Gourmet Graz: Restaurants, Markets, and Local Food in Austria’s Culinary Capital of Delights
Graz, Austria is a city that will melt in your mouth, and this guide to Graz restaurants, gourmet shops, food tours, farmers markets, and culinary events will show you the way. Is it any wonder Graz is the Culinary Capital of Delights?
If you’re a food and wine lover, you’ve come to the right place. Graz is arguably one of the best cities in one of the best countries for food. Graz restaurants rank among the best in Austria, and café life is alive and well. Fresh fish, produce, local meats and products are available daily at several popular markets around town. Pair it with a visit to the green heart of Austria in South Styria — Südsteiermark — and it’s easy to see why Graz is the perfect destination for foodies.
We didn’t know what to expect when we first arrived in Graz, the second largest city in Austria. It didn’t feel large though it was bustling with a mix of tourists and residents going about their day. Graz is an inviting city with a small town feel, and while there were tourists, it’s far from the crush you’ll find in Vienna. Being slow travelers, we love wandering streets and alleys leisurely popping into places as we go, and Graz is a great place to do just that. There’s a lot to do in Graz and the Old Town is as charming as it gets — definitely a city for your European bucket list. You’ll find historic sites from 1,000 years old to World War II and museums featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, their most famous son.
But take a look at all the great food that awaits!
Eckstein by Albert
If you’re looking to try some of Austria’s best restaurants, Graz has its share, and Eckstein by Albert is high on that list. We couldn’t believe our luck in getting a table here, because this is truly one of the best restaurants in Graz. Located in the center of town, the atmosphere here is low lit and comfortable, delightfully noisy like most European restaurants, and upscale but very approachable. They just really love their food and delight in chatting about it! Dining indoors feels like you’re eating in a wine cellar with low brick walls and arched ceilings, and there’s also outside seating for when the weather permits. The wait staff at Eckstein was knowledgable and friendly as we asked for explanations of various dishes before ordering. The wine recommendation was spot on and luscious, pairing well with our selections.
Come with an appetite when you eat here. We opted for the traditional Styrian Tasting menu since it’s Styrian food they do best. The tastings — while artfully presented — are generous, and we thought the pricing was appropriate given the quality of the food and service. It’s popular with locals so make reservations especially on weekends.
Mehlplatz 3, Graz 8010
We love Aperitivo time whenever we visit Italy, and Bar Albert had the same vibe as soon as we walked in. Located in Old Town Graz, Bar Albert is one of those chic Graz bars every local knows. They serve small plates of Styrian meats and cheeses with garnishes and breadsticks, and cheese spreads with fresh baked bread. It’s so cozy here, you’ll want to spend a few hours. There is seating at the bar and 4 or 5 half circle cafe tables mounted along the wall of the narrow room. It can get a little crowded about the time local folks are getting off work but we didn’t feel cramped at all. This was another friendly place and the staff thankfully spoke perfect English. They also have over 50 varieties of tinned fish with serve freshly baked bread from Hofbäckerei Edegger Tax bakery. Go for a little something light before dinner but definitely have some wine. The wine list here is amazing with Austrian white wine and wines from around the world.
Herrengasse 11, Graz 8010
Aiola Upstairs Restaurant on the Schlossberg
Not only should a visit to the Schlossberg be on your list of things to do in Graz, but a stop off for drinks or dinner at Aiola Upstairs should be too. The historic 1,000-year old castle on the Schlossberg is one of the famous Graz attractions and interesting to see and walk around, but getting up there is half the fun. You can take the Schlossbergbahn funicular up the castle hill. It’s moderately steep with a 60% gradient but it has a glass roof that provides great views of the historic center of Graz. It runs up Schlossberg hill about every fifteen minutes and a one-way ticket costs 2,40€ for adults. For a faster way up take the Schlossberglift with a glass cabin — it only takes about a minute to reach the top and opens up at the Graz clock tower with an incredible view of the city. The Schlossberg lift costs 1,60 € for adults. Walk the short distance up the hill and look for the queue and the bright umbrellas on the terrace.
