One of Vienna’s most celebrated confections and an icon of the city, the Sachertorte is a darkly rich chocolate cake with a slither of apricot jam in the middle, decorated with a shimmering mirror glaze and icing in an italic script. The cake was conceived in 1832 by Franz Sacher, who was instructed to create a new dessert for Prince von Metternich and his companions. Read on to discover the best places in Vienna to try this dreamy dessert.
In a dispute referred to as a ‘cake war’ in the early part of the last century, Café Sacher and Café Demel (see below) entered into a lengthy legal fightover whose right it was to own the label of ‘the original Sachertorte’. The decades-long tiff was eventually settled in 1963, when both parties agreed that Hotel Sacher could use the phrase “The Original Sachertorte” and Demel had the right to decorate its tortes with a triangular seal reading Eduard-Sacher-Torte. Their recipe is a closely guarded secret and Café Sacher is undoubtedly one of the best places to sample this coveted dessert. It is a sheer work of art with perfectly glossy chocolate coating and beautiful texture. Be prepared – there is usually a long queue at the door.
Café Sacher’s rival, Demel, was once the bakery favoured by the now-extinct Viennese royal family, particularly enjoyed by Empress Sissi. As mentioned above, this upmarket bakery and chocolatier later became involved in the legal battle with Café Sacher, resulting in them losing the right to claim their torte as the ‘original’. However, theirs is still a truly beautiful version. Decorated with a triangular piece of chocolate that reads ‘Eduard-Sacher-Torte’, the creator’s grandson who trained at the bakery, you can indulge in this traditional version of the torte in an elegant atmosphere.
The marshmallow pink façade of this central café is a charming complement to the sweet treats on offer here – most notably the Sachertorte. The desserts are made and delivered daily, created in the cafe’s 140-year-old bakery in the nearby Fleischmarkt by bakers who swear by ‘Grandma Diglas’s’ recipe’. A charming and lively atmosphere makes this a popular haunt for locals and tourists, who delight in the traditional Austrian cuisine. Kick back with a strong cup of coffee and slice of Sachertorte and allow yourself to be soothed by the live classical piano music that is performed in the evenings.
Café Central counts some impressive names among its former clientele – Sigmund Freud, Adolf Loos, and Leon Trotsky are among some of the most famous visitors. Favouring grandeur over cosiness, Café Central’s impressive interior boasts swooping marble arches and polished parquet flooring, making it one of the most distinguished coffee houses in Vienna.
Aida is one of Vienna’s most popular franchise cafés, serving all the city’s favourite famous cakes, including the Sachertorte. Their version is generously sliced and includes beautifully light sponge covered in a crisp chocolate outer layer, with the characteristic disc on top. Claiming to be ‘better than the original’ (uh-oh!) theirs is a respectable and tasty alternative. You’ll find Aida cafés dotted all around the city, easily spotted by their distinctive shocking pink neon signs.
As this dessert was born in a royal setting, this is the perfect venue to sample it in. This lavishly grand café is situated right by the Imperial apartments and the Sissi Museum, so is a great place to sample Sