“The coffee houses are a place where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill” – description of the Viennese coffee houses by UNESCO
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When in Vienna, not visiting a traditional Viennese coffee house or a restaurant to enjoy in the Viennese cuisine equals a serious sin.
While the Viennese coffee culture is an institution where the coffee drinking is worshiped as an art, the Viennese cuisine is the only cuisine in the world named after a city. For centuries the coffee houses have been playing an important role in social life of Vienna. These Viennese ‘city’s public living rooms’ are places where people sit for hours enjoying chats with friends and acquaintances, re-telling the latest news and gossips, reading newspapers, magazines and literature, playing chess, billard and cards, or simply just people watching. During rich Viennese history the coffee houses have been meeting points of Nobel prize winners, writers and critics, philosophers, composers, bohemians, artists, politicians and businessmen for having more or less serious discussions and debates.
European coffee culture started with opening of the first coffee houses in Venice (Italy), Oxford (England) and Vienna (Austria) in 1600s. But the bloom happened in late 1800s when the Viennese-style coffee houses opened in Venice, Trieste, Verona, Prague and Zagreb. Typical Viennese coffee houses adorn sophisticated interiors with wooden floors, high ceilings and large windows, crystal chandeliers, marble tables, iconic bentwood Thonet chairs and red velvet seats. In 2011 even UNESCO listed Viennese coffee culture as the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
1. Viennese coffee houses and dining:
This is one of the most famous Viennese coffee houses for its refined interior and exquisite service. The former Vienna stock exchange premises with stone columns and high vaulted ceiling, decorated with large paintings and a piano in the centre create an imperial atmosphere. The Cafe Central guested many notable historical figures in the past such as Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Leon Trotsky, Josip Broz Tito and Vladimir Lenin.
On my visit to the Cafe Central I treated myself with a traditional Viennese breakfast including a hot drink (coffee with milk in my case), croissaint, roll, apricot jam, butter and soft boiled egg.
Cafe Central: Herrengasse 14, 1010 Vienna; Mon – Sat 7.30 am – 10 pm, Sun 10 am – 10 pm; https://www.cafecentral.wien/en/
2. Viennese coffee houses and dining:
This coffee house is well-known as a meeting point of many famous Viennese artists. Gustav Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka, Egon Schiele and Otto Wagner have been the regular guests.
At cafe Museum the coffee is served according to the Viennese coffee tradition: with a glass of cold tap water, a silver spoon, sugar cubes wrapped in paper and all served on a silver tray.
Cafe Museum: Operngasse 7, 1010 Vienna; Mon – Sat 8 am – midnight, Sun 10 am – midnight; http://www.cafemuseum.at/en/the-cafe.html
3. Viennese coffee houses and dining:
Another traditional coffee house has been a popular gathering spot of many industrials and politicians, as well as artists. Among many prominent guests who enjoyed in its classy atmosphere were Gustav Mahler, Marlene Dietriech and Romy Schneider.
Wooden newspapers holders are a compulsory accessory of a typical Viennese coffee house.
Cafe Landtmann: Dr. Karl Lueger Ring 4; daily 7.30 am – midnight; http://www.landtmann.at/en/thecafe.html
4. Viennese coffee houses and dining:
This family run coffee house has been the favourite meeting point of bohemians and artists of all kinds due its cozy atmosphere. Among its numerous prominent guests were Peter Ustinov and Andy Warhol, just to name a few.
1939 Leopold Hawelka opened the bar and since then it is run by family Hawelka. Until 2012, the year when Leopold Hawelka died, every day the owner used to stand on the entrace to the bar to greet his guests.
Cafe Hawelka: Dorotheergasse 6, 1010 Vienna; Mon – Sat 8 am – 2 am, Sun 10 am – 2 am, Tue closed; http://www.hawelka.at/cafe/de/
5. Viennese coffee houses and dining:
If you are a sea-food lover like me and you look for great value for money, the Palmenhaus should be on your Vienna bucket list.
Its popular restaurant and bar offer unique dinning atmosphere while sitting among the palm trees in the elegant Art Novuea (Jugendstil) building. This greenhouse with high ceilings was built in 1822 and remained its looks since 1901 when it was renewed. The Palmenhaus is placed near Albertina and the State Opera. During sunny days the visitors enjoy the terrace overlooking the Burggarten, the park connected to Hofburg (the Imperial palace).
Traditional Viennese cuisine is based mainly on meat meals, such as Wiener schnitzel (fried veal coated in breadcrumbs) or Selchfleisch (smoked meat). But as a pescatarian, I voted for something more international. I took tasty grilled Norwegian cod fillet with corriander-tomato crust, chickpea ragaout and wild basamati rice. It was divine!
Palmenhaus: Burggarten 1, 1010 Vienna; Mon – Fri 10 am – midnight, Sat 9 am – midnight, Sun 9 am – 11 pm; http://www.palmenhaus.at/
6. Viennese coffee houses and dining:
Finally, I have ended my day with a coffee and piece of Sacher-torte at glamouros Sacher cafe of worldwide known Hotel Sacher.
The Viennese cuisine is best known for its cakes, such as Apfelstrudel (pastry filled with apples), Palanschinken (pancakes with apricot jam) or already mentioned Sacher-torte, probably the world’s most famous chocolate cake.
Cafe Sacher: Philharmonikerstrasse 4, 1010 Vienna; daily 8 am – midnight; www.sacher.com
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