Aiola Upstairs restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The pub area is first come/first served seating and on nice days there will almost always be a line but with seating for 120 the wait generally isn’t too long. The views from the terrace are spectacular. If you’re planning on dinner, a reservation is an absolute must.
Aiola Im Schloss
This historic mansion on the outskirts of Graz is a definite special occasion place known for catering to sumptuous events and weddings, but if you’re also looking for traditional Styrian cuisine, this is a must. The beautiful gardens are worth the tip alone. You can take a taxi but you’ll need a car to enjoy the evening at Aiola Im Schloss.
The Frankowitsch is an institution in Graz and has been a local favorite since 1932 and serves traditional Austrian food. At first, we weren’t sure where to enter — it’s part deli, part bakery, a candy shop, coffee shop, cafe, wine shop, and a gift shop too. And your experience is determined by which door you enter. We wanted a sandwich but ended up in the pastry and coffee queue… there are worse things, right? But once we figured out the system, we spied the counter with a dozen or so varieties of open sandwiches called Belegte Brote, similar to bruschetta, some with savory toppings, others with meats, veggies, smoked salmon and lots of combos. It was the time of day when people were getting off work so the place was hopping. Luckily we found seats outside along the sidewalk and suddenly a waitress appeared. Along with a couple of small beers — called pfiffs — the sandwiches were a perfect afternoon treat. This was Austria’s version of late afternoon aperitivo!
Speisesaal at The Grand Hotel Wiesler
As the saying goes ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’, and we can’t let a foodie tour of Graz go without mentioning the delicious breakfast buffet at the Hotel Wiesler. The folks here take their food very seriously. Served in the funky Speisesaal dining room, the breakfast buffet is a lavish feast. Eggs, fresh juices, yogurts, cereals and granolas, typical meat and cheeses and a few not so typical. But our favorites were the fresh baked breads and sweet rolls with freshly made coffee drinks. Notice that every food item we just mentioned is plural? Breakfast became a very important meal indeed. But the dining room is also open to the public and guests for afternoon sweets and tea, nightly dinner, and after dinner refreshments. Though we didn’t catch dinner here, their hardwood charcoal grill is rumored to be a big reason the dining room fills up quickly. We can’t wait to go back and stay longer, if only for the heavenly frühstück.
Der Steier is definitely one of our favorite Graz restaurants. Serving local Styrian food and some Slovenian and German dishes as well, it’s a lively place and noisy with plenty of seating and happy diners. We decided to check it one night without a reservation and were lucky to get a table since the place was packed, so be sure and reserve ahead of time. The maître d' was super friendly and accommodating, and we were seated within minutes. There’s a ton of great choices on the menu, including tapas small plates of Styrian specialties, traditional Backhendl fried chicken, and lots of meat and potato dishes unique to the Steiermark region. The extensive wine list was impressive — having just come from the wine-producing region in South Styria, we were happy to recognize a few on the menu — and our server gave us a great recommendation. Even with a full house we didn’t have a long wait for dinner, which were very good with generous portions. Der Steier is one of the most popular restaurants in Graz and definitely worth a visit.
Graz Events and Food Tours
Graz Food Festival
At just 4 years old, the now annual Graz Food Festival features over dozens of unique events showcasing some of Graz’s most amazing culinary talent, whether it's in a hidden wine cellar, a panoramic bar, or an urban hotspot. Foodies can enjoy dinners with Austrian and international Top Chefs, inspiring think-dinners, tastings, culinary walking tours, and foodie workshops. August is a really good time to visit Graz!
Graz Long Table
If you need one big reason to visit Graz in August, other than the soon-to-be-famous Graz Food Festival, the signature event at the end of the 2 weeks is without a doubt the Graz Long Table, a private dinner for you and 750 of your new best foodie friends in Hauptplatz! This is truly the culinary event of the season where you’ll be treated to food tastings, wine pairings, and a full course dinner under the stars. If you had any doubt that Austria is one of the best countries for food, this event should prove it. Add the Long Table to your culinary wish list!
