The Best Place To Eat Tafelspitz In Vienna

The Best Place To Eat Tafelspitz In Vienna

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Whenever I’m in a major European city, I make it a point to try the best versions of their national dishes. In the city of Vienna, it was the Weiner schnitzel that ruled. But Austria’s national dish is the kingly Tafelspitz. So I turned my attention to this meal of boiled meats and vegetables. And what an incredible meal it turned out to be.

The History of Tafelspitz: An Emperor’s Favorite Dish

Tafelspitz, meaning ‘tip of the table,’ is a classic boiled veal dish served with a rich broth made from its cooking liquid, accompanied by root vegetables and bone marrow. The meal is enjoyed in multiple parts, starting with the warming broth, followed by spread the bone marrow on toasted bread. The main event is, of course, the tender meat and fried potatoes, served with a chive and apple-horseradish sauce known as Apfelkren.

Traditionally, tri-tip or a lean cut from the cow’s rear is used for Tafelspitz, though many recipes and restaurants now offer various cuts, including top round and fattier options.

Once a dish reserved for royalty, Tafelspitz was the favorite meal of Joseph I, Emperor of Austria, earning it the nickname “The Emperor’s Dish.” It was a staple at his court, prepared almost nightly. Although the specific ‘tafelspitz’ cut was costly and typically reserved for the wealthy, beef was more affordable than pork, making this ‘fleisch’ dish significant for the working class.

The recipe for Tafelspitz has remained largely unchanged over the years, and its popularity endures to this day.

The Best Place To Try Tafelspitz In Vienna

In Vienna, one restaurant is always mentioned in the same breath with tafelspitz and that’s Plachutta. This long time establishment now has 4 locations around Vienna and serves up a delicious and Instagram worthy Tafelspitz set that will warm your stomach and heart on a cold day.

My friends and I stopped into Vienna for a few days, in the cold month of February, before flying out for a winter road trip in Iceland. We fully expected our eating selection to be more limited in Iceland, so we wanted have all our nicest meals before then. I had eaten tafelspitz before, but when I mentioned it, everyone, friends and locals, said the same thing: try it at Plachutta. We made a reservation for our first evening there.

Plachutta Wollzeille

When it comes to Tafelspitz in Vienna, one name is always mentioned in the same breath: Plachutta. This renowned establishment, with four locations across the city, offers a delicious and Instagram-worthy Tafelspitz set that warms both the stomach and the heart, especially on a cold day. We went to the Wollzeille location in the city center.

My friends and I stopped into Vienna for a few days in the chilly month of February, just before embarking on a winter road trip in Iceland. Knowing our dining options in Iceland would be more limited, we wanted to enjoy some fine cuisine while we still had the chance. Although I had tried Tafelspitz before, everyone insisted on the same thing – go eat it at Plachutta. So, we made a reservation for as soon as we landed.

Plachutta Tafelspitz Fleisch

The Best Cut Of Tafelspitz To Get At Plachutta

Once at the restaurant, we were promptly seated at a ‘cosy’ corner table. By cozy, I mean to say that our table was wedged between two walls, a window, and another fully occupied table that had to be shifted for one of us to squeeze in. Nevertheless, the bustling atmosphere and the enticing aroma of savory broth wafting from every table soon made us forget about the tight seating.

Despite our eagerness to eat, we had to first navigatethe many cuts on the ‘Tafelspitz’ menu, including one labeled just as Tafelspitz, which only added to the confusion. Options ranged from a fat-free version to a combination of three different cuts, and choices from practically every part of the cow, each described by its level of fattiness.

Plachutta Meat Cuts Diagram 2020

Side note: While there were other Austrian dishes available, including fish, there were no vegetarian options. This place is not for vegetarians, unless they’re content with just bread and vegetables off someone else’s plate.

Between the three of us, we chose the famous ‘Tafelspitz’ cut, the ‘Gustostückerl’ offering three different cuts, and the ‘Beinfleisch’ cut, described as ‘larded and particularly juicy meat from the ribs.’

We passed the time waiting for our meal by admiring the various sizes of copper pots on other tables. Everything, down to the details excuded old Europe charm. The ambient noise was a symphony of utensils clinking against pots and plates, interspersed with a jumble of conversations, mostly in German. Although we spotted a few groups of tourists, most diners seemed to be locals.

The Full Tafelspitz Experience

At our table, a pamphlet was at the ready detailing the history of Tafelspitz, complete with an illustrated guide on how to enjoy the dish. Normally, I’d find this a bit over the top, but it was fun to fully lean into the whole ‘Tafelspitz experience’ at Plachutta.

Plachutta How To Eat Tafelspitz Illustration

All at once, our eyes lit up when a cart was wheeled toward us, transporting three steaming pots of broth. Each one, with a small placard identifying the cut of meat, was filled with a rich, aromatic liquid and chunks of beef and vegetables peaking out. To the side of the pots were plates of dark bread, grilled, fried potatoes, white soup cups, and copper sauce boats filled with apple-horseradish sauce and chives. The table was so laden with food that we had to do some shuffling to make room for our plates.

The waiter kindly walked us through the suggested way to eat the meal, though by then, my stomach had already heard enough.

Earthly Delights

We started with the broth, which was rich with the fat and essence of beef and the flavors of the vegetables. It was the perfect meal for a cold wintry night.

