Known as Vienna’s hipster district, Mariahilf (or the Sixth as it is typically called) lives up to its hip reputation with trendy restaurants and cafés that deliver on both quality and style.
Set among some of the most beautiful architecture in Vienna, the Sixth is full of independent boutiques, trendy vintage stores and quirky cafés. And with streets full of chic restaurants displaying inviting menus, the options for where to eat in Mariahilf can seem endless. With the help of Heidi Schüttbacher, who owns Kleider gehen um – a vintage clothing shop that has been supplying the 6th district’s most fashionable residents with pieces from designers such as Valentino, Sonia Rykiel and Pierre Cardin since 2015 – Culture Trip helps narrow down the options to bring you a carefully curated list of the best restaurants in Mariahilf.
In Mariahilf, streets full of chic restaurants display inviting menus Courtesy of Biodeli
Restaurant, European, $$$
The minimalist food concept at this Michelin-star restaurant – a tasting menu, with each course composed of just two elements – matches the pared-back grey-and-oak decor. The combinations and ingredients are often unexpected, and might include coffee and quail, carrot and wasabi, sea bass and kombucha, or salsify and poppy. A full menu costs €133 (£112.50), plus €95 (£80.50) for an additional wine pairing. But if you’re looking to have the Michelin experience on a budget, Aend also offers a three-course midday menu for €44 (£37).
The original Kuishimbo is a beloved but tiny Japanese restaurant in Vienna. Recently, the family behind the restaurant have opened a second location nearby, Shokudo Kuishimbo (Esterházygasse 12). The food at both locations is widely considered to be some of the most authentic Japanese cuisine in Vienna. “They have very friendly staff who serve the type of food you would find in Japanese shokudos [cafeteria-style restaurants with a range of menu items], served in many small bowls,” Schüttbacher explains. At Kuishimbo, you can try classics such as udon soup, ramen, Japanese fried chicken, seaweed salad, eggplant in a dashi broth, grilled eel and okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes). Schüttbacher recommends the agedashi tofu, which is served baked with a dashi broth and topped with grated daikon radish (Japanese white radish), ginger and onions.
For quick, healthy and cheap meals, Bio Deli is a go-to in the 6th district. One of the two delis in Vienna that are organically certified, Bio Deli offers a changing weekly menu, with delicious and healthy options such as an apple and radish salad with puffed quinoa and tahini-mustard dressing, and tagliatelle with roasted salmon, zucchini and a lemon cream sauce. All dishes can be made vegan, and the deli also offers takeaways in biodegradable packaging.
There may be many pizzerias in Vienna, but only one has an oven that looks like a giant disco ball. In the evening, coloured lights bounce off the shiny surface of Disco Volante’s pizza oven, creating a festive atmosphere in the otherwise sparsely decorated space. But there’s more to this place than disco lights. “There are 14 very good pizzas here, which are all Neapolitan classics, such as the tasty salsiccia al finocchietto [fennel sausage] and the verdure grigliate [grilled vegetables],” Schüttbacher notes. Check out the restaurant’s mouthwatering Instagram page for information on weekly specials. Pizzas are served until 11pm, and in the summer, Schüttbacher suggests dining on the covered terrace.
Set in elegantly decorated rooms with beige-and-dusty-rose furniture, minimalist black light fixtures and a futuristic mural on the walls, Sang Sang is the reincarnated, renovated version of Hanil, a restaurant that had stood in the same location in Vienna since 1989. Sang Sang, which opened in 2019, offers Korean classics, including barbecued meat, bibimbap, kimchi fried rice and tofu stew, as well as sushi, sashimi and teriyaki.
A cosy breakfast and lunch spot, Grains is part of the Saint Charles Alimentary, a “pharmacy restaurant” with a focus on healing herbs and plants. Grains, which has been open since 2017, offers intriguing dishes such as black sesame cream with fleur de sel, pear and cacao nibs, and congee with miso, vegetables, soy sauce and sesame oil. “Martina Hörlein cooks her tasty dishes with seasonal, organic products from the region,” Schüttbacher explains. The menu changes each week, but expect curries, plenty of vegetables, stews and grains like polenta. “A very popular lunch is kitchari from Ayurveda or a quiche with buckwheat-oat base and seasonal topping,” Schüttbacher says. Ayurveda is a healing practice with historical roots in India that emphasises eating certain foods to improve one’s health (among many other techniques). One of those foods is kitchari, which is a mixture of dal, or cooked split mung beans, and rice. “Grains is all about soothing soul food,” Schüttbacher adds.
Decorated with pretty Moroccan tiles, a large wooden communal table, brass lamps and bare light bulbs, Brass Monkey serves up Vienna’s best cupcakes (try the chocolate with peanut butter and blueberries) and Sachertorte with marmalade in the middle. The café also offers a wallet-friendly lunch deal: €8.80 (£7.50) for a main dish, perhaps avocado and bacon toast or croque-monsieur, and a soup of the day. Add on a side of French cheese and you’ll have yourself a midday feast.
Open since 1880, Café Sperl is well known for its excellent coffee and desserts such as plum and apricot cake, Salzburger cheesecake, poppy-seed pie and the café’s signature cake, which is made with chocolate, cinnamon and almond paste. But the café also serves a selection of heartier foods. “On the menu you will find classic Austrian dishes,” Schüttbacher says. Options include sausage, ham and cheese toast; dumplings; fried camembert; Wiener schnitzel; and boiled beef. Like many of Vienna’s coffee shops, Café Sperl is as much about the atmosphere as the food and drink. “You can read Austrian and international newspapers, or play billiards or a game of cards on cloth-covered tables,” Schüttbacher says, adding that there’s a “nice garden” for summer months.
Hanging in the middle of the room at this bar-restaurant is a steel shelf constructed in the layered style of a luster, or chandelier in German. Surrounding it are bare-brick walls that hint at the building’s long history (it was established in 1902) and French antiques. “Marco Pani is the name of the excellent bartender, who mixes classic cocktails and wonderful creations of his own,” says Schüttbacher. “The Thai Massage is very popular – gin refined with ginger and lemongrass, vanilla, chilli and lime juice.” And the menu is perfect for a light meal in Mariahilf, as Schüttbacher explains, “Delicious bar food is also on offer. For example, there is a spicy chopped cheese sandwich with or without beef. The home-made chips are especially delicious.” And for after? “There’s dancing in the cellar,” Schüttbacher adds.