‘Georgian food and culture is all about indulgence!’ Lasha, one of the co-owners of Alaverdi, tells us, with a cheeky grin. As more and more dishes keep pouring out of the kitchen, we soon learn that he’s not kidding.
The Georgian restaurant, Alaverdi, lets off an elegant vibe, with its subtle colour scheme and professionally trained staff. It’s surely a fancy place to take your date, or business partners to. But don’t let yourself be fooled – sharing plates of food amongst each other, drinking plenty of Georgian wine, breaking out in loud laughter and letting yourself feel right at home is all highly encouraged here.
The Georgian cuisine prides itself on its great variety of dishes, possessing both Mediterranean and Asian influences. It also has a masterful command of a vast array of fresh herbs. Alaverdi lives up to its country’s reputation – each dish is an explosion of surprising flavours.
The starters, Georgian salad with a walnut dressing and the entree plate (different spreads made from red beans, green beans, spinach and eggplants, each one refined with fresh herbs) have us smiling from ear to ear. Don’t miss out on the infamous Khachapuri (flatbread), it’s a beloved Georgian side dish.
The main dishes are just as mouthwatering. We go for the bean stew (accompanied by homemade cornbread and pickles), stewed eggplant and scalloped champignons. Like we said, be ready for a feast when you turn up at Alaverdi.
While the food isn’t exactly cheap, we appreciate the fact that the owner himself ventures out to various markets on an almost daily basis to source the freshest ingredients in town.
We recommend… you and your feasting companions do it Georgian style: order lots of different dishes, and share.
While in restaurant Sofia – named after the capital of Bulgaria – you’ll forget you’re still in Austria. If you are curious about trying typical Bulgarian cuisine (like the one Bulgarian grannies feed to their grandchildren) and experiencing a traditional Bulgarian atmosphere (from folklore music playing on the radio to seeing traditional clothing), Restaurant Sofia is the place.
Contrary to common belief, the cuisine of this region has much more to offer than Cevapcici. Sheep’s cheese is of great national pride, which means it turns up in almost every dish. We chose the Shopska salad, Kutuk and Purlenka – all of which made our tastebuds do a little happy dance.
Good to know… for the brave ones amongst you who want to dive deeper into the Bulgarian culture – every last Friday and Saturday of the month, Restaurant Sofia hosts parties, featuring live Bulgarian folklore music. You might even catch some enthusiasts doing the horo dance (go ahead and Google it).
Opening times MON-FRI: 10am–11pm SAT: 12am–11pm SUN: closed
This centrally-located Ukrainian restaurant has a special intimate atmosphere to it; the kind that makes you feel as if you are part of the family. It’s obvious the owner, Elvira, and her staff are proud of the food they serve up, and so they should be.
We’re told all of the dishes are prepared in the traditional Ukrainian way and everything on the menu is homemade.
We couldn’t get enough of the typical Ukrainian dumplings,Vareniki. We’d love to be able to tell you our favourite, but after eating our way through all of the different Varenikison the menu, we just can’t choose – they are all super delicious.
We also highly recommend the beetroot soup, Borschtsch – and we are saying this as former – now converted – beetroot-sceptics.
A look at the menu will have you realise how little you know of Ukraine’s glorious cuisine – we haven’t heard of 95% of the dishes on it, which makes us want to try them all even more. It’s strictly tradition here in a very pleasant-looking setting.
This little Polish gem might easily be missed from the outside, but it’s a must-visit for those seeking out genuine Pierogi, Poland’s signature dish. At ‘Pierogi bitte,’ the filled (savoury and sweet) dumplings are on offer at the counter next to other Polish favourites, such as Barszcz (red beet soup) and croquettes.
Being the pierogi-lovers that we are, our expectations are high when we walk down the stairs and shout towards the counter – ‘Pierogi bitte!’ (see what we did there?).
We end up going for a choice of spinach pierogi and potato-curd-cheese pierogi. They’re served up with a side of various cabbages and are everything we’d hoped for – soft, juicy and oh so yummy.
‘Pierogi bitte’ really is all about offering up a true Polish experience, from the humble and homey interior, the selection of Polish vodka and beer, (even the tapped water) to the lady behind the counter – everything on display here is Polish.
Even though the place isn’t necessarily inviting for a longer stay, the Pierogi is definitely worth a quick pop-in.
This very traditional Romanian restaurant has to be one of the few places in Vienna where you can feast on deep-fried sheep’s brains. Sounds creepy and absurd? Well, Romania is the birthplace of the Dracula tale.
