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Is it OK to ask for a doggy bag in an Austrian restaurant?

Julia Hjelm Jakobsson
Julia Hjelm Jakobsson - [email protected]
Is it OK to ask for a doggy bag in an Austrian restaurant?
Do people take doggy bags from restaurants in Austria? Photo by Anna Hill on Unsplash

Taking leftovers home from restaurants is a common in many countries. But is it encouraged in Austria or will restaurant staff look at you with disapproval? Share your own experiences in the comments section below.


The "Doggy bag" culture of taking food home from restaurants has long been common in certain countries like the US. But in Europe until recently it was not well established. 

Travellers to Austria and new arrivals have often posed the question about whether it's deemed acceptable to ask waiting staff in an Austrian restaurant for their leftovers to be packed up.

The simple answer is yes, it's now widely accepted that diners in Austria can take home what they haven't eaten. 

"Wrapping up leftovers is now a common practice in most restaurants" say Natürlich Weniger Mist, an eco-friendly initiative of the City of Vienna that encourages new ways to save resources.

However there is not a common German word for doggy bag and internet users do warn that certain restaurants, the more traditional ones, may still frown at the idea.

But as in other countries people in Austria care more and more about not wasting food as part of creating a more sustainable lifestyle that is good for the environment.

When you ask for your leftovers to be packed up, it is seen as you are being thoughtful about not wasting food. It also shows that the restaurant cares about its guests, is service-minded, and thinks about the environment.

Most restaurants offer paper boxes for the leftovers in Austria, and you normally do not have to pay anything for the box.


People have pointed out that the sizes of portions in Austria are often not as big as in the US so there is less need for doggy bags.

Initiatives to reduce food waste

Even though packing leftovers is a common practice, Austria still wastes 790,790 tons of preventable food waste every year (2021). To solve this situation, many initiatives are being taken to reduce food waste, including the encouragement of “doggy bags” from restaurants.

The organization Zero Waste Austria focuses on reducing food waste to a minimum, ideally to zero. As part of their policy, they encourage boxes for leftovers at restaurants as a way of avoiding unnecessary food waste. Another initiative that encourages “doggy bags” is Wiener Tafel food box, a project that started in Vienna in 2014 to reduce food waste in restaurants, hotels, catering companies, and at events with a buffet. The food box is a biodegradable storage container and can be tightly sealed and is now commonly used all over Austria.


Apart from those initiatives linked to packing leftovers at restaurants, many other organizations in Austria are working on reducing food waste, such as Foodsharing Austria, which collects excess food from restaurants and supermarkets, and gives it to those in need. There is also Food Rescuer Austria, Lebensmittelretter Österreich, which works in a similar way to Foodsharing Austria.

Origin of doggy bags

The origin of boxes for restaurant leftovers is said to be from the US. It became a common way of handling leftovers in restaurants at the beginning of the 20th century. In 2002, 91 percent of Americans used so-called "doggy bags." It was a common solution to the large portions served in American restaurants; these portions are around 1.75 times larger than those in Austria or Germany.

How to not waste food when you eat out

  • If you don't like a side dish, say that you do not want it instead of leaving it on your plate
  • Ask for a smaller portion or share with someone if you are not so hungry
  • Make sure you know what you order
  • Always ask for your leftovers to be packed

READ ALSO: Is the Wiener Schnitzel really from Vienna?


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