There’s more to Vienna than chocolate cake and fine coffee. Dig down beneath the smooth, classical veneer and you reach the hardworking roots of the city. Forget your fancy restaurants and old-timer trams – it’s time for a sausage at a Würstelstand.
- A late-night sausage with bread and mustard is a Viennese tradition
- Dozens of sausage stands (Würstelstand) dot the city
- The two most popular sausages are the Frankfurter and Käsekrainer
- See also: Authentic Viennese experiences
What is a Würstelstand?
The Austrian term, Würstelstand, translates literally as “sausage booth”, which is a remarkably accurate description. They are standalone snack bars selling a variety of ready-to-eat sausages, plus drinks.
The Würstelstand is part of the traditional fabric of the city, so much so that sausage culture even has its own local language.
And the Würstelstand experience cuts across all social barriers. Bankers and shift workers alike prop themselves up against the counter, down a bit of Bratwurst, and moan about the state of the roads.
You find the booths all over town, but particularly outside subway stations or at busy tram stops. The sausages usually come on a paper plate with bread (a basic white roll or slices of dark bread), mustard, and ketchup. These days, you can often ask for a hot dog alternative, too, with the sausage inserted into a long roll.
The main Vienna sausages
There are four main sausage types, likely available just about everywhere and broadly made from pork and/or beef and/or goodness knows what:
This is the workhorse of the Würstelstand. Cooked in water or broth, then served with a roll, mustard, and ketchup. You may know it by its name or as a “wiener sausage”, “hot dog” or “Vienna sausage”. It’s only ever called a Frankfurter here. Occasionally available in a second variety made from turkey meat (German:
(Read more about the Frankfurter here.)
A fried sausage, lightly spiced. This is the classic German sausage variety, eaten on barbecues around the world. Oh, and here I should point out that Würstelstand sausages are not finger-size delicacies. They’re about the length of your forearm (and sometimes nearly as thick).
A coarser sausage with bits of cheese in it. They fry it, whereupon the cheese melts, often oozing out to form a crust across the sausage’s surface. This is absolutely delicious, but also exactly what your doctor warned you about.
The Käsekrainer is usually delivered
(Read more about the Käsekrainer here.)
This one comes in a variety of spellings, including Depreziner and Debrecziner. A lightly-smoked, reddish sausage, spiced with paprika to give it a little more pep than your usual Bratwurst or Frankfurter. It originated in
The minor Vienna sausages
…and then there are a bunch of other varieties you may find on the menu, none of which I’ve tried so I’m guessing a bit here. For example:
Sacherwürstel: a darker, higher-quality (and longer) version of the Frankfurter.
Grillwurst: like Bratwurst but more heavily spiced. Possibly.
Currywurst: a recent import from Germany, this is a Bratwurst with, um, curry. The form taken by the curry part of the snack is not always the same, though. It may be curry powder in the sausage itself, curry powder sprinkled over the sausage, or simply a tomato-curry sauce.
Waldviertler: the Waldviertel is a lowland region, somewhat to the northwest of Vienna, with a harsh climate and good beer. A Waldviertler is someone from that area, but also a darker, thick-skinned, smoked sausage.
Condiments and more
No man is an island, and nor is any sausage. Here are some quick translations of what comes with them:
- Senf – mustard
- Ketchup – hmmm, I’m going to guess this translates as ketchup
- Kren – horseradish
Gurkerl/ Essiggurke – gherkin
- Pfefferoni – a chilli pepper (but not usually too hot)
- Brot – slice of dark bread
- Semmel – white bread roll
- Pommes – chips/fries