Do you have a little place on this Earth you keep going back to? A restaurant that offers flavors that remind you of home, a favorite bar with stunning city views, a monument that brings back memories, a quiet park where you love to do some people watching….in a nutshell, a place you love, that you just gotta go to every time you happen to be nearby? If you don´t have one yet, I will lend mine to you.
The place I keep on my vacation loop is actually one of the most famous establishments in Austria: Café Sacher, in Vienna. Though this pompous café would be fit for a king, with its cushioned red seats and crystal chandeliers, this peasant here feels quite at ease there. The service is a great mixture of polite and friendly, and though there might be a line at the door (“majestic” has a price, after all), once you are in, you will never be rushed to get out. On the contrary: this is your opportunity to have your breakfast or tea like nobility, and I doubt the late Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph was ever in a hurry when eating his favorite dessert, the Kaiserschmarrn (a shredded pancake served with sugar powder and a fruit compote).
The Café Sacher is by far the most elegant café I ever stepped in. Still, the atmosphere is very inviting and relaxing, different from other places where the mood is so uptight, that it feels like the people in the hung paintings are judging you – “you break it, you pay for it”. Not here. Café Sacher became such an iconic place, that you will find people from all over the world, all joined together to reminisce on the Empire era that left such a quintessential mark in the city. Although….I do believe that if you do break something there, you will still have to pay fot it too.
In times of Instagram and Snapchat, looks do count, I know. But Café Sacher is more than just a beautifully decorated vintage bistro. The food is pretty good too! While it is indeed mostly know for its coffee and hot chocolate variations, as well as for the traditional Viennese desserts, you can actually grab a delicious schnitzel for lunch or opt for a lighter snack like a quiche.
Whatever you decide to try, the only sinn you can committ here is to leave without ordering Vienna´s most emblematic sweet, the Sachertorte (a chocolate pie with apricot jam layers). Don´t even think of passing on this experience saying that you have tried the Sacher pie somewhere else already, or that you don´t like it….Look, the truth is that you haven´t tried sachertorte until you have tried THE Sachertorte – which you can only find here. Why THE Sachertorte? The hotel where the café is located and which shares the same name, actually belonged to Eduard Sacher, the son of Franz Sacher – the man who invented this delicacy. The latter was entrusted to make a delicious dessert for the guests of Prince von Metternich in 1832. This is how this pie came to life, and thanks to the change of times, commoners are now also welcome to eat it.
Thus, this means that, basically, you will be tasting a more than two-centuries´old recipe. How amazing is that?! There´s more: if you can´t get enough of it, you can go to the store behind the café and buy a whole pie only for yourself, or bring it back home as a gift for family and friends. There, the Sachertorte is sold in various sizes, always coming inside a beautiful wooden box with the hotel´s signature. Before discovering this place, I never thought of food as the perfect souvenir. Additionally, if you are a fan of the place like me, you also have the option of buying different gifts like the teddy bears dressed as the hotel staff , or the collectors` edition snow globes. These items are so adorable!
Once in the café, if you have a chance to snoop a bit around, you will find the most beautifully decorated rooms you ever set foot in. On the same level, you will find a lounge area and the blue bar. Every time I passed by the red lounge area, in different occasions and years, I spotted somebody from the entertainment industry or from the politics´ world. The wall next to the bathroom in the lounge area is actually a reminder of how this establishment has continuously been a favorite of the prominent throughout different epochs. Elizabeth Taylor, John Travolta, Grace Kelly, Naomi Campbell and even the Queen of England are amongst some of the many famous guests.
Though I find the hotel´s room prices indeed restrictive (it is, after all, a very luxurious brand), the café and the bar are definitely more accessible (even though they are still expensive when compared to the average). You can have a piece of Sachertorte with whipped cream for €7,50, an Apfelstrudel with ice cream for €7,40, a cappuccino for €5,90, an original wiener schnitzel for €25. You can click here to have access to the whole menu. In case you are curious about the blue bar, in the same hotel, you can read this article here where I talk a bit about it. I found the prices there cheaper than I thought they would be. When I first went there, I was prepared to pay for one drink costing €20 and then leave, but you can find great options for €11.
Café Sacher is my go-to place every time I´m in Vienna. I even visit it on multiple days if I´m staying longer, and whoever is with me has to suffer the consequences of getting hooked on the original Sachertorte. Is it for everybody? Well, it´s hard to find something that will please every taste. But I will say this: a visit to this café combined with a slice of the iconic pie is basically a piece of Vienna on a plate: a time travel to aristocratic times.