeile. And if you want to sample cakes and pastries as well as some nice coffee, go to Aida on Rotenturmstrasse. Nearby is also the Gelateria on Schwedenplatz, with a great selection of ice cream, and the more modern Eisgreissler on Rotenturmstrasse, with organic and vegan ice cream varieties...
There is even a seafood area close by: the Marc Aurelstrasse. There are several high-end seafood restaurants, Aurelius, Kornat, both offering Croatian cuisine, and Le Salzgries, offering authentic French brasserie cuisine (oops: Le Salzgries is closed April 1-9 !).
So, these are just the recommended places within walking distance from your hotel...
No, wait: I forgot to mention the two ship-based restaurants just in front of your hotel:
The Motto am Fluss and the Holy Moly am Badeschiff are both very chic and trendy places, the food is quite good, but not classic Viennese cuisine. They will both be quite crowded these days, but you might get a table at the bar or in the bistro area of Motto am Fluss even without a reservation.
Sturmi we are a bit too casual about our intinerary and frankly have nothing planned. We've been so busy that even getting to go is an accomplishment. We will be dependent upon our concierge and websites to guide us. But we must have food direction because that's always the highlight for us!
In addition to Sturmi's excellent suggestions I would also recommend going to the Naschmarkt, not necessarily to eat but to take in the scene. If the weather is fine it is an outstanding out door market where you can get a glass of wine or the ubiquitous Aperol Spritz and watch all the people go by. Or better yet head to the always packed Urbanek for a glass of wine and some charcuterie with the rest of the high enders.
I would also second the Judenplatz area and Ella's but would add the Spanish tapas place that is right across from Ella's (opposite side of the monument) and if you need something really divine after dinner... stand with your back to the monument then walk straight ahead, past the pub, past the cinema (it's a curvey walk) to Kurt's Yogurt. Hands down the greatest yogurt treats I've had anywhere in the world and based on the line up that is normally present, I'm not the only one who thinks so.
For Prague others who are more educated will likely answer but for high end my preference is La Degustation (see this recent thread - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/824482) and then, owned by the same group but at a totally different price point and cuisine style is Lokal. Lokal is more of an upmarket Czech beer hall, the freshest taps in town and outstanding Czech specialties. If you are in Prague during the lead up to Easter you can also attend some of the Easter markets that will be going on, the biggest is in the Old Town Square and will have fire roasted "Prague Ham" and lots of other things to nibble on.
For Budapest I can't suggest to many places to dine as our one recent visit was mostly populated with average dinning selections. I can strongly recommend the covered Central Market in Budapest, kind of like the Naschmarkt but covered and with a second floor, and basement, that has a few places to grab a snack and a glass of Egri Bakavar. I really enjoyed the basement area with all the vendors of pickled items, great cauliflower, sauerkraut, carrots and other delights.
You've got a great itinerary of cities and I think you will find a lot of good information on this board with some well placed searches.
In Prague the must go to restaurant is Sansho, run by Paul Day. Check their website to book - www.sansho.cz. This is the most accomplished cooking in Prague. They serve an unbelievable seven course fixed menu in the evenings, and a selection of finger foods for lunch.)
Most dishes are based on locally sourced products, cooked in a style influenced by asian street food, slow cooking. You can ignore the rest of my post, as long as you go to Sansho :-
A real surprise for technical skills is The Pind, a north Indian where the vegetable dishes and breads stand out for their depth of flavour. Maybe a trained chef can explain here later what exactly it is they do to the aubergine, the lentils, the bread filled with cauliflower mash, etc.
In Budapest two places are pushing the fine dining standards slowly upwards - Csalogany 26 and Borkonhya. But for traditional local cuisine Rosenstein vendeglo remains the top choice, but is heavily tilted towards meat.
Previous posts about Budapest on numerous lurking tourist traps are sadly very true. The three above are in a different league, though.
One foodie thing to do in Budapest is to visit one of the larger branches of the wine distributors Bortarsasag. Check their website www.bortarsasag.hu/en for locations. The wine scene in Hungary compares to what Spain was twenty years ago - amazing discoveries to be made at extremely good value.
For Vienna, I am in a minority of one. The consensus on that city, to be found on this board strongly, differs from my own view. My advice would be - and I can already sense the flaming counterposts coming - to well avoid the Vienna inner city center and head to either the 7th district to Gaumenspiel or the 10th to Meixner's.
No flaming at all ! You are completely right in all points. The inner city is more expensive and has a high rate of mediocre tourist traps.
OTOH Gaumenspiel and Meixner each are just examples of a certain type of restaurant with many more all over town:
Gaumenspiel is the modern, inventive, casual "BoBo" style restaurant with what many might call "fusion cuisine", using elements of classic Viennese cuisine mixed with elements from French, Italian, Spanish and Asian cuisine. Similar restaurants are Zum Finsteren Stern, Kutschker44, Vincent, Martin Stein (!!), Hohensinn, Wiener Salon, Hollmanns Salon, Hansen, Vetsibül, Holy Moly and Motto am Fluss. And there are more...
Walter Bauer, Artner, Mraz&Sohn as well as Silvio Nickol are the same type, but more expensive.
A class of its own is the Steirereck, presenting basically a very modern type of Austrian cuisine.
Meixner is a good example of a classic Viennese "beisl", which can be quite down-to-earth, seedy and smelling, but still have classic Viennese food to die for, or more elegant, refined and still good value for you money: Beside Meixner I recommend Rudi´s Beisl, Gmoakeller, Hedrich, Haas Beisl, Beim Czaak, Zum Scherer, Glacisbeisl, Restaurant Sperl, Phönixhof, Zur Goldenen Glocke, Zum Recnizek, Grünauer, Gasthaus Pöschl, Reinthaler´s Beisl, Gasthaus Reinthaler, Schnattl, Zur schönen Perle, Zum weissen Tiger, Altwiener Gastwirtschaft Schilling, Kolonitzbeisl, Gasthaus Heidinger, etc., etc....
This list is arbitrary and was generated randomly just as the different names came into my mind...
And yes, a few of these restaurants are right in the city center, such as Gasthaus Pöschl, Zum Finsteren Stern, Hansen, Vestibül, Hedrich, Reinthaler´s Beisl, Gasthaus Reinthaler, Zum Scherer and Beim Czaak...
This is what makes recommendations so difficult. There are just very few real unique places, such as Steirereck. The rest is more exchangeable, less worth a detour...
This looks really great. We do love smaller, neighborhood restaurants that are all about the food. We've done the major high-end multi-course prix fixe places...Per Se in NYC, French Laundry in CA, Alinea in Chicago, Alain Ducasse in Paris, etc...which are fun but very time-consuming and pricey. I love the look of Sansho and I'm nuts for Indian food! Thanks a million!
Sansho is great but I have not heard a lot of good about the Pind - it seems to be just OK (I've never been personally).
In Prague, you might like the dessert and coffee place Cafe Saint Tropez http://www.cafe-st-tropez.eu/, which is owned by two families - a French and a Czech one.
Also, for food, you might appreciate Cafe Imperial, which is in a very nice building and has very good Czech and French dishes. One of the first real good restaurants in Prague and still not expensive - it is possible to go there for a larger lunch or casual dinner.
New local non-smoking sort of gastropub has opened near the metro stop IP Pavlova http://www.notabene-restaurant.cz/ The web page is in Czech, but there is a map. The lunch is simpler, two or three options only, can be very busy, dinner is better and more sophisticated. Based on great ingredients and traditional Czech basic recipes, they created a lighter and more sophisticated and tasty fare.