When raindrops are on the window, the streets are filled with fog and it’s cold outside – these are the haunts, the hovels, the warm and cozy cafes, bars, beisln to cuddle up in. Here are five spots to hang out after dark on a winter’s night in Vienna.
Where: Alser Straße 67 (corner of Bennogasse), 1080
On any cold winter’s night of the week, this place is packed with passionate card sharks, board game bandits (that’s a word we just made up for people that like board games) and the sound of dice hitting the table. The dark wood, dimly lit atmosphere, with hundreds of board games piled around the place (see the complete list of board games Café Benno stocks, here) this is one of the most well-known haunts for those that like a long and drawn out game of Monopoly or chess with their drink. The food being served up here is also worth pausing a passionate round of poker for. This place gets busy, and the games lead people to occupying tables for hours on end, so we suggest you reserve.
Where: Karmeliterplatz 1, 1020
Opening times: daily 4pm–1am
The owners revived it from a local alcoholic's dive to a popular hangout for all sorts of people. The Tachles ethos is, ‘this is where life happens’. Sitting there munching on the house speciality of delicious homemade Polish Pierogi, I see couples touching hands accross the table, groups of friends loud and laughing, two girls engaged in an animated political conversation – this is actually one of those places you enter and you realise it has a living, beating heart. Tachles attracts life. People meet over their wooden tables, under the dim light for love of each other, or conversation, or for the love of the vast range of Polish beer and the delicious menu (If you don’t choose the Pierogi, try the spaghetti, or the palatschinken (crêpes)). Silent films of Marx Brothers, Charlie Chaplin or Laurel and Hardy are forever projected on the wall, while music fitting for the warm atmosphere can be heard. Find our full review of Tachles, here.
Winter Goodness: Music concerts and other performances are often hosted downstairs. The menu is made for winter.
Plus: They are one of the few places in the city who practice the suspenso tab system, where you can buy a coffee or a meal for somebody less fortunate, in advance. This is recorded, and if somebody comes in asking for a free meal, you’ve already paid for it for them.
Story behind the name: Tachles is a Yiddish word that means, ‘Klartext’ in German, and in English it means to speak clearly and literally. ‘I like this a lot in a world in which we often hide’, the charismatic manager Daniel tells me.
Where: Neustiftgasse 51, 1070
Opening Times: Mon–Sat: 5pm–1am
The wallpaper is peeling from the roof. The open kitchen fills it with funky smells of grease and boiled broccoli, but somehow – like a grandfather who farts everytime you sit on his lap – it’s all part of the charm. It’s the kind of place that if you don’t know about it, you wouldn’t walk in off the street. It’s almost invisible when walking past. Unless it just so happens that the glowing candles on the tables, and the warm, cosy atmosphere within the dark wood-panelled walls catches your eye when glancing in its windows. You’ll hardly be able to read the hand-written menu, but just point at something and we garuntee it will be good. Plenty of people come here just for its famed boiled beef (the typical Austrian dish, Tafelspitz). Here, you’ll realise that everybody looks better in candlelight than they do in the glow from their smart phones. You’ll rarely see people checking their facebook account here for the place encapsulates a time in which conversation was done with lips and body language.
Wintery Goodness: the food on the menu is made for winter – just like Oma makes it.
Where: Lerchenfelder Straße 132, 1080
Opening Times: daily 6pm–4pm
From the street it looks like a jungle’s inside, with plants crowding the windows. Inside, it looks like a character that has lived some kind of rock and roll, or writer life a thousand times, with plenty of booze and drugs. The black and white striped bar reminds me of the tail from the dope-smoking cat in Alice in Wonderland. The stools at the bar are wobbly and on the verge of collapsing. One could say the same about the characters sitting on them.
The menu is simple – beer, wine and a few spirits. Behind the bar are fridges leftover from the time when large blocks of ice were used to cool the drinks. The bar staff fit the grungy, gritty feel that fills the place, along with the cigarette smoke. The ripped up couch in the non-smokers section will swallow you if you’re not careful. You visit Café Anno if you’re a fan of Tom Waits or Nick Cave or put your feet up on the pew in church – or would if you ever went.
Winter goodness: there are often readings (most Thursdays), vodka and beer are cheap on Mondays (a pint will cost you 2.90 €).
