Destination: Austria: Vienna
Figlmüller, with two restaurants in Vienna, is the best place in the city for Wiener schnitzel. The ones served here, accompanied by a variety of salads, including potato and cucumber, have been pounded so thin that they lop over the rim of your plate. This branch is the original (both locations are always packed), and you should ask to be seated in the cozy rear; the glass pavilion out front is a new addition. Daily specialties are written on a green chalkboard, but most everyone comes specifically for the veal. Open daily.
A great spot for lunch or coffee after a visit to the nearby Albertina, this restaurant is located in a soaring glass-paneled conservatory in the middle of the Burggarten. While the lunch menu is Mediterranean-influenced Continental cuisine, with fresh fish dishes and innovative salads, the pastry selection is pure Vienna with fresh-baked cakes and typical desserts like Malakoffnockerl (sweet rum dumplings). The Palmenhaus opens at 10 a.m. for breakfast, in case you need some fortification before kicking off a day of sightseeing. Open daily, except for January and February, when it’s closed Monday and Tuesday.
Don’t be put off by the photos of celebrity visitors decorating the walls and the cookbooks on sale at the entrance of this restaurant near the Stubentor: the initial impression may be “tourist trap,” but in fact Plachutta is frequented by locals who come for the excellent Tafelspitz (boiled beef). This Viennese specialty, a favorite of Emperor Franz Joseph, may not be everyone’s cup of tea—a food-critic friend of mine calls it “wet meat”—but trying it at Plachutta is an authentic Viennese experience. Guests choose from a long list of different cuts of meat as well as an array of side dishes, including creamed spinach with roasted potatoes and apples with horseradish sauce. A throng of waiters in hunter green vests delivers the orders in shiny copper pots that come in all sizes and are placed in the center of the tables, a congenial touch. The two dining rooms are long, loud and buzzing; if you’re coming with a group and want privacy, request the table with banquette seating in the back. Also, it goes without saying that vegetarians will not be happy here. Open daily.
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