An Expert's Guide to Salzburg's Best Restaurants

Salzburgs gastro scene attracts as many visitors as its historic sights
Salzburg's gastro scene attracts as many visitors as its historic sights | © zhang xiaoyu / Unsplash
Astrid Hofer

While Salzburg is best known as the birthplace of Mozart and the backdrop to The Sound of Music, the city has also turned into a culinary hotspot, attracting visitors from around the country and beyond. Restaurant expert Ilse Fischer talks Culture Trip through the best places to dine in Salzburg.

Salzburg certainly has no shortage of dining opportunities, ranging from high-end gourmet temples to more budget-friendly local taverns. However, with more than 10m visitors a year and restaurants on literally every corner, first-timers to Austria’s fourth-largest city might struggle to choose the best place to eat. Culture Trip asked Ilse Fischer – a restaurant critic at prestigious Austrian gourmet magazine Falstaff, one of the organizers of Salzburg’s annual eat & meet food festival and president of the city’s Slow Food Convivium – to share her top restaurants in town.

1. Ikarus in Hangar-7

Restaurant, European

This two-Michelin-star restaurant is located inside Hangar-7, an aircraft hangar near the city’s airport that’s owned by Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz. The unique setting is matched by the cuisine. “Ikarus has top guest chefs 11 months a year, with their own staff taking over the twelfth,” explains Ilse. Thanks to the unusual concept, the menu changes every four weeks, giving regulars a chance to try out dishes from all over the world, with a good range of plant-based options always available. Leave time before or after your meal to check out Hangar-7’s collection of historic planes and take some photographs of the impressive glass building.

2. Senns Restaurant

Restaurant, Austrian

Housed inside a former bell foundry, this restaurant combines industrial chic – brick walls, colourful modern art, steel accents and an old bell dangling from the ceiling – with an award-winning menu. “Chef Andreas Senn holds two Michelin stars, is well-known for his creative cuisine and never fails to surprise,” says Ilse, who praises the restaurant’s “very cool” makeover. The restaurant serves both Austrian and international food, with lunch, snacks and dinner options all proving popular. While its location in the city’s very north might be a bit out of the way, it holds cult status among Salzburg’s foodies, so booking ahead is essential.

3. Esszimmer

Restaurant, Austrian

Just a short stroll from the old town, Esszimmer (meaning “dining room” in German) is a perfect place for a date night. “Andreas Kaiblinger’s restaurant is a must when visiting Salzburg. His refined dishes, made only of the very best ingredients have earned him a Michelin star,” Ilse says. The passionate chef, who opened the place in 2004 together with his wife, Andrea, has worked at his craft for more than 30 years. The menu changes monthly and always includes vegetarian options. The homely interiors feature warm lighting, a fireplace and even a glass floor, which allows for a glimpse into a water channel from the Middle Ages beneath.

4. Restaurant Brunnauer

Restaurant, Austrian

Restaurant Brunnauer is rated for its mainly Austrian dishes, which make use of seasonal, regional and organic ingredients – sourced, sometimes, from the owner’s private garden. “Richard Brunnauer’s place is a foodie hotspot any time of the day, but it’s especially popular around noon – they have the best lunch menu in town,” Ilse says. The award-winning chef had more than three decades of cooking experience under his belt before opening his own place together with his wife, Sybille, a well-travelled tourist industry expert who now manages the restaurant. Brunnauer is housed inside the historic Villa Ceconi, less than 10 minutes’ walk from Hohensalzburg Fortress.

5. Gasthaus Hinterbrühl

Restaurant, Austrian

“If you are up for a traditional, rustic food experience in Salzburg, you can’t go wrong with Silvia and Peter Bernhofer’s place,” Ilse says. “They have all the classics from roast pork to schnitzel, as well as typical Austrian desserts.” For dessert, she recommends opting for Silvia’s famous powidl pofesen (the Austrian version of French toast stuffed with plum stew). Gasthaus Hinterbrühl is in the heart of the old town in a building dating back to 1380 that was once part of the city wall. The delightful dining room – with old-fashioned wooden benches and tables – is always packed with regulars and visitors.

