A lot of tourists find their way into Figlmüller, known for their Wiener Schnitzel. But is the interest deserved? Once again, I force myself to eat out to bring you an eyewitness report…
- We tried the Bäckerstraße location, a charming inn-like atmosphere with touches of elegance
- Top marks for friendly service
- Great food – a native Viennese rated the Schnitzel as one of the best she’d tasted
- See also: Coffee houses in Vienna | Wiener Schnitzel
It’s all about the Schnitzel
I don’t normally review restaurants, but I make exceptions for those traditional establishments that seem to have become part of the Viennese culture or landscape.
The self-styled “Home of the Schnitzel” is one of those locations in Vienna where the queues often come out the door and down the street.
Now you might argue that’s down to good marketing. But having eaten there, I reckon it’s down to a reputation built on decent food and service. (And probably some good marketing thrown in as well.)
The original restaurant is on Wollzeile, but we visited the “second” home of the Schnitzel at Figlmüller Bäckergasse.
So let’s review the atmosphere, the service, and the food.
Although relatively new, the Bäckerstraße location exuded a period charm. You could easily imagine some chap sitting there in a bowler hat enjoying a bowl of goulash soup while his master’s horses and carriage wait outside.
The decor seemed like a fine compromise between an old-fashioned inn and a smart wine bar. A vaulted brickwork ceiling with dark open cabinets full of wine bottles set an elegant tone. But the wooden (oak?) tables and brass fittings felt very down to earth.
The noble touches – a carafe for your apple spritzer, a decent napkin – were subtle. This put even the casual tourist at ease, a feeling helped by the lack of pressure to eat up and move on, despite a full restaurant.
On that subject, I’d recommend you book in advance, especially if you have a group. Save yourself any wait and frustration.
We went at lunchtime on a cold February weekday. Probably the quietest time of the year in Vienna, yet the restaurant filled up quickly (though I’m told they have additional space for busier times and seasons). Even so, queues seem to be the norm here for those who don’t book in advance.
Although it’s all about the Schnitzel, the menu covered the core elements of traditional Viennese fare. So you could enjoy the aforementioned goulash or Tafelspitz, for example. Figlmüller was not super expensive, but certainly not cheap, either. A Schnitzel and side salad cost a touch over €20.
Ah, yes, back to that Schnitzel.
As a vegetarian, I’m not the ideal candidate to pass judgement. My wife, however, claims it was genuinely excellent and suitably tenderised before cooking. And she’s 100% Viennese.
The Figlmüller Schnitzel would certainly trigger UFO warnings at radar stations should one ever fly through the air. The neighbouring table failed to finish theirs and took the remains home carefully wrapped and bagged by the waiter. You’ll need to order any side dish extra, mind; there was a choice of twelve side salads on our visit, for example.
So Figlmüller makes a fine location to dig into the opportunities presented by Viennese cuisine. One word of warning, though: this is not the home of the tofu Schnitzel. The vegetarian options were somewhat limited, though I had a (lovely) spinach strudel from the lunchtime menu.
NB: An English menu was available.
When a restaurant draws in a lot of tourists, I expect the staff to be a little jaded and formal. But we experienced the opposite.
Should an asteroid hurtle towards earth’s orbit, I hope to have our waiter as a companion on the long wait to see if the celestial body passes safely or wipes out civilisation. His brand of cheerful optimism would ease the tension and have us smiling and waving as the giant mass streaked by in a plume of fire and smoke.
In other words, he was great. Attentive, friendly, obliging and with a ready smile and laugh. How he manages to remain authentic while inevitably making the same jokes again and again shall remain one of life’s mysteries.
And, watching the other waiters from afar, all were smiling and chatting away. I even caught one singing the spider-man song as he climbed the stairs from the basement. Marvellous. Though I wonder if things might get less relaxed during busier seasons.
So, although this reads like an advertisement, I have to say we genuinely and thoroughly enjoyed our Figlmüller experience. But in the interests of scientific objectivity, I should point out something negative, so here goes…
We didn’t get water with our coffee and had to ask for it.
A shocking breach of etiquette. Well, perhaps not that shocking. It’s a question of Viennese coffee culture.
How to find Figlmüller
Figlmüller has various locations across the city, but the two prime Schnitzel restaurants sit close to each other in the very centre.
Subway: both locations require just a short walk from Stephansplatz station (U1 and U3 lines), but can be reached from Schwedenplatz (U1 and U4) and Stubentor (U3), too.
Tram/bus: the 1A, 2A and 3A bus lines that travel through the old town stop at nearby Stephansplatz.
If you want to feel like you earned the calorie intake at Figlmüller, then pop around the corner from either restaurant location and climb the south tower of Stephansdom cathedral. A trip up and back down involves 686 steps.
Address: Wollzeile 5 (the original premises) and Bäckerstraße 6 are both in Vienna’s first district | Website (for menus, online reservations, all locations, etc.)