Graz Food Tour
We love taking food tours of a new place. It’s s great way to try the local foods that a place is known for, and which restaurants you want to go back to later on. We’ve been on many food tours in the US and more in Italy, and each was a little bit different. We took a dedicated cheese tour in Tuscany, three in Bologna — one that highlighted the famous foods of Emilia Romagna, one took us truffle hunting, and one was a walking food tour in Bologna. Our slow food tour in Santerasmo near Venice visited local producers, followed by dinner with a local Venetian family — a very cool and local experience. But food tours are always unique. So when we decided to take a Graz food tour, we weren’t sure whether we’d visit local restaurants in Graz, food producers, farmers markets, or what. But we knew of Graz’s emerging gastronomy scene, so it was bound to be good.
We joined local foodie and food blogger Manuela Pucher of Testesser on an afternoon food tour of Graz. Manuela is a wealth of great information about the local food scene and restaurants in Graz, and taking a food tour with her was a real treat. We made three formal stops along the afternoon tour with lots of good info about the local history and culture as we walked. Plus she gave us some great recommendations of what to do in Graz for the rest of our time. If you’re interested in her food tour, contact her through Testesser.
Graz Farmers Markets
The Kaiser-Josef market is the oldest and largest farmers market in Graz, and open every day except Sunday. The stalls of fresh produce and flowers are filled most days, but Saturday is the big day for Graz residents to stock-up on fresh produce, freshly baked breads and pastries, smoked meats and maybe a nice bouquet of flowers. Pretty much any farmer’s market product you can think of is here. Saturday is also the day to socialize at one of the cafes or snack bars around the market. The day we walked around was sunny and all the fall colors were on full display, especially apples, gourds, and pumpkins. Vendors were friendly and the atmosphere was almost festive. Get here early. market rules dictate that the market must close by 1:00pm.
Location: East of the river off Mandellstraße
We love the Stadtbauernladen market because it epitomizes the Styrian food specialties produced in the best culinary craft tradition, products that grow and thrive in the region and are refined by the farmers themselves. The markets emphasizes seasonality. You’ll find fresh farmers breads, free-range pork, smoked trout, char, and also top products from local culinary manufacturers. If you’re also doing some cooking during your stay in Graz, be sure and check out this market for your ingredients — open every day except Sunday.
Hamerlinggasse 3, 8010 Graz
Lendplatz Market is located in a huge market plaza on the west bank of the Mur River, and on some days can welcome as many as 800 urban farmers. Interestingly, it’s the farmers and local producers themselves who man the stalls which always makes for good insights into this urban farmer culture. We really enjoy street food and this market has a lot of good things to try… fresh breads, pastries, sandwiches, coffee, fresh fruits, juices, pizza, sausage, and seafood can all be had at cafe stalls. This is another market where you should get there early, especially on Saturday. It opens at 6:00am but on weekends many of the vendors pack up early.
Location: West of the river on Lendplatz between Keplerstaße and Volksgartenstraße
Gourmet Specialty Shops
s’ Fachl Graz
A visit to s’ Fachl is a must visit for lovers of local foods and products. Located off a small courtyard near the center of town, this shop has a very unique concept — the majority of their products (90%) are from Styria. Local producers rent a space the size of a wooden crate in which to display their merchandise. The shop is a retailer for all sorts of delicacies here — candies, honey, jams, craft beers, wine, and oils, and a huge assortment of products made from one of Styria’s famous foods, pumpkins and pumpkin seeds. Everything inside supports local artisans and producers.
There’s no shortage of crafts either - carvings, purses, candles, ceramics, and scented oils to name a few and many made from recycled materials. This is a great place to find small gifts that are easy to pack to take home with you. There’s a small seating area made from wooden pallets where you can enjoy tasting something you’ve purchased. This is an interesting, friendly and fun place — be sure to stop in.
Herrengasse 13, Graz 8010
Hofbäckerei Edegger-Tax Bakery
Since 1569, Hofbäckerei Edegger-Tax is the oldest bakery in Graz — in fact, in all of Austria — that’s still in operation. Make your way to Hofgasse Street in the pedestrian zone and look for one of the most fascinating carved wooden building facades you’ll ever see. As you get close they might be baking bread and the aroma will guide you. Either way, you can’t miss it. They still bake two specialty pastries.
