Cheese and Organic farming can describe delicious Austrian food wholly. But Austrian hunting tradition dates back to historical times. Worldwide hunters consider Austria to be one of the most hospitable hunting grounds. Organic farming and hunting – With these two contrasting words, is it easy to get Vegetarian food in Austria?
Here is your guide on how and where to find authentic vegetarian food in Austria and everything else a first-timer must know about Osterreich’s dining experiences.
- Vegetarians in Austria
- “Non-Austrian” cuisines available in Austria
- Vegan-friendly Austria
- Is German & Austrian food the same?
- Austrian Dining Etiquettes
- Things to know before going out for a meal in Austria.
- Must-try vegetarian food in Austria.
Is Austria good for vegetarians?
Vegetarian food in Austria with a fantastic View
It is easy to be vegetarian in Austria since nearly 10% of the people in Austria are either vegetarian or vegan. Though the local diet is heavy on meat and cheese, many regular restaurants will have vegetarian or vegan options. So in comparison with other countries, it is easier to be a vegetarian in Austria than in Greece. But don’t expect the variety as much as you get in Turkey.
Many feared my mother would starve to death in Austria because she doesn’t even eat eggs.
The recommendation to carry “Ready to Eat MTR food” was too high. I trusted the blogger’s opinion and took a bit of dry Avalakki (An Indian snack most suitable for long train journeys) and some Theplas in case we needed them.
Avalakki is ideal for any day, but our Theplas weren’t needed because – we got tasty, healthy vegetarian cuisines throughout Austria. I am an Eggetarian, and my mother doesn’t consume eggs directly. So with plenty of vegetarian food in Austria and eggs, we had no trouble devouring delicious meals.
What are some “Non-Austrian” food you get in Austria?
I ate Israeli Sakashuka served by a pretty Lithuanian in Vienna. A gentleman from Samarkhand made a great falafel wrap at Nasch Market. At Innsbruck, I had halloumi at a shop owned by a lady from Avanos. We both jabbered about how beautiful Cappadocia is and how badly we miss Kayseri cheese with mushrooms. We munched on Italian spaghetti and some soup served by a Czechian.
I have a habit of cracking a conversation with the waiters if they are free.. Those discussions often let out some helpful information and some interesting stories. If they are immigrants, I will know what they love most about their country and what they love here.
Is Indian food available in Austria?
East or west, you find an Indian making his/her nest. So is Austria. The city streets aren’t filled with Indian restaurants like it does in London; but you do find a countable number of them in Austria.
More than Indian food, you find Turkish food in all corners of the cities. Smaller towns like Kirchberg serve only Austrian dishes.
Is Austria vegan friendly?
Yes! When you say you are vegetarian in a cafe, they assume you are Vegan. So you must specify that you are ok with milk and not meat.
Is Austrian food the same as German?
I find little similarity between Austrian and German food.
Austria’s vegetarian food are on the sweeter side and includes lots of ingredients. While German vegetarian food is mainly potato based. Austrian croissants are the primary breakfast choice – It is buttery and fluffy. But German standard breakfast bread “Pretzels” are harder and salty. The curated walking tours reveal a lot about Austrian food. I learned that Austrian food is influenced by Hungary and Czechia, too.
Austrian Dining Etiquette
After learning how certain traditions like Ballroom dancing are followed in Austria, I was worried if there were any super strict dining etiquette to be learnt. There is hardly anything particular to be mentioned. Of course, my experience is limited to homestays, cafes and smaller restaurants. Fine dining may require you to follow specific rules.
My little observations on Austrian dining etiquette are
- You must check with the waiters if you can take a table before getting seated. Most cafes follow reservations or a particular pattern of getting customers seated.
- The table setting in the restaurants won’t have a spoon. You won’t get a spoon unless you order a soup or a dessert that can’t be handled with a fork. Most cakes are served with a knife and pie fork.
- You hardly get any dish that can be eaten using fingers – I mostly saw people using a fork and knife to cut the pizza. But some even used fingers.
- When I took dumplings for the first time, I wondered if I should cut them open entirely for once. Or break it little by little for every bite. Without hesitation, I asked the handsome old man at Madar cafe in Melk. He was kind enough to tell me that I must hold the dumpling with the knife and break it apart with the fork. When in doubt how to eat, ask Austrians.
