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Expert guide to Salzburg
While you’ll find schnitzel with noodles and crisp apple strudel on many a traditional tavern menu, there’s more to this city’s increasingly exciting food scene than that. Salzburg is now making impressive strides on the culinary front, with chefs championing regional sourcing and serving season-driven dishes with finesse. Now you can breeze with ease from organic brunch to Vietnamese lunch and gourmet rooftop restaurant in the Altstadt and beyond. And when summer arrives, there’s little better than raiding a local deli for Alpine meats and cheeses for a picnic in palace gardens or on the banks of the Salzach River.
Altstadt: Left Bank
Right in the heart of Salzburg Altstadt, this bistro has been attracting an artsy crowd for decades. There’s a delightfully intimate vibe, with posters and pictures of Salzburg Festival greats hanging on the walls, and cheek-by-jowl tables huddling under vaulted ceilings. The chef takes pride in sourcing regional, organic ingredients, which star in classics like Rindsuppe mit Frittaten (beef broth with chopped pancakes), perfectly thin, crisp schnitzels, and wild garlic risotto. The set lunch is cheap as chips at €9.90 (£9). Try to bagsie a spot on the terrace when the sun’s out.
Contact: 00 43 662 842229; triangel-salzburg.co.at
Cook & Wine
This bistro, wine bar and cookery school huddles in a less-touristy corner of Salzburg’s Altstadt. There’s a contemporary feel to the glass-walled rotunda, with pale walls, monochrome tones, bare-wood tables and wine bottles dangling from vaults. Chef Günther Grahammer puts creative riffs on top-quality regional ingredients: from home-smoked salmon with a honey-ginger glaze to steak tartare with wasabi cream and shallots – all delivered with panache. Or go for antipasti paired with carefully selected wines from around the world at the bar. Themed cookery classes cover everything from perfecting steak to homemade pasta; see the website for dates and times.
Contact: 00 43 662 231606; cookandwine.at
Wilkommen to Salzburg’s oldest inn, housed in a chic boutique hotel that seamlessly brings together 600 years of history with contemporary art, bespoke craftsmanship and progressive design. Sitting opposite Salzburg’s festival hall, Blaue Gans is right in the touristy thick of things, but thankfully it hasn’t lost a jot of character and still places the accent on quality. Pull up a chair below the vaults to dine on Austrian cuisine with a lightly creative, seasonal touch: from homemade ravioli with lemon, beech fungus and hazelnut, to roasted guinea fowl with chanterelles. In summer, tables are set up on the pavement terrace
Contact: 00 43 662 842 491 54; blaue-gans.com
A relative newcomer to Salzburg’s gastro scene, this bistro always has a good buzz and sends the spirit of a Alpine lodge winging into the future with its rustic-meets-modern mix of dark wood beams, soft backlighting and contemporary fireplace. Already it has a loyal local following for its all-organic, traceable food, which impresses with spot-on classics like Tafelspitz (boiled beef with apple-horseradish and chives) and cheese dumplings topped with fried onions, alongside healthy alternatives like quinoa salad with berries and sheep’s cheese. Organic wines, beers and soft drinks hail from Austria, too.
Contact: 00 43 662 843 171; humboldtstubn.at
The Glass Garden
Dramatically perched atop Mönchsberg, The Glass Garden is a welcome culinary newcomer to palace hotel Schloss Mönchstein. By contrast to the hotel’s classic glamour, the avant-garde restaurant keeps things slick, with pale parquet, champagne-hued club chairs, and curving glass walls that open up phenomenal views over the city’s rooftops and spires. American glass sculptor Dale Chihuly created the striking tendril-like centrepiece, which you can admire over inspired, ingredient-centred dishes like fjord trout with nasturtium and yellow split beans, and red mullet with calamari, seaweed and sobrasada – expertly paired with Austrian wines. One for special occasions.
Contact: 00 43 662 848555; monchstein.at
Altstadt: Right Bank
Tucked away on medieval Steingasse, Uncle Van has carved out a reputation among those craving spice in the city. If you’re strudeled out, this is the go-to place for well-prepared and inexpensive Vietnamese specials – from a bang-on-the-money pho (a broth-like noodle soup laced with coriander, mint, lime and chilli, and strips of chicken or beef) to curries, summer rolls and wok dishes where you can pick your own ingredients. With its red walls, small sprinkling of tables and consistent buzz, it’s a cheerful place for lunch or an easy dinner. Gluten-free, lactose-free and vegan dishes are available, too.
Contact: 00 43 660 73 75 056; uncle-van.at
Reservations: Not necessary
Bistro de Márquez
This homey, no-frills, hole-in-the-wall bistro brings a little bubble of South American warmth to the heart of Salzburg. Piedad runs the place with ready smiles and a lot of love, with nods to her native Columbia in nicely spiced lunches and snacks for pocket-money prices. Dig into the likes of arepas (maize crêpes) with cashew pesto, pandebono (Colombian cheese bread) with guava jam, pollo loco (pulled chicken in mole sauce) and brigadeiros (chocolate fudge balls). On the drinks menu you’ll find organic coffee, açaí smoothies and sugarcane juice pepped up with cinnamon. It’s all delicious.
Contact: 00 43 660 73 75 056; facebook.com/bistrodemarquez
Reservations: Not necessary
For pop-up views of Salzburg’s crowning glory fortress, the Altstadt domes and spires and the Alps beyond, make for this glass-fronted rooftop restaurant, with a wraparound terrace for fine weather dining. Mirrors, muted tones and white linen-draped tables dominate in the nouveau-chic interior. Dishes simple as veal carpaccio with capers, herb salad and pine nuts and roasted fillet of char with marinated tomatoes and apple chutney sing of the seasons and local sourcing. Steaks, homemade pasta and gourmet salads feature on the simpler bistro menu. It’s popular so book ahead.
Contact: 00 43 660 73 75 056; imlauer.com
Sometimes you just can’t beat a traditional Austrian inn dishing up the classics, and Bärenwirt – going strong since 1663 – fits the bill perfectly. With its rustic wood panelling, booths and tiled oven, the look is cosy in an Alpine lodge kind of way. And in summer the pocket-sized terrace has a great buzz and views out over the river. The menu is jam-packed with hearty grub, with starters like goulash soup whetting the appetite for mains like Bierbraten (beer roast) with dumplings or crispy fried chicken with parsley potatoes. They also whip up a mean Salzburger Nockerl (the local take on soufflé).
Contact: 00 43 662 422404; baerenwirt-salzburg.at
The cream of Salzburg’s fine-dining scene, Michelin-starred Esszimmer is a thoroughly class act. The setting is geared towards romantic tête-à-têtes, with candlelight casting flattering shadows across ochre walls graced with abstract art. Andreas Kaiblinger walks the culinary high-wire here, pulling off punchy flavours in carefully composed, season-inflected tasting menus, which might wow you with the likes of lovage soup with turbot and marrow, curry sorbet with orange and asparagus, and salmon with juniper, lemon and fennel. If you’re in the mood for a treat, opt for the seven-course menu for a parade of dishes served with an artful flourish.
Contact: 00 43 662 870 899; esszimmer.com