We Austrians are only too familiar with this feeling: we’re going around town, have done a lot of shopping and then suddenly our stomachs start to rumble. Or perhaps we’re out with friends, late at night, and we get hungry or we might feel like having a snack after an elegant evening out at one of the traditional balls. It is on occasions like these that all Austrians will be drawn to one of the famous Austrian Würstelstandl or sausage/snack stands!

“Sweet or savoury?”

… is then the standard question we will hear. Here we don’t have to choose between a Bernese sausage or a Sachertorte (chocolate cake).

Taking the classic sausage, to the next level, Berner sausage rolled in ham is an all-round popular Austrian fast food.
Taking the classic sausage, to the next level, Berner sausage is an all-round popular Austrian fast food which is quick and easy to make and cheap, too.
A Wiener Melange and Sacher Torte at traditional Coffee house in Austria.
Is there anything better than chocolate? Yes, double chocolate! The famous Sachertorte recipe is probably one of the best kept secrets of Viennese dessert cuisine!
Credit: Yadid Levy / fotolia

The question simply refers to the mustard – the seasoning for the sausage – which is traditionally sweet Kremser mustard or tart tarragon. The snack is then usually accompanied by a beer or a Stifterl, a small glass of wine, as thirst quencher, for “washing it all down”.

Sausages at a traditional Viennese Würstelstand

Finger food or, even better, fast food, has a long-established place in Vienna and the whole of Austria, even if not under this new name. Yes, the Austrian Würstelstandl, the sausage stand, is the traditional Austrian version of a fast food or snack stand – a free-standing stand selling small snacks to go. The forerunner of the Viennese sausage stand was the “Bratelbrater” which sold sausages from a mobile roasting oven on a cart at market times or during church festivals. Already during medieval times, cooks sold hot food, usually sausages, to the poor so that they had at least one hot meal a day and would survive. The Austrian Würstelstandl are, however, still as much a part of Vienna today as St Stephen’s Cathedral and could almost be regarded as a cultural asset and part of the long list of city sights. Many of the stands are particularly popular late at night. In the centre of Vienna, in particular, they are open until late which makes them very popular amongst taxi drivers and night owls. Why? Because they are the only place where you can grab a quick bite to eat at this time of the day.

However, the typical sausage stand involves much more than just a quick snack – the original authentic Viennese sausage stands also serve up a healthy serving of Viennese “Schmäh”, the typical regional humour or banter, for free. And this whether you want it or not – it is an unavoidable part of heated debates and visitors will notice a specifically Viennese type of jargon around the clock. It is almost impossible for a stranger to the city to learn it as it is a different language entirely. A much-quoted but misleading tale involves the order of an “Eitrigen mit an Schoafn, an Bugl und ana Hüsn dazua”. In other words: “Eitrige” = cheesy sausage, “Schoafa” = hot mustard, “Bugl” = bread, also known as “Scherzerl” and “Hüsn” = bottle of beer.

Although it may today seem as though international fast food chains or stands are ousting our traditional sausage stands in the truest sense of the word, none of them are able to offer one thing in particular and that is the wide range of very different people that meet at such a stand. Whether young or old, sober or drunk, well off or poor, city gent in his tailored suit or brickie in dirty work overalls, the single student or family with kids, queen of the ball or a homeless person … this fascinating mix of people that can be found at a (Viennese) sausage stand is rarely found elsewhere! We therefore invite you to visit one of our famous Austrian Würstelstandl and enjoy a delicious Bernese Sausage or fluffy Langos. And, as Austrian fast food to take home, we recommend a Frankfurter im Schlafrock (pigs in a blanket) or Brettljause (traditional cold meat snack platter).

Light, fluffy and flavoursome: The Austrian snack classic "Pigs in a blanket"!
Light, fluffy and flavoursome: The Austrian snack classic “Pigs in a Blanket”! Wonderfully easy to make but with a great taste nonetheless.
Langos: yeast dough flatbreads which are fried in oil and then eaten like this, on their own, or with a savoury or sweet topping,
Austrians call yeast dough flatbreads which are fried in oil and then eaten like this, on their own, or with a savoury or sweet topping, Langos.
Essigwurst, or sausage marinaded in oil and vinegar, is a particularly light, classic down to earth Austrian dish.
Essigwurst, or sausage marinaded in oil and vinegar, is a particularly light, classic down to earth Austrian dish. Besides, it’s quick and easy to make.
The Austrian Brettljause is a hearty snack which usually includes various cold meats and hams as well as accompaniments.
The Austrian Brettljause is a hearty snack which usually includes various cold meats and hams as well as accompaniments such as gherkins or pickled onions.
Sausage with goulash juice and bread roll: Austrian fast food Würstel mit Saft.
For a quick and easy snack, simply heat sausages in water, serve it with goulash juice and a bread roll. That’s the Austrian fast food Würstel mit Saft!

Austrian cuisine is well known for its hearty dishes. Even when snacks are being served you will be asked, “darf‘s ein bisserl mehr sein” (“Do you want a little more?”).