Restaurants serve you water even along with coffee – But the quantity is equal to a Tequila shot.
- The lunch/dinner can go long for three hours without the waiter’s intervention.
- Waiters often ask you, “If everything is ok”, If you need more cheese or a bit of olive oil on the food, don’t hesitate to ask.
- When dining with locals or homestay owners, don’t forget to cheer with beer/wine. Don’t be surprised if beer is part of breakfast.
Conversation over coffee or reading a book while sipping your hot cappuccino is common in Austria.
Things to know before going out for a meal in Austria.
- Food and coffee portion sizes are enormous. So ask the waiter before ordering a meal for two.
- Austria, in general expensive. So goes their restaurant food. To save money on food, stick to bread from Spar or Billa. Have coffee in the underground metro station.
- Austrian food consists of organically grown vegetables. Their spice levels are on the milder side. So we never suffered from gastritis problems.
- Don’t eat while walking in Austria. It is ok to eat sitting by the streetside bench or plaza. I hardly saw anyone eating while walking.
What is the traditional food in Austria?
Observing the local markets give you a glimpse of how fresh your vegetarian food would be in Austria
Wiener Schnitzel is the most popular dish I found throughout Austria. As the name suggests, it is a Viennese dish made using calf meat, egg and breadcrumbs. Don’t ask me how it tastes – There is no vegetarian variant of this. Still, I saw hoardings Vegan Schnitzel. They used potato instead of veal. So it is potato fry disguised to look flat to resemble Schnitzel – It didn’t taste good.
But the good news for Vegetarian is that some of their national food is vegetarian and belong to heaven.
What is the national dessert of Austria?
Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel, as the Austrians call it)- This is a pastry stuffed with apple raisins and lots of cinnamon and breadcrumbs baked to make it crunchy outside. A vanilla cream topping reduces the sweetness and brings in a balance. This is good, but not the best – Read ahead to know that Austrian dish that is my soul/mind/tongue and everything with impish glee.
What is a typical Austrian breakfast?
Bread with jams and cheese. You find some twenty plus varieties of freshly baked bread in every bakery (Even in underground Metro stations). Some are on the hard-salty side, and the rest are buttery/nutty/sugary. You can add cheese or butter to some. But the best of all bread “croissant” don’t need any topping to make it better.
The explicit collection of “Fresh Arrivals”
When in doubt about what bread to pick, ask the baker. Austrians are friendly; that way to educate tourists and help them to buy. Of course, you won’t get tasting samples of bread. But they can tell you if it is a soft and sweet bread, hard and lemony. They even recommend what cheese to put after cutting it up and which jam goes best with it.
Then there is cheese toast, cucumber salads, avocado sandwiches and an aromatic coffee. But remember that it is as rare as a mermaid to find fresh fruit juices in Austria. The canned apricot and apples juice is what you get when you ask for fruit juice.
Is coffee famous in Austria?
Hell yeah! Austria is coffee heaven. I found my filter coffee to be the best unitl I visited Austria. But my nostrils reject the aroma of coffee made by me after having Austria’s finest aroma. You rarely find tea joints. (Like many other western countries, They sell something stupid drink called Chai Tea Latte – Which translates to Tea Tea Milk.
Austria’s Milk and Dairy products
The Aida ice cream and Stephenplatz
Austria is famous for its hiking trails. And there is one hiking trail called “Cheese Trail” You need not necessarily hit that trail to devour Austria’s milk products. Cheese, butter and other dairy products are essential ingredients in Austrian dishes. You can also make out the difference between the milk taste in various regions. For example, Kirchberg, the heart of Tirol, had thicker and tastier milk. While the taste differed in Vienna and Salzburg. When I asked my homestay owner at Kirchberg, she mentioned that the milk quality and price varies with regions for various regions.
Milk from the cows in the mountains is the costliest and tastiest. The ones in town farms grazing the designated grassland produced milk of lower quality and sold lesser. She even described Flower milk(from flower-eating cows). Pasture milk, and so on.
What types of food joints are there in Austria?
