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Kaffeehäuser are not simply coffee shops, but a state of mind in the Viennese culture. Discover the best spots to enjoy coffee, music and micro coffee roasters.
Vienna cafés are not only places rich in history and charm, since 2001, they have been part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO. The coffee tradition is something more than a set of bars, it is a style of life, a typically Viennese way to socialize, have fun and eat.
People go to cafés to drink espresso and cappuccino, but also to get together, to talk, just as they always have over the centuries – Gustav Mahler, Karl Kraus, Sigmund Freud and later Marlene Dietrich and Romy Schneider did, to the present day with personalities such as Paul McCartney and Hillary Clinton. You can eat great pastries and a traditional cuisine, shop and listen to music until late in the evening.
There are downtown cafés, charming, almost mythological places, with crystal chandeliers and sumptuous, antique furnishings, or trendy ones, animated by popular chefs or young entrepreneurs who are launching themselves into the coffee business.
Vienna is the right city to explore past times, like those of Empress Sisi, in places where everything seems to stand still. Visit places like the Café Spern, or to take a break at the Naturhistorisches Museum Café-Restaurant and then discover the menu at 2 Michelin star chef, Heinz Reitbauer’s Restaurant, the ninth in the Word’s 50 Best Restaurants (the chef also owns a café in Vienna!).
The antique court bakery has all the aristocratic charm of the Empire with its elegant furnishings and the shop windows overcrowded with cakes, pastries and lavish decorations. Empress Sisi loved it (it is said that there was even a secret passage from the Palace to the bakery), but with its 200-year history, it is still very popular. Only women work behind the counter and in the premises, making the environment very special. Try the “Eduard Sacher Torte”, a version by the son of inventor Franz Sacher.
If brocade and livery-clad waiters characterize the historical cafés, here it’s the origin, roast and perfect preparation of the coffee in this modern, nearly Scandinavian café. It is the “third wave of coffee”, supported by hipsters and coffee lovers worldwide. The Café is in the 7th district, a very trendy area, much loved by young people working on their Mac, sipping drip filtered coffee, and talking about the beverage as if it was wine. You may also choose from several European independent coffee roasters.
The concert cafes like Café Schwarzenberg, Café Landtmann, and Café Prückel, are all found on the Ringstrasse and are the most famous. They are decorated in a period style and offer classical piano concerts every evening. But at Cafe Schmidhansl you can listen to jazz, blues, musical or operetta, Austrian and international, classical and modern folk music. You can dance and have fun in a less formal environment.
From chef Heinz Reitbauer is Steirereck, a two Michelin starred restaurant and ninth in the ranking of the Word’s 50 Best Restaurants. In the dairy of the premises is the bistro, also open for brunch. The Viennese breakfast even provides giblets and goulash, but the chef’s signature dishes are sophisticated and represent the ultimate comfort food to start the day: poached duck eggs with sweet potatoes and spinach, handmade cheese omelets and sliced goose pâté egg. Not to be missed is the selection of cheeses.