Vienna’s coffeehouse culture dates back to the 17th century and continues to be an important part of the city’s identity, history and social fabric. These cafés, designed to encourage people to linger and engage in conversations, soon became important gathering places for artists, writers and intellectuals, including Sigmund Freud, Gustav Klimt and Stefan Zweig. Now recognized on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, traditional Viennese coffeehouses are known for their unique atmosphere, typically characterized by elegant décor, newspaper holders, comfortable seating and a relaxed, unhurried pace. Of course, cafés in Vienna are also famed for their high-quality coffee, pastries and cakes. Many of these sweet treats, such as the Sacher torte and apfelstrudel, have become iconic symbols of Austrian cuisine.
On this trip, rather than returning to such favorite establishments as Schlosscafé im Palmenhaus, Café Prückel and Café Sperl, we decided to scope out a few we had previously overlooked.
As we stepped into Café Frauenhuber, we felt as though we had been transported back to a bygone era; it exudes old-world charm. Alois Hänisch moved this popular coffeehouse to its current location near St. Stephen’s Cathedral in 1824, a hall that once hosted performances by Mozart and Beethoven. The café’s reputation for excellent schnitzel and goulash and its central Innere Stadt location attracts a diverse and sophisticated clientele to this day. The main room is adorned with chandeliers, ornate mirrors, fresh flowers on antique tables, plush chairs and banquettes upholstered in red velvet and a grand piano. There are also smaller, more intimate chambers designed for private gatherings or meetings. The service is a little stiff and there’s no English menu, but the caliber of the coffee, the exceptional desserts and the historic ambience make this a highly worthwhile stop. Closed Sunday.