We wanted to become part of whatever was going on in Joma upon first discovering it while walking past on Judengasse – all those handsome, well-dressed people sitting in the windows under the perfect atmospheric lighting, poking forks into their fancy salads with fancy tomatoes (ok, we think the tomatoes may have been normal tomatoes) – they looked like they were in a display case at the museum of beautiful humans.
We developed a theory that the handsome people had intentionally been seated there by the big windows looking on to the street by the waiting staff. Genius, we thought, some kind of human product placement marketing ploy. It made us wonder if we were handsome enough to be seated at the window. When we went into test and the waiter directed us to a dark table at the back, our ego shrivelled up and went hard like a walnut.
Sitting down with one of Joma’s owners, Hans Figlmüller (yes, from the same family famed for their Schnitzel), he laughed at our theory and reassured me that there was no such marketing strategy in place. While the neighbourhood it’s located in may have something to do with the handsome, well-groomed clientele, Joma is just that sort of place that attracts a crowd with taste. It’s a rare cosmopolitan breed of café in Vienna, and the fact that it’s rare is exactly what led Hans and his brother, Thomas, to create Joma.
“We’d sometimes be wanting to go to a modern café ourselves in the morning, and realised there wasn’t any of these modern cafés in Vienna which were inviting places to go anytime of day,” Hans explains. “The concept of Joma is personal – it’s the kind of café I’d like to visit.”
During our discussion with Hans, we like how he speaks plainly about Joma, rather than talking it up. The place talks itself up.
The look and atmosphere of Joma is like all the good elements of a Viennese coffeehouse – the velvet booth seats, the black and white dressed waiting staff – have been hijacked by a designer who matches the patterns of his socks with the colour of his shoes. We’re talking about attention to detail. The most striking of all these details being the lighting. Often the underestimated ingredient by restaurants, the lighting at Joma is like perfectly applied blush on its dark complexion, and its handsome colour scheme.
The menu moves around a lot, catering to whatever mood your cravings are in – from a few seafood dishes (calamari or spicy jumbo shrimp), a variety of steak cuts and burgers (the Joma burger is a hit), a few random ‘soul food snacks’ like a burrito or a steak sandwich, and there’s a few Viennese classics (Schnitzel and Backhendl) thrown in there for the tourists, and the locals that don’t like their tastebuds straying too far from home. However, the dark horses of the menu that people love at Joma can be found in the salad selection. Don’t screw up your face – these salads are no punishing substitute chosen by the diner because of their big ass, yet rather, these salads could fight back anything on the menu as a simply delicious dish, from the spicy beef salad, to avocado and papaya salad.
Meanwhile, eating at Joma is only half the story. The atmosphere is conditional for some serious whiskey sipping (insert cigar here), sophisticated and witty (insert third adjective of your choice here) conversations with friends over drinks, and cocktail drinking. And the pretty cocktail menu will make you want to try them all (there’s something about a tattooed arm holding a pink cocktail that turns us on – see menu to know what we’re talking about). There’s a mix of classic and creative in-house creations in the cocktail list with novel names like, ‘Dill Or No Dill.’
The rest of the drinks menu is vast, with the bottles lined up behind the bar paying tribute to the eclectic spirits selection. And while Joma is the kind of cosmopolitan café that is commonplace in other metropolis’, it’s uniquely Austrian in that you can experience fried chicken alongside fancy drinks in a menu.
If you’re a morning person more than a night owl, Joma also works. Its popular breakfast menu draws on international breakfast food, like the Breakfast Brioche Burger, or the Avocado Eggs Benedict. Everytime we’ve been here, the waiting staff have performed like professionals, dishing out that perfect mix of personable and accommodating service. Even though they did sit us at the ugly table (wink, wink). And we’ve always managed to stumble into a conversation with one of the beautiful guests, like last time: “Is this seat free? I’ll just kuschel (cuddle) up with you here,” says pretty woman squeezing into the neighbouring table. We don’t mind cuddling up with anybody at Joma.