There are coffeehouses
and there’s Café Central

A revolutionary (Trotsky), a psychoanalyst (Freud), several writers and poets (including Polgar, Zweig and Altenberg) and an architect (Loos) walked into a café. What sounds like the start of a joke was an everyday occurrence at Café Central (est. 1876). Over coffee, cake and the odd cigar, some of the greatest poets, philosophers and – it has to be said – storytellers the world has ever seen, got together in Vienna’s most attractive coffeehouse.

The menu includes a broad selection of classic Viennese dishes, traditional coffee specialities and sweet treats from the in-house patisserie. Soak up the historic surroundings as you sample Café Central’s mouth-watering choice of culinary creations. With its unique Mediterranean flair, the Arkadenhof is the perfect setting for formal and informal functions – not to mention press conferences or private meetings away from prying eyes. Just like Altenberg enjoyed it. Who incidentally walked out without paying.

Café Central is operated by Palais Events and located inside Palais Ferstel, a palatial mansion house inspired by Venetian Trecento-era architecture. Suitable for various kinds of events, its rooms are bound to leave an unforgettable impression on your guests.

Contact

Reservation

cafe.central@palaisevents.at

T: +43 (1) 533 37 63-61

(09.00 a.m -06.00 p.m. weekdays) or

T: +43 (1) 533 37 63-24 

During Christmas season
(December 01st-January 07th) no reservations are taken. Please note that there might be a short waiting time.

Traditionally Café Central is closed on December 24th.

It is our pleasure to enable all of our guests a wonderful stay at Café Central.
We are looking forward to your visit,
wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Café Central
Corner Herrengasse / Strauchgasse
1010 Wien

Tobias Bernhard

Group & Guest Relations Café Central
Tel:+43 (1) 533 37 63-61
cafe.central@palaisevents.at

Clemens List

Service Café Central
Tel:+43 (1) 533 37 63-24

Opening hours

Monday to Saturday 7.30 a.m. – 10.00 p.m.
Sunday and public holiday 10.00 a.m. – 10.00 p.m.
Piano entertainment daily
from 5.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m.

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner offers
  • Daily changing lunch menu
  • Fresh pastries to take-away
  • A large selection of Austrian and international newspapers
  • Air conditioning
  • Free WIFI

Direction

Plan your Route

A truly central location

As the name suggests, Café Central is the real centre of Vienna – not St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The entrance to this coffee and cake lovers’ paradise is on the corner of Herrengasse and Strauchgasse in the first district. The city’s best-known sights and museums and its most exclusive shopping streets – Graben and Kärntner Strasse – are all within easy walking distance.

  • U3 Herrengasse station, U2 Schottentor station
  • 1A, 2A Herrengasse station
  • Underground car-park Freyung
  • Vienna International Airport is just 30 minutes away.

Heavenly Herrengasse

Herrengasse has long been the site of some of the capital’s most attractive mansion houses and grand buildings. The street takes its name from the German word “Herren”, a reference to the nobles who built their homes here. After all, the gentry who took up residence on Herrengasse wanted to be as close as possible to the Hofburg and the imperial court. Palais Herberstein, Palais Wilczek, Palais Batthyány, Palais Trauttmansdorff, Palais Daun-Kinsky and of course Palais Ferstel – the home of Café Central – can all be found here. This well-heeled neighbourhood is also referred to locally as the Palaisviertel.

Traffic-calming measures have been introduced on Herrengasse, leaving plenty of space for pedestrians, horse-drawn carriages and public transport.

It is the perfect place to take a stroll and enjoy excellent shopping at stores selling a host of quintessentially Viennese originals.

Did you know?

Schanigarten, the term used for outdoor seating, dates back to the mid-18th century. In summer, a waiter by the name of Johann (Schani in Viennese dialect) at the former Café Taroni used to carry out the garden furniture.comma

Food & Drink

Take your pick

Schnitzel, not Schnitzler

Whichever way you look at it, no other piece of Viennese literature makes for such enjoyable reading as our menu. What’s more, local specialities such as a classic schnitzel, hearty goulash soup or feather-light Kaiserschmarrn take this sense of enjoyment to the next level.

A taste of what’s on the menu:

All rates are in EUR incl. taxes, rates are subject to change.
Lunch Menu: Mo. – Fr. – 11:30 a.m. – 14:00 p.m.
€ 11,50 – 2-course menu

The
Menu

The
Lunch Menu

The Coffee
Menu

Functions in the Arkadenhof

Large-scale events with a Mediterranean touch

Café Central’s beautiful Arkadenhof is perfect for laid-back events and gatherings for groups between 20 – 80 people. The Arkadenhof has a Mediterranean charm all of its own, with its magnificent marble staircase and amazing glass ceiling reminiscent of Trecento-era Venice.

