Operngasse, which becomes Margaretenstraße at some point, has long been a magnet for bar-goers, cafe creatures and indie shop hoppers. It’s been home to the like of legends like the retro cinema, Filmcasino, and the grungy bar, Schikaneder, for ages, while many other newcomers have popped up over recent years.
Breathing the neighbourhood-like charm of the 4th, while lined with grungy bars and a cast of cafes, this street with two names, that shoots out from the city center and buries itself deep into the 4th, should come to mind when you’re deciding where to head for a breakfast, or beer… or both. Here are some of the places on this strip that makes this street a favourite amongst many in this city.
Aromat – Margaretenstraße/ Operngasse
Where: Margaretenstraße 52, 1040
TUE: 6:30pm–10pm (kitchen until 9:30pm)
WED–SUN: 5pm–10pm (kitchen until 9:30pm)
The look of Aromat from the outside is definetely outshined by what’s being served up inside aka. tasty French food. The small restaurant started out as a Crêperie in 2002, tried serving up traditional lunch menus, but then soon returned to its roots and now serves up some of the tastiest French snack food in the city. They actually claim to be the best Crêperie in Vienna, owner and chef of Aromat, Oliver, tells us. We’re sceptic of such claims, but their freshly-made galettes (a buckwheat pancake with savoury fillings) and pancakes are outrageously good! So if you do check out this little eatery on Margaretenstraße, make a reservation as it’s usually packed.
Galettes = 6.90–10.90€
Crêpe = 2.90–4.90€
Cidre per glass = 4.20 per glass / 18–21€ per 0.75l bottle
Cidre per 0.75l bottle = 18–21€
Porzellanmanufaktur feinedinge* – Margaretenstraße/ Operngasse
Where: Margaretenstraße 35, 1040
Feinedinge* is a place of porcelain where showroom meets shop meets manufactory. The first feinedinge* shop opened in 2005, but only 4 years ago, Sandra Haischberger and her team moved to this big and bustling location in the fourth district. Huge windows brighten up the place, and upon entering, you’ll immediately spot the workshop that is pretty much integrated into the shop. Sandra tells us that this store and workshop concept focuses on sustainability and efficiency: Not a single finished item has to travel long distances to get from the hands that manufactured it to the hands of the happy person who comes to own it. Besides this, feinedinge* customers can get a better, more intimate feeling with the piece of porcelain that they’re buying. Curious people, like us, can peek at the team crafting new tableware and build a closer relationship to the story behind the piece. It’s a real experience, and their porcelain creations are magnificent and practical art.
Good to know… every piece is unique, and despite the fancy look, they are usable for everyday situations as they are dishwasher-safe and mikrowavable!
Matcha Komachi – Margaretenstraße/Operngasse
Where: Operngasse 23, 1040
It’s not all Matcha at the Matcha Komachi. Rather, it’s a very special place serving up traditional and high quality Japanese food. You can get the full range of usual and unusual Sushi, typical Japanese dishes and rice cakes – which we highly recommend. And if you are a Matcha fan – you’ll find here everything your Matcha heart desires. The restaurant is not just perfect for a lunch break or to take some delicious meal away, but also for a casual date dinner. It’s not the prettiest place, still it has a cool relaxed atmosphere and the waiters wear kimonos (we want one!). Makes you feel like you are really in Japan.
Swing Kitchen – Margaretenstraße/Operngasse
Where: Operngasse 24, 1040
Swing Kitchen is boutique fast food for vegans. “If that’s what vegan food is like, I’ll start eating vegan every day now,” one of the guys on the table next to us mumbles with a satisfied smile on his face while gulping down his burger.
Well, to be fair, the food at Vienna’s Swing Kitchen is delicious. The soft bun, the tender soy burger patty that mingles with the creamy sauce and crunchy roasted onions – all of this delights the tastebuds. Sure, it has little to do with choosing a vegan lifestyle – but who cares as Swing Kitchen is fun. The black-and-white tiles and big lamps in that industrial chic look straight out of New York, the big band swing music playing in the background – it’s all very laissez-faire, yet also aims to draw on (in a modern way) the “innocence” and soul of the big band swingin’ era.