6. M32

Restaurant, Australian, European

This restaurant is located on the mountain of Mönchsberg, one of Salzburg’s top attractions; with a huge terrace for the warmer months and panoramic windows, guests dine here with the whole city at their feet. “They have fine regional and international dishes and the views are incredible,” Ilse says. “No matter if you come for breakfast or after-dinner drinks, M32 is always an experience.” The menu is a mix of Austrian and Mediterranean dishes and the so-called business lunch on weekdays. That’s two courses for €16 (£14) – a bargain for excellent food and fantastic views.

7. The Glass Garden

Hotel Restaurant, Austrian

The Glass Garden, in a five-star hotel on Mönchsberg, more than lives up to its name; it is housed inside a massive glass dome with a large hand-blown sculpture at its centre. “Both the architecture and the city views are unusual, and the food is delicious and very innovative,” says Ilse, who recommends dropping in the hotel’s stylish bar for an after-dinner drink. While the restaurant prides itself on having “the best steaks in town”, award-winning chef Markus Mayr and his team also offer a vegan menu for guests on a plant-based diet.

8. Huber’s im Fischerwirt

Restaurant, Austrian

This traditional restaurant run by Andrea and Harald Huber has a strong focus on Austrian dishes, serving everything from schnitzel to tafelspitz (boiled veal or beef, served with minced apples and horseradish) and fresh fish. “The Hubers are great hosts and their classics with a modern twist are some of the best you can get in town,” says Fischer. The rustic interiors and idyllic patio (complete with a fish pond) add to a truly authentic Austrian feast. Chocolate addicts will be delighted by their hand-made treats. While the restaurant is quite far from the city centre, it’s well worth the trip.

9. Arthotel Blaue Gans

Restaurant, Austrian

A few blocks from famous Getreidegasse, this is first and foremost a boutique hotel. However, its in-house restaurant is always popular. People have been gathering here since 1350, with the vaulted ceilings and original panelling and mural paintings mirroring the hotel’s past. “Just like its name suggests, art is omnipresent here, from the restaurant vibe to their excellent menu,” says Ilse, adding that it’s “the perfect mix of tradition and innovation”. While most of the dishes are meat-based, there’s always at least one vegetarian option. End your evening at the hotel wine bar.

10. Paradoxon

Restaurant, Austrian

Paradoxon owner Martin Kilgas describes himself and his teams as “free spirits, cooking for people who don’t want to eat what they have already eaten” – a philosophy that is mirrored in their menu; an innovative mix of everything from burrata to lobster, tortilla and veal with sweet potato mash. “Martin Kilga’s concept is unusual, always surprising, and sometimes paradoxical,” explains Ilse. “If you are into this sort of thing, you are up for an unforgettable feast.” Paradoxon is just a short walk from Hohensalzburg Fortress, making it a great place to end (or start) your day of sightseeing. If you’re spending a weekend in Salzburg, you have to try their delicious brunch.

11. Restaurant Pfefferschiff

Restaurant, Austrian

Family-run restaurant Pfefferschiff celebrated its 10th anniversary in March 2020, and over that decade it has become one of Salzburg’s finest restaurants. The one-Michelin-star restaurant, a 10-minute drive north of Salzburg, offers a seasonal mix of Austrian and international dishes, as well as an extensive wine menu, featuring 750 different bottles with a focus on Austrian labels. “Chef Jürgen Vigne is well-known for his creative cuisine, using only best-quality ingredients,” explains Ilse, who recommends Pfefferschiff as “a pleasant city getaway”. The restaurant is housed in a former priest’s home, which gives it a unique atmosphere. The chef also runs regular one-day cooking classes – call ahead for dates and booking details.

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