When I studied here in the early to mid 90s, the only American food chain around was McDonald's. This past week I spotted a T.G.I. Friday's, Burger King, and I even drank a few (Austrian) beers at the Champions bar in the Marriott, which horrified my Vienna guide, who asked, "How did you know?"

I'd been tipped off by an American living in Vienna (he works for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission) who suggested I might find the NCAA tourney televised via ESPN. The young bar manager, a dead ringer for actor Jonah Hill, was kind enough to switch one of the flat screens to the Georgetown-NC State game—everyone else was watching Cologne versus Hannover. And when the Hoyas lost by a basket, I had to explain to the manager how rare it is for my team to have such an early exit (he'll never know!).

There are also Starbucks cafes, which seem to be populated by teens and twenty somethings as well as tourists. "They mostly go for the cold drinks," an Austrian suggested to me. (And several sushi joints have also sprouted up, also catering to a younger scene.)

But other than that, Vienna seems to have kept to itself, at least culinarily speaking (Turkish food has always been available, thanks to the influx of guest workers in the 1970s and the more recent arrival of more religiously conservative Turks coming from Anatolia). Austrian cuisine seems to have survived the latest siege and in some places is even being transcended by geniuses like chef Heinz Reitbauer.

But is traditional Tafelspitz still on the table? Yes, although it is no longer just for the Hofrats. More on this in print after my dinner tonight with Mario Plachutta, the prince of Tafelspitz (this will be my third and final Tafelspitz of the trip, which ends tomorrow).

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