Great Vienna cafes – Cafe Malipop turns 40!

Robert Pimm
Robert Pimm

Is kissing allowed in the Cafe Malipop?

How about smoking?

How about being cool and hanging out?

Clue: only one of these activities is allowed in the Cafe Malipop.

Here are eight reasons I rate the Cafe Malipop one of my great Vienna cafes (links in bold italics are to posts on this site):

(i) Viennese cafes, like London pubs, occasionally get “renovated” and, sometimes, ruined.  You can feel safe at the Malipop.  No renovation has taken place there since time began;

The Malipop: how a late-night cafe should be

(ii) the 10 Ungargasse address in Vienna’s Third District is far from the tourist trail, indeed far from trails of any kind unless you study at the nearby Music University;

(iii) like the Hard Rock Cafe, the Malipop has a song about it.  Malipopwritten and sung by legendary singer, activist and comedian Willi Resetarits (also known as Dr Kurt Ostbahn) is crooned in impenetrable Viennese dialect, opening with the lines:

Heid noch im Malipop, drink i an feanet, iss i an schbedsialdosd und rauch a smaat…

This means roughly: this evening in the Malipop I am drinking a Fernet, eating a special toast (English: a croque monsieur) and smoking a “Smart” (a cult brand of cheap cigarettes).  The song praises the Malipop – rightly – as a refuge from the hectic world outside;

(iv) the Malipop has been run since 1 March 1979 by the rather magnificent Margit Wolf.  Wolf lends the establishment immense character;

(v) according to this article (in German) Wolf has for years imposed a “Schmuseverbot” (ban on kissing) on the grounds that “it is uncommunicative and prevents mobility”.  Such a ban is of course reminiscent of the kissing ban I experienced myself in the Gmoa Keller, a few hundred metres back in 1986 (link contains picture of me at that time), imposed by the late lamented Grete Novak;

The Malipop has many fine features

(vi) despite the song, the Malipop does not allow smoking.  The question of smoking bans is, bizarrely in my view, hotly debated in Vienna.  On my last visit to the Malipop, a gentleman attempted to light up and was told smoking was now forbidden.  Asked why, Wolf said “the time was just right to ban smoking” (“jetzt einfach gepasst, nichtraucherlokal zu werden“);

(vii) music at the Malipop is played on vinyl; is usually excellent; and often comprises complete albums, with gaps when the disc is turned over or changed.  Why should music always be continuous?  Remember: new technology and progress are two different things;

(viii) the whole place, with its small clutch of marble-and-iron tables, bar, decor, music, staff and customers, feels, quite simply, like a late-night cafe should.  Margit Wolf has been running it for 40 years this month.  Celebrations – and visits – are in order.

For: cult, cool, cafe.

Against: not your traditional Viennese cafe.

P.S. If you want to see more Vienna cafe reviews, see my Great Vienna cafes page.

P.P.S. Want something to read in the Malipop?  My two most recent books are: Seven Hotel Stories and Blood Summit.


P.P.P.S. Thanks to die weinfreundin for help with this piece.


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4 Responses

  1. Lieber Robert Pimm! Ich lese Ihre Wiener Kaffeehaus-Beschreibungen laufend und mit großem Interesse. Wenn es Ihre Zeit erlaubt, empfehle ich, Wiener Kaffeehaus-Tradition auch in Triest zu erkunden: Triest, das (mit kleinen Unterbrechungen) 500 Jahre hindurch zu Österreich gehört hat, war Österreichs Zugang zum Meer. Über Triest kamen der Kaffee, der Kakao, der Tee und der Zucker ins Land. Das Pro-Kopf-Einkommen in Triest betrug vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg, verglichen mit dem in Wien, das Sechsfache. Reizvoll sind nicht nur das DEGLI SPECCHI und das TOMMASEO, sondern auch das SAN MARCO, ein wunderschönes Jugendstil-Kaffeehaus mit integriertem Buchgeschäft.

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