If you know any Romanians, you know they’d snort lines of soup to get a high if they could. We once were told by a Romanian that soup is not just a dish, but it’s a way of life, a religion and that if a day passes without him having a soup, sickness is inevitable. So you get the point – the Romanians are crazy about their soup.
At the Donaudelta restaurant (which you probably wouldn’t even think of walking into after one glance at its facade) they do a quality job of all the dishes that the Romanian kitchen is known for.
Their soup range includes clear or creamy sour broths filled with strips of meat or meatballs, root vegetables and herbs, and is usually served with bread, sour cream and a chili to munch on in between slurps (seriously, don’t be afraid to try this – it really adds to the experience). The Romanian sour soup comes in many versions, which makes sense when you consider that Romanians are used to having soup every day for lunch.
This very traditional Romanian restaurant near Gumpendorfer Strasse is worth checking out just to get a dose of the dark magic that Romanians work on their broth. The place is modest, a bit kitschy, and while the waiters are really nice they take their time on occassion, chatting with customers, or having cigarette breaks. But trust us, the wait is worth the while once the hot broth has made it to your table. Poftă bună!
We recommend… you try their eggplant spread, served with fresh bread and onions.
There are plentiful small eateries serving Bosnian pita (also known as burek) in Vienna, but none like Pitawerk. Most skip the atmosphere and focus on the food. But Pitawerk is making the traditional Balkan bite in a fresh, cute, black-and-white tiled setting, which invites you to stay a while. While the word ‘pita’ typically connotes fluffy ‘Fladenbrot,” here in Vienna, in Balkan countries it’s a phyllo pastry pie formed in the pattern of a snail’s shell, and filled with things like meat, potato and cheese. In Pitawerk‘s pita-centric menu you´ll find a range of different pitas (say this sentence fast 10 times), all homemade, directly on the spot, every day, filled with potato, meat (or a mix of the two), spinach, apples, or cheese.
Be sure to make like a local and accompany your pita with a glass of yoghurt. Or, if you’re really looking to have the genuine Balkan experience, shoot down a schnapps. Read our full review of Pitawerk.
Price guide: A piece of Pita costs from 2.40–3.90€
Opening times Quellenplatz: daily: 7am–10pm Thaliastraße: daily: 8am–8pm
With its big blue sign above the entrance, Željo is difficult to miss on Quellenplatz in the 10th district. Named after the biggest football club in Sarajevo, Željo was opened by a Bosnian family fleeing the war in the 1990’s. Mr. Emir took over the business after his father and opened their second location in Thaliastraße. Their Bosnian version of cevapcici are slightly smaller than the Serbian, and they also throw the lepinja bread on the grill too to our delight. After, they smear the bread with fat.
The idea behind Željo is to serve fast-food style meals with quality ingredients. You will find there all kinds of grilled meat, as well as Bosnian burek and other types of pitas, plus some irresistible sweet treats like baklava, tulumba and hurmašice. At Željo’s, they don’t serve alcohol. Instead, you should go for a drinking yogurt! You’ll be surprised how well this goes together with the greasy meats your digesting.
Željo might be Bosnian at its core, but the ingredients are made up of a true Balkan mix. While the food is typically Bosnian, the kajmak comes from Serbia, ajvar is from Macedonian and the yogurt and other dairy products are Slovenian.
Plus… we suggest you eat your cevapcici the real way: grab them with your hands and bite! And lick your fingers when you’re done.
As you walk in, on your right is a butcher’s cabinet (guaranteeing the freshness of the meat) where you’ll be greeted by one of the friendly staff, and on the left is some kind of strange collection of farm animals arranged on a stove.
We ventured into the back room of the place where smokers can puff on their cigarettes as they munch on their plump cevapcici. The design of this place has been fuelled by a love of nostalgia for the homeland by the Serbian owners – accordions and guitars adorn the walls, and we’re particularly impressed by the ingenious disguising of the ventilation system with a rustic wooden veneer. The Serbian pop music on the television assures us that we’ve achieved what we set out to do with this article – we’ve ventured off the beaten path and into the Balkan places of Vienna that normally only the Balkan communities go to. The menu, both in Serbian and German, is fun to explore for people that are inexperienced in the Serbian kitchen (be warned: it’s meat-heavy). We order 6 of the plump cevapcici which land on our table with some homemade flatbread. The Serbs are also good with their salads and we’d recommend ordering a Šopska salad on the side – tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers and white cheese.
The staff make us feel at home and seem genuinely happy to have us there, which makes us love this place even more. And the Slivovitzais cheap, and sold by the glass or the bottle.