Must eats in Budapest, Vienna, Prague
Heading to these 3 cities (+Krakow) for a fast 2 week trip during the second half of May and am looking for any food recommendations in these cities. Am traveling with one more person, and we eat everything and enjoy all atmospheres from Michelin 3 star to wet market hawkers. Really just looking for recommendations on foods that are superlative examples of each city / country, either on the traditional or progressive ends of the cuisine. Both savory and sweet, from small snacks to multi-course meals.
Also, I realize it is very late to be hoping for fine-dining reservations, but I will still try and appreciate any suggestions throughout these cities! On that note, I have not had any luck with Steirereck in Vienna, and would appreciate any opinions on alternatives. Any opinions of Meierei? Or Mraz & Sohn?
Meierei is the lower cost, traditional Viennese classics only, version of Steirereck. Its location in the Stadtpark area is wonderful in May !!
For another high-end cuisine experience I would recommend either Walter Bauer or Vestibül. Both offer great inventive high-end variations of classic Viennese cuisine, maybe more interesting than Meierei. Vestibül also has a nice outdoor dining area facing the Ringstrasse.
On the low end our favorites are Rudis Beisl and Gasthaus Wolf. Whereas Rudi offers just perfect renditions of Viennese "beisl" cuisine, Gasthaus Wolf is a "new beisl", offering a head-to-tail cuisine with wonderful beuschl (lung stew), liver, bone marrow or brain dishes. Great wine list also, and not crowded this time of the year since they do not have a large outdoor dining area.
Another very special place is Freyenstein.
Here you find a bare bones beisl and a vintage garden for outdoor dining combined with a very special 8-course tasting menu. The chef Meinrad Neunkirchner is an expert for wild herbs and vegetables, and his cuisine is a great example of the new kind of "regional only" or "zero kilometer" food.
For snacks try either Trzesniewski (many locations, see link) or Zum Schwarzen Kameel for their canapés, and for sweets go to Demel and/or one of the many Aida cafes (see link).
Looks as if the atmosphere and setting at Walter Bauer is more traditional, whereas Vestibul seems more elegant and updated. I am thinking of doing a dinner at WB and then Vestibul another day for a lunch (as the online photos of the dining room seem especially-suited to daylight!), but was wondering if you think their styles of cooking overlap too much? How would you compare the cuisine of Walter Bauer with Vestibul; should I just choose one?
Good idea. And no, their cooking styles do not overlap, each has a distinct individual note !
BTW: the chef and patron of Vestibül used to be the chef at Walter Bauer many years ago, he was one of the reasons why Walter Bauer survived, whereas so many other hi-end places vanished. But Walter Bauer has a great hand in picking young and promising chefs, and his current chef definitely is - again -a rising star !!
We enjoyed Mraz & Sohn - but it's 'exciting' rather than 'fine dining'.
It seemed to be more of a family affair. Service was sort of bistro style except the food was entirely outside that vibe. I imagined a 'new wave' child setting out to overturn the traditional family (food) values.
Some dishes were really inspired and others were 'what was (s)he thinking'? But it turned out to be my favourite meal in Vienna. Clearly there are 'better' restaurants, but none had the sense of playfulness and fun I enjoyed at Mraz & Sohn. I'd go back for sure and for enjoyment rated it above Steirereck although, objectively, Steirereck is a far superior restaurant. But there are many 'fine dining' establishments - there are relatively few like Mraz & Sohn.
I definitely agree !!
We have had many entertaining dinners at Mraz&Son, but the show sometimes did not deliver (like at Steirereck, which is also part show, part dining experience...).
For a real dining experience with great value for money I would rather go to Freyenstein, where the simple but unique and authentic food is the leading character, and not the theatrical presentation of the dishes.
Perhaps the cuisine at M&S sounds more likely to be found in some American restaurants than distinctly of Vienna (sometimes I feel like plates across many 2+ Michelin stars seem to become "interchangeable"), but the overall M&S dining experience does sound rather unique.
After comparing all of these, a dinner at Freyenstein sounds like our ideal in the combination of unique cuisine with atmosphere, but it looks like email reservations are not possible, so unfortunately I can't plan on that. We will probably only be in Vienna for 3-4 days, so I am looking for a good representation of the cuisine at all levels. So far it looks like:
Meierei / Steirereck
Mraz & Sohn
Thanks for that tip, I got a Freyenstein reservation! So excited to have local vegetables highlighted, as those tend to be the most memorable dishes we have across our tasting menu meals.
