Staying with friends is one of my favourite things to do whilst I travel, aside from the extra fun throwing your friends into the mix brings and the ability to relax as if you were in your own home they also know all of the best vegan spots in town. As soon as Nick and I dropped our one bag off at Carmen and Joshua's place in the 4th district we headed around the corner to a hot dog spot that had opened since I was last in town a year ago. Hildegard Wurst isn't vegan but they have a vegan dog that you can doctor with an array of toppings and I love the classic americana style of the place.
We all went for the classic dog topped with ketchup and mustard because you can't really beat that combo and they arrived fast and hot. What more could you ask for?
Another place in the 4th district is Matcha Komachi, I actually wrote about this place before when it was called Metcha Matcha and it's right next door to Hildegard Wurst. This is one of my favourite places in Vienna because I love Japanese food and this is Japanese food done well. They don't have a tonne of vegan options because of the ever present dashi but they mark the vegan options on the menu and their onigiri are top notch.
This time around I tried the Avodado onigiri as well as the Ume and Wasabi that I always go for. These make the perfect breakfast lunch or dinner snack and Nick and I grabbed more to go on our way out of the city as they also make excellent road trip food.
Another delicious and accidentally vegan delicacy Vienna has in store are apple strudel or berry strudel from Anker, an Austrian bakery chain,
Anker label all of their vegan options which range from these delicious strudels (apple is the best in my opinion) to pretzels and even a sandwich or two. I wish more UK bakery chains would follow take some steps in this direction and offer some clearly marked vegan options.
Bok is somewhere I visited on one of my earliest trips to Vienna and I can't really remember why it's taken me so long to go back, perhaps it was because there are just so many places to eat in and around Vienna that it's hard to keep re-visiting your favourites when you're only visiting for the weekend?! Anyway I remember enjoying Bok but this time I loved it. Maybe my tastes have changes or I just ordered better but daaamn there was some delicious stuff happening at our table after the initial fight over their last plate of inari tofu! I went for the sesame tofu to start as my love for silken tofu just grows and grows as the years pass by.
As I've mentioned a couple of Vienna's vegan sushi options I feel like I have to mention my experience at Pirata, Vienna's 100% vegan sushi spot. I really wanted to support this relatively new business but they need to sort some stuff out before I'll go back. When we arrived at dinner time one evening they had about 8 pieces of sushi on display. They were able to rustle up a couple more but then they offered us yesterday morning's sushi for half off... I'm not a huge food snob but sushi that has been refrigerated for 24 hours is a huge no. Whilst we were all sharing our small plate of mediocre rolls they turned away at least nine potential customers who felt, as we did, that the day old sushi would not make a decent meal. I would suggest they take a leaf out of Beyond Sushi's book (as they're clearly trying to corner Vienna's quirky sushi market) and invest in some black rice and mayo based toppings as well as endeavouring to keep it all as fresh as possible.
Vienna is one of the best places ever to do a spot of vegan friendly shopping - they really have you covered! Veganz is, like everywhere I've mentioned in this post so far, in the 4th district and after a spot of browsing we settled on a box of these Coconut and Bourbon Vanilla Bonbons to cool us down.
They were great, if they hadn't been specifically coconut flavoured I'd have been annoyed at their coconuttyness and it would be cool (Get it?! Haha!) to see a soy based chocolate variety in the future. Veganz also have a new range of faux meat products that I jumped all over. These Lemon Pepper Schnitzels were my favourite purchase and they made a great in van dinner alongside some buttery potatoes and green beans.
Veganz also sell this locally produced Hazelnut Strudel Bread which I crave far too often. It's the perfect brunch accompaniment. You can also pick one up at branches of Spar Gourmet .
Austrian supermarket chain Merkur Markt was another must visit spot on our tour of the city as they've recently added a lot of new vegan items in the Vega Vita range. The range spans everything you might want as a vegan from soups and faux meat products to ice creams and gummy sweets. The tubs of Almond and Pistachio ice cream are the best imho and you can also buy them at local ice cream parlour Schwedenplatz. The cheese filled sausages in the top right of this picture are another fave', they hold together even once the cheese has melted and I was left kicking myself as I only bought one pack. What was I thinking?!
Merkur is also the place to get your hands on Alpro's best flavours of soy yoghurt, the apple strudel and lemon pie flavours are my favourite yoghurts in the world and I am very sad that my stash of them ran out last week. The lemon pie flavour is so perfectly tart and creamy that I can envisage myself eating it every day forever without getting bored.
The vegan ice cream scene in Vienna is totally off the hook at the moment and you can get your fix by the scoop or in tubs at Eissalon Am Schwedenplatz, in chocolate covered pop form at Freiraum Deli on MariahilferStraße and/or by the scoop at Gelateria Bortolotti on MariahilferStraße, at Eis Greissler or at Eissalon Armando.
