Most of those who visited the capital of Austria and one of the greatest capitals in the world when it comes to culture, were probably prepared to get rid of a pile of money. Not us. We found ourselves in Vienna by accident, as it was on our way from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Poland. The driver whom we hitched was going exactly to the center of Vienna and since we had friends there, we told ourselves: “Why not?”.
At the beginning we thought that the fact that we slept at a friend’s place would help us save a lot of money. It proved to be true, because the price of the cheapest bed in the hostel dorm in Vienna doesn’t fall below 15 euros. But the food, without which we couldn’t survive, seemed incredibly expensive for us at that time and place. It was clear that all the money we saved by not paying for the accommodation would be spent for meeting the needs of our digestive system.
And so, there appeared the following problem, how to eat well and cheap in Vienna? As in the rest of the “civilized” world, the cheapest meal here can be purchased in large fast-food chains. We do not need to note what kind of food it is. The prices of burgers or sandwiches in some of the local restaurants or stalls with fast food reached dizzying 9 euros. We wondered, what if you don’t get full with one?
While complaining to our friends about our situation and asking them for a piece of advice, we were not even aware of what kind of guidance we would receive. We were sent to the Lichtenstein street where the restaurant Der Wiener Deewan is located.
This place is unique in Austria, while in the whole world there are only a few restaurants which operate in a similar way. Der Wiener Deewan is a business founded primarily on trust in customers. So, the idea is that you can eat as much as you want, because all the curries, bread, cooked dishes and desserts are available as a self-service buffet. Nobody controls the amount of food that you load on your plate, as well as the number of times you help yourself. When you finally satisfy your hunger, you go to the cash and pay as much as you feel it was worth!
Der Wiener Deewan serves Pakistani cuisine, meaning mostly well-spiced food. A lot of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cumin and chili provide a perfect blend of South Asian flavours. The food cooked in the restaurant has to be fairly cheap, so in order that the whole thing is worthwhile, the curries are very simple, mainly made of potatoes, beans, lentils and chickpeas. Sauces are usually eaten with bread and fresh salads. Chefs also take care of the dessert, so the guests can try Pakistani style halva.
When we entered the Deewan for the first time, we wanted to get full and, at the same time, pay as little as possible. However, we achieved only the first part of the goal. We both had a second helping of the main dish and the dessert, and the food was so delicious that we didn’t have the heart to leave a penny and go out. That’s the idea of the place: the restaurant was not made just for the homeless and slackers, but doesn’t exclude them as well. As we wrote above, this is a business founded on trust in customers, which means that if the client is satisfied with the service and in good financial situation, they should leave a fair amount of money to keep the restaurant going. The goal is to create a balance between those who cannot leave a lot of money and those who can do it, so that the restaurant could feed everyone.
We ate there twice, the first time we paid 15 euros for two meals, and the second time 5 euros. We suggest leaving at least 5 euros (for two people) and remembering not only about the cost of the food, but also wages of the cooks and the waiters, etc.
Address and contact can be found on the website of the restaurant.
Respect and enjoy good food!