Your guests can reach the Arkadenhof through a separate entrance on Herrengasse.

Did you know?

The glass of water traditionally served with coffee is meant to cleanse the palate. The face-down coffee spoon on top of the glass is a sign that the glass has been freshly filled up, a remnant of Habsburg etiquette.comma

Coffee culture

Can you speak the language of coffee?

Any Viennese coffeehouse worth its salt, won’t serve you a pot of coffee and there certainly won’t be a frappuccino in sight. The Austrian capital has a coffee culture all of its own, with a few rather unusual creations. First things first: When a native of the city talks about “Obers” they mean cream. “Schlagobers” is fluffy whipped cream. It is served in a dollop known locally as a “Gupf”. “Schlag”, which also means a punch, is the Viennese word for whipped cream, so if the waiter asks if you want “Kaffee mit Schlag”, you don’t need to worry about getting a black eye. A “Grosser Mokka” (large mocha) is topped with a proper “Gupf” of whipped cream.

Coffee culture

Can you speak the language of coffee?

Any Viennese coffeehouse worth its salt, won’t serve you a pot of coffee and there certainly won’t be a frappuccino in sight. The Austrian capital has a coffee culture all of its own, with a few rather unusual creations. First things first: When a native of the city talks about “Obers” they mean cream. “Schlagobers” is fluffy whipped cream. It is served in a dollop known locally as a “Gupf”. “Schlag”, which also means a punch, is the Viennese word for whipped cream, so if the waiter asks if you want “Kaffee mit Schlag”, you don’t need to worry about getting a black eye. A “Grosser Mokka” (large mocha) is topped with a proper “Gupf” of whipped cream.

Vienna’s culture of enjoyment at its finest

Viennese cuisine is a melange of different delicacies. It is also a reminder of just how huge Austria once was. Goulash came from Hungary and dumplings from Bohemia. “Wiener Schnitzel” actually originated in Italy. And the city’s love of “Tafelspitz” (boiled beef) was mainly down to Emperor Franz Joseph.

The nice thing about Viennese is the way it creates diminutives simply by adding “erl” to the end of a word. Append the suffix and a normal coffee, or “Kaffee”, becomes a Kaffeetscherl. And a croissant is affectionately referred to in the capital as a “Kipferl“. What’s more, a little “erl” automatically cuts the calorie count! So it’s time to follow culinary tradition and add that all-important “erl” to a Schnitzel, transforming it into a “Schnitzerl“. Whenever you polish off a portion of “Kaiserschmarren”, slice of cake, freshly baked pastries or a piece of apple strudel, just remember to say “erl” to yourself, and the calories will take care of themselves.

Café Central head chef

“It is a great pleasure to interpret traditional dishes in a modern way”

Café Central head chefBernhard Laimer

Pâtisserie

Chocolate sweet spells

Believe it or not, two of France’s most popular foods – the croissant and the baguette – were actually created by a Viennese pastry chef. No, really! August Zang came up with the ideas in Paris around 1839 for both.

The time-honoured Viennese tradition of artisanal baking is still going strong at Café Central, with a huge choice of sweet temptations lovingly prepared in the in-house patisserie.

Time and again, our pâtisserie team and  head pâtissiere Manuela Radlherr comes up with the most exquisite creations – like “Sisis Marille”, an indulgent glossy apricot dome packed with mousse and cream. Or “Central Surprise”, a beautiful blend of orange caramel, Bavarian cream and chocolate. Other classic sweets like the famous Café Central Torte, traditional apple strudel and feather-light pancakes filled with fruity apricot jam, keep our guests coming back for more.

Chef Pâtissière

“Creating sweet temptations is our speciality”

Chef Pâtissière Manuela Radlherr

Take home a slice of enjoyment

A quick look can’t hurt!

Café Central is almost notorious for the excellent food served there. Anyone who casts an eye over the sweet taste sensations on display, stays rooted to the spot, pondering and imagining the flavours, before taking another glance, thinking and sighing. Why not try for yourself? Or how about a surprise for your loved ones at home or just some “emergency supplies”? All of our sumptuous specialities are available to take away.

For those extra-special occasions

Whether it’s for a special celebration or just for the sake of it, Café Central also accepts orders for cakes. A great party calls for a great cake and the mouth-watering creations from our pâtisserie are hugely popular for wedding receptions and jubilees. The more painstaking, the better!

Contact

Did you know?

