A trip into Café Sacher is a bit like entering one of those town palaces built by the likes of Prince Eugene. But with more coffee and cake (and no ceiling paintings of your enemies crouched in chains).
- Extremely refined interior with palace-like decor
- Hard not to try the original Sachertorte cake there (of course)
- Can get very busy, so reserve a table where possible
- See also: Coffee houses in Vienna
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. This part of Vienna is home to the original Sachertorte, with the shop just around the corner and Hotel Sacher surrounding you.
So it’s almost an obligation to have a slice of chocolate joy resting on a white plate ringed in burgundy, with the little Sacher medallion perched on top.
We had one for breakfast (and before you laugh at me, cake at breakfast is not unusual in Vienna).
But Café Sacher is more than just a cake.
The immediate impression can be summed up in one word: elegant. But as if someone decided that word wasn’t quite classy enough, so dressed it in evening wear, gave it a fresh flower for the buttonhole, then sent it back in a horse-drawn carriage while a string quartet played Haydn in the distance.
The view helps, of course: Café Sacher’s windows look across to the State Opera House.
I asked my teenage son what words came to mind inside and he said, “calm, relaxing, respectful, and delightful.”
Where I sat, the walls featured the kind of “damask” coverings with white and gold reliefs that echo similar decor from the Albertina palace and other aristocratic residences in Vienna. (We ate under a portrait of Empress Elisabeth.)
Red carpets and upholstery combined with dark wooden chairs and white marble tabletops in the grand coffee house tradition. And the Sacher mark was ubiquitous, whether embroidered subtly in the tablecloths or adorning the coffee cup.
This is precisely the kind of atmosphere where you might expect to find haughty staff, but we experienced quite the contrary: friendly and obliging waitresses with a ready smile.
Along with the cake, I had a small breakfast of a Melange coffee, an egg, and a selection of breads, jams and honey. All excellent quality, with the butter scoring a very respectable 9/10 on the spreadability index.
And then there were the little extras – a wider choice of rolls in my bread basket than normal (including a mini-croissant), the pillow on the chair, three small jars of honey and jam to pick from (rather than the usual one elsewhere).
The attached Sacher Hotel is a five-star location, so they know about service here. It may seem banal, but extra praise is due the online reservation system: easy to use with a reminder of the booking arriving by email and text message on the day of our visit. And a human being answered my email inquiry just 6 (six) minutes after I sent the request to make a change to our seating arrangements.
Talking reservations, I strongly suggest you make one for your visit. They do keep plenty of tables open for casual visitors. Unfortunately, given the famous location, a very large number of such casual visitors all want to get in.
Much like with Café Central, I cannot remember passing Café Sacher without seeing a queue outside. Out of season, or at the top and bottom of the day, you may be lucky with waiting times: there was plenty of free seating on our visit, for example, but we went very early on a cold mid-January morning. (If you’re facing a long wait, Vienna has alternatives.)
This elegance, quality, and the “Sachertorte experience” come at a price, of course. You would not describe the menu (which includes restaurant meals and not just cake and beverages) as inexpensive. A cappuccino and Sachertorte will cost you over €13 and the breakfast menus started at €16.
How to find Café Sacher Wien
This one is not hard to locate on your travels. The coffee house sits opposite the rear of the State Opera House at one end of the pedestrianised part of Kärntner Straße (the road that leads to Stephansplatz square and the cathedral).
If you’re on public transport, Café Sacher is just a short walk from the Karlsplatz/Ring tram stop (served, for example, by the 1, 2, 71, and D lines) and the “Oper” exit of Karlsplatz subway station (on the U1, U2 and U4 lines).
Address: Philharmoniker Str. 4, 1010 Vienna | Website
At the time of visiting (January 16th, 2020), open daily from 8am to midnight.