The huge chalkboards assure the guests that all the plastic you see at Swing Kitchen is bio-degradable, while the heavy cast iron trays add to the down-to-earth feel of the “simpler times” theme happening here. Why is the chain called “Swing Kitchen”? It isn’t because of the Swing music. Yet rather, its name reflects the movement it ambitiously aims to inspire in the non-vegan community. As Irene and Karl “Charly” Schillinger, the heads of the whole shebang, put it: “If vegan fast food can make at least some of the meat-eating folk swing to meatless days occasionally, that’s a big win already.”
The Schillingers are pros when it comes to transforming traditional meat dishes into vegan creations. They’ve been doing so in their popular restaurant in Großmugl, around 50 minutes outside Vienna, where they re-interpret the classics of Austrian cuisine.
Make sure to check out our full review of Swing Kitchen, here!
Café Nest – Margaretenstraße/Operngasse
Where: Operngasse 25, 1040
It’s the kind of place you’d bring a book or laptop to in the middle of the day. Except on the weekend when it becomes quite full with people having lazy breakfasts. Then you can bring your girlfriend, boyfriend, pet llama along and leave the book at home.
It’s quiet when we visit the Café Nest. There is a calm about this place as chilled as the Dalai Lama in a bubble bath. One can understand where it comes from once meeting the soft-spoken owner, Maximilian. It’s as if he’s taken his boyish smile and composed nature and made it into a café.
This is not the first Café Nest, yet the sibling to an older charming brother up in the 19th district. The German word ‘gemütlich’ which Max uses to describe the place goes a long way in accurately defining the cafe. The décor is made up of furniture that dosen’t seem to know each other, but get along well together all the same. There are couches, and a long sweeping bench that runs along in front of the big windows that opens onto Operngasse where one can watch the hipsters, artists, those with a fetish for vintage, wander past on the way to their ateliers, a grungy bar, or one of the funky cafes that line the street. Café Nest is one of those.
We love… The food counter made out of the doors from an old 80’s wardrobe.
We also recommend trying… the splendid cheesecake if it’s available.
Hildegard Wurst Deli – Margaretenstraße/Operngasse
Where: Operngasse 23, 1040
What began as a little red food truck, grew and settled into this little home it has on the 4rth district’s prize street. Hildegard Wurst serves up hot dogs American-style, with a slightly sweet, soft hot dog bun housing a pale pink sausage and a whole lot of different toppings. From fried onions, hot chilis, jalepenos to chili con carne (winter only) – a vast variety of topping combinations are on offer.
No turning your nose up in disgust at this non-traditional sausage dealer as Hildegrad Wurst is doing its own thing in style (alongwith a whole bunch of delish relishes), and the young and hip in the city are liking it.
El Burro – Margaretenstraße/Operngasse hot spots
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.
Schikaneder – Margaretenstraße/Operngasse
Where: Margaretenstraße 22–24, 1040
It’s a bar, it’s a cinema, it’s everything a true bohemian nightfall’s heart desires. To begin with the bar – it’s grungy and looks like the insides of a cocaine addicts nostril, and we love it. It’s a legend amongst the locals for the character it naturally emanates that it has earned over its many years as a dive bar to hangout in, in a come-as-you-are atmosphere. Then there’s the indie cinema attached to it. Run by the same crowd as those that run the Top Kino, this is an integral part of Vienna’s film scene. Fitting to the interior and the whole atmosphere, you won’t find any blockbusters up on the screen here, but instead, indie cinema is shown here, usually in its original version, or with subtitles. It also screens many of the films from the human rights film festival, This Human World.
The run-down Beisl (Austrian for bar) attached to it is full of the kind of people that frequent the films shown here – students, creatives, individuals sharing heated discussions about the latest social trend or quirk, or the current political issue. Don’t expect a huge cinema, yet rather a small, grungy, living room affair.
Good to know: you can easily rent the Schikaneder to premiere your own movie masterpiece.