Café Central’s most famous waiter was Herr Jean. He only allowed a select few to run up a tab. And the only person he lent money to was Alfred Polgar.comma

Gallery

Take a look inside

Did you know?

Peter Altenberg had his mail sent to Café Central – as well as his laundry!                        comma

Reviews

The more satisfied our guests…

A short insight in our guests’ feedback:

Everything was absolutely wonderful, both the food and coffee! ! I had a wonderful coffee with egg white.

Gayle Barbagelata
Gayle Barbagelata

Yesterday, I came to Cafe central to have a coffee and a nice pastry. I really enjoyed it I must say, and the café central is an amazing place, congratulations.

Jonathan Berdat
Jonathan Berdat

Going back in time. Ate traditional Austrian pancake. Austrian atmosphere with great service. I highly recommend.

Jill P.
Jill P.

The meal was wonderful, the soups were fresh and the main dishes were tasty, including the traditional Viennese Schnitzel and the suckling pig. The service was nice, waiters treated us friendly and the food came quickly.

Justin C.
Justin C.

Architecture

Palais Ferstel – or what comes of a trip to Italy.

A slice of Italy in the heart of Vienna?! This was the brainchild of Heinrich von Ferstel, who returned from a journey to Italy brimming with inspiration, and between 1856 and 1860 built what is the most magnificent example of a Gründerzeit mansion house. Incorporating whichever aspects appealed to him, von Ferstel’s elegant design combined elements of Venetian and Florentine architecture and art from the Trecento period. The building was never actually intended as a city palace in the traditional sense, but as the home of the central bank and stock exchange. It was only given the name Palais Ferstel in 1982.

Today visitors can stroll through the Ferstelpassage – a wonderful setting for parties and functions, with the gentle murmur of Anton von Fernkorn’s Danube Mermaid Fountain in the background – before stopping off at Café Central around the corner.

Ferstel championed the use of natural materials, and only the finest stone was good enough.

The sturdy wrought-iron gates were the work of a silversmith, and the facade is adorned with sculptures from Hanns Gasser. The interior features stucco lustro, ornate paintwork, leather wall coverings and fine wood panelling.

The entire construction including the interior cost the princely sum of 1,897,600 guilders (today approx. 25 million Euro). This is even more astonishing in view of the words of the central bank governor of the time, Franz von Pipitz, who demanded that “the construction should be strictly economical and eschew worthless luxury”.

Heinrich von Ferstel died at the age of 51, but the spellbinding beauty of his designs for Vienna’s Votivkirche church, Museum of Applied Arts and University of Applied Arts, as well as the Palazzo del Lloyd Austriaco in Trieste live on.

Timeline

1856 - 1860

The young architect Heinrich von Ferstel builds the opulent Palais with its fantastic Venetian-cum-Florentine-cum-Trecento architecture, inspired from his long journey through Italy. “The Ferstel” was the most fashionable building in Vienna.

1860

The Vienna Stock Exchange rents the ground floor, todays Café Central. And the Austrian-Hungarian national Bank is based at Palais Ferstel.

1876

For the first time Gustav & Hermann Pach open the former “Börsecafé” in the stock exchange at the Café Central in the Palais  Ferstel – at the time the most modern building in Vienna, formerly used as a bank and stock exchange building.

from 1900

the café has cult status. The regular guests – among them grand literary figures, poets and thinkers – call themselves “Centralists”, after the café. Because if they had not just been with us, then they were on their way. The meeting place for intellectual Vienna.

1925

The café becomes a café-restaurant. It now has an arcaded courtyard, a columned hall, a ladies’ salon and a games room.

1926

Newly redecorated Café Central celebrates its 50th anniversary.

1938

The dark days cast their shadows on the Central. The Café has to change into a “coffee house” as a consequence of the National Socialist Aryanisation. And many of the regular guests lose their second home or even their lives during the Second World War.

1943

The curtain falls: the Central has to close for four decades. It becomes an archive and storage area in the heavily damaged Palais Ferstel.

1951

The Viennese basketball community moves into the poorly renovated Palais. Hoops are now shot daily in the “Herrengasse Hall”.

1958

Die Österreichische Realitäten-AG (ÖRAG) übernimmt das Gebäude.

1970 - 1980

The decade of the new beginning: the greatly faded splendour of the Palais Ferstel is restored by a careful revitalization by the Austrian Real Estate AG. Office spaces were expanded, ballrooms and the shopping mall restored.

1981 - 1983

The arcade courtyard is also revitalized and in the meantime the Café Central opens its doors. The ORF’s (Austrian Broadcasting Company’s) well-known cultural and discussion programme  “Café Central” is then broadcast from here.

