Though traditional Austrian cuisine tends to be heavy on meat, many restaurants in Vienna now offer a range of vegan and vegetarian meal options. Whether you plan to go for a casual lunch of vegan schnitzel or an eight-course veggie dinner at a Michelin-star establishment, the Austrian capital has a restaurant for you.
Ten years ago, finding high-quality, delicious vegetarian options in a Viennese restaurant was tough, says LIA, an artist who lives in the Austrian capital and runs the vegetarian food blog Vegetaria. “Restaurants would typically have a ‘light’ section of the menu where they would hide the vegetarian options, but I always had to check if they contained meat because this was never 100 percent clear,” LIA tells Culture Trip. “Basically, the only realistic way to be a vegetarian was to cook at home. When I went out to eat, I had to accept that I was not going out for the quality of the food, but for the company of my friends.”
However, over the past few years, the vegetarian and vegan scene in Vienna has drastically improved. “Today, it’s really not a big problem to get a good vegetarian meal when going out to eat,” LIA says of Vienna. “Even restaurants in small country towns have mostly adapted their menus to feature more vegetarian and vegan options.”
Those with plant-based, dairy-free or meatless diets can now find plenty to eat in Vienna, including a world-class meal at one of the city’s fancier restaurants. For smaller budgets, there are plenty of options inspired by a range of cuisines, including Indian, Vietnamese and even Austrian.
TIAN Restaurant Wien
Restaurant, Vegetarian, $$$
Though the eight-course vegetarian dinner at TIAN will set you back a fair amount of money, the restaurant’s popularity and, of course, its Michelin star shows that it’s well worth the cost. “[The chef] does things to your food that you would never imagine, like putting celeriac into the oven for hours, squeezing all the liquid out of it and then serving you this essence as soup with some other ingredients,” says LIA. A recent dinner menu at the vegetarian restaurant featured purple broccoli with amaranth and kefir, truffle pasta, and an apple, caramel and tonka bean dessert, and you can expect equally inventive options throughout the year. In addition to a wine pairing, the restaurant offers a non-alcoholic pairing, featuring drinks such as ‘carrot shrub’ and ‘beet water’.
A vegan version of the sharing menu is available at TIAN Bistro | Courtesy of TIAN Bistro
For a less costly version of the TIAN experience, LIA suggests heading to TIAN Bistro, which is about a half-hour walk away from the main restaurant. Here, you can sit outside in the bistro’s gardens or conservatory and have breakfast or lunch and dinner dishes, such as white polenta or crispy vegan tarte flambée. “If you don’t want to choose one thing, you can get the Sharing Chef’s Garden menu for dinner,” says LIA. “This is a really nice way to eat together with friends and have a taste of everything.” A vegan version of the sharing menu can also be requested.
Decorated with plants, chipboard panels and industrial details, such as hanging steel light fittings, Karma’s 2nd district location offers a homely atmosphere in which to nosh on an all-day breakfast menu, with choices including an Indian thali, with masala eggs, chana masala veggies (chickpea and vegetable curry), achar, cardamom rice pudding, roti and chai, or a vegan salmon sandwich with horseradish, pickled onions, herbs, dill, lime and capers. Karma’s other locations around the city offer seasonal lunch menus with dishes such as vegan bolognese, mushroom chilli, or carrot, fennel and coconut soup, as well as a daal of the week.
Austrian cuisine typically features a lot of meat, but Venuss puts vegetarian and vegan spins on the country’s classic dishes. Hearty options here include a white bean stew with citrus and fennel or goulash with chanterelles and carrots. LIA suggests going at midday for the buffet. “If you are in the inner city of Vienna and find yourself a little hungry, this place is definitely worth checking out,” she says. “Plus, everything here is organic.”
“Gorilla Kitchen has, in my opinion, the best vegetarian burritos in town,” claims LIA. The menu at this self-service, fast-casual eatery features two vegan fillings – tofu lotus and chard chickpeas – for your burrito or bowl. There is also a vegan sandwich with avocado and mushroom, and cheese can be added to all of the options. LIA explains that the food at Gorilla Kitchen comes with a choice of four salsas: avocado tomato, orange chilli, tomato with olives and capers, and habanero lime. “If the weather is nice, you can go outside, which I prefer, and enjoy your burrito in the sun at the pool in front of the Karlskirche, which is just around the corner.”
Cafe, Restaurant, Bistro, Juice Bar, Contemporary, $$$
Harvest | Image courtesy of Harvest
For an entirely vegan, all-you-can-eat weekend brunch in Vienna, head to Harvest Café-Bistrot in the city’s 2nd district. The restaurant serves up delicious vegan dishes, including jackfruit barbecue; ragout made from soy, red cabbage, pear and cranberry; and tagliatelle with pea-protein ‘meatballs’ and tomato sauce. Keep in mind that it can get busy at brunch time. However, night owls are well catered for here, too, as this cosy café stays open until midnight.
Komagene is the fast-food spot LIA heads to after shopping for seasonal vegetables at the nearby Viktor-Adler Markt. The speciality at this small café, which is part of a chain originally based in Turkey, is a vegan version of chee köfte, meatballs commonly made in Turkey, Armenia and Kurdistan. Here, the meat is swapped out for a paste made from bulgur, walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, chilli and many spices. “I love to get the chee köfte in a wrap, which also includes a green salad, chopped vegetables, lemon juice, hot sauce if you want, and pomegranate paste,” says LIA. “The wrap is simply delicious, and also rather cheap, and for me, it counts as a full lunch.”
“The food is always freshly prepared and made mostly for takeaway, but you can also sit at one of its small tables, enjoy some heavy metal music, which is sort of the trademark of this place, and be delighted by how friendly and happy the staff are,” says LIA. While the Vietnamese restaurant Hey!! is not exclusively vegetarian or vegan, many options on the menu can be made vegan by choosing tofu as the main protein rather than one of the meats or seafood. Even the pho can be prepared vegan.
An Asian restaurant with an emphasis on vegetarian options, BOK has many tofu dishes and variations of plant-based ‘meats’, such as mock duck. “I consider ‘fake meat’ less a necessity and more something fun and unusual to eat,” says LIA. The menu spans various cuisines, with teriyaki, malay fried noodles and mapo tofu stew being just some of the options. “[The restaurant] is really trying to convince people to eat less meat and fish,” explains LIA. “For some time, it even decided to skip meat and fish on Saturdays,” although the full menu range is now available every day.