The Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur takes T+L on a meal-by-meal tour of Vienna.
Kurt Gutenbrunner may have grown up in Wallsee—a small town along Austria’s Danube River—but it’s Vienna that’s played the most significant role in his culinary trajectory. “I was lucky enough to live and work there during the early years of my career, surrounded by such amazing culture, architecture, and design,” he says. “Even the general way of life inspired elements of my New York restaurants—from the Thonet chairs to the Josef Hoffman light fixtures.” Those restaurants in question: the Michelin-starred West Village mainstay, Wallsé, and its neighboring food and wine shop, Upholstery Store; plus Café Sabarsky, inside the Upper East Side’s Neue Galerie, and Blaue Gans, a traditional wirtshaus-style eatery in TriBeCa.
And since the culinary tour de force frequently returns to Vienna, we asked him to bring us along to his favorite spots on a recent visit. Here, your Gutenbrunner-approved Viennese itinerary:
Breakfast + Coffee
“As soon as the plane touches down in Vienna, coffee is already on my mind. There are more than 800 traditional coffeehouses around the city, many of which were at one point in time a second home to artists, composers, and intellectuals such as Gustav Klimt, Gustav Mahler, and Sigmund Freud. They’re not only a place to sip your Weiner Melange (or “Viennese blend” of coffee), alongside a strudel or Sacher torte, but they’re also an integral part of the Old Town’s history.
Among the best ones are Café Griensteidl and Café Sperl, though Café Landtmann—having opened in 1873—is perhaps the most renowned and elegant. It’s one of my absolute favorites that I never miss when I return home.”
“Strolling through the city center is like walking through a free outdoor museum. The cable cars around the Ringstrasse can take you next to little coffeehouses like Trzesniewski, which is a place I love in the Dorotheergasse. They offer small, delicious, open-faced sandwiches with a tiny glass of beer.
At Naschmarkt, a vast 16th-century market in Vienna, you’ll have endless opportunities to try different cuisines—including Turkish specialties or Mediterranean fish dishes, which can be sampled at Kim Kocht.
Afterwards, my wife, Angelika, and I take long walks in Lainzer Tiergarten to visit the Hermesvilla, a small, romantic castle where Empress Elizabeth would spend summers. The on-site restaurant, Artner, is a great place to have lunch outside. The chanterelle goulash and apricot dumplings we ate there were two of the most memorable dishes of the trip.”
“Vienna has of course, many wonderful restaurants to cap off the day. This time we went to Heurigen Zimmermann, in the 19th district, which is a perfect example of traditional design with a beautiful courtyard that feels worlds away from the hectic city. We had a wonderful wiener schnitzel, along with Backhendl, a famous Viennese fried chicken dish. Again we ordered chanterelles, but this time with scrambled eggs, chives, and Bibb lettuce. If I were to eat my last meal on Earth, I would order this dish. Then, of course, we had Palatschinken (Austrian crêpes) with a strong cup of Viennese coffee to end the lovely evening.”