1986

Together with the large Ferstel Hall above, the Café is refurbished in the final stages of the renovation. In 1986 the Central re-opens in the magnificent columned hall.

2001

The Karl Wlaschek Private Foundation takes over the Palais Ferstel with the Café Central and establishes the Palais Events Veranstaltungen limited company to run the properties. Later the company also manages the Wiener Börsensäle (Vienna Stock Exchange Halls) and the Palais Daun-Kinsky.

2006

The arcade courtyard reopens for coffeehouse guests and groups.

2011

Palais Events becomes part of the Austrian Travel Group.

2012

A first record year: The Central welcomes 380 000 guests.

2013

The Café Central is rebuilt – a central showcase greets guests with its tempting patisserie.

2015

480 000 people now visit the Café Central in Vienna annually.

2016

Café Central is celebrating its 140th anniversary. With an “open mic” young literati and poets are coming back on stage. Tradition and modernity are going hand in hand.

A day in the life of Café Central

Daily routine

There’s never a dull moment for the people who work at Café Central. At three in the morning (!) fresh culinary creations, fluffy whipped creams and delicate cake bases are already taking shape in the patisserie. The sound of cutlets being tenderised for schnitzels rings out from the kitchen. Every day of the year over 100 dedicated souls work tirelessly to make sure that guests have everything their heart desires.

A hive of activity

3am-7am: Over in the patisserie, staff are flouring, kneading, grinding, baking and sugaring like there’s no tomorrow, bringing the pâtissière’s ideas to life.

Good morning and bon appetit!

7.30am-3pm: This is when breakfast time gradually gives way to lunchtime. Late risers can order goulash, Sacherwürstel sausages, schnitzel or roast chicken from 11am. With lunch slowly winding down, afternoon coffee is the order of the day. Of course, it wouldn’t be the same without cake. A blissful state that often lasts until 5pm.

Welcome home!

5pm: From now until closing time, Café Central takes on the air of a salon, and the subtle tones of the Bösendorfer grand piano fill the air. After a satisfying afternoon coffee, it’s time to glance at the menu and start thinking about dinner.

Good night.

10pm: It’s a shame, but Café Central has to close its doors sometime. And while some guests head home or back to their hotel, for others the evening is only just beginning.

Did you know?

Café Central was also known as a chess university.  Alfred Polgar and Leon Trotsky were the most formidable opponents.comma

Legendary ‘Centralists’

„Central is not a coffeehouse like any other – it’s a philosophy.“

(Alfred Polgar)

In his Theorie des Café Central (Theory of Café Central), Viennese dramatist and essayist Alfred Polgar (1873-1955) gives a detailed insight into the nature and essence of ‘Centralists’, as Café Central’s regulars were known. A number of famous personalities regarded this place of tranquillity, upheaval, cigars, coffee, chess and billiards as their home.

They held court at hotly contested regulars’ tables, notable names including Polgar, Loos, Werfel, Hofmannsthal, Alternberg, Musil, Kraus, Kuh, Schnitzler, Zweig, and a few revolutionaries to boot – Trotsky, Lenin and Stalin.

As Alfred Polgar put it so fittingly: “A proper Centralist, locked in his coffeehouse, has the feeling of being cast out into the harsh world, exposed to strange coincidences, anomalies and the cruelties of the unknown.” “Café Central is located below Vienna’s line of latitude, on the meridian of loneliness. Its inhabitants are mainly people whose misanthropy is as strong as the craving for people who want to be alone, but also want company as they do so.”

Naturally, this aura of intellectual exhilaration had a magical effect on the ladies, so every now and again a heart was destined to be broken. One such belonged to Peter Altenberg, who had idolised the wife of Adolf Loos, Lina.

In the lulls between heated debates, out came the chess boards. The play was of the highest quality: Alfred Polgar was a dreaded opponent and defeating Leon Trotsky (alias Herr Bronstein) was a rare and scarcely believable honour.

Peter Altenberg can still be found in Café Central to this day – although only as a papier mâché figure. He sits next to the entrance, casting a rather grim, yet curious eye over guests as they arrive.

Herr Jean (Johann Czerny), a waiter at the Central, was just as famous as his former regulars. He knew everything there was to know about everything, but was rather tight-lipped. He even helped out the odd Centralist who was strapped for cash – but only if they were “someone”.  After all, he himself was “someone”.

There are so many stories to tell, but let’s finish off with the words of Alfred Polgar: “It’s a coffeehouse, take everything on balance. You’ll never come across another place like it.”

© Palais Events Veranstaltungen GmbH 2016 - Member of Verkehrsbüro Group