Latin American cuisine has been experiencing a spike in popularity around Vienna in recent years.
From tacos to Argentinian steakhouses, Brazilian street food, Mezcalaria madness, Cuban-inspired cocktails, and salsa dance parties, get a taste of Latin America at these food and drink spots in Vienna:
Mercado-Nikkei – Best Latin American
Where: Stubenring 18, 1010
MON−FRI: 12pm−2:30pm, 5pm−12pm
Mercado-Nikkei, a family-owned restaurant, has been able to make quite an impression in the Latin American gastro’ scene in Vienna by delivering a complexity of flavours of the Nikkei cuisine (a Japanese influenced cuisine born in Peru), while adding their own twist. The Japanese-Peruvian culinary sensation, Nikkei, served at Mercado is what the owners describe as the perfect combination of Latin America’s renowned tendency for chaos, and the discipline of the Japanese. You see, there is a huge Japanese population in Peru (it’s a long story) which meant they had a huge cultural impact on the country. Mercado’s Nikkei dishes sees Japanese dishes slapped together with the flavours and cooking techniques of the indigenous Peruvians to remarkable effect. Fresh fish is combined with limes, corn, aji peppers, yucca and the many kinds of potatoes that are worshipped in Peru. These flavour combinations bring together the best of the elegant and delicate cuisine of Japan with the freshness and spicy punch of Peru.
We also recommend… their home-made lemonade and fruity drinks will both refresh you and help you to picture yourself sitting on a beach somewhere
Soul food = 16.90€
Empanadas = 5.50–6€
Chef’s choice 3 course menu = 30€ p.P.
La Huella – Best Latin American
Where: Bürgerspitalgasse 29, 1060
TUE–FRI: 11am–2pm (only with a reservation!)
opening times are seasonal, these are for winter!
When you think about Argentinian cuisine, what comes to mind? In ours, it’s all about the sizzle of the grill. Their kitchen is beautifully simple – slap a piece of meat on the heat (tscch, tsssch) a sprinkle of salt and pepper, a splash of oil and good-quality fresh ingredients.
While nothing can beat actually traveling to Argentina and living off of meat, red wine, empanadas and grilled vegetables for the duration of your stay, La Huella is the more convenient, slightly closer, option.
The location of this place is a small hole-in-the-wall at the top of Mariahilfer Strasse. Once you walk in, the decor hints at the authenticity of the kitchen. There’s nothing fancy about the place, just as it would be in Salta, Argentina. The steaks are prepared the Argentinian way, and the meat is sourced from the homeland. We’d recommend partnering up with somebody at the table (or just inviting your significant other that you can eat messy BBQ with, with no shame) and going the parrillada for 2, which includes the different cuts of meat that are typically served up at a Argentinian parilla. And if you want to go the most Argentinian cut of steak on the menu, choose the Lomo cut – it’s tender, it’s juicy and it will have you understanding what inspires people to rave about the steaks from this country.
And that’s not all the Argentinian goodness you can experience at La Huelle. A glass of their wine with your steak is almost obligatory (ok, it’s not but you’d be crazy if you don’t) and we’d say go straight for the signature glass of the country, the Malbec.
Fun fact… the owner ran a catering business for ten years before taking the leap and starting La Huella three years ago.
Argentinian beer, Quilmes = 4.60€
Fernet Con Cola = 5€
Lomo steak = 33€
Starters = 2.30–13€
Mi Barrio – Best Latin American
Where: Münzwardeingasse 2, 1060
Mi Barrio, which translates to ‘my neighbourhood,’ is run by owners that come from Venezuela, Paraguay and the South and North of Spain. It’s a place that is the unofficial home of Latin American culture in Vienna. The location itself has been a Latin American venue for over 20 years, formerly known as Andino.
The menu boasts some of the tastiest treats from the continent – if you’re feeling adventurous, dive into a lasagna that uses grilled banana’s instead of sheets of pasta, if you’re just a little peckish, order the cheese sticks, but make sure to ask for more sauce, because you won’t be able to get enough of it. If you’re up for something familiar, their selection of Nachos, Burritos and empanadas will more than satisfy your tingling taste buds. Their filled arepa collection is also worth diving into. For those that have no idea what an Arepa is, these trending hand-held taste bombs are made out of ground maize dough and filled with tasty ingredients, like beans, avocado, salsas, and marinated meats.