Austria is a cafe hub. Serving Strudels, croissants, and french toast is a mandatory ritual in all cafes. Some of these in the main public square are expensive. However, once you deviate from the main street, you find smaller cosy ones for a lower price.
Charmingly old-fashioned to modern ones, you find a variety of cafes in Austria.
Somehow most cafes tend to serve their customers ceremonially, I felt! Their sleek, slender, or ultra-carved ceramic wear makes you feel good. Austrian cafes are aesthetic in all terms – the interiors, cutlery and even the food appearance.
There are lots of Irish pubs and beer gardens.
Beer gardens are the perfect place to devour local delicacies and are the place locals also prefer. I went to Augustiner Brewery Beer Garden after a Salzburgian family I met suggested that it is his favourite place to hang out. I had the best evening in beer garden – Watching a bunch of old men loudly laughing with their friends, having the largest mugs of beer and going to the bathroom almost every 15 minutes.
Some cafes are themed – Not in the food they serve, but the interiors.
Then there are smaller bakeries where locals go to pick up their daily stuff. These are the cheapest ones and mainly offer takeaways. Austrians usually use the term “To-go” instead of saying “take away”.
There are cafes which are more than 400 years old !
Of course, fine dining restaurants are always there to experience a luxurious Austrian dining experience.
Every hiking trail starts and ends with a hut cafe – Chilled beer, apricot juice, coffee, cheese slice with grapes, and tomatoes are their primary food. Sometimes these hut coffee owners/waiters sing with their accordions- which is super fun to listen to after a tiring yet refreshing hike.
What is the most famous food in Austria?
While Schnitzel and Apple strudel is the most popular dishes, I have some personal favourites for my vegetarian food in Austria.
The best vegetarian food in Austria ian’t apple strudel, but cheese strudel.
There is a walking trail in Austria with the name “Cheese Trail.”The moment you step out of the city, you find cows grazing by the mountains. Then some goats and sheep produce fine cheese. The magic happens when this cheese gets in between the breadcrumbs beating the woody sweetness of cinnamon with its lemony, milky, nutty flavour. A bit of it elevated me to the celestial space and made me feel like a heavenly body – This is not an exaggeration; this is true. I tried a variety of strudels and cheese Strudels remain my heartthrob forever.
I haven’t kept a count. But I have had a minimum of one croissant every day for 15 days, and I am still not bored with it.
Flaky-Fluffy half moon-shaped bread roll full of the creamy aroma of butter is any day snack/meal! Be it an underground metro station takeaway bakery, Spar, or a fancy cafe, you are never a few steps away from croissants in Austria.
The pronunciation I heard varied like crazy! Some kept “T” silent making R sound like V. Others pronounced the way it is written. Anyways, the baker will understand you. Until I took my walking tour in Vienna, I was confident that croissants were of French origin. But it is Viennoiserie.
Who first made croissants?
A story says that this C-shaped buttery bread was called kipfel before.
The bakers improvised on the looks and taste, constantly trying to make it lighter and fluffier. The 1680s victory of the Viennese over the Turks made Viennese baker alter the Kipfel shape into a moon crescent shape which was essential for the symbol Turks to symbolize Ottoman defeat. So kipfel became croissant. Later a Viennese baker opened Boulangerie Viennoise in Paris, and thus croissants became famous in France too.
I don’t think I had a bad croissant in Austria ever. But I love to stick to butter rather than cheese or chocolate-filled croissants.
The best vegetarian food of Austria for lunch/dinner is cheese noddles.
Pronounced as Kae-zer-spetzler, the literal translation is Cheese Noddles. The origin of this dish is Germany, and super famous in Austria. It is considered a traditional Tyrolean dish. Plentiful cheese cooked (sometimes with egg) and sprinkled with fried/dried onion is a delightful lunch. Some add mushrooms but ensure to ask for “Bacon-Free” Kasespatzle while ordering.
Having found the best milk and milk products in Tyrol, I can’t recommend anything other than Tyrol region as the best place to have Kasespatzle.
This dish, also typical for Germany and Switzerland, is based on a distinct type of fresh egg pasta – Spätzle. It is cooked with an abundant quantity of cheese and sprinkled with fried dried onions (and often bacon, so ask beforehand for a vegetarian version)
I assumed the letter” K” was silent and asked for “Norden”. But K is not silent; you must pronounce “K” partly and continue.
