For most of the last 900 years, the Schottengasse area echoed to the sound of religious debate among local monks. But gossip has largely replaced the gospels as a topic of conversation in at least one locality: Café Diglas.
- Classically traditional coffee house
- We’ve always encountered friendly staff
- Quiet outdoor courtyard with shade, too
- Notably historical monastery surrounds
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A local’s perspective
(The front façade)
Café Diglas occupies an outer part of what is still the Schottenstift monastery. Founded in the 12th century (long before coffee reached Europe), most of the buildings in today’s complex date to the 18th and 19th century.
Indeed, the lower floor inside the café has a suitably vaulted ceiling given its location, with black and white art photos decorating the thick supporting columns.
Expect all the little touches that make a traditional Viennese coffee house: marble tables and bentwood chairs, upholstered sofas in windowed niches, cakes from an in-house patisserie,
itinerant philosophers working on their next misunderstood treatise. Though upstairs has a more rustic library-like décor.
The Schottengasse road outside leads off the Freyung square, so forms part of the historical old town. This is the Vienna of aristocratic townhouses, churches and ye olde apothecary, but with a local feel given its location at the edge of the more popular visitor routes.
As such, we took our Saturday morning breakfast mainly among fellow Vienna dwellers, from the elderly to a group of young friends to an exiled Englishman scribbling furiously in a notebook (that would be me).
One side of the café looks out onto the road itself, a relatively busy street that takes people from the Schottentor transport hub into the old town. Horse-drawn carriages passed by continuously during our visit, adding a 19th-century touch to proceedings.
(“Im Schottenstift” means “In the Schottenstift abbey”)
The other side leads out to a courtyard, where (when open) you can enjoy your coffee or meals outdoors: a particularly pleasant prospect on cloudless summer days when the surrounding trees offer plenty of shade.
If you do sit outside, close your eyes and imagine a piano refrain wafting over the treetops, with slight changes each time it plays…as if the pianist tinkered in search of the perfect tune; the composer Franz Lehár used to stay in one of the apartments that overlooks your table (look for the commemorative plaque).
The breakfast menu offered plenty of choice, and small touches helped it stand out from some of the competition.
For example, refined ham, “proper” orange juice (served in a wine glass, no less), jam and butter in their own glass with no plastic or paper in sight. All introduced a touch of noble flair, but without the noble prices, especially given coffee was included (not always the case in Vienna).
The only downside was how busy it got.
Our waiting staff were (remarkably) friendly and efficient, but we still had to be patient. Mind you, where better than a Viennese coffee house when it comes to cultivating that particular characteristic?
The outside courtyard in particular proves very popular with locals in the warmer seasons, though this can mean more space on the inside. On my last visit on a bright June afternoon, the outdoor area had people queueing to get in, while plenty of tables remained free inside.
Café Diglas also has a wider restaurant menu, with (at the time of writing) traditional Viennese meals complemented by specials and weekday 2-course fixed menus that veer off into vegetarian and other territories.
How to get there
The café is within walking distance of the major central sights.
Nearby Schottentor has the U2 subway, plus a host of tram lines (1, 38, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, D, 71). Another close subway station is Herrengasse on the U3 line.
The 1A bus through the old town also stops nearby (Teinfaltstraße).
Address: Schottengasse 2 | Website