As for Rudi's Beisl, would you recommend lunch or dinner? Originally I was thinking lunch but now I wonder if there is a notable difference between the menus (website is currently down). Also, how do the atmospheres compare between lunch and dinner? I think I will reserve there next and then see what's available among the rest of your recommendations. If you have insights to these same questions regarding Walter Bauer, comparing lunch & dinner, I'd certainly appreciate those too!
*Side note...the board seems dead quiet on Prague and Budapest.
Rudis Beisl is better for lunch, and the later you come for lunch (around 2 p.m.) the more relaxed the atmosphere will be. You have so much more options for dinner, I see no advantage if dining in the evening at Rudis !
OTOH I was not aware that Walter Bauer is open for lunch. Walter Bauer is definitely more a dining experience !! His restaurant gives an old world ambiente where you feel quite out of place at lunch...
That email worked and I got a table!
Many thanks for everyone's help, I've managed to reserve Rudis Beisl, Meierei, Steirereck, Freyenstein, and Walter Bauer. I think I will leave Vestibul to chance for a walk in if the mood strikes us, even though I checked and they have openings now for a reservation.
Can't wait to happen upon bakeries, markets, and street foods!
I was also organizing all the suggestions from colleagues. Any thoughts on Schweizerhaus? They say it is the place to go for pork knuckle (http://www.schweizerhaus.at/)
If you have any first hand comments on their other suggestions below (e.g. actually good vs tourist traps), I would appreciate them!
-Glacis Beisl im Museumsquartier (Zugang Breitegasse 4 Museumplatz 1, A 1070 Wien)
-Orlando di Castello (Freyung 1, 1010 Wien) for cake & coffee
-Cafe Prukel/Prückel for the Topfenstrudel, a Melange, and people watching(Stubenring 24, 1010 Wien)
-Onyx Bar for a view (Stephansplatz 12, 6th floor inside the Do & Co hotel, 1010 Wien)
-FIGLMÜLLER for wienerschnitzel and Erdäpfel-Vogerlsalat” / potato and field salad
-http://www.zanoni.co.at/ for the best icecream in vienna
Schweizerhaus is a great experience, especially the "real" Budweiser beer from the tap, served within seconds after you sit down...
The pork knuckles are OK, a little bit tasteless. I prefer the tripe soup and the fried chicken...
Glacisbeisl is nice and authentic, especially their outdoor dining area, Cafe Prückel is an authentic Kaffeehaus, Onyx Bar a spectacular view and Figlmüller is Figlmüller, a Viennese institution.
Orlando is just another new style burger bar, nice for a quick bite, but nothing special (any more).
And Zanoni is maybe the WORST (not the best !!) ice cream in Vienna !!
There are at least three much better ice cream shops around, e.g. the Italian ice cream shops on Tuchlauben, Hoher Markt or Schwedenplatz, and the - partly vegan - Eisgreissler on Rotenturmstrasse. Eisgreissler is within spitting distance of Zanoni, and always has a queue in front which might be mixed up with a queue in front of the Zanoni shop ;-)
But wait: Zanoni has a nice outdoor table setup, and their Italian Espresso is great. This is the only way I eat their ice cream, as a " cafe affogato ", a ball of vanilla ice cream topped with a double espresso...
For Prague there are some good posts with info, the best Czech pub food IMO (others do agree) is Lokal, either the Mala Strana or the Josefov districts.
U Zavěšenýho Kafe, Úvoz 6, Prague 1. This is a little cafe with some excellent casual food, a decent selection of wine and unfortunately a smoking establishment. You will find it at the top of Nerudova on the way up to the castle, just go past the turn to the castle and you'll find it on the right hand side. I highly recommend the venison pate if it's on the specials board.
U Zlateho Tygra (Husova 228/17) also comes highly recommend by others who have contributed about Prague, but I have not been there.
If you want to experience high end Czech dinning (1 Michelin star) and a very good Czech tasting menu you can't go wrong with La Degustation (Haštalská 753/18), here is a thread with a previously lively discusson on the place - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/824482 . The owners of La Degustation also own Lokal, if you have the time trying both will give you great coverage on many aspects of modern/traditional Czech food. The Josefov Lokal location is across the street from La Degustation.
This thread had a relatively recent discussion on Prague dinning as well, some of the info I've provided here is likely duplicated in this thread. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/877435. This thread also has some info although quite a bit is about Brno (where I live), you'll need to filter - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/895454 .
If you want Krakow info I used this thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/534358) for my planning last December and was happy with everything we experienced, my contribution is the last in the thread.
Hello, I just moved to Poland last month and we visited Krakow earlier in May and Budapest in February 2013. Here's a few places we went.
