Six of the best: Viennese restaurants

CAFÉ DRECHSLER

This café opened in 1919 and for a long time was a late-night student bar and early-morning hangout for vendors from the nearby, renowned Naschmarkt food market. When its octogenarian owner finally retired, the city reeled. In 2007, however, Drechsler reopened with its original interior cleverly redesigned by Terence Conran to provide a more contemporary appeal in grey and tan – plus an added bar. It serves classic Austrian comfort foods such as pork schnitzel, Tafelspitz boiled-beef soup, and Kaiserschmarn chopped pancakes with jam. Like any good Viennese cafe, newspapers and magazines are provided, and lingering encouraged. See cafedrechsler.at

SALONPLAFOND

Vienna's Museum of Applied Arts is home to a very browse-worthy collection of textiles, furniture and porcelain, but another reason to visit is this attached restaurant with its contemporary tavern-like design, chandelier made from wine glasses, and garden seating. Among the international predictability (pulled pork, lamb with herb crust, good seasonal salads) are some delightful regional specialties such as goulash with paprika-spiced Debrecener sausage, and curd dumplings with plum jam. Salonplafond opens at 10am, making brunch a fine option to fuel you up for museum wandering, and also has a good selection of Austrian wines at its bar for afternoon relaxation. See salonplafond.wien

PLACHUTTAS GASTHAUS ZUR OPER

If you think schnitzel is just a greasy pub filler then take your tastebuds to Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper for what might well be the best traditional Wiener schnitzel in the city, made with veal (not pork) with a bubbling, crispy coating that doesn't stick to the meat. It's best accompanied by a traditional potato salad and a beer from Vienna's Ottakringer brewery made specially for Plachutta, which has several restaurants known for traditional Viennese dishes. This outlet near the opera house has a contemporary, informal feel, despite suave waiters and the chic of its blonde décor. See plachutta.at

LE LOFT

You could easily go to this top-floor restaurant at the Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom just for the food: breakfast could have you lingering half the morning, the afternoon cake buffet is a sugar-lovers delight and, although the evening menu is limited, you'll be licking your fingers after the Styrian chicken or black-truffle sirloin. But what you really want to come for is the view over all Vienna, matched only by a constantly changing ceiling where video installations by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist are both bizarre and curiously mesmerising. Goldfish wriggle, forests grow and fade, and big blinking eyeballs stare at you. Sensational. See dasloftwien.at

CAFÉ HAWELKA

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Café Hawelka is old Vienna, retaining its 1930s look so that you feel you've strayed into the movie set of a film noir. In the 1950s and 1960s it was the hangout of Vienna's intelligentsia; now flop-haired students munch on sweet poppy-seed buns and apricot cake. Hook your raincoat onto the ancient coat rack, study the peeling theatre posters on the wall and peer through the gloom at the blackboard menu: no interior designer could have managed a better retro, bohemian atmosphere. It's especially good in winter, when sweaters steam and the coffee machine hisses. See hawelka.at

AUGARTEN CAFÉ RESTAURANT

Three hundred years of tradition are on show at the lovely Augarten Porcelain Manufactory Museum, lodged in an imperial pleasure pavilion amid formal baroque gardens. There's nothing old-fashioned about the décor at the restaurant, however, with its trendy contemporary light fittings and purple chairs. The menu looks back to the Austro-Hungarian era with delectable dishes from across the former empire. Leave room for an Esterhazy cake or strudel. There are occasional five-course specials with matching Austrian wines. Unlike many museum restaurants, quick business lunches often see this place buzzing with well-dressed office workers. See augarten.com/restaurant

Brian Johnston travelled courtesy of the Austrian National Tourist Office and Emirates Airlines.

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