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Vienna’s best cafés: the ultimate guide

Vienna is full of cafes.  But which are best?

The entrance to the Cafe Hawelka – photo Robert Pimm

Many Viennese cafes are rather good.  I like the fact that most of them use old-fashioned Viennese coffee types (kleine Schwarzer, kleine Brauner, Verlängerter, Franziskaner) instead of, or sometimes in addition to, the world-conquering Italian descriptors (Cappuccino, Macchiato, Latte & Co).

Some Vienna cafes have a wonderful, unrenovated charm, often accompanied by service which varies from the friendly and efficient to the traditional clockwork stop-motion effect where waiters emphasise by their every action the fact that they will not deviate from their intended, inexorable plan of action under any circumstance.

But then, what do you want?  Would you rather, in Vienna, have a traditional-looking Austrian waiter, who maybe doesn’t speak English and isn’t conspicuously polite, or a fast-moving identikit youth who could be in Seattle or Siena?

I even mention the service of Viennese waiters in my novel Biotime.

Viennese cafes also often serve terrific cakes; and other food and drink, from sausages to breakfast and beer.  Check the menu; and choose your cakes at the counter if you’re not sure.

All of the cafes reviewed are ones I would to return to.  If a cafe does not appear in the list, that means either that I haven’t tried it yet; or that I have tried it and am not desperate to return.

Reviews

Cafe Bräunerhof (Stallburggasse 2, 1st District).  Nestling in a back street near the tourist (more…)

Best Vienna cafes – new reviews

I’ve added new reviews to my popular Vienna cafes: which are best? blog.  The fifteen cafes reviewed are mostly in the town centre, but include several in the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 10th Districts.  The latest additions are the little-known Cafe Morgenstern (charming and super grunge) and the popular Cafe Museum (much restored since the 1980s).  Take a look.

If you have a favourite cafe you’d like me to review, let me know in the comments.  I’m highly suggestible and always looking for something original – see eg my brand new review of Cafe Malipop.

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The shabby but charming decor of the Cafe Morgenstern, complete with star – RP

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P.P.S. see my piece When dinner becomes the last supper for a tongue-in-cheek guide to “why German waiters are the best”.

Review: Vienna cafes: which are best?

Viennese customer (standing up, exasperated, after 20 minutes of trying to get the bill, in German) ‘Excuse me, Mr Waiter; I’d like to pay, please.’

Head Waiter (chatting to other waiters on the other side of the room) ‘If you’re in such a hurry, you should have stayed at home.’

This is a true story from Vienna, 1986 – I was there.  If my host that day (then working in the Town Hall with Mayor Zilk) is reading this, do get in touch.  Can you guess in which of the cafes reviewed below the scene occurred?  Clue: it was not the Hawelka.

The entrance to the Cafe Hawelka – photo Robert Pimm

How good are Viennese cafes?  Is it even fair for me to assess them, as a foreigner who has lived only four years in the city, all but the last year back in the 1980s?

Most Viennese cafes are excellent.  I like the fact that (more…)

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