An Expert's Guide to the Best Restaurants in Leopoldstadt, Vienna's Second District

Leopoldstadt is a great place for food enthusiasts
Leopoldstadt is a great place for food enthusiasts | © allOver images / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Valeriya Safronova
4 February 2020

Leopoldstadt, or the second district, is a quiet, leafy neighbourhood in Vienna, but there’s a lot more going on than might initially meet the eye. With restaurants that offer a range of cuisines and price points, Leopoldstadt is a great place for food lovers. Here’s our pick of the best places to eat.

Best known for Vienna’s famous Giant Ferris Wheel and Prater amusement park, Leopoldstadt has a lot going on beyond carousels and cotton candy. Walk through its shaded, lived-in neighbourhoods and you’ll find an array of restaurants serving up traditional Austrian food as well as Italian, Mexican, Japanese and French cooking, and more.

Culture Trip spoke to Lukas Hittinger, a trained chef who takes some 1,500 people around Vienna on food tours every year, to help choose the culinary highlights of Leopoldstadt. His tours take visitors to hidden spots around the city, such as a bakery that has been open since 1536 and a wine cellar inside of a mid-14th-century building that’s usually only accessible to members and guests. Here, Hittinger picks the best restaurants in Vienna’s second district.

MOCHI

Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
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The ramen craze has reached Vienna, and one of the best places to experience the soul-warming Japanese soup in the city is Mochi Ramen Bar (Vorgartenmarkt Stand 12-29). Choose a classic, such as tonkotsu (pork) ramen, or something more unusual, like ramen with wontons or clams, or a vegetarian ramen featuring mushrooms. Mochi Ramen Bar’s parent restaurant, Mochi, is more upscale, offering sushi, sashimi and nigiri; tapas, such as chicken skin or spinach with miso and sesame; yakitori (skewered and grilled meat and seafood); and robatayaki (food cooked on a charcoal grill). “It’s always fresh, it’s always perfectly made,” Hittinger says. “They try to make it as traditional as possible but they always add their own touch.”

Zum Friedensrichter

Restaurant, Austrian, $$$
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For locally sourced Austrian food in Leopoldstadt, Hittinger suggests Zum Friedensrichter, where you’ll find specially selected seasonal ingredients, such as wild garlic and asparagus in the spring, mushrooms and strawberries in the summer, goose in the fall and jams made of Austrian fruits and berries in the winter. “They have Viennese snails on the menu,” Hittinger says, adding: “They’re produced in Vienna.” One of Hittinger’s can’t-miss dishes here is the alt-Wiener backfleisch. “It looks like a schnitzel, but it’s made with beef, not from veal or pork. It’s marinated with mustard and horseradish. There’s so much to try here in Vienna, but this should definitely be on the list.”

Skopik and Lohn

Restaurant, Austrian, Contemporary, $$$
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Skopik and Lohn
© Dominik Geiger / Skopik and Lohn

Ever wanted to feel as if you’re eating inside of a painting? Here is your chance. Expressive black streaks of paint cover Skopik & Lohn’s white ceiling, which was designed by Austrian artist Otto Zitko. Below it, waiters in white jackets circle the warmly lit room. The restaurant’s elegance attracts a certain type of clientele. “A lot of Austrian TV hosts go there,” Hittinger says. “The food has a French influence. They have a traditional schnitzel and homemade gnocchi with truffle and beef tartare.” Finish your fancy meal off with a chocolate cake topped with salted caramel and sesame or a passionfruit creme brûlée with rosemary-honey ice cream.

Los Mexikas

Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
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The colourful, raucous decor at this restaurant, along with the authentic Mexican food and mezcal (an alcohol made from agave), will easily transport you out of the Austrian capital to the Western hemisphere. Among walls painted a bright yellow and hung with Mexican masks and artwork, you’ll find tacos, enchiladas, tortilla soup and flan, as well as micheladas (Mexican beer mixed with lime, tomato juice and spices), margaritas, and Mexican beers such as Corona and Pacifico to accompany the delicious dishes.

Pizza Quartier

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Set off the Karmelitermarkt, where slow-food vendors sell local produce and meat every Saturday, the people behind Pizza Quartier take a simple approach to their cooking. “It’s very honest pizza,” Hittinger explains. Pizza Quartier offers straightforward ingredients and operates from a belief that you are what you eat. Beyond pizza, the menu includes antipasti, pasta and some main dishes, such as a fish of the day. For something different, try the ‘black pizza’, which is made with a flour mixed with charcoal, or the deep-fried pizza, which is exactly the kind of gluttonous indulgence that it sounds like.

Schank Zum Reichsapfel

Restaurant, Austrian, $$$
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Most of Vienna’s heuriger, or wine taverns, are located on the outskirts of the city. Not Schank Zum Reichsapfel, though. “It’s not easy to find this level of quality so close to the city centre,” Hittinger says, explaining that the wine tavern license only allows owners to serve cold food. “So they make a pork roast, they let it cool down, and they put it on bread,” Hittinger continues. Cheeses and deli meats are available as well, to go with local wines such as Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and Blaufränkisch.

Spelunke

Restaurant, European, Asian, $$$
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For excellent cocktails to go with your food, Hittinger suggests visiting Spelunke. Decorated with graffiti and with layers of records attached to the walls, Spelunke has a casual, fun atmosphere and a rooftop space for the warmer months. Here you’ll find crispy fish, cod ceviche, roasted cauliflower, ribeye, octopus and truffle fries. As for breakfast, there are waffles, smoothies, eggs and special hangover combos that include curry with rice, fried kimchi rice and a Wagyu burger.

These recommendations were updated on February 4, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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