DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Cafe Tirolerhof – a Rick Steves Fail

Still Raining in Vienna
Still Raining in Vienna


While many of the wonderful things I discovered on my Danube River Cruise I can attribute directly to Rick Steves,  he failed me miserably at lunch in Vienna.  Please don’t go to Cafe Tirolerhof.

Rain, Rain Go Away

When I first shared my dream day in Vienna with my husband, he balked at lunch and dinner in the city.  He couldn’t understand why we’d look for places to eat, when we had a perfectly good boat serving both meals without incurring any extra cost.  I explained how we’d be a bit of a stroll and a subway ride away from the boat in the Hofburg environs, creating both time and monetary constraints on our day.  He seemed to acquiesce to my research, but I don’t think he actually gave up on getting back to the boat for lunch.

When we exited the Treasury he was on museum overload and he really wanted that lunch.  We had a few tense minutes, but the sun was a little bit on my side and it appeared we were in for some better weather, so Bill agreed to take in some of the sites which were, by my estimation, within walking distance – but first he wanted to sit down and have a meal.

Cafe Tirolerhof

I read him Rick Steves’ description of Cafe Tirolerhof, “a classic Viennese cafe full of things that time has passed by: chandeliers, marble tables, upholstered booths, waiters in tuxes and newspapers.”  Sounds irresistible, right? And the cafe was only a block away.

Well, it’s not really that Rick Steves lied.  Everything he listed was there, but instead of being as charming as it sounded, it was creepy and somewhat disturbing.  My first complaint is that along with all the other things time has passed by, the Tirolerhof has a whole lot of dirt their staff has been passing by for a long time.  I’ve heard waiters in Viennese coffeehouses can be rude to American tourists.  Well, the Cafe Tirolerhof waiters are rude to everyone – a real equal opportunity situation.

What’s more the menu is downright weird. I pride myself on being able to pick something delicious off menus in unfamiliar places – even when the menus aren’t in English.  Well, the Tirolerhof menu is translated into English, but you want to believe something is lost in translation.  Let me tell you, it’s not.  The food is as weird as it says it is.  What’s more the cafe does not take credit cards and because the broken credit card machine at the Imperial Apartments had forced us to use most of our euros, I had to wander down the street and figure out the Viennese ATM.

The Gray Continues, But at Least the Rain Quit – For a While

Love is the only thing that saved me at this juncture.  The sun which had been on my side right before lunch had once again retreated, but it wasn’t raining right that minute.  Having already paid for lunch, Bill figured he might as well let me trot around the palace environs, especially since I promised we’d just be sightseeing, not paying fees and trudging through museums.

So we set off on the walking tour I had charted out in my head.  What else should you see when you visit the Hofburg?  Come back next week and I’ll tell you about our trek.


2 thoughts on “Cafe Tirolerhof – a Rick Steves Fail”

  1. I remember Vienna being a lot bigger than I had imagined or planned for. Had a good cake somewhere but I don’t remember where. I’m with Bill on wasting money when there is a good lunch available on the boat!


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