COFFEE-HOUSES OF VIENNA
In Vienna, the coffeehouse is not simply a place to resolve your midday caffeine deficit. For years these establishments were havens for artists, writers, and think ers who stayed into the night: Peter Altenberg, the cafe writer, scribbled lines; Oskar Kokoschka brooded alone; exiled Lenin and Trotsky played chess; Theodor Herzl planned for a Zionist Israel; and Kafka came to visit the Herrenhof. The orig inal literary haunt was Cafe Griensteidl, but after it was demolished the torch passed to Cafe Central and then to Cafe Herrenhof. Cafes still exist under all these names, but only Cafe Central looks like it used to. Most also serve hot food, but don’t order anything but pastries with your Melange (Viennese coffee) unless you want to be really gauche. The most serious dictate of coffeehouse etiquette is that you linger; the waiter (Herr Ober) will serve you when you sit down, then leave you to sip, read, and cogitate. When you’re ready to leave, just ask to pay: Zahlen bitte! Vienna has many coffeehouses; the best are listed below.
Cafe Central, I, at the corner of Herreng. and Strauchg. inside Palais Fers. Arched ceil ings, wall frescoes, and every bit the Mecca of the cafe world. Open M-Sa 8am-10pm, Su 10am-6pm. AmEx/MC/V.
Kleines Cafe, I, Franziskanerpl. 3. Turn off Kartnerstr. onto Weihburg. and follow it to the Franziskanerkirche. This tiny, cozy cafe features courtyard tables and salads that are minor works of art (‚6.50). Open M-Sa 10am-2am, Su lpm-2am.
Demel, I, Kohlmarkt 14. 5min. from the Stephansdom down Graben. The most lavish Viennese Konditorei, Demel was confectioner to the imperial court until the Empire dis-solved. All of the chocolate is made fresh every morning, and the desserts are legend ary. Open daily 10am-7pm. AmEx/MC/V.
Cafe Sperl, VI, Gumpendorferstr. 11. U2: Museumsquartier. Walk 1 block on Getreide- markt and turn right on Gumpendorferstr. One of Vienna’s oldest and most elegant cafes. Coffee ‚2-4.50. Cake ‚2.50-4. Sept.-June live piano Sa after 5pm. Open July- Aug. M-Sa 7am-llpm; Sept.-June M-Sa 7am-llpm, Su llam-8pm.