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CHRISTMAS

8 places to enjoy a cosy Christmas dinner in Vienna

Most Austrians celebrate Christmas (on December 24th) at home with their families. It can feel a little lonely in the capital Vienna if you’re not with family, so if that’s the case, or you’re just visiting for the holidays, here’s our pick of the cosiest and best restaurants for a traditional Viennese dinner.

8 places to enjoy a cosy Christmas dinner in Vienna
Photo: Kristoffersonschach/Flickr

It’s a good idea to book ahead – and remember to ask about special Christmas menus or events. Christmas Day, December 25th, tends to be quieter, with many places closed – so do check beforehand. Traditional Austrian Christmas foods include fried carp, roast goose or turkey, baked ham, Lebkuchen and Christmas cookies, as well as Sacher torte – served of course with Glühwein and Rumpunsch.

1st district

ef16 – a modern restaurant and wine bar in the city centre, offering a menu full of regional and seasonal produce. 

Fleischmarkt 16, http://www.ef16.at/xmas

Plachutta – something of a Vienna institution, famous for its boiled beef (Tafelspitz) and other Viennese classics.

Wollzeile 38, www.plachutta.at

2nd district

Skopik & Lohn – a high-end restaurant which is a favourite with Vienna ‘foodies’. Cosy but modern, with a menu which combines Austrian, French and Italian influences. 

Leopoldsgasse 17, www.skopikundlohn.at

Don't forget to indulge in some Christmas cookies… Photo: Clara/Wikimedia

4th district

Wiener Wirtschaft – a comfortable and unpretentious Viennese restaurant focussing on homey dishes and seasonal ingredients.

Wiedner Hauptstraße 27-29, www.wienerwirtschaft.com

5th district

Restaurant Silberwirt – a cosy 200-year-old pub restaurant (Beisl) which is very popular with locals, situated in a historic 14th century building complex.

Schlossgasse 21 www.silberwirt.at

6th district

Hotel Kummer Restaurant & Bar – this 4 star hotel on Vienna's main shopping street Mariahilfer Straße has a restaurant serving traditional Viennese specialties and international cuisine.

Mariahilfer Straße 71A, www.hotelkummer.at

7th district

Hotel Sans Souci – a boutique hotel in Vienna’s hip 7th district, just around the corner from the Museumsquartier, with a small restaurant offering Christmas and New Year’s Eve meals.

http://www.sanssouci-wien.com/en/la-veranda/christmas-and-new-years-eve.html

9th district

Restaurant Zur Goldenen Kugel – a creative take on traditional Viennese cuisine in a quiet, non-touristy neighbourhood.

Lazarettgasse 6, www.zurgoldenenkugel.at

FOOD & DRINK

How did the Wiener Schnitzel become an Austrian icon?

Despite being Austria's national dish, the origins of the Wiener Schnitzel lie further south. Here's the story of how the breaded meat dish came to popularity in Austria.

How did the Wiener Schnitzel become an Austrian icon?

The Wiener Schnitzel might be almost as famous at the city of Vienna itself; so much so the BBC says the Wiener Schnitzel “defines Vienna”. 

It turns out however that the dish was not invented in Austria at all. 

Even though there is Wiener (Viennese) in the title, the schnitzel actually originated from Milan in Italy as cotoletta alla Milanese, although the original recipe used a thicker cut of meat and was cooked with the bone in.

How did the Wiener Schnitzel become an Austrian icon?

As with many stories delving into Austrian history, the tale of the Wiener Schnitzel involves royalty, mythology and nobility. 

The story goes that Czech nobleman and Austrian Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky brought the recipe back to Vienna from Milan in 1857 after a trip there during the Habsburg rule.

READ MORE: Which Austrian cheeses are protected foods and why?

Radetzky described the dish as a “deliciously breaded veal cutlet” and the emperor requested the recipe. It was a huge success and the schnitzel quickly became popular across Vienna.

Today, the humble schnitzel is the country’s national dish and a key part of Austria’s culture.

You can even find it in cafes and bakeries as a sandwich version called Schnitzelsemmel, which is a schnitzel served in a bread roll.

What is a Wiener Schnitzel?

In case there are some readers out there that are unfamiliar with the Wiener Schnitzel, it is a piece of veal that is breaded and fried, then served with potatoes and a wedge of lemon. 

National Geographic describes the dish as “unassuming” but don’t let that fool you. The schnitzel dominates most menus in Austria and can even be found in restaurants specialising in international cuisine.

The schnitzel is also popular in households across the country, but outside of restaurants it is often cooked with pork instead of expensive veal.

READ ALSO: Caffeine, war and Freud: A history of Vienna’s iconic coffee houses

How to make Wiener Schnitzel

Impressing your Austrian friends with a homemade Wiener Schnitzel is easy.

Simply pound the meat (veal or pork) to an even thinness. Then dip it in flour, followed by egg and breadcrumbs. Fry the meat until it is golden brown. You want it to be crispy but not burnt.

Serve with boiled potatoes and a lemon wedge. A side of cranberry sauce is optional but recommended.

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