There’s always a cocktail special during happy hour too, so if you prefer to graze with a buzz – treat yourself to one (or more) of those, then head upstairs to see whatever kind of event is happening in the venue that also belongs to this colourful place.
Good to know… the chances are high that whichever day you go here, there will be live music or dancing happening in one of the three halls.
Also good to know… renting this location for an event is free if they have an available time slot.
Beer on tap = 4.20€
Happy Hour cocktail = 4.40€
Starter = 5.80–7.20€
Main = 7.20 –18€
Taqueria Los Mexikas – Best Latin American
Where: Lange Gasse 12, 1080
This place is somewhat the golden child amongst the slim pickings of the Mexican cuisine in Vienna. Most locals will quote it as one of the best in the city. And while we feel it lacks the spice and ‘something extra’ that a Mexican place getting praise should provide, we’d still recommend it as a great option for those muchachos craving food from the land of Aztecs, Mayans and Mariachis.
It’s definitely authentic (while tamed a little for the European tastes in the spice department), with all of the corn-obsessed dishes you’d find on the streets and in the eateries of the homeland in the menu. Not only do they have your typical Tacos and Quesadillas, but they’ve also got traditional Tacos al Pastor made with spit-grilled pork meat, Huarache (the classic Mexican flat bread ‘sandal) with a variety of toppings, including green or red salsa, onions, potato, cilantro and a variety of meats, and an Enchilada, smothered in the red or green salsa, or the famous Mole sauce, that might have you serenading it like a Mariachi after every bite. Meanwhile, the guacamole is Muy Rico (meaning: delightfully delicious!)
Mexican beers beyond Corona – like Modelo and Sol – can be shot back, while you can also experience the flavour bomb that is the Michelada (a beer prepared with lime juice, assorted sauces, and a ring of spices and peppers around the glass). And, of course, the tequilas are a aplenty, while they also have a few artisanal Mezcals on their shelves (be sure to sip it… this stuff is strong!).
Nachos con queso = 5.80€
Mains = 6.80–13.50€
Mexican beer = 3.70–4€
Margarita = 7.50€
Pay by card: yes
Rio Gostoso – Best Latin American
Where: Wiedner Hauptstraße 34, 1040
MON & FRI: 10am–4pm
If you haven’t been to Brazil before, chances are you’ve never tried (or even heard of) a tapioca crêpe. However, if you have, there’s a 99.9% chance you’ve eaten loads of this beloved Brazilian street food. Whatever be the case, you can now get this carnival in your mouth at a small eatery in Vienna. What is Tapioca? Well, glad you asked! (we say pushing our glasses up on our noses, using our index finger). Tapioca, a very common ingredient in Brazil, is actually a gluten-free starch sourced from the cassava root, also known as manioc, yucca or mandioca.
When choosing which tapioca crepe at Rio Gostoso, we’d recommend you go for the Fortaleza (all dishes are named after Brazilian cities) – filled with loads of melted cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula and requeijão (a Brazilian cream cheese). To pimp it up, we opt for the beetroot tapioca flour, which not only looks pretty in pink, but also adds a subtle extra flavour to the rather neutral tasting spongy-looking tapioca. The crepe variations come in both savoury and sweet.
Tapioca “Rio de Janeiro” with cheese, tomato, oregano = 3.90€
Tapioca “Salvador” with Mozzarella, ham, palm heart, oregano = 5.50€
Tapioca „Olinda” (sweet) with condensed milk, guava jelly, coconut = 4.60€
El Burro – Best Latin American
Where: Margaretenstraße 9, 1040
Interestingly, you wouldn’t find these guys on any of your usual foodie fan websites, but that’s not because they’re crap, yet rather it’s purely because they would rather focus their energy elsewhere rather than pimping themselves out to the press. However, we found them. El Burro’s continued success is based largely on word of mouth, and when you are producing beautiful burritos as well as these guys, word of mouth is all you need. The menu is small, but mighty, and as one of the few that mixes it up with special kinds of burritos, it means that you can easily make numerous visits and try a different creation each time. Their locally-sourced products inflate the burritos to a point where you’ll take a couple of minutes to work out how you are going to eat it. The homemade sauces possess zing and lace the burritos nicely. Watching the burrito builders here, it’s clear they know what they’re doing. The burrito comes nestled on a basket of nachos, meaning that if you do have some spillages, you have something to mop it up with. If you have space in your belly for after the burrito that is. There is also a few bowl options and tacos on the menu.
