A coffee house and restaurant like a metaphor for Vienna itself: history and tradition with a veneer of surprising flair and a side order of contemporary art.
- Location first opened in the 1920s
- A few surprises in the décor
- Check out the cakes
- See also:
Lampshades and Lehár
(The front entrance)
The Diglas business dates back to the days of Strauss and Emperor Franz Joseph, but the family name now graces four locations around Vienna.
The oldest sits on the Wollzeile road that leads away from the old town centre.
You could have walked along the Wollzeile back in the 13th century, long before coffee was a thing in this part of the world. The Diglas here has existed since 1923; the composer Franz Lehár was a regular, apparently.
Inside is like the café equivalent of an optical illusion.
At first, Diglas looks like what you might expect from your regular traditional coffee house: vaulted rooms with wood paneling, brass fittings, marble table tops, burgundy upholstery, and similar. A historical brass (?) till stands next to a regimented row of salt and pepper mills.
Then you take a closer look.
The old clocks on the end walls turn out to be digital projections. The window lamps have ballerina skirt lampshades. Kitchen utensils hang from a glass chandelier. And the black and white photos reveal no 19th-century street views, but contemporary studio art.
As such, you have a place of history and tradition with a layer of contemporary flair on top.
(View down Wollzeile around 1898, produced by Carl (Karl) Ledermann jun.; Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. 183270; excerpt reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence)
The Wollzeile Diglas offers a wider restaurant menu, but I stuck to the traditional Wiener breakfast (coffee and rolls). The presentation also seemed to hark back to the past.
Even the more elegant coffee houses often include an element of modern packaging, but not here. Warm rolls in a basket with a cloth napkin. Butter in a glass dish (9/10 on the spreadability index). Sugar lumps. Raspberry jam in a small unmarked jar.
And a perfect boiled egg, albeit with a surprisingly small spoon.
Allow me a little excursion into that cutlery decision. On the plus side: easy access to yolk and white. On the downside: low carrying capacity. The jury has yet to reach a verdict.
Special mention goes to the cakes, which largely sit in baking trays and exude a distinctly handmade impression (Diglas has its own patisserie on the nearby Fleischmarkt).
Expect Torten and Schnitten (try the banana version) but also crumb cakes, meringue toppings, chocolate mousse covered delights and similar.
All-in-all another fine addition to your options for a city centre encounter with the past and a fine melange.
How to get to Café Diglas
Subway: take the U1 or U3 to Stephansplatz and Wollzeile is a short walk past the cathedral
Tram/bus: the old town location means trams don’t come nearby, but the Stubentor stop (tram line 2) on the Ring boulevard is not far and an interesting walk up Wollzeile past remains of the old city fortifications and shops still largely in the hands of small business rather than giant chains.
Two of the other locations are also very central.
- Café Diglas im Schottenstift (Schottengasse 2) has premises within an abbey complex (vaulted rooms and a large garden area fully isolated from any city centre bustle)
- Café Diglas am Fleischmarkt (Fleischmarkt 16) occupies another historical building: go through right to the back of the coffee house for homely domestic sofas to sit on. And look out for the gorgeous Jugendstil buildings on the road outside (houses 1, 3, and 7).
Address: Wollzeile 10, 1010 Vienna | Website