Curtain Comes Down on The Landstraßer Markt

Amidst a Patchwork of Plastic Paneling and Aluminum Façades, It Once Housed Some of the Best Food Stands in the 3rd District

On The Town | Michael Freund | February 2008

No more food, no more café: the Landstraßer Markt at the end of January (Photo: M. Freund)

The elevation drawings show high-rise office buildings like those you can find anywhere from Dortmund to Darwin. The ads promise a fabulous new downtown center, and of course there will be a shiny big supermarket with thousands of frozen, canned, processed and preserved food items.

But the Landstraßer Markt will be gone.

It is true that Wien-Mitte – the traffic hub near the Hilton, corner Stadtpark – has been a problem area for a while. The train station hall was not made for the onslaught of the two subway lines in addition to the Schnellbahn that intersect there, and has been deteriorating for years. So has the two-story building next to it, the Markthalle. Built in the early seventies, around the absolute low point of post-war architecture, it was a patchwork of plastic paneling and aluminum fronts, dangling electric wiring, a weird mixture of tiles, fake bricks, naked walls and barely covered ceilings.

But until the end of January, it also housed some of the best food stands in the 3rd District. There was Vidoni, a traditional importer of mostly Italian comestibles (it closed six months ago and is expected to reopen this fall on Alser Straße opposite the University campus). There was Miedler, the butcher to which some multi-star chefs made regular pilgrimages (expected to move to the wholesale market, the Inzersdorfer Großmarkt, under the name of Kraus & Co.).

Most of the shop-owners, however, offered non-gourmet basic vegetable and fruit stuffs, and many added the personal touch that makes Viennese markets still (or again) stand out among the chain stores that dominate much of the city. Like the two Felber ("bäckt selber") bakeries, one run by a proud Middle-Eastern man, the other by a Viennese, who called gentlemen of all ages "junger Mann" – in fact, he shouted this appreciation at them. Or "Uncle Sam," a hard-working, quadri-lingual vendor from Tunisia who liked to round down the cost to the next lower Euro. Now which cash register does that? (He is expected to reopen in March, in a container right in front of the market,). And there was also a charming lady who sold flowers. She called it quits before the official end and said she would now pick up her original dream: working as a massage therapist.

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