The word Knodeln translates to dumplings. With Czaechian origin, this dish has been domesticated since Austro-Hungarian (Hofburg’s time). There is a variety of Knodel. The most classic being Semmelknödeln – bread dumplings. These are tennis ball-sized round lumps made of dry bread rolls mixed with milk, salt, parsley, onions and various vegetables. You may even find light-pink-coloured ones when they add beetroot. Some give it with Chive/Cream sauce. But everyone pours a generous amount of ghee (Clarified butter in their terms) on them.
You find this in all regions, but the best place to have to Knodeln, in my opinion, is Innsbruck.
Apricot Dumplings! Yes, a fruit-based main course that can be a dessert too! You literally eat freshly cooked apricot in this dish. The seeds are removed from the fruit, wrapped with sugar powder sprinkled dough, and cooked. You can request “Less-Sugary” ones, so they don’t place a sugar cube in the endocarp.
Wachau has apricot farms stretched to infinity by the side of vineyards, and the Danube serve you the best Apricot Dumplings.
I have had at least 10 different cakes in Austria, and I can’t keep a count of all the names. But one thing I am sure, all of them are super tasty. The famous ones are Viennese Sachertorte – a rich, intense chocolate cake with layers of apricot jam, always served with whipped cream. But my favourite remains the ones I had in Salzburg, like – Vanilla fruit tart, Mango dessert cake, and Erdbeerschusserl sponge cake was my lunch on multiple days in Salzburg.
My mother, a Gasgase Paayasa, loved Poppy nut cake in Melk, and maybe she fell asleep quickly and tight during our Melk-Salzburg train journey.
Schupfnudeln or Fingernudeln
The flour plus mashed potato mixed to make finger-like noodles tasted best with the sprinkle of cheese, herbs and oil. This filling dish is typical in home-run cafes and not in mainstream restaurants in cities.
With so many fresh Organically grown vegetables, Austrians make some great soup. They add beef/pork slices to most soups. But a particular order is always there for vegetarians. Clear or flour-based soups will always come with chunks of potatoes and carrots. Most restaurants name their soups “Home Made style soup”, varying their ingredients and herbs.
There are sandwiches, but Vienna has open sandwiches. The whole point of a sandwich is “easy and quick to eat.” Trzesniewski is one such restaurant that serves these small, simply healthy and tasty sandwiches where only the base has fine thin bread, and the top is open. The bread used here is made from Rye, so expect a hard texture. These rectangular bread pieces are smothered with various spreads like tomato, paprika, beetroot and cream cheese. They have around 29 varieties of sandwiches, out of which around six or seven are Vegan and two are cheese based. They are super cheap, and a combo of a small pint of beer or carrot juice is an excellent way re-energize your body for wandering in Vienna.
The only place to have Belgete Bronte is Trzesniewski, Vienna. The Trzesniewski, since 1902, has established more than 5 outlets across the city.
The other bread
Honestly, I hardly knew two types of Austrian bread. Every time, I bugged the baker and bought what suited me. I could try more than I did, if only they would sell those huge bread in smaller portions or mom and I could finish 0.5kg of bread!
Apart from croissants bread, I found in Austria tasty are –
- Spennel (the round bread with some star on top) – Cut it horizontally and fill it with berry jams and pesto cheese for a delight.
Brioche at Stiftsbäckerei St Peter – The sweeter bread with/without raisins is best when consumed hot.
Famous Austrian dishes that weren’t my cup of tea
- Mozartkugeln – This is one of the most famous souvenirs everyone takes home from Austria. But, The sugar balls covered in dark chocolate filled with nuts like pistachios caused me a brain freeze with their “oversweetness.”
- Veganista ice cream – I am not Vegan. Ice-cream without milk is not something I would like to eat.
- Kaiserschmarrn – The famous Viennese-torn pancakes made me pucker with their sweetness. I wish I had asked for less sugar powder before ordering. But that oversweetness made me never call it again.
- Salzburger Nocker – Yet another sweet dish which looked delicious but wasn’t made for a “mild-spicy tooth” like mine and my mom’s.
Do you find this Vegetarian food in Austria drool-worthy? Let us know in the comment section below.