Café Alt Wien
Where: Bäckerstraße 9, 1010
Opening Times: daily 10am–2am
It’s been the haunt of the creative type since the dawn of it’s own time. It’s like that aged writer that everybody wants to be around for the charisma. The same older crowd waddles in and surrounds the bar at around 4pm while as the evening deepens, the crowd thicken, with all breeds of people. The place is a relic of days gone by in Vienna before Apple and Google took over the world, and it seems to live on within it’s walls. The lighting is low, the walls are plastered with posters of art exhibitions and concerts, it’s red velvet benches that line it’s walls embrace it’s visitors and it’s the kind of place where you could sit, read, converse all day and nobody would even notice.
Wintery Goodness: They have the best home-made Apple Strudel in the city. They serve up soups and a hearty gulasch.
Where: Franziskanerplatz 3, 1010
Opening times: daily 10am–2pm
Entering this tiny café is like climbing back into your mother’s womb (and we discovered that if you look at the pattern of the tiles on the floor long enough, they’re in the shape of ovaries- after the 5th glass of the cheap house Zweigelt red wine). So cosy and warm it is here amidst the intimate setting in this little cafe – the actor’s dressing room lightbulbs, the maroon leather bench sofas, the squeaky old chairs, the eclectic playlist (from Deep Pruple to Miles Davis) and marble table-tops. This little place is filled with mighty big legends amongst the locals. ‘It was the place where you’d get a joint over the bar,’ one old Viennese guy tells me in a thick dialect. While we wouldn't know anything about that, we do know that the service is as charming and seductive as the setting. We especially are fans of the waitress, Tina, who seems to hardly touch the ground, yet rather floats when she walks. It’s often crowded with people (a range of characters) and plumes of cigarette smoke. If it is full when you get here, just take a seat at the bar (if there is one) or ask to join a table if there’s a seat spare – this is common practice here.
Winter Goodness: They make their mélange with a tower of milk foam. There’s a broad range of newspapers which you can spend hours reading without anybody minding. Food wise, they serve up the typical Austrian bread with spread and a range of würstels (Follow the local's lead and eat them with your hands!).
Where: Schleifmühlgasse 16, 1040
At Vollpension, a comfy café in Vienna’s 4th district, Omas are the bakers and the characters of the place. And while offering plates filled with cake and pastry art, they also fill you with that inexplicable warm homey-ness feeling they naturally emenate. The best soul food, cake, cake be found here for those cold winters nights which you can enjoy snuggled up into one of the many sofas that are scattered around the place.
If the Omas standing behind the counter, baking, don’t give you the warm feeling, the interior decoration of the place will definitely do the trick. Donated vintage furniture, walls covered by old family pictures, old lamps giving off warm light – the combination creates an ambience of which you might recognise from your Oma’s living room, but it’s been infused with an injection of young, hip life.
Winter goodness: cake, cake and more cake. And the cakes behind the glass counter changes.
Where: Burggasse 24, 1070
Opening time: Mon–Sat: 11am–10pm
Torn, broken and mismatched furniture paired with a shabby chic charm and the crackling flames of a fire place – this is the lulling bubble of calm at the café attached to the vintage clothes boutique, Burggasse 24.
The high, white wooden ceiling frames the café nicely and separates it from the neighbouring vintage clothes boutique attached, where you can purchase an outfit that will help you blend in to the effortlessly chic setting. The rustic, sweeping space of Burggasse24 is airy and bright, but is somehow intimate and personal. To think such a beautiful space was once a wheelchair store. This is a living room cafe with couches and a streetlamp plonked in the middle of it.
Winter goodness: there's a fireplace, people!
Where: Neuer Markt 14, 1010
Sat & Sun: 10am-10pm
This cosy little French bistro/cafe is a popular haunt. The de rigueur trappings of a proper bistro – all-day opening, decent breakfasts as well as lunch and dinner, outdoor tables in good weather, and you can order a coffee that comes in a cup the size of your head. There's a huge dark wooden communal table in the middle of the room with a limited number of tables for 2 scattered around. The croissants, baguettes and Tarte au citron could be sold in any bakery in Paris, while the tea list is long.
Winter goodness: The Soupe a le' oignon (onion soup) is a heart warmer, and full of the good stuff.
9 of the best bars and cafes for a winter’s night in Vienna
Vienna Würstelstand's Jacob says: