Austria is known for many things: Mozart, Marie Antoinette, the former California governor, Viennese pastry. The most famous (and most frequently consumed), however, is the national dish, wiener schnitzel; the breaded cutlets are beloved across the globe. The Lower East Side’s Cafe Katja (79 Orchard Street; 212-219-9545) serves one of the best renditions in the city.
Breaded and fried meats may be found across the world — like steak Milanese and numerous incarnations of fried chicken — but the simple Austrian preparation found at Katja is hard to beat. To make the dish, pork is pounded into thin cutlets, coated in breading, then fried. The golden crust insulates the meat. Not chewy or the least bit dried out, it’s like the schnitzel version of a fresh baked baguette; soft and pillowy inside with a nice exterior bite. There’s nothing fancy or trendy about this dish, and no heavy sauces necessary — the schnitzel is killer on its own. It gets just a slice of lemon, a sprig of parsley and a smidge of preiselbeeren (lingonberry jam) on the side. Steamed new potatoes with herbs and a side salad finish off the plate.
The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York Cityissue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10. To read about previous dishes, browse our 100 Favorite Dishes page.