Showtimes: see here
Photo © www.schikaneder.at
Figar 1040 – Margaretenstraße
Where: Schleifmühlgasse 7, 1040
This good looker of a cafe is the much bigger twin branch to the popular Figar cafe of the 7th district. Sporting a similar look, it also carries a similar menu of internationally (and global trend) inspired dishes, from well-layered salads to Chili basil beef on a bed of quinoa and a coconut This curry. The cooks hit the market consistently here. Their breakfasts options are plentiful, with plenty of the crowd pleasers like Eggs benedict and assortments of porridges. There are also the makings of a typical Viennese breakfast in their too if you’re looking for something closer to home (that being if your home is Vienna). The beers and wine list is solid, so it works also as a nightspot to catch up with friends for drinks. Mr Figar and co. know what they’re doing when it comes to making slick looking cafes that make you feel like your part of the IN crowd when sipping coffee or dining in them.
Cafe Bacco – Margaretenstraße/ Operngasse
Where: Margaretenstraße 25, 1040
This restaurant has no menu, but instead, a giant of a man who wanders from table to table over its squeaky wooden floorboards will tell you what you want. And trust us, he knows better than you do.
Café Bacco inspires love in the people that know it, and we’ll inspire hate in the same people for telling you about it. It’s chairs squeak when you move in them and there’s a whole lot of ‘bongiorno’-s and ‘Allora!’-s being thrown around in this dark-wooded place. This may just sound like another pizza and pasta joint where Italian charm is thrown in for tips, but no, simply no – you can’t fake the authenticity of Café Bacco.
Carrying around a huge chunk of Mortadella with a carving knife is the giant we spoke about, Alberto Stefanelli.
This big personality of the place is your menu. Just tell him what you feel like and he’ll take care of the rest, and while the thought of leaving the fate of our dish in somebody else’s hands scares the hell out of us at first, our nerves ease as we see the delight on the other guests faces when trying the random dishes he serves them.
We see pasta in plentiful variations slid under diner’s noses, alongwith the likes of steaks the size of our uncle Jim’s left hand (he has enormous hands… and strangely, especially his left one).
Cafe Bacco is a special place. It’s a real place serving up real food in a restaurant scene that’s becoming increasingly stylised. And like any special place, the limited amount of seats here are valuable. So if you foresee yourself trying to order pizza while occupying one of those special seats with your special ass, do please go somewhere else and leave Bacco for us dedicated diners (said with the voice of a desperate child possessive of their mother).
You can check out our full review of Cafe Bacco, here.
Zweitbester – Margaretenstraße/ Operngasse
Where: Heumühlgasse 2, 1040
Zweitbester doesn’t claim to be the best, but instead, they are more than happy being in a solid second place. Located in the heart of the 4th district, sandwiched between the Naschmarkt and Margaretenstraße is this former coffeehouse turned bar-restaurant-gallery fusion. It’s sporting a copper and concrete combo with their polished concrete bar, copper pipes everyhwere and bare brick walls. They offer a lunch menu made up of international cuisine which they change up every day, and is damn delicious. Meanwhile, plenty come here for the Zweitbester cheeseburger (we think the tasty onion chutney in it might have something to do with it) and their quinoa salad made a good impression on us. But there’s more to this place than their excellent food and drinks, as it also serves as a gallery, lending the place a creative edge. Every other month, they have a local artist put their artwork up on the walls.
The interior is dark, noir and moody and somehow feels incomplete because of the exposed exhaust system hanging from the arched roof, but that’s the rough and ready look that turns people on these days.
Beef tartare = 8.90€
Zweitbester Cheeseburger = 11.90€
Brunch = 16.50€
Filmcasino – Margaretenstrasse/ Operngasse
Where: Margaretenstraße 78, 1050
We adore this cinema and it’s old-school charm. Entering the Filmcasino, you’re thrown back into the 50s or 60s. The entire interior, from the facade of the ticket counter and bar, to the lighting and the furniture – everything is a big throwback to the good old movie theatres we’ve never been to, but know from the movies. Filmcasino takes care of the film buffs craving art-house, indie, or international cinema that is hard-to-find in other cinemas in Vienna. European and Asian documentaries, short films, and independent productions are all common in the programme, in their original versions and mostly with subtitles (with most international films screened with English subtitles). It’s also where the Latin American film festival is hosted every year.
Fun fact: twice a year the Filmcasino hosts the /Slash film-festival, which celebrates international B-grade horror movies, or fantastic films. Perfect for all the lovers of gore, or quirky cinema that stretches the imagination!
Shotimes: see, here.
Photo © www.wien.gv.at