A favourite for the vegetarian in Vienna has to be Naturkost St. Josef in Neubau. Neubau is the 7th district in Vienna and is a heavily populated urban and residential area with a few major shopping areas within it. If you want to eat like a true local, then this has to be a spot that you visit and I’m happy to share my experience of dining here with a local who gave me the down-low and insight on this wonderful establishment. There are two entrances for Naturkost St. Josef, as this organisation is part grocery store and part veggie restaurant. You can either enter through the grocery store at Zollergasse 26 or through the restaurant at Mondscheingasse 10-12. As a person who likes to promote family-run businesses such as Pizzeria Vesuivio da Mario and Restaurant Brunnauer, I am really happy to now be able to endorse and promote Naturkost St. Josef which is owned and run by Othamar Holzinger, who created his business over 25 years ago in Vienna.
"Cooking for me is meditation and balance"
Othamar Holzinger has created a business that is 100% environmentally friendly. He sells organic produce and uses the same produce to cook delicious and hearty dishes for his guests. He is a hands-on owner that spends most of his time being the chef and cooking in the kitchen of Naturkost St. Josef and has been quoted as saying, “cooking for me is meditation and balance”. The staff at this veggie heaven are from different cultures and backgrounds. Some of the longest-time staff members have been with the establishment for over 20 years.
Holzinger has created one of the most popular establishments in Vienna for everything concerning a healthy lifestyle. The shop and restaurant are open from Monday – Saturday from 8.00 am but the closing times vary from 4.00 pm – 6.30 pm contingent on what day you are visiting. The atmosphere is very homely and there are many regulars, like my Austrian dining companion who is a frequent visitor. You can pay by either cash or credit card in the shop and restaurant. One of the best things about Naturkost St. Josef is that you need to spend no time pondering a menu and deciding what to order. This is because there is only one daily menu in respect to the offering: lunch!
Tasty items made only from fresh organic produce
You only have to decide whether you want a small or large plate (and naturally, with how good the food smells, you are likely to opt for the large plate). You will then be offered a mixture of the delicious items that have been made fresh that day from organic produce. The cuisine available is a combination of Austrian food with an Asian influence and this could be inspired by the fact that Austrian Holzinger has spent some time living in India. The cost of a small plate of his gorgeous food is 7.20 EUR/8.45 USD whereas a large plate is 8.60 EUR/10 USD. If you want some salad, there is a selection of different salads that have been prepared. You can add the salad to a separate plate and are charged according to the weight of the salad.
Everything is self-service and so you order your food at the counter, pay the cashier and then take your tray to sit either on the ground floor or the first floor upstairs. The seating capacity for this healthy hub is 70 people. Lunch is served from around 11.00 am (contingent on when Holzinger has finished cooking) and is served up until the food runs out. According to members of staff, the food runs out quite fast at this popular local eatery, so if you arrive after 3.00 pm there may be very little left!
As I had the most fabulous lunch here, I have to recommend that you make sure that you visit Naturkost St. Josef at least once during your trip to Vienna and if you find that you love it as much as I do, you may find yourself returning again to see what Holzinger can cook up (as each day the lunch menu changes). Perhaps it will be lasagna, polenta balls, veggie doner kebab, tomato rice with curry vegetables, mung beans, chard and raita; who knows? All I do know is that it’s a surprise that I look forward to finding out when I visit next time.
A wonderful balance for your taste buds!
Alongside the lunch meal, there is also a dessert up for grabs and my gosh, the plum strudel being sold on the day I was there was yummy and was devoured very quickly by my companion and I. The pastry was flaky and sweet and complimented the not-so-sweet plum, which resulted in a wonderful balance for my taste buds. I am confident that you will be tempted to sample the dessert in the display during your visit. The cost for a dessert is around 5 EUR/6 USD.
There is free tap water to drink which is made available in large pitchers on the first floor, so all you need to do is pour yourself a glass if you’re thirsty! As it is not common to be offered complimentary tap water in Vienna, this small but important offering has to be noted. If, however, you want another drink to accompany your meal and/or dessert, Naturkost St. Josef does have options. For example, you can have a fresh juice made from organic fruit and vegetables, enjoy some homemade lemonade or iced tea. If you want something with some fizz, then organic sodas are also available for 2.60 EUR/3 USD.
Respecting ingredients and creating a feel-good atmosphere
Naturkost St. Josef is a combination of what feels like a health store from the 80’s, an eco-friendly chemist with a veggie canteen with a simplistic, clean and cute seating area. The establishment does not have a website and as there is not too much information online about it, I knew I had to spread the word and share it with you. However, don’t tell everybody as there may not be any room left for when you visit! In my view, one of the best things about Naturkost St. Josef (after the creative kitchen) is the atmosphere created by the very-warm and personable staff. They are friendly, bright, helpful and happy to be there. Holzinger and his team show that they love organic produce, he respects the ingredients that he cooks with, his team respect the dishes and serve them with happiness and well, the customers (myself included) feel and believe that we have respected our body by giving it food that is good for it.
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