Let’s Go There Instead

Statt-Beisl: WUK’s impromptu answer to nighttime reverie

On The Town | Sophia Chung | September 2012

As the sun sets, the beer tables at Statt-Beisl fill with a cosmopolitan crowd (Photo: David Reali)

Snippets of German, English, and French float in between bouts of hearty laughter where a small group of Malian refugees gather around wooden tables. Under a massive clock hanging from the courtyard wall, women chatter enthusiastically in Spanish. The Statt-Beisl in the WUK caters easily to the motley ebb and flow of locals: This is a city tavern, yes, but also the place you go "instead" ("statt") of somewhere else.

The intercultural camaraderie is a nod to WUK’s colourful history. Located in the 9th District on Währinger Straße, the 1855 building first housed a locomotive factory and then an engineering school, which was later abandoned. Activists adapted the vacant factory yard for multicultural welfare programmes, gaining the city’s official recognition in 1981 (See "A Workshop for Culture and Peace", TVR November 2011). Five years later, the WUK association established the Statt-Beisl, to serve both WUK residents and the wider Viennese community.

The Statt-Beisl exudes low-key charm, with wooden tables and chairs reminiscent of the Heuriger wine taverns. Murals and event posters enliven the otherwise sparse, white walls. On a warm, summery night, most prefer the restaurant’s cobblestone courtyard, enclosed by walls of vine-covered brick. Wooden planters divide the ample seating area of tables, benches, and low walls. The versatile space is easily reconfigured to host live sports screenings, outdoor films, and concerts throughout the year.

Early one Friday evening, barefoot children tear across the yard, flinging water balloons through the air. As mothers herd them out the iron gates, suited professionals filter in to mingle with colleagues and friends. At dusk, dinner is a casual affair, featuring a mostly vegetarian and vegan menu – no small feat in Vienna’s meat-loving culture. For €10, patrons can try the red lentil soup, paired with spinach gnocchi and paprika sauce. Or, for the more adventurous, there is the dumpling soup with banana-milk garlic noodles. And for those who prefer traditional fare, Würstel and Schnitzel are each on offer for less than €6.


Nightfall with an "Almbecher"

After dark, Austrian 20-somethings cluster like moths around a flame under the yellow light of industrial lamps. Switching easily between German and English, they enjoy the selection of inexpensive ciders, beers, and wines, underscored by minimalist, ambient music. Before long, the courtyard fills with people, though it’s never suffocating. A crowd forms around the outdoor bar, the busy barkeepers a flurry of activity. Statt-Beisl’s beer selection includes the small breweries, like Weitra, alongside standards like Wieselburger, Hirter, and Staro-Brno. In line with WUK’s multicultural mission, the "Almbecher" is a favourite, a mix of Becherovka (a Czech herbal bitters, stiff at 38%) and Austrian Almdudler.

Up above, the clock is now illuminated with LED lights, its face changing inconspicuously from green to blue to purple. With drinks in hand, surrounded by even better company, no one notices the time. As midnight slips away, the indistinguishable blend of languages is a reminder that Vienna is home to microcosms of a wider world.


Mon.–Thu. 11:30 – 2:00, Fri., Sat. 17:00 –  4:00, Sun. 17:00 – 1:00

9., Währinger Straße 59

(01) 408 72 24


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