While everybody’s trying to do something new, sometimes it’s nice to return to something old. The vintage, retro cafes of Vienna inspire a nostlagia for a time most of us never lived. The possess an aura of the simpler times during which they were born.
Have a blast (from the past) at one of these 6 Vienna cafes with a retro flair
Cafe Europa – Vienna’s retro cafes
Where: Zollergasse 8, 1070
For us, Café Europa feels like a second living room, and we assume we’re not alone. This Viennese institution has been around for 33 years and has always been open to all kinds of people, which is why you might end up sitting between a business man in a suit and a dreadlocked punk. It has somehow managed to stand the test of time, without loosing a bit of its cool. So it looks retro, because it is retro.
With a cappuccino topped by a frothy milk crown in front of us, we lean back into the well-worn leather bench seats to admire the scene that is Café Europa – the dark turquoise and yellow colour scheme, the sweeping bars, the eccentric and eclectic lighting, and the scattered marble tables surrounded by handsome chairs … and people.
Nabbing a table in the enclaves in front of the huge glass front, you’ll feel like you’re on display in a zoo for the city’s ‘insider crowd,’ the crowd that know that the Café Europa’s dedicated diehard’s drink is Averna with ice and lemon.
Café Europa’s roots ensure that it stands alone, untouched in another league, as trends come and go. Like anything with a timeless style, Café Europa’s popularity will live on forever.
Cafe Z – Vienna’s retro cafes
Where: Meiselstraße 2, 1150
TUE–WED & SAT: 10am–8pm
THU & FRI: 10am–10pm
Once a much-loved, yet dark and dingy pastry shop, Café Z reflects exactly how people setting the zeitgeist in Vienna are doing so in the 15th. The owner, who’s a 15th district native and saw her neighborhood’s potential way back, has preserved the old retro charm of the café, yet given it a crisp, inviting modern attitude, and has managed to do all of this without alienating the Stammkunden, leading to the young and old mixing here. Filled crepes and breakfasts dominate the menu here, while there’s still delicious Austrian cakes in the counter cabinet, which are produced next door by the former owners. The Schanigarten, spreading out in summer on the square out front, also possesses an atmosphere as special as the inside.
Vollpension – Vienna’s retro cafes
Where: Schleifmühlgasse 16, 1040
What kind of heavenly place serves up that warm and safe feeling that only an Oma can emit with your coffee? Vollpension, that’s who. It looks like the place has been put together by somebody hunting down golden oldie gems from flea markets for a year. Made up of comfy couches, random framed photos on the wall, bare brick and neon signs – it’s a very comfy place to stuff yourself with cake. Everything is retro about this place, including the waiting staff (sorry, insensitive pun indeed). It almost has an American diner feel mixed into it as well.
At Vollpension, Omas are the bakers and the characters of the place. And while offering plates filled with cake and pastry art, they also fill you with that inexplicable warm homey-ness feeling they naturally emanate. The varieties of cakes served up here depends on which Oma is baking that day – each have their own specialty. One things for sure though, you’re cake cravings won’t be disappointed.
Café Espresso – Vienna’s retro cafes
Where: Burggasse 57, 1070
Many hold a deep affection for the living legend of a cafe & bar, the Café Espresso – the kind of love that’s held for charismatic characters.
Sitting on Espresso’s scarlet red leather bench seats, taking in the details of the place: the baby blue walls, the locally famous holy antique Rainer Stadthalle chairs, the faded painting on the wall, the retro light fittings, the squeeling of the old coffee machine – it’s obvious that this place has a story behind it. And we only wish we could have met the character who gave birth to the place in the early 1900s (when the building was built) as only a character could have created such a place.
There is still an aura here that emits the feeling that stories were lived here. The place looks old, and we say this to avoid the word retro or vintage, as Espresso was all these things before the trends had new bars opening up trying to replicate the look. From the sign out front, to the odd-matching lighting and lamps – that play a major role in the look here – the place looks classy kind of old, like your grandfather smelt classy kind of old with that spicy aftershave he always wore.
Ein Affe – Vienna’s retro cafes
Where: Schwendergasse 19, 1150
We love the 15th for its (kind of) undiscovered territory kind of vibe and reputation (except by the cool kids who live there). There is a whole world hiding out there, and in that world lives a small bar/cafeteria with the odd, but funky, name, ‘Ein Affe.’ This sexy bar sporting a retro look has a casual coolness to it that only fits in the 15th – it opens when it wants, and not for long. Unique creations are being traded in over the baby blue bar here, including the likes of gin coffee and apricot beer. The Ruffinelli coffee pumped through their machine is out of San Marino. Meanwhile, the snacks they serve include artisan cheeses, and other regionally source goodies, like their organic Mangalitza. It’s the kind of place where you’ll see people bumping into people they know living in the 15th.
Photos courtesy of © Ein Affe
Cafe Prückel – Vienna’s retro cafes
Where: Stubenring 24, 1010
This old-timer of a coffeehouse is looking as classy as it did when it opened its doors in 1911. While of course there has been renovations over the 100+ years this place has existed, it has retained its old world charm, which is good to escape to when the modern world all seems to much. Things simpler here, like time stands still when you’re sitting in one of its booths. That’s the thing, time has frozen here. The cakes are glorious and sweet, its coffee is… well, your typical coffeehouse coffee, while the atmosphere idles on a calm murmur.