Viennese restaurant menus offer a bewildering variety of terms for dishes, most of which the visitor will never have heard of and many of which aren’t in the brief lists of menu terms included in phrasebooks.
However Austrian restaurants that have any foreign patrons at all usually have an English menu, though you may have to ask for it: the phrase “English menu” usually will be understood even by wait staff who don’t speak English.
A small bilingual dictionary will be useful for trying to decipher menu listings: at least it will enable you usually to determine what sort of food (chicken, beef, potato, etc.) is concerned, even if you can’t tell how it’s prepared.
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Note that not only savoury but also sweet main dishes are common in Austria.
Viennese restaurant portions tend to be large. Recently, many restaurants are including more vegetarian options. Most restaurants have daily specials listed on a chalk board or sometimes on a printed insert in the regular menu. These are usually the best bet, though they may not be on the English menu, so you may have to ask to have them explained or try to translate them yourself.
Bread in Viennese restaurants is usually charged as an extra; if there is a basket of it on the table, you’ll usually be charged by the piece only if you take some.
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Tipping customs are similar to those in Europe and America though tips are slightly smaller; five to ten percent is usually sufficient in restaurants.
Traditionally, the way to tip a waiter is to mention the amount of the bill plus tip when you pay; for instance, if the bill is Eur. 15.50 you could give the waiter a Eur. 20 note and say “siebzehn (seventeen),” meaning he is to take out Eur 15.50 for the bill, Eur 1.50 for the tip, and so give you only Eur. 3.00 change. In this situation, English numbers will usually be understood. Sometimes in less formal restaurants you can alternatively drop the tip into the money pouch the waiter usually carries.
Credit cards aren’t quite as commonly used in restaurants in Vienna as in Northern European countries, so ask if it’s important to know before hand.
Smoking is ubiquitous in Vienna, and Austria hasn’t yet implemented the sort of regulations limiting smoking that are increasingly common in many other countries, so the non-smoker may find it unpleasant to spend much, or any, time in many of Vienna’s restaurants, bars, and cafes. Most establishments have outdoor seating in warm weather, but the tables are so close together and smokers so common that even there non-smokers may find themselves getting fumigated.
Enjoy tasting the many delicious delicacies at the various Viennese Restaurants.