VIENNA, Austria: Pláka Greek Restaurant and Wine Bar

Wandering the side streets of Vienna near the Stephansdom Cathedral, we found ourselves in need of a light lunch. Having helped open and run a Greek restaurant in the Seattle area, my eyes were immediately drawn to Pláka, a Greek establishment on a side street named Bräunerstraβe, just down from the Wiener Pestsäule, a column memorializing victims of the Black Plague (cheerful thought, I know!).

The extensive menu

Named after a neighborhood in Athens, Pláka was the real deal. A 1.75-litre bottle of Ouzo, the traditional Greek licorice liqueur, sat on the bar, which also offered various types of Retsina, a Greek wine flavored with resin, as well as more pedestrian versions of beer and wine.

I had to start with a taste of the ouzo, which was much smoother and with a more pronounced licorice flavor than the brands available in the U.S. After that, we settled on glasses of assyrtiko (Greek white wine) and a mezze (appetizer) plate with dolmades (small, rolled, stuffed grape leaves in avgolemono sauce), fried bread with a fig spread, deep-fried anchovies, and pita bread.

Greek mezze for lunch

Most of the nibbles were delicious and disappeared quickly. The anchovies, however, were a bit bland to our taste. Even a squeeze of lemon juice and the provided hummus didn’t save them. We served deep-fried smelt, called marithes, at our restaurant. To my palate, they have more flavor and are my personal preference.

Every guest at Pláka gets a napkin which has the Greek versions of many popular German phrases, which is helpful if you speak German but a mere curiosity if you don’t. Still, it’s cute and helps set the mood.

Translations on a napkin

We never did get back for a full meal but based on what we did have, I’m sure a full lunch or dinner would be quite enjoyable. The next time we’re in Vienna, I’m sure we’ll find our way back to Pláka.

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Photos by Carl Dombek
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