Whilst I may never have time to hit up all of my favourite spots from previous trips I always manage to squeeze in a meal at Formosa. The food there is, for the most part, cheap and deep fried which is how I like it. I'm a particularly big fan of the pancake which comes stuffed with carrots, cabbage and faux ham and topped with a sweet teriyaki style dressing as well as a creamy mayo based dressing. It's crunchy and slightly sweet as well as being both ridiculously filling and delicious.
If the pancake does't take your fancy Formosa also do burgers and schnitzel plates, which I am sure are just as wonderful as they look, as well as soups, salads and curries.
There are always new things to try in Vienna though and sometimes vegan food can be found in the most unexpected of places. Vienna's Hotel Am Brillanten Grund is definitely one of these spots.
The hotel's ground floor cafe and courtyard has more of a smart casual restaurant vibe than I was expecting and they specialise in Pinoy, or Fillipino, dishes which are created by chef Mom. Almost every single item on the menu can be made vegan using tofu or seitan and everyone I ate with loved their meals. Nick tried the Arroz Caldo, a stew like soup of rice and tofu, whilst I opted for the house speciality Bistek veganised with seitan.
The seitan standing in for meat in my traditional Fillipino Bistek dish was thinly sliced and incredibly tender and I adored the way the almost tart flavour of the citrus soya marinade meshed with the crisp fried onions and peppery rocket salad to create one of the most interesting dishes I've eaten in a long time. I would highly recommend it. Nick's stew was also a winning choice, both warming and filling and flavoured with copious amounts of ginger and a touch of lemongrass. My friend Carmen ordered the burger which came on a bun that was very steamed bun-esque. She assured me she'd definitely order it again and I hope that I get to go back and try it someday.
One place that despite not being in Vienna is on my Vienna must visit list is Gasthaus Schillinger. Nick and I made our first pilgrimage there on our honeymoon road trip almost exactly five years ago and we'd been dying to go back ever since. Gasthaus Schillinger is located 40 minutes outside of Vienna in Großmugel and you'll need either a car or a bike and strong leg muscles to get you there. We went by car so that we didn't die before getting to eat there again.
The menu isn't vast but it still took us what felt like an age to make a decision. Eventually I went with the tried and tested option of copying what one of my friends was ordering. This works well when your friends have similar tastes to you, there are some friends whose restaurant orders I would never copy as I'd end up with salad for brunch or something equally ridiculous. You know who you are!
My order was "kotelette aus de pfanne mit wheatyfisolen und barteredäpfeln" which I believe translates to pork chops with fried potatoes and wheaty and green beans.
The wheaty is chopped sliced faux meat and both that and the beans were fried in plenty of garlic butter. It was intensely amazing and it took all of my willpower not to order a second plate for dessert. Nick ordered a Cordon Bleu which, in case you haven't heard of this traditionally Austrian dish, is two seitan steaks stuffed with cheese and then breaded and fried. It came with a side of buttery herbed potatoes that I may have loved even more than my roasted potatoes. Nick's pretty nice so we shared! The dessert menu is full of divine dessert options and I really don't think you could go wrong with any of their sundaes or pancakes. Nick opted for a hazelnut and chocolate filled pancake and I chose a sundae with three flavours of ice cream, chopped hazelnuts, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.
It was one of the most intensely delicious dessert experiences I've ever had. The ice cream was creamy and flavourful and the chocolate sauce walked the line between sweet and bitter perfectly but the star of the show was the light fluffy whipped cream which was on par with the one they make at Veganerie in Bangkok.
If you're unable to make it out to Gasthaus Schillinger the owners have another restaurant, Swing Kitchen, which is located smack bang in the centre of the city just off of the main pedestrianised shopping street. Despite being owned and operated by the same people Swing Kitchen really couldn't be more different, they have a fast food focus and serve up burgers, chunky chips, wraps, desserts and soft serve ice cream. As a fast food fan I was excited to give Swing Kitchen a whirl and dived into the menu with gusto trying the chicken wrap, burgers, nuggets, fries and chocolate dipped soft serve over the course of a couple of days.
I was impressed with everything I ate although surprisingly my favourite savoury menu item was the salad heavy chicken wrap rather than the burger I tried. I also loved how fast the food really was, I have fond memories of Brighton's Red Veg but their attempts at veggie fast food had to be the slowest imaginable. It would sometimes take upwards of 20 minutes to wait for your burger or hot dog which really isn't what people are looking for when they think fast food. Swing Kitchen gets this spot on. Their soft serve ice cream is beyond perfect and I almost flipped out when I tasted the chocolate dipped version for the first time and realised that the crunchy coating was just like the one found on a Feast ice cream bar. If you aren't British you might not know what that is but trust me it's a compliment!
I already miss Vienna and I know that I'll be back one day... maybe the route Nick and I take home from the Balkans will just have to pass through the city!