There’s Panthertatzen, a Styrian pastry with pumpkin seeds and almonds that was a favorite of Archduke Johann, and a chocolate cookie called Sissi-Busserl — Sissi kisses for short —which is rumored to have been the favorite of Empress Elisabeth who was known as Sissi. Who knows for sure but we love these small folklores that remain in a culture. Adjoining the bakery is a small cafe that’s seems like it’s the same place but is actually a different store. It’s a little confusing. You buy your pastry at one counter and pay, go and sit at a small cafe table and a different person brings the pastry and coffee but you pay that person separately for the coffee. No matter, they were both excellent.
Hofgasse 6, 8010 Graz
All we can say is, wow! Located in the pedestrian zone near the Graz Museum, Xocolat is a chocolate lover’s paradise. The extensive selection of chocolates is amazing and the aroma of fine chocolate fills the air in the shop. We wanted to taste everything in the case from one end to the other. But like most fine confectioneries, a lot of tasting comes at a price. So we settled for a few treats and a couple of chocolate bars that were incredible. Chocolate makes us so happy. Try the Schlossbergkugel, a special chocolate ball with truffle filling that’s uniqely Graz. The box it comes in will remind you of the clocktower perched on top of the Schlossberg and makes a perfect souvenir of Graz if you don’t eat it before you get home. This is a must stop in Graz. We promise it’ll make you happy too.
Sackstraße 10, 8010 Graz
Getting to Graz
Graz is located in southern Austria, closer to Slovenia than any major cities in Austria. It’s just over 2 hours from Graz to Ljubljana by car, and just a bit longer by train. Train travel through Europe is so efficient. The network of trains is extensive, and we love how relaxing train travel is, so getting in and out of Graz within Austria is simple. Taking the train from Graz to Vienna, or Graz to Salzburg is direct. Salzburg is 3 hours from Graz, and the Vienna to Graz train is a short 2 hours.
We drove a rental car from Slovenia to Austria and would highly recommend driving this beautiful region on your own. We spent a week exploring northern Slovenia on day trips from Ljubljana, our home base for the week. From there, we drove to the South Styria countryside for a few days, then the hour drive to Graz. Although we did accidentally drive into a Pedestrian Zone — oops — when we arrived in Graz during rush hour at 3:00pm, thankfully the police officer directing traffic was nice about it and stopped traffic while we made a hasty exit! A not-so-nice-officer could have ticketed us, so watch for signs. I was just too busy taking pictures to co-pilot for my husband who was driving! Lesson learned.
If you’re driving across international borders — like from Slovenia to Austria — just remember to pick up a vehicle decal known as a “Vignette” at a local convenience store for around $15 USD.
Pay attention to Pedestrian Zones (and put away the camera!)
Where to Stay in Graz
The Grand Hotel Wiesler, Graz
For our short visit, we were centrally based at the hip and fun Grand Hotel Wiesler, which made daily excursions around the city on foot pretty easy. Set on the River Mur, the Wiesler is close to all the main historic sites and so many great restaurants and local markets. The hotel has been completely renovated in recent years from a former 5-star hotel to a more hip and casual, yet fun, stay. Rooms are airy and spacious, and ours had a roomy and modern shower. We especially loved the fun amenities like the bikes for rent and Polaroid cameras you can borrow for the day to create your own #WieslerMoments. For its history, cool design aesthetic, and great location, the Wiesler is a great choice, with reasonable rates and a variety of room types from which to choose.
Grand Hotel Wiesler, Grieskai 4-8, 8020 Graz
Lendhotel is a minimalist and modern hotel where the emphasis is on the common areas, ground floor restaurant and gathering space, and awesome rooftop deck. That’s not to say the rooms are less however — they’re not. It’s in a great location just north of the River near Lendplatz, and close to the Farmers Market. The bathrooms are spacious and modern, beds are uber-comfy, and many of the rooms have small balconies. The hotel has a cool gallery feel and features incredible works of art and sculpture everywhere — we had an interesting cow sculpture right outside our door. If you love modern chic, you’ll love Lendhotel. Check more details and availability.
We were guests of Visit Graz during our foodie tour of the city. As always, all opinions, photos, and experiences are ours based on our own firsthand experience.