At the beginning of May, my wife and I took off on our honeymoon (a full “wedding post” will be forthcoming once we get our professional photos). We had originally booked an amazing two week trip to Cairo, but that was canceled due to the continued unrest. After weighing our options and many discussions with friends, we decided to relax and tool around Central Europe for a couple of weeks. Quite frankly, we knew nothing about Austria except the people we had spoken to said the country was “amazing” and “we would love it.” We were sold and we booked our tickets to Wien.
We arrived to a very cold and gloomy day which wasn’t a great start. Jet-lagged and mildly crabby after 25 hours straight travel, we fired up Happy Cow and saw a listing for Nice Rice. The friendly waitress was kind enough to suggest a couple of items on the menu that were her vegan favorites. They have a menu printed up in English which was helpful when first getting used to everything around you being written in German. We ordered up a hummus salad and chickpea veggie balls, both of which were very good. But the real treat was our first encounter with a dog in a restaurant. While we were dining, a woman walked into the restaurant with an adorable pooch, off leash of course. She down at a table with her friend and the dog crawled under an empty chair and went to sleep. This is not something you see in the states so we were floored, and thrilled, to see the dog hanging out. Awesome indoor dogs would be the theme of the entire trip.
After going back to our hotel and a full 14 hours of sleep, the weather had cleared up and we were good to go. When we travel, we generally do 3 things: eat, visit museums/architecture and drink. Before we left we had gotten great travel tips from Lex and Kristen of Vegan Europe and Melisser from The Urban Housewife so we set out to see what Vienna had to offer.
Our first full day started out getting a quick drink at Starbucks. They ask you if you want your drink to go. If you say “no” it comes out in a huge mug. I wish they would do that here as it’s a great way to reduce the number of wasted paper cups and plastic lids. We then headed over to the MuseumsQuartier and checked out an amazing Egon Schiele exhibit. The rest of the art at MuseumsQuartier was a bit disappointing, but the Schiele made up for it. Hungry for lunch, we tried our luck at the museum restaurant. We were treated to an amazing vegan quinoa salad, a great hummus plate plus another restaurant with a dog. We wrapped up the other 2 museums and did a bit of exploring around the city and headed back to our hotel to map out our way to an evening meal.
Before we left the states we had heard from multiple people that we absolutely HAD to visit Rupp’s Vegetarisches Cafe when we were in Vienna. The unique cafe is a Irish pub that features veggie versions of traditional Austrian/Irish dishes. All of the vegan items are clearly marked and you can get one of the 600+ types of whiskey they offer to add to your Coke. After a lot of going back and forth I settled on the goulash and Kelly settled on the schnitzel. Neither of knew what “schnitzel” was, but since it was a local dish one of us had to try it. Fortunately it turned out to be really good and as you can see from the pictures, the plates were huge. We were full but felt obligated to order the chocolate crepes with vanilla sauce because when are you ever going to find a vegan version of that again? Exactly never! We left Rupps both full and tipsy and headed back to our hotel for the evening.
The next morning rolled around and we woke up late (again) but had a plan to check out a vegan macrobiotic restaurant for lunch, so we killed some time and headed across the district to Makro 1. Ironically, the all vegan restaurant is on Fleischmarkt street. It’s a tiny space with a small grocery, one large communal table and a couple of other small tables which seat 2-3 people. They had a nice garden out front, but we elected to join the group at the large table. Makro 1 has a lunch special every day that consists of some kind of salad, a grain dish and a mixture of veggies. Even though the plate is small, they certainly pile on the food. Their healthy meal was a stark contrast to the previous evening’s fried/fake meat smorgasbord which was nice. We then set off to tour a few of the sites including the amazing St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the middle of the city and catch the Blue Rider exhibit at the Albertina featuring more Kandinsky and Klee than you could shake a squiggly line at.
After walking around the rest of the afternoon checking out the architecture we headed back to the hotel and fired up Happy Cow again (I wish the iPhone app had already been released) to see what we could scrounge up for dinner. We saw that Formosa Food had gotten pretty good reviews and was within walking distance, so it sounded like a good bet. The all vegan restaurant had a pretty extensive menu including burgers, tons of asian dishes and a few Italian dishes. I was curious to try the vegan lasagna but they were sold out, so I went with chicken cordon bleu, a dish I had never had before, vegan or otherwise. Kelly went with a safe bet, the thai “chicken” curry. Both were excellent. The other great thing about the restaurant is it includes a huge grocery store. Though it’s not completely vegan, anything that’s only vegetarian is clearly marked. We picked up a ton of vegan stuff we had never seen before including a bunch of Wheaty “Spacebar” sausages, Zero Zebra “Rice Milk Bars”, a couple of Bonbarr candy bars, a Vegan Bakery “Nougatring” and a few staples like Sheeze (at a serious discount compared to prices in the US) and Go Max Go bars.
At this point we hopped a train to Prague and then eventually to another Austrian city Salzburg. Recaps of those two cities will be coming shortly, but I wanted to focus on Vienna specifically for this post.
After spending a week in those two cities we were back in Vienna for one afternoon and evening before heading out the next morning back to the states. When thinking about where we would like to revisit for our last Vienna meal and Rupps was an obvious choice. Their extensive vegan menu kept calling our name, so we hopped back on the subway and back to the pub. Despite seeing multiple people ordering burgers that were the size of 2 Big Macs, we went with a couple more of the local dishes. I opted for the Chili Sin Carne and Kelly stuck with a couple of side dishes. The highlight of the evening was definitely hanging out with a great Labrador Shepard mix next to our table. We once again had to try a dessert, this time a apple strudel, which was good, but we’ve had better. And once again we left full and tipsy. Those 2 euro glasses of wine go down quick.
We both agreed that Vienna was an amazing city and super easy to visit as a vegan. After coming back to the states and revisiting some of the vegan Vienna blog posts, it’s pretty amazing all of the stuff we didn’t end up seeing. A perfect reason to go back!
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