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When it comes to the cuisines of the world, traditional Austro-German food might not be at the top of your list — it tends toward the mild, and the heavy. But consider the schnitzel: When done well — meat pounded to optimal thinness, breading well-seasoned, fried so that it’s extra crispy and golden hued — it’s one of the all-time most satisfying dishes. Even the fun-to-say name offers a little thrill. Here, we’ve rounded up the absolute best in New York, focusing on the classic veal Wiener (Viennese) schnitzel favored by hard-line traditionalists as well as the popular pork variant.

The Absolute Best

1. Wallsé
344 W. 11th St., at Washington St.; 212-352-2300

At what is probably the best known of the Austrian chef Kurt Gutenbrunner’s New York restaurants, the schnitzel is simply stellar. The meat, a single, giant cutlet, is veal, pounded just enough so that it’s properly thin, but still has a juicy bite to it, its slightly gamy flavor set off beautifully by an aggressive dose of salt and pepper. It wears its well-seasoned, fine-grained breading like a jacket: golden brown, crisp, and slightly gritty, but puffed out so that you could slip it right off if you tried, a marvel of technique. Topped with a round of lemon and some glistening, crunchy, fried parsley, it also comes with a potato salad, made with clean little coins flecked with herbs; a pickled-cucumber salad; and a dollop of lingonberry preserves. (N.B.: The schnitzel at Gutenbrunner’s Café Sabarsky, uptown in the Neue Galerie, is all but identical, also made with veal.)

2. Blaue Gans
139 Duane St., nr. West Broadway; 212-571-8880

Over at the more casual, criminally under-patronized Blaue Gans, in Tribeca, Gutenbrunner uses pork in the Wiener schnitzel, which, compared to the veal, has a slightly milder, creamier texture, but is otherwise very similar to the Wallsé/Sabarsky version, and equally delicious. This one also gets a lemon round and fried parsley on top, and lingonberries on the side, but here the chunkier, saucier potato salad has the pickled cucumbers mixed into it.

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