Concierge.com's insider take:
For centuries the city's grand cafés have served as Vienna's communal living room as well as a working studio for the capital's crush of starving artists, musicians, actors, and writers. While you're less likely to find a Mozart-in-the-making than a Tokyo tour group crowding many of the cafés these days, the more genuine ones do flaunt the feel of a neighborhood clubhouse, and each has something to recommend it. Café Central may be too pretty for its own good: All the flashing cameras aimed at the landmark's vaulted ceiling and a pianist who sometimes plays show tunes can undermine the Café's sense of history (corner of Strauchgasse and Herrengasse; 43-15333-76426; www.palaisevents.at). If you're looking for a more genuine atmosphere, head to the Café Landtmann, where a renovation in April 2007 has helped revive the Secession-era café that was Freud's favorite (4 Dr. Karl Lueger-Ring; 43-124-1000; www.cafe-wien.at). Café Hawelka is famous for its serious art collection and Jugendstil interior (6 Dorotheergasse; 43-1512-8230; www.hawelka.com). For a purely local experience try Café Sperl, near the Ringstrasse, where bona fide artists and musicians still gather to eat the Sperl Torte—a confection of rum, chocolate cream, and almond paste that easily wins the citywide torte-off (11 Gumpendorferstrasse; 43-1586-4158; www.cafesperl.at). For a more complete menu, consider Haas & Haas teahouse, which dishes up dim sum, English afternoon tea, and Austrian confections in an expansive Biedermeier courtyard (4 Stephansplatz; 43-1512-2666; www.haas-haas.at), but save room for Demel, nearby in the Kohlmarkt—an elegant Baroque Konditorei—a pastry shop that also serves coffee and hot chocolate (14 Kohlmarkt; 43-1535-17170; www.demel.at).
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... Oh! And I almost forgot to mention, for those who enjoy novelties, close quarters, or simply feeling larger than life, try visiting the Kleines Cafe on... more