Prost (Cheers) – In Austrian culture, it’s really important to make purposeful eye contact when you toast. Say “Prost” or “Zum Wohl.” You should tap glasses with everyone within reach. There’s only one exception to the rule. When you drink Sturm, an early wine, you should say “Mahlzeit” not “Prost.”
Mahlzeit (Bon appetite) – You say Mahlzeit right before anyone at your table begins to eat. It means “enjoy your meal.”
Table Manners – Austrians eat with a fork in their left hand and a knife in their right hand. Both hands are visible throughout the meal. Unlike American etiquette, they don’t cut their food, and place one hand on their lap, before proceeding to eat what they’ve just cut. Also, Austrians don’t use their hands to eat foods like pizza and hamburgers. They will always use a fork and knife.
Tiroler Gröstl – cooked potatoes combined with beef or pork and onions are roasted in a pan. A fried egg is served on top. This hearty meal is really popular in the hiking and skiing regions, but you’ll find it also in Vienna.
Käsespätzle – spätzle is a soft egg noodle. In Tyrol, spätzle is sautéed with a variety of pungent mountain cheeses and garnished with fried onions and chive.
Kaspressknödelsuppe – cheese dumpling soup. One or two large flat-pressed dumplings, made with bread, eggs and cheese, are served in a clear broth soup.
Wiener Schnitzel – Thin, breaded and pan fried cutlets of veal. Squeeze a slice of lemon on this quintessential Viennese dish before digging in. If you’re not into veal (we’re not), you can usually order Schnitzel vom Schwein (pork), Schnitzel von der Pute (turkey), or Schnitzel vom Huhn (chicken). Schnitzel is typically served with a side of potato or mixed salad.
Tafelspitz – Boiled Beef. This Viennese specialty was actually Emperor Franz Jospeh’s favorite dish. The tender beef is served in a pot of broth with bone marrow. The dish is accompanied by sides of fried potato rosti, vegetables (spinach, string beans), horseradish and apple sauces. We recommend trying this dish at Plachutta.
Kaiserschmarrn – Shredded Pancakes. It’s often made with raisins. If you don’t want the raisins say, “Bitte ohne Rosinen.” This is eaten as both a meal and a dessert. We say eat it for dessert. Traditionally, it’s served with a side of plum sauce.
Marillenknödel – Apricot dumpling covered in powdered sugar, best sampled in the Wachau region of Lower Austria.
If you want to order a glass of wine, you should say “ein Achtel” (an eighth of a liter), which is the common serving size.
Weisswein gespritzt – It’s very common to drink white wine with mineral water, especially earlier in the day. If you like sweeter drinks, order a Kaiserspritzer, which is white wine, mineral water, and Holunderblütersirup (elderflower syrup).
Sturm – this is an early, sweet wine that is only served in early Fall. Unlike all other alcoholic beverages, you don’t say Prost (Cheers) before drinking. Instead, you say Mahlzeit. If you make the mistake of saying Prost, there’s an unwritten rule that says you’re obliged to pay for this round of drinks.
Grüner Veltliner – dry white wine.
Gelbe Muskateller – white wine with a distinct perfume smell.