The added bonus here is the atmosphere – the place is spruced up with local artwork that takes after the tongue-in-cheek humour of the team. Meanwhile, the team are relaxed and friendly (the kind of people we’d hang out with if we were cool enough) which adds to the fun-loving atmosphere in which you make a mess of yourself, your beer and your burrito, as the crew joke around. Oh, and the drink selection is stellar.
3 tacos = 9.10€
Burrito in a bowl = 8.90€
Pay by card: cash only
Clandestino – Best Latin American
Where: Stubenring 18, 1010
This “hidden” bar located just below Mercado is a Cuban-inspired speakeasy that brings together the joy of Caribbean-inspired cocktails with the comfort of a cigar lounge. It began as a bar offering something a little extra for those dining at the restaurant upstairs, Mercado. Meanwhile, the reputation of the bar grew, which convinced the owners to reopen it as a bar with its own identity. They named it Clandestino – a term meaning something of a dirty secret – and they named it this for a reason. Having to walk through the restaurant and downstairs into the bar adds some mysticism to your night out, and then when you finally make your way to this hidden bar it hits you! From the vintage decor to the cigar shelves. Then there are the drinks – boom!
Fania Live – Best Latin American
Where: U-Bahn Bogen at Thaliastraße U6, 1080
Do you wanna learn how to swing the dancing leg and move your hips rhythmically to the beats? Then Fanialive is the place to be! The bar / disco under one of the Stadtbahnbögen is known for hosting regular Latino parties (their Tropical Beats, Global fusion nights on Friday and Saturday nights are a blast) and dancing workshops. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for their live music nights, or when they drag in one of their special guest Latin DJs (which they do often).
© Photo via facebook.com/pg/Fanialive
Casa Mexico – Best Latin American
Where: Siebensterngasse 16A, 1070
MON–WED: 10:30am–1:30pm & 2pm–7pm
With its stark white front and the pinatas hanging from the ceiling, you’ll feel an uncontrollable urge to Fiesta when entering Casa Mexico. Not to mention the wall of rums on your left and the tequila on your right. This place is your headquarters for all things Latin American. Seeing that it is the only supplier of goods from the Latin American continent to Vienna if that particular salsa you’re looking for is in the city, your best chance is here. They also have an online store.
Dulce de leche = 9.99€ / 1kg
Amand Mate = 6.23€ / 1kg
Tortilla chips natural = 1.79€ / 150g
Ron Barcelo aged rum = 34.73€
el FEO – Best Latin American
Where: Breitenfeldergasse 22, 1080
TUE: check their Facebook page for events
Mezcal is the new whiskey. Well, it’s not, but it should be. Mezcal, like tequila, is made from the agave plant which is kind of a big deal in Mexico. And this holy Mexican distilled spirit is trending the world over, and time will only tell is it’s popularity will catch on in Vienna. The intimate Mezcalaria and bar, el FEO, will surely become super crowded if it does. Their damn serious about the stuff. To quote their menu: ‘Because most the Mezcal we source is made in small batches by some cool dude in a hut in México, our selection is always changing.’ So as you could imagine, their range covers all kinds of mezcal that burns your insides on the way down, from Espadin to Arroqueño. And as this stuff is one potent drink, they’ve got foods on offer in the way of tasty tacos and quesadillas.
Photo via el FEO
Taco Tante – Best Latin American
Where: Johannesgasse 12, 1010
Quality variants of the Mexican street food that fits in your hand, tacos, are hard to come by in Vienna. Until now. Taco Tante is the new taqueria bar bringing the lively vibes of Mexico to the city’s old city center with their menu (which is in the shape of a taco) packing tacos (which are tame, but full of flavour), burritos, quesadillas and more of the Tex-Mex favourites (including a burger with avocado on it). Latino music is playing on the speakers and they stock a few quality Mexican beers (yes, not just Corona) while their cocktails come potent with doses of mezcal and tequila. This is one fun place to get messy with some Mexican street food with friends. Check out the full review of Taco Tante, here.
Photos via Taco Tante