The Renaissance meets modern Vienna in the form of the Kaffee Alt Wien, which also straddles the border between coffee house, bar, and restaurant.
- Very central location
- …but away from the crowds
- First opened in 1922
- Parts of the building date back to 1559
- Properly authentic
- Good option for early weekend breakfasts
- See also:
Red, blue, historical & new
(Bäckerstraße in 2023)
Bäckerstraße is one of those narrow streets that slip quietly away from the tourist areas in the city centre, flanked by old townhouses with wide doors that carriages would have once used.
But like all good streets in the old town, Bäckerstraße has its claims to fame.
At one end you find former university buildings (now the Austrian Academy of Sciences), the Jesuitkirche church, and Franz Schubert’s old school. At the other, Lugeck and the Gutenberg monument. The famous Schnitzel-serving Figlmüller has a branch here.
And Bäckerstraße has Kaffee Alt Wien, a coffee house with elements of a bar and restaurant that first opened in 1922 in what was then a Renaissance townhouse.
Sadly, that building met its end under WWII bombs, and the café was actually the last tenant to move out of the ruins before repair work began in the early 1950s.
(You can see the 1559 portal on the right of the photo)
That reconstruction project paid due respect to the history of the location. For example, the new building incorporated surviving parts of the original. Just to the right of the Kaffee Alt Wien entrance, for example, you can see the 1559 portal with its Latin inscription.
Inside is one of those places where tradition does battle with the modern day, blurring the lines between the time honoured and contemporary.
You have such elements as marble tabletops, wooden stools and coat stands, an old tiled floor, and red upholstered seats around the walls (turning to blue in the more refined Blaue Salon part at the rear of the location).
But the Kaffee Alt Wien edges into restaurant and bar territory, too. Advertising for new exhibitions, concerts, festivals and independent films line the walls, posters often pinned on top of each other to form layers of cultural history.
(Bäckerstraße around 1890, looking toward Lugeck with No.9 on the right; photo by the studio of Michael Frankenstein & Comp.; Wien Museum Inv.-Nr. 79000/1790; excerpt reproduced with permission under the terms of the CC0 licence)
And all bathed in a sense of authenticity without the exaggerated pristine veneer that leaves some traditional coffee houses feeling a little forced. With the low lighting and an absence of tall windows, I can imagine spending lazy hours within unnoticed by the world outside.
On the culinary front, we had a fairly standard breakfast. Plus points were the generous portions of jam served in a dish, the organic crusty bread from the Öfferl bakery, and the larger than usual café latte (by Viennese standards).
Given the location, coffee prices were more than reasonable. And, at the time of writing, the café opens earlier than most at weekends, making it a strong option for early risers.
How to get there
Kaffee Alt Wien sits very close to the very centre of the old town, surrounded by a triangle of subway stations: Stephansplatz (U1 and U3), Schwedenplatz (U1 and U4), and Stubentor (U3).
The buses that traverse the old town also stop nearby, for example at Rotenturmstraße (the 2A bus) and Riemergasse (3A).
Address: Bäckerstraße 9, 1010 Vienna | Website