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Vienna’s best cafés: the ultimate guide

What are the Top 10 Vienna cafes?  How can you find the best Viennese cafe for you?  Start here with Robert Pimm’s fun, objective and characterful Vienna cafe reviews.

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 Coronatime.

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…)

A distinguished cafe off the beaten track: Cafe Eiles

An Austrian friend of mine was reading my Great Vienna cafe reviews recently (links in bold italics are to other posts on this site).

My friend commented: But my favorite coffee house you did not even name.  It is the Café EILES… Friendly staff, great environment, good coffee. And all the essential papers. And they do leave you alone, this is priceless. All the other coffee places I visit several times a month waiters become friendly and ask you things or even worse they involve you into their own problems, just because I am very friendly and leave good tips… 

The Eiles is spacious, in the tradition of the grand old Viennese cafes

There is much wisdom in these comments:

(i) friendly staff: I have often written about the grumpiness and mixed quality of waiters in Vienna and in Germany.  As someone said to me the other day, “you don’t go to the classic cafes for good coffee or good service – you go for the entire cafe experience”.  Most perceptive.  But the service in the Eiles is good; (more…)

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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