Join Culinary Backstreets

Sign up with email

or

Already a member? Log in.

Log in to Culinary Backstreets

Trouble logging in?

Not a member? Sign up!

Viena is the love child of an Austrian ski lodge and a McDonald’s. This Catalan fast-food joint – which has become an obligatory foodie stop thanks to New York Times food writer Mark Bittman, who famously wrote that Viena’s flauta de jamón ibérico was the best sandwich he’d ever had – dishes up fast and delicious grub with a side of kitsch.

Officially named Establiments Viena, the chain was founded in 1969 in Vallès Occidental, a county in Catalonia about 30 minutes outside of Barcelona. In addition to bratwurst and beer poured from an old-fashioned tap, Viena also sells hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries.

The interior is rustic, with ochre walls and wooden tables and chairs. Wall paintings of agricultural and alpine scenes depict horses, deer, farming implements and what can only be described as a giant leprechaun towing a lass in a wagon. Unlike workers at most fast-food outlets, Viena’s employees – who wear matching orange, flower-appliquéd Viennese vests – give the impression that they truly like their jobs. The staff seems to pride itself on the chain’s slogan, “to eat well and fast.”

The answer to the question of how the Austria piece fits into the comida rápida puzzle in Spain is surprisingly simple. Back in the 1960s, a Catalan family took a trip to Austria and were so inspired that they launched a Catalan fast-food restaurant concept with an Austrian twist.

Of course, the main reason to visit one of Viena’s numerous locations is not to try one of their sausages or burgers but rather their flauta de jamón ibérico, which Mr. Bittman praised so highly. The truth is: It’s not THE. BEST. SANDWICH. EVER. But it’s pretty darn good, and well worth €7.

Biting into Viena’s flauta de jamón ibérico is like transporting your mouth to a hillside in southern Spain strewn with acorns. Here your taste buds, each one play-acting like a euphoric Iberian pig, discover paradise. The secret to Viena’s world-famous sandwich lies in its ingredients. Iberian ham is the hero: rich, savory and pungent, with a rich marbling of fat that indicates a superior grade of ham. Neither the thin, baguette-style bread, which has just the right amount of crustiness, nor the drizzling of ripe tomato plays second fiddle; instead, each ingredient hits the right note, creating a symphony in your mouth.

With about 40 locations, Viena has two city-center options in Barcelona that are a stone’s throw from each other. However, we recommend skipping the touristy Ramblas location and trying the branch at Carrer Pelai 16, a cavernous two-level restaurant with seating galore.

  • Beyond the CourtsAugust 21, 2019 Beyond the Courts (0)
    Each year in late summer, some of the best athletes on the planet converge on Flushing […] Posted in Queens
  • Addy’s BarbequeMay 17, 2019 Addy’s Barbeque (0)
    We hear it, and smell it, before we see it. At Addy's Barbeque in Astoria, every […] Posted in Queens
  • Beyond the CourtsAugust 23, 2018 Beyond the Courts (0)
    Each year in late summer, some of the best athletes on the planet converge on Flushing […] Posted in Queens
Hollis DuncanHollis Duncan

Related stories

u.s. open food guide
Discover all that Queens has to offer on our culinary walk!
August 21, 2019

Beyond the Courts: CB’s U.S. Open Eating Guide

Queens | By Dave Cook
By Dave Cook
QueensEach year in late summer, some of the best athletes on the planet converge on Flushing Meadows Corona Park to compete in the United States Open Tennis Championships. In 2019, the U.S. Open begins with practice sessions and qualifier matches on Monday, August 19, and concludes with the men’s singles final, scheduled for Sunday, September…
May 17, 2019

Addy’s Barbeque: East African Sizzle

Queens | By Dave Cook
By Dave Cook
QueensWe hear it, and smell it, before we see it. At Addy's Barbeque in Astoria, every mishkaki enters the dining room with a sizzle. The style of cooking, let's be clear, isn't the "low and slow" barbeque of the American South. Don't expect smoked beef brisket, which requires hours and hours of cooking, and certainly…
u.s. open food guide
Discover all that Queens has to offer on our culinary walk!
August 23, 2018

Beyond the Courts: CB’s U.S. Open Eating Guide

Queens | By Dave Cook
By Dave Cook
QueensEach year in late summer, some of the best athletes on the planet converge on Flushing Meadows Corona Park to compete in the United States Open Tennis Championships. In 2018, the U.S. Open begins with practice sessions and qualifier matches on Tuesday, August 21, and concludes with the men’s singles final, scheduled for Sunday, September…
Select your currency
USD United States (US) dollar
EUR Euro