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Vienna

coffee house cafe viennaVienna is all about the food, whether it's the exquisite pastries beckoning from glass display cabinets in every cafe, or a giant platter of Wiener schnitzel, the city's trademark dish of lightly breaded veal served with parsley potatoes and a twist of lemon. In recent decades, the city also has seen an explosion of alternatives, with Michelin-starred restaurants, Indian, Thai and Turkish outlets, and gourmet vegetarian venues.

Locals queue up outside Trzesniewski, a Polish sandwich shop on Dorotheergasse. You buy bite-sized open sandwiches on black bread, each one packing a punch thanks to liberal doses of paprika and pickle, washed down with a tiny glass of beer. The place is a city institution.

Sample the perfect Wiener schnitzel at Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper, near the opera house. As well as being famous for its schnitzels, this elegant spot is a favorite for power-lunching locals.

Don't miss the experience of a traditional Viennese coffee house. They're everywhere, and each one has its own following. Every coffee house serves coffee from an extensive menu and cakes from a mouth-watering display, but many have wider menus for lunch or dinner. Some are rich in history; Cafe Leopold Hawelka is a tiny, dark, crowded room, the walls plastered with sketches and drawings offered by artists too poor to pay for their coffee. Cafe Frauenhuber claims to be the city's oldest, where Mozart made his final appearance as a pianist on March 4, 1791. Walk to the rear of Demel and gaze through the glass wall at the show kitchen, a mesmerizing and mouthwatering experience for the baking enthusiast.

Note: In a coffee house, never, ever ask for a take-out cup. The Viennese like to take their time, and coffee drinking is considered sacrosanct, unless you're in Starbucks.

If you're on schnitzel overload, clear your palate with the organic vegetarian fare at Tian. Many of the vegetables are grown in the restaurant's own garden, and they're used to create colorful dishes like avocado mango salad, yellow beans with goat cheese, truffle noodles and coconut-curry soup. Menus change seasonally.
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