Sausages are the most typical Austrian street food. Actually, sausages and the other delicacies available at the sausage stand are the only authentic Austrian street food.
Sausage stands in Austria, however, are more than mere food vendors. They are a world on their own. They evolved as social institutions in the course of the 19th century and, over time, developed their own culture and etiquette.
Therefore, I will tell you how sausage stands came to be before you get to know my favorite, how I became their highest-ranking military officer, and which Austrian street food to order when you visit.
Why we have Sausage Stands in Austria?
In the middle ages, mobile traders were selling cooked meat to the poor who otherwise couldn’t afford a warm meal. Later, at the beginning of the 19th century, the Habsburg empire established sausage stands to provide an income to war veterans.
These stands had no fixed location and were only allowed to open at night.
It was an economically challenging time; therefore, people resorted to cheaper alternatives to meat. At the same time, industrialization hit and more people worked at night.
The sausage stand provided them with a quick warm meal on their way home from work at night when cooking was not an option anymore.
Only in the 1960s sausage stands have been given a location permit. Some vendors until today only have a night permit and operate from dusk till dawn. These stands are like food trucks and parked somewhere else during the day.
But the sausage stand I would like to tell you about is open during the day.
How I became the General of the Sausage Stand
Back in 2012, when I began working in Tourism, I was riding a Rikscha. On these bike taxis, two people were sitting in front, while I paddled in the back and told them about Salzburg.
That was the first job I loved. I paddled a lot.
The Salzburger Grill Imbiss is on a side street next to the University church. This Austrian street food stand is central but away from the crowds and was therefore predestined as a pit stop. In addition, there is Raymond, the likable owner, and a bunch of regulars with whom I made friends.
And there is a competition at the Salzburger Grill Imbiss. There are military ranks to climb from one to twelve for eating spicy curry sausage. You are allowed to start at level seven and that’s what I did.
Every week I ate another rank. It’s an awful dish. Just sausage with spicy sauce. You don’t actually taste the sausage because it’s too spicy. I was fine until rank eleven, the Brigadier rank. That was borderline spicy. I made it, but I could only imagine what rank 12 would be like. Until that moment, there were only two at level eleven. I became the third.
From that moment on, I thought about level twelve, the General in the military terms, every day. Several times a day I stopped at Raymond’s Grill Imbiss to contemplate on the right moment. After two weeks, I eventually made a snap judgment before finishing my workday.
It had to be done.
According to Raymond, the Generals sauce is at 5 million Scoville. Scoville is the measurement for spiciness, and Police Pepper Spray has around 2 million. Without exaggerating, this meal was one of the most painful experiences in my life. When my mouth stopped burning after an hour, my upper body began to hurt in a way that, for 24 hours, I considered going to the hospital before the pain went away.
In retrospect, I would not have done it if I had known how bad it is.
Nevertheless, it is one of the great achievements of my life. At the time I am writing this, eight years later, I am still the only General. There are many more Brigadiers, but no one made it to level twelve.
Raymond and all the Sausage stand regulars know me as the General. I am often wondering if they even know my name. In case you visit the Grill Imbiss, ask Raymond about the General, and he will tell you about me. If you dare, order a level ten or a level nine Curry sausage. If you are a crazy spicy eater, challenge me! If you become the second general in the history of the Grill Imbiss, I will personally come over to bow to you.
Why Raymond’s Grill Imbiss has the best Street Food in Salzburg?
Raymond is not only selling sausages. He is passionate about it. You and everyone else feel that passion when visiting the Salzburger Grill Imbiss. Raymond is always there, and it can get hectic, but not once have I seen him annoyed or otherwise in a bad mood.
The sausages at the Grill Imbiss are locally produced according to Raymond’s recipe, and the difference to other sausage stands is that the sausages are grilled and not fried or cooked.
Maybe you could find a similar quality, but you won’t find a better setting to embark on your Austrian street food adventure.
The only thing missing now is for you to know what to order.
What are the different types of Austrian Sausages?
By the way, the curry sausage at the spicy eating competition is not typical Austrian. Currywurst is a German dish, and the sausages we eat are usually not spicy.
Therefore I will introduce you to the most common types of sausage.
Here are the ones I would recommend to try:
- Frankfurter is the standard sausage. While we name it after Frankfurt, most of Germany calls it Wiener (Vienna) sausage, and when I visited Ukraine, I realized they call the same sausage the Salzburg sausage. What happened here are two things.
One is that Frankfurter were first brought from Germany to Vienna before they were brought further east. Another thing is that the name Frankfurter in Germany is protected. Producers in Germany are only allowed to call their product Frankfurter if it’s produced in Frankfurt. Therefore most of Germany calls it Vienna sausage.
- Now Frankfurter is not what I would order. They are available everywhere. The most exciting sausage you should try instead is Käsekrainer. Käsekrainer is a sausage with melted cheese inside. In sausage stand slang, it would be called A Eitrige (a purulent). I know that’s not encouraging to try, but trust me, it’s delicious.
Unlike Frankfurter, which are always eaten with your fingers and never chopped beforehand, Käsekrainer is usually chopped in pieces. The reason for this is that the hot melted cheese could splash around if you bite into the sausage as a whole.
- Bernerwürstel are similar to Käsekrainer in that they also have melted cheese inside. However, they are wrapped in bacon and thinner than Käsekrainer. They are just as delicious as Käsekrainer, but if you haven’t tried Käsekrainer, I recommend trying it first.
And the name Bernerwürstel would suggest that this sausage originates from the Swiss capital Bern. That’s not the case. Bernerwürstel was actually invented in the Zell am See in the province of Salzburg by a man whose last name was Berner.
- Bosna is one of the few dishes from Salzburg. Bosna was invented in Salzburg around 1950 by a Bulgarian guy. It consists of two thin grilled pork sausages, raw onions, and curry powder. There is the original Bosna stand from 1950 in Getreidegasse, but Raymonds Bosna is just as good if not better.
For the whole story and more information on Bosna, read this article about Austrian fast food and where to find it in Salzburg. There is a whole section about it.
There would be more types of sausages, but these are the most common, and especially Frankfurter and Käsekrainer are the most popular ones.
Austrian street food is sausages. If that’s what you are looking for, the Salzburger Grill Imbiss is the place. In case you go there, ask Raymond about the General! Only try the hot curry sausage, if you want real spicy food! Otherwise, go with Käsekrainer, Bosna, or Bernerwürstel! You will love it.