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.
Wiener Schnitzel – Thin, breaded and pan fried 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 mixed or potato 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.
Eiernockerl – flour dumplings with egg. This is comfort food at its best. While you can order this as a main dish, we think it’s better as a side dish.
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.
If you want to order a glass of wine, you should say “ein Achterl” (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.
Gelber Muskateller – white wine with a distinct perfume smell.