Turkish food culture has a long history in Vienna. Legend has it, in the 17th century, hundreds of sacks of a mysterious green bean were left behind by the Turks. Franz Kolschitzky, who had lived in Istanbul for many years, recognized them and opened the first café in the city in 1683. From then one, the invigorating hot drink spread across Europe. Similarly, the döner kebab – one of the most recognizable icons of culinary cultural integration – arrived in Vienna briefly after the first kebab stand was opened by a Turkish-German immigrant in 1970s Berlin.
So, Turkish culture and food are deeply interwoven with the Viennese cultural identity. From farmers’ markets to late-night kebab stands, there are countless places one can visit to get a taste for Austro-Turkish culture. Here are just some of the few culinary and cultural hots pots the city has to offer.
Ali’s “Ocakbaşı” Grill
In the baroque center of Vienna, you will find this oriental jewel, Ali’s “Ocakbaşı” Grill Restaurant. The name “Ocakbaşı” refers to a hooded charcoal grill where restaurant-goers can watch their meal being prepared. As soon as you enter, your eyes are immediately drawn to the copper crown of the in-house fire. Fear not: There’s plenty of ventilation. Ali’s Grill is the closest you can come in Vienna to the type of grill restaurant you might find in the heart of Turkey. From the cozy atmosphere to its wide selection of delicious meat dishes, Ali’s Grill is a must!
Naschmarkt Spice & Food Market
Just a couple of hundred meters away is the Naschmarkt, the famed spice and food market whose origins date back to the 16th century. With its vintage stalls and narrow alleys, the Naschmarkt is reminiscent of of Istanbul’s Kapalicarsi (Grand Bazar). Here you will find several Turkish spice stalls, grocery stands, butcher shops and restaurants – Turkish specialties straight from the Turks.
Etsan Turkish Supermarkets
If you are looking for a retail store that sells imported Turkish food, beverages, and household items, look no further than Etsan Supermarket. Here you can find specialty dairy products, a fresh “halal” deli section and even your favorite Turkish childhood snacks! Luckily, Etsan can be found in almost every district in Vienna, at over 20 shops spread across the city.
Leibnizgasse Farmers’ Market
For those who have visited Turkey, chances are you have walked into a farmers’ market in the middle of a street, filled with crowds and vendors shouting “Best tomatoes of the city’’ at the top of their lungs. But if you have never seen this event play out in real life, pay a visit to Leibnizgasse in the 10th district, where this is an almost daily occurrence. The Leibnizgasse farmers’ market feels familiar yet foreign, such that you may even forget you are in the middle of one of Europe’s capitals. It is also a great way to support local farmers!
Galata Restaurant & Lounge
Going across to the Danube, Galata Restaurant & Lounge is a unique grill and fish restaurant adjacent to this historic River. In the mornings, Galata offers a rich traditional Turkish breakfast known as Serpme Kahvaltı which includes several small dishes that are meant to be tasted and shared with your loved ones and friends. If you like indulging in oriental cuisine whilst gazing onto the river flowing past, this is the spot for you!
Ambar Nuts Organic Grocery Store
In the heart of the Turkish district in Vienna, Favoriten, you will find Ambar, a traditional store specializing in nuts, dried fruits and other organic food varieties. These snacks are often overlooked but are an indispensable part of Turkish cuisine.
Özaslan Bakery is a small yet charming bakery, which as the name suggests, offers various mouth-watering baked goods, as well as their delicious baklava selections! There are, in fact, around 100 different types of baklava, and many of them can be found here!