I'll be heading to Vienna this coming Thursday until Saturday to research a feature on Viennese cafés. Can anyone recommend a few must-visits? I'm looking for a broad range - maybe a few of the classic, historical, cannot-miss venues (such as Café Drechsler) with a few quirky off-the-beaten track type cafés. Something I perhaps couldn't find in a guidebook but locals love to frequent. Thanks!
I've just received my itinerary, and wanted to run by some of the places I'll be taken to.. I didn't get a say but if any of these are not very good, please let me know and I'll request someplace else.
Dinner on the first night is at Restaurant Hansen (Wipplingerstrasse 34, 1010 Vienna/ www.hansen.co.at) which I gather is a Med/Pan-Asian restaurant - I'd prefer to try more local flavours, but if this is very good, I won't mind too much.
Lunch the next day at Restaurant Tewa in the Naschmarkt market.
Second and last dinner at Restaurant Palmenhaus (Burggarden, 1010 Vienna/www.palmenhaus.at).
Hansen is very good, extremely beautiful location and really excellent inventive food. We like it ! And it is NOT "pan asian" !! But dinner ? They close at 9 p.m., so you have to start quite early !!
Tewa on Naschmarkt is one of the many new street food pavillions spoiling the old Naschmarkt, but it is OK. Food is modern levantine finger food. Nothing remarkable, and not Viennese, but a nice lunch.
Palmenhaus used to be mediocre regarding food AND service. But the location !! Go and enjoy the palms ...
For a more Viennese experience I would recommend for lunch in the city a "beisl" such as Immervoll, Ofenloch, Pfudl, Zu den drei Hacken, Zum Scherer or Beim Czaak or one of the city cafes such as Diglas, Landtmann, Korb or Bräunerhof.
Not to forget the great lunch at one of the wine bars: Wein&Co (several locations) or Meinl am Graben (basement).
Dinner could be at Zum finsteren Stern or - more expensive but a great experience - at Palais Coburg, Steirereck or Meinl am Graben (upstairs).
Sturmi - thank you SO much for all your recommendations. I had a brilliant time in Vienna, just going around all the different coffeehouses. I particularly loved Pruckel and Hawelka (which I noticed wasn't on your list but I just came across - the buchteln was phenomenal there!). I wish I could have spent more time in Sperl - I went in to have a look on Friday and when I went back on Saturday, it was packed and the magic was gone. The meals were less memorable (we ended up staying with Hansen and Palmenhaus, which were good but not spectacular) and I didn't get to try much 'street food' or any beisls. Next time I'm also planning to visit a heuriger!
So thanks again. If you're interested, I'll be posting about my trip on my food blog (http://tastytreats.wordpress.com) in the next week or so... :-)
Great to hear that you liked it here !!
I did not mention Hawelka since I think that this quite peculiar place is now a little bit overexposed and more of a tourist attraction, but - as we see - you found it anyway !!
Regarding meals: yes, you have to search carefully to get decent food, and this is true especially for the heurigen !!
So, if you come back, ask in advance for the few heurigen worth visiting...
American guide books always tout Sacher and Demels. Recent trip found Sacher to be terrible, but the cafe in the Hotel Imperial across the street and the Imperial Torte to be quite nice. Sorry I had to miss Demels this go around, but also agree the coffee was no where as aromatic and lush as it was 30 years ago when I could drown in just one cup of cafe mit schlag.
New fiction book out in the US called "The Little Book" (auth Edwards, pub Dutton) takes place in late 19th Century Vienna and is awash with cafe scenes. You get the feeling at that time they were truly the living rooms of this romantic city. It has a real time travel quirky twist of a modern day person transported back and interacting to persons pivotal to the 20-21st century who knows how things come out, and is helpless to prevent or even comment upon the seeds that were sprouting in Vienna of that era that eventually change the course of Western history. He meets the little boy Hitler but cannot come to kill him because he is only 8 years old - an interesting moral challenge and dilemma to explore. Fascinating book. Good one to read ....in a Vienna cafe or on the plane over there.
Thanks, that kind of info is invaluable. I'm really trying to avoid the tourist/obvious places as I have limited time and who wants another repetitive feature about the tourist magnets? ;-)
I'll have a look in the bookshop for that novel tomorrow! The Hitler thing reminds me of Stephen Fry's 'Making History'... ;-)
There are three kind of Kaffeehäuser (www.falter.at/wwei lists 83), and there are Espressos (falter says there are 59 just in the old city) and a few Starbucks-like coffeeshops:
1. Stadtkaffeehaus: This is the kind most popular until 1938. A few still exist: Cafe Central, Cafe Prückl (!!), Cafe Landtmann, Cafe Tirolerhof, Cafe Bräunerhof (!!), Cafe Mozart, Cafe Diglas, Cafe Frauenhuber. They have always a great selection of snacks and pastries and offer a great variety of daily newspapers.
2. Vorstadtkaffeehaus: This is the kind most seriously depleted, but a few are still around, there were too many to count, in the old times !!: Cafe Schottenring, Cafe Weimar, Cafe Dommayer, Cafe Rüdigerhof, Cafe Sperl (!!), Cafe Limbeck, Cafe Wilder Mann, Cafe Eiles (!!), Cafe Westend and some more.
3. Kaffeekonditoreien: These are the places where you can find the greates varieties of pastries, and a few still exist in old splendor, just as Heiner, and a few have been relaunched, such as Demel or Oberlaa. The best is the Aida chain...
4. Espressos: The smaller espresso bars became popular after 1945, and some are really nice, such as the Cafe de l´Europe or the Cafe Stein and the Cafe Blaustern, but none reach the quality of a real espresso bar in Milano or Udine...
Ah, by the way: sorry to say, but the coffee nowadays is usually not quite good. Recently I had the first decent espresso in Vienna at a kiosk in the Rochusmarkt: Enoteca Rochus, a small wine bar. They had arabica beans from a small roaster in Trieste...
Thank you Sturmi, for such an enlightening response - I'll freely admit that I'm not well versed in Viennese culture at all, so this is going to be a pretty exciting trip :-) Am really looking forward to soaking in the atmosphere and sampling the pastries - there's probably a lot of debate about this, but who does the best Sachertorte?
Oh, and it's great because Café Prückl and Cafe Sperl are two places that a contact of mine recommended as well - they're going on my must-visit list!
Do you have an opinion on Café Jelinek (it's another one she recommended)?