The festival energy has arrived to Linz. The Bruckernerhaus is full of monitors, art installations, and computers. The Ars Electronica Center is filling up with laptop-toting digital nomads from all over Europe and beyond. And the Twitter stream for #ars09 is starting to slowly gain momentum. Tomorrow evening at 7:30 p.m. the festival officially kicks off with See this Sound and a performance by Tony Conrad. Then, with an iPhone in one hand and a cocktail in the other, the crowd will head to Roter Krebs where this will be taking place in the background:
Now you’ve got an idea of the Ars Electronica vibe.
This is my fourth time to Linz in the past year and, as would be expected, I have found my favorite places for eat, drink, and work. Originally I planned on creating a Google Maps mashup of my favorite places here in Linz, but I then realized that Dopplr’s Social Atlas makes the process even easier. So here are some of the bar and restaurant recommendations I made for Linz. Adding them to the Social Atlas was easy (and I love the Flickr integration), but I don’t like how the only place to comment on why I like each of these spots is in the Q&A section. So, here is a quick guide to some of my favorite places to eat, drink, and take a break in Linz.
At some point during your stay in Linz you’re going to want to try typical Austrian cuisine and there’s no better place than Alte Welt, hidden away down a little alleyway off the Hauptplatz (the main square). It’s also a great place to grab a beer in the cool shade.
Practically next door to Alte Welt is Bug’s, with decent sandwiches, but annoying euro-techno-thumping in the speakers. This place tends to fill up with smoke also.
Cubus is the restaurant at the top of the new Ars Electronica center. It has free, speedy wi-fi, an amazing view of the Danube river below, and I have a feeling that it will be packed during the festival.
Just off the Hauptplatz is Chelsea Pub, a comfortable small Irish pub with servers who are sure to speak English. Tables here are small, but it’s a great place for an evening conversation with a couple friends.
For those of you who prefer wine to beer, across the street from Chelsea is Divino, a wine bar that serves tapas. I have yet to eat here, but it seems like a relaxed and friendly environment.
Cafe Bar Walker
There’s at least a dozen cafes in the Hauptplatz and I have yet to try most of them, but Walker deserves special mention for its delicious hamburgers. Food can be expensive in Linz, but a burger here goes for about four euro. I recommend ordering it with ham and egg.
Just off the Hauptplatz is a small alleyway called Hofgasse. Walk down and on your left hand side you will see Gragger, an organic bakery/bistro with delicious sandwiches, samosas, and antipasti. They seem to care about local food and what not here.
Hofgasse is a bit of a bohemian alleyway with lots of old guys who might be professors, artists, homeless, or all three drinking beer and espresso.
If you take your first left after walking down Hofgasse you will come to a small courtyard with Cup&Cino Cafe. This is one of my favorite places to get work done. The free wi-fi is decent, there’s a nice water fountain, and the food and coffee are reasonably priced. (A bagel with lox goes for about 3.50 EUR.) The staff are also real nice and don’t mind if you camp out with your laptop for a few hours.
Other than the Hauptplatz, the other big hang-out spot in town is the OK Platz, which is also sometimes called the “Culture Quarter”. Here you will find the OK Center for Contemporary Art (which currently has a ferris wheel on its roof) and a number of my favorite restaurants and bars. The picture above is of a beer stand right in the middle of the plaza. In my opinion it’s one of the best spots to grab a drink with friends. Behind the stand is an outdoor cinema where they will be showing films and animations from the Prix Ars Electronica winners.
I’m under the impression that local students just bring beer and wine with them and sit down in the middle of the plaza. They also like to play bocci ball.
Inside the OK Platz is Bigoli, which has the best food I’ve tasted in Linz. It can be expensive, but they have a fixed menu of freshly made pasta, wine, and espresso for about 10 euro for lunch. Highly recommended.
Another favorite spot in the OK Platz is Gelbes Krokodil (“yellow crocodile”), just underneath the entrance to the OK Center. Shervin recommends the tomato soup; I’m a fan of the coconut curry chicken. Either way, this place has great food and great music.
For those of you who want to get away from the center of town and the crowds I recommend walking down the main shopping street, Landstraße (the ‘ß’ is pronounced ‘ss’), all the way down to Stadtischer Volksgarten, a nice municipal park where you will find young kids holding hands, adults reading newspapers, and old men playing chess. Very relaxing.
On the way back book lovers will want to stop by Thalia. They have a good selection in English, and also books in French, Spanish, Russian, and Italian.
They also have lots of great places to sit around and flip through books while sipping on a 50 cent mug of espresso. I spend lots of time here.
Linz is known for its bakeries and pastries – most famously the “Original Linzer Torte.” (Which I’m not a fan of.) I am, however, a huge fan of the Brandl Bakery, especially the one on Bismarckstraße 6. The baker makes everything right in front of you and they’ve got the most delicious pastries you’ll find around town. There’s wi-fi here.
Park Inn Cafe
Just down the road from Brandl is the Park Inn Cafe, an oasis of sleek modernism that’s sure to complement your latest Apple laptop. The espresso here is tasty; the food is overpriced and small portioned. You can catch free wi-fi from some of the tables.
Nearby is Osteria. Looking out at the hotel parking lot, it doesn’t have a great location, but this place is a hit with the locals and you’ll need reservations. I’ve only eaten here once but the pasta primavera was delicious.
Food can be expensive in Linz and a good salad is hard to find. From noon until 1:30 p.m. every day Hotel Kolping has a great salad bar for 4.20 EUR. This is my usual lunch spot.
With the summer temperatures ice cream is mandatory and there’s no better place than Eiskönig, just outside the OK Platz. A single cone is less than a euro. I recommend Heidelberry.
Close to Eiskönig is Nordsee. If you’re trying to save on cash and still eat healthily you can do much worse than a fish sandwich from this place. They go for about 3 euro.
I’ll end with two of my favorite places that many people in the Ars community don’t seem to know about. The first is Easybar – by far the best cocktail bar in town. Many of their drinks are a bit on the fruity side for my tastes, but I highly recommend the Ernest Hemmingway. Get here early because this place fills up quickly and its no fun if you’re left standing.
The other hidden gem is Kapu, which is essentially the front yard of a local church. If Linz had a fixed-gear biker community, this is where they’d hang out. It’s your prototypical hipster bar.
Well, those are my recommendations – plenty of places to check out for the next week. What have I missed? What are some of your favorite places in Linz?