Writing by Peter Hilton

Out in Vienna - Friday, 5 March 1999 and the weekend

Daily research on Viennese nightlife.

contents | back to 4 March | forwards to 9 March

It's nothing but repeats this weekend - Santo Spirito, Comida y Ron, Kleines Cafe, Kaffee Alt Wien, Krah-Krah, Kleines Cafe, Cafe Diglas, The Vienna Globe, Das Möbel, Titanic, La Crêperie and Zum Leupold. But first, I've found...

Hawelka, Dorotheergasse

At last I've finally found the sort of bohemian cafe that I expected to find all along in Vienna. Hawelka is no secret, though: it's just of Graben, one of the big shopping streets in the city centre, and is the cafe that people were telling me to go to before I even left London.

Vienna: Heldenplatz is always full of people on a sunny day Hawelka is dark, smoky and intellectual looking, although I can't see any philosophers from where I'm sitting. Perhaps they're in disguise. Best of all, the furniture is old and the untouched decor even older. There are even seats that are rather sofa-like. The coffee is expensive, of course, but I'm just about used to the Parisian coffee prices in Vienna by now.

After half an hour or so I'm about to leave, because it's late, and Hawelka is so mellow that I almost fell asleep. I'll come back and hang around for a few hours next week I think.

Back again, five days later, I'm more awake this time. It's 9 p.m. and I seem to have the last available table, next to the bar so there's lots of to-ing and fro-ing to watch.

I've just had a very bizarre conversation with the waiter who came to serve me, starting in English and then switching to German.

Him: what would you like?
Me: the menu please.
Him: we haven't got one.
Me: er, okay; what have you got to eat?
Him: sausages.
Me: just sausages?
Him: yes; Austrian sausages.
Me: okay, I'll some of that. And a Hefe Weizen.
Him: we haven't got that; just beer.
Um, a beer please!

So now I have a beer and I think I'm waiting for some sausages.

The crowd is big and a complete mix of ages, styles and nationalities all chatting away at their tables, which they frequently have to share. The old woman who owns the place is darting around, chatting to the customers and trying to find just a few more seats for the people who have just arrived, usually putting people who don't know each other together to share a table.

Meanwhile my sausages have arrived - a couple of hot frankfurters with mustard and a piece of bread. It's no meal but it's a tasty snack and much appreciated.

Out In Vienna contents | back to 4 March | forwards to 9 March


I really enjoyed your piece about Cafe Hawelka. I haven't been there in about 10 years I guess but you brought me back there. Thanks.

Your other pieces, about what makes a great cafe, also made me think of another great cafe: The Aztec Street Cafe in Sante Fe, N.M. If you're ever there, check it out. Man, it's classic. Truly boheem in a young, affected, cutting edge desert sense (if that makes any sense.) I could go on but I won't.

Contributed by John Geiger, Orlando, Florida on 6 June 2000.

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