Austrian food is not something you can easily put your finger on, and that’s a good thing. Crispy Wiener schnitzel is usually on the menu, but so are fried potatoes with bacon and egg, egg noodles with Alpine cheese, battered-chicken on salad, bottles and bottles of Grüner Veltliner, and a rainbow of glazed pastries. Every region has its own local cuisine, which you can explore at farmers’ markets, bakeries, coffee houses, fish farms, cheese makers, taverns, Alpine huts, street food carts, and Michelin-Star restaurants.
Local food means local producers and local ingredients. You’re finishing off a plate of sugar-dusted Kaiserschmarrn (a pancake-like dessert popular with the Emperor)? There’s a good chance the eggs and milk came from the farm next door, the lingonberry sauce from the chef’s garden, and the dessert wine from a vineyard two towns over. That’s why Austrian food tastes best when it comes straight from the source: the bustling kitchens that created and perfected it.
Maybe the single thing that unites traditional Austrian food is the attitude with which locals prepare and eat it. Enjoyment is the most important part of any meal and you’re encouraged to savor every single bite. Slow food is just food in Austria, where you can famously sit in a coffee house for hours, carefully sipping the foam top off your Wiener Mélange and read the paper cover to cover.