Rising Bazaar

Despite a grand hilltop view of stately Schönbrunn palace, a mere four bus stops further, for the locals of Meiselmarkt, the city’s splendor seems a million miles away. Part of Vienna’s 15th district Rudolfsheim-Fünfhaus, the Grätzl is at the center of a rough-and-ready working class immigrant neighborhood that boasts the city’s lowest median ages and incomes – and the highest crime rate, earning it the unflattering nickname “Rudolfscrime.”

Yet recent years have seen Meiselmarkt undergoing a transformation, with an increasing number of students and artists fed up with rising rents moving into the elegantly dilapidated 19th century tenements and adding a new flair to an already highly diverse area. Wedged between Johnstraße, Hütteldorfer Straße, Huglgasse and Goldschlagstraße, the neighborhood is on the up and up, bustling with life – let’s go and have closer look.

The Grätzl’s namesake, Meiselmarkt, is Vienna’s only indoor market; a great place to shop for fresh vegetables, meat, fish and baked goods without worrying about rain. Situated entirely inside a former reservoir built on the hilltop for better flow, the sluicegates to regulate the water were operated from the Alte Schieberkammer next door. When the reservoir was retired in 1991, the Schieberkammer came to a similar fate. It was renovated in the following years and serves as funky art and exhibition space today.

As you can already tell, water has left its mark on the area, also inspiring the Wasserwelt, an art installation stretching over seven fountains on the neighborhood’s main square, Kardinal-Rauscher-Platz. It’s a popular spot for festivals, bringing together various cultures and generations.

Speaking of art: the jazz club Blue Tomato is a true insider’s tip. Established in 1982, the dimly lit, smoky basement bar is a meeting point for young and old music aficionados with regular live gigs from local performers.

Reservoir Dogs

Moving along to our foodie section, Das ­Augustin has been a Meiselmarkt institution for decades. Its living room-style decor combines with a super hip atmosphere, fantastic
80MAY2018 food and two friendly cats roaming the premises, attracting patrons from far beyond the Grätzl.

Try Heidingers Gasthaus for old-school charm, arguably the best Beisl in the 15th dis-trict (sorry Gasthaus Quell).Don’t bother looking for the menu: your waiter will bring a black board with the daily specials to your table. The list is short, but you can’t go wrong with any of the traditional Viennese delicacies prepared to perfection here.

Catering to the area’s growing number of hipsters, the Café Z provides a safe haven and free Wi-Fi within a vintage environment. Staying true to its roots, the former pastry shop still carries a tasty selection of Schaumrollen and cream cake, as well as sweet and salty crepes.

As for sights, check out the relatively new Rudolfsheimer Pfarrkirche. When the Austrian western railway began service in 1860, apartments had to be built for the railroad’s staff. As no Catholic settlement can exist without a proper parish church, this place of worship was quickly erected and held its first service in 1898.

There is only one way to guarantee your coffee mug is truly unique: decorate it yourself. At Paint Your Style, customers can choose from over 250 ceramics just waiting to be customized. A visit to this artsy store makes the perfect timeout for stressed parents seeking a child-friendly activity.

Barbecue is serious business in Vienna, with meat lovers firing up the grill the moment it’s warm enough to sit outside – and if you’re ready to turn pro, Barbecue King is the place to go. Catering to restaurants and aspiring amateurs, whether it is stainless steel working counters, kebab spits, popcorn or cotton candy machines, the King has it all – and if you don’t need a full-size rotisserie every day of your life, you can just rent.

Meiselmarkt may not be the reason why tourists come from all over the world, but for urban adventurers in search of the real Vienna – or hungry creatives looking for a bustling, cost-friendly neighborhood, it might just hit the spot.

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Andreas Rainer is a journalist and writer based in Vienna. He lived across the pond in the U.S. and Canada for three years which gave him a new love for Vienna from an outsider's perspective. He headed the Vienna branch of the San Francisco based food app Yelp for the past six years, making him a prime source of insider knowledge on new restaurants hidden bars. He authored the Guide Book Vienna for Germans (2017) and made the short list (2015) and long list (2016) for the "Wortlaut" short fiction contest, tweets at @an_rainer