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According to Wikipedia, the Viennese coffee house is an institution of Vienna that played an important part shaping the city’s culture. Around the end of the 19th century, it was the place where intellectuals, politicians, artists lingered – reading newspaper, writing, talking and playing games. We tried lingering there …

This café is located further down the street from our rental apartment where it splits as Gumpendorferstrasse to the left and Lehargasse to the right.

As it turned out, Café Sperl at 11 Gumpendorferstrasse is the real deal and not a touristy place. As is common in many Viennese Coffee Houses, there are marble tabletops, Thonet-like chairs, and newspaper tables.

The square tables by the window (pictured above) allow patrons to play card games and chess – one evening, we saw a group of ladies playing cards in there.

The seating arrangements around the windows are also particularly welcoming, as it accommodates a variable number of people and encourages informal socializing between separate groups.

The high ceiling, windows, and mirror at the end makes the place very airy despite the wood panels and velvety upholstery.

Patrons can spend as much time as they want with a cup of coffee while reading all the newspaper and magazines. I cannot help but think of the Starbucks inside Barnes and Noble in the US. Notably, I do not remember seeing a television any where – so it cannot turn into a sports bar.

The English has billiard table in public houses (pubs) which may serve a similar social gathering function as the Viennese cafe, except that the conversations in a pub are likely to be driven more by alcohol than by the news. Billiard or pool tables in cafe are unimaginable in the US and Britain.

We went there in late morning and had a leisurely lunch there. I suspected the billiard tables will be used in the evening. These are not pool tables, they have no pockets!

One of us had a special wiener schnitzel that is covered not just with bread crumbs but also with nuts and corn.

Although they do not have a bar, I believe alcohol is served. Don’t remember seeing any sign of internet access here – still relying on the olde newspaper for info?

Apparently, the cafe was featured in Richard Linklater’s 1995 movie Before Sunrise, with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, which along with its Paris-based sequel Before Sunset, I recommend highly.

File:Before Sunrise film.jpg

The interior was also used in the movie A Dangerous Method, which featured Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender as Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

Do check out Café Sperl‘s web site which offers several beautifully captured interactive panorama of the interior and exterior of the cafe.

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