Next, we carefully removed the marrow and spread it on the toast. The gelatinous texture of the marrow almost melted into the bread. Paired with a bit of sauce, it was transcendental. I might be exaggerating, but as a huge fan of roasted marrow, I found this boiled version equally delightful.

It was too tempting to start with the meat right away, but I’m glad we prepared our palates first. The veal was firm enough to hold its shape when lifted from the broth, yet tender enough to cut without a knife. The mild horseradish sauce was the show-stealer, adding a bit of bite to the beef and balancing the dish’s richness and heaviness.

We shared from each other’s pots, and I found myself preferring the fattier cuts over the leaner “Tafelspitz” cut. While all were delicious, the flavor truly resides in the fat, and lean cuts simply miss some of that richness. I highly recommend the ‘Gustostückerl’ so you can try three different cuts in one pot.

Over a few glasses of wine, we nearly finished everything that was on the table.

PRO TIP: If you’re dining in Austria and Europe, in general, you are missing out big time if you don’t know about The Fork. Thank me later.

Plachutta’s Menu (Updated June 2024)

You can check out the current prices and menu for Plachutta below. Keep in mind, there is a charge for sharing a Tafelspitz. We were told the Tafelspitz was very filling, so we skipped the appetizers, but I’d love to return and try a few other options like the ‘Tafelspitz’ beef jelly and the beef tartar. Judging by the quality of their beef, I imagine the tartare would be exceptional.

Plachutta Wollzeile Vienna Menu 2024

Tafelspitz Recipe From Plachutta

Here’s also the recipe taken from the Plachutta website if you want to try to make Tafelspitz at home.

Plachutta Tafelspitz Recipe Rezept

Cooking Tafelspitz At Home

I’ve since prepared Tafelspitz at home for my parents using the traditional recipe, but I experimented a bit using the sous vide method and made the broth separately using a combination of bones and fat. It might be blasphemous, but I enjoyed this version even more.

Normally, everything is cooked together, which creates a rich flavor from the beef and vegetables. The downside is that, even with fattier cuts, a lot of the beef flavor is lost to the broth. While this infuses the broth with a wonderful taste, it’s a shame for the beef itself.

TIP: If you want to try your hand at cooking some another famous Austrian dish while in Vienna, check out this Viennese Kaiserschmarrn cooking class. It was pretty fun, and we got to eat it afterwards.  

Tafelspitz Sous Vide Recipe

Using the sous vide method, I took two cuts of veal, one lean and one fattier, and cooked them together in one bag. The fat is essentially shared with the leaner cut, enhancing its flavor. To infuse the vegetable flavors, I sautéed a mix of onions, garlic, leeks, and carrots, then added a bit of broth. The mixtures went into these reusable BPA free bags along with the beef and I cooked it with the Anova Sous Vide precision cooker for about 2 hours at 132°F.

For the broth, I did a quick sauté of quartered root vegetables and whatever bones I could find at the market, including marrow bones, and then simmered for a few hours. I usually do this part earlier in the day, topping up the water as needed.

Roughly two hours before the broth was done, I started the sous vide for the beef.

For the potatoes, I boiled them until they were almost soft, about 20 minutes, and then fried them in some of the excess fat removed from the beef.

This method takes longer, but it allows you to easily prepare for more people without needing multiple pots or a giant one. In my opinion, it’s more delicious, retaining everything that makes Tafelspitz special while enhancing the flavor of both the beef and the broth.

Tafelspitz Sous Vide Recipe


1 kg of beef or veal
2 kg of beef bones
1 kg of white potatoes
4 onions
4 carrots
1 leek
1 head of garlic
1 tbsp of black peppercorn
1 tsp of white pepper
4 tbsp of oil


1. For the vegetables prep, cut the onion in quarters and set aside. Peel the carrots and cut them into 1 inch pieces and clean and dice the leek. Separate the garlic head and smash each garlic clove.

2. Heat up two tablespoons of oil in a large pot and add the onions, leeks and garlic. Sauté until slightly brown and remove 1/3rd of the mix and set aside. Add the the bones and 2-3 pieces of excess fat trimmings from the beef or veal. Move the pieces around so it gets evenly sautéed for about 5 minutes.

3. Add 4 liters of water or about 3/4 of the way to the top of the pot and 1 tbsp of salt and 1 tbsp of black peppercorns. Bring to a boil. Skim off the scum that rises to the surface. When the water is mostly clear, reduce the heat to a low-medium and simmer for 4-5 hours. Top off with hot water as the liquid levels falls.

4. After 2 hours, you can reserve 1/2 a cup of the broth to cool for the sous vide.

5. Add enough water to to your sous vide container and bring your sous vide precision cooker to 132°F. Season each piece of beef with a pinch of salt. In your sous vide bag, add 1/2 cup of the broth along with the rest of the sautéed vegetables set aside and the beef. Remove all the air and place into your sous vide container. Cook for 2 hours.

6. For the potatoes, bring a pot of water to a boil and boil the potatoes for 20 minutes. Place the potatoes in an ice bath and remove the skin. Let the potato cool and season with salt and white pepper. Cut the potatoes in 1/4 chunks and fry in 2 tbsp of oil for about 10 minutes, roughly 2-3 minutes for each side. Do this about 10 minutes before the meat is finished cooking.

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Updated on May 29, 2024


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