Spazio - a hipster cocktail bar. Predinner. Good mojitos.
Breakfast & beer on the Old Town square at Café Restaurant Europejska, Rynek Główny 35
Excellent spot for pieorgies and beer on the Old Town square at Hawełka, Main Market Square 34
Baguette or omlette breakfast and lattes at Tribeca, Plac Szczepański
Good, inexpensive place for late dinner, Polish pork kebabs and homemade soups esp. the soup in the bread bowl at Pod Słońcem, Rynek Główny 43 (Also along the square).
**Budapest (We are going again this weekend):
• Dinner at wine bar Bor La Bor, 1 block over from Vaci U. (Street) Huge portions!
• Slightly fancy late lunch - Café Bouchon near Opera metro stop. (Zichy Jenő Street 33). We did the insider tour at the Opera House afterwards. Recommended.
• Dobos Torte and latte snack at the beautiful Alexandra Bookstore on Andrassy Ut. Near Oktogon metro stop.
• Pre-dinner cockatails 2 nights in a row at Boutiq Bar, Paulay Ede u. 5.
• Dinner? At Bock Bisztró, Erzsébet körút 43-49….nope it was busy. Where did we eat?
• Breakfast and foodie shopping at the Great Market Hall - Must try lángos which is a deep fried flat bread topped with sour cream and cheese.
• Another cake and coffee snack at Ruszwurm near the castle. One of the city's oldest pastry shops. Quaint and always busy.
• Dinner reservations at Menza étterem és kávézó, Liszt Ferenc tér 2. (Paulay Ede u.) Amazing modern Hungarian dinner. Felt like we were back in NYC.
We've been traveling through all three cities. Places that I'd recommend:
In Vienna, Zum Finsteren Stern is a tiny restaurant serving contemporary food around the corner from the Juden Platz. No sign on the door or even street number, so we had a bit of trouble actually locating it but we were glad we did. The night we were there everyone else appeared to be locals. The menu changes daily. We opted for 5 course chef's menu. All of the courses were good but the standouts were exquisitely prepared trout served with asparagus and a chicken soup with crisp tender vegetables and mini dumplings.
In Budapest we had a really fun and delicious dinner at Borkonyha Wine Kitchen, which apparently is a relative newcomer to the dining scene. Vibrant -- almost boisterous -- atmosphere. Again a menu that changes daily with available market choices. I had a divine duck liver appetizer to start and a main course of quail breast -- can't remember much of the details as it was several days ago and we've been eating out each night.
In Prague, we've eaten at 2 restaurants that I'd recommend. First, in Mala Strans, we ate at Tri Stoleti, which is a stylish restaurant near the Karlov Bridge. Food was not over the top but very good and extremely reasonable in price. They offer both contemporary and "traditional Czech" dishes. My husband opted for a duck breast main course from the modern menu; I chose the duck leg main from the traditional menu. Mine was superb -- crispy, moist duck, served with an abundance of dumplings and both red & green sweet & sour cabbage. Maybe it was because the weather was particularly vile (cold and rain) but this was delicious comfort food that fed my soul as well as body. My husband said his dish was good but he was not nearly as enthusiastic.
The second restaurant where we ate in Prague that I'd recommend, with some qualification, is the Red Pif. This is a hip and popular place, that is combines a restaurant, wine bar, and wine shop. My qualification arises from very slow service. We did not get our appetizers for more than 1/2 hour after placing the order but the waitress did apologize for the delay and comp'ed us a free glass of wine each. Again, most of the dishes change daily. Particularly good were an appetizer of warm goat cheese served with strawberries and arugula, and a pork tenderloin main course served with a potato & smoked ham galette. Despite the service glitches, I would return as the quality of the food was excellent and the price was very reasonable (about $80 for 3 courses for 2 persons, including 5 glasses of wine that we purchased).
We reserved at all of them, typically on the morning of the day that we ate there as we hate waiting for a table (but also are constitutionally incapable of booking restaurants weeks in advance). I'd say that reservations are essential at Red Piff. We did not need one at Tri Stoleti, although it was a Wednesday night and might be more crowded on a weekend. Again at ZFS we probably could have walked in but it's a small room and I'd not want to chance it (ate there on a Tuesday).
In Prague we just called the restaurants directly and made the reservations in English. In Vienna (and Budapest) we had our hotels make the reservations.
In both Prague and Vienna I prefer to have reservations for dinner unless we've decided to "wing it" and see where we are at the end of a day sight seeing.
I have not had a problem reserving, in English, in either Vienna or Prague by phone or email; although Google translate helps with the email reservation requests.