As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, I try and avoid red meat and eat vegetarian as best I can, adding in the occasional fillet of fish or chicken breast. In Germany and Austria, I was worried. The stereotyped cuisine was that of wienerschnitzel (breaded, fried veal), sausages, boiled meats, etc. Sure, there are plenty of vegetarian joints around the city with other options, but when you want to experience the local cuisine in a typical restaurant, things can get difficult.
So, what are the options? There are some good dishes for vegetarians and pescatarians in the local joints, but if you are gluten or dairy free, you may run into more issues.
Bread, Potato or Spinach Dumplings (Semmelknödel): These aren’t like Chinese dumplings. Imagine someone mashing up pretzels with flour, water and spices and creating a giant bread meatball. Usually, the dumplings are served as a side to a meat dish; so if you order them separately, be sure to specify that you do not want yours with gravy.
German Mac ’N Cheese (Kaese Spaetzle): Short, pillowy noodles covered with cheese and topped with fried onions. This dish is delicious as long as you like cheese, but paired with beer you leave feeling that food baby.
Beer Soup (Biersuppe): A creamy soup made with stout beer and topped with croutons. It’s definitely a stick to your bones soup, but it warms you up and tastes delicious.
Salad with Yoghurt Sauce (Grüner Salat mit Kräuter-Joghurt Dressing): The typical mix of leafy vegetables with sweet cabbage, shredded carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and the occasional potato. Almost all the house salads I ordered were topped with a refreshing dill-yoghurt sauce.
Trout, Pike and Charr Dishes: Most restaurants will often have some great freshwater fish if you are nearby the lake regions in Germany or Austria. Paired with potatoes, rice or vegetables, these fish dishes are simple and delicious.
Apple Strudel (Apfelstrudel): A typical dish of Germany, but famous in Austria, this dessert features layers of pastry dough lined with cinnamon and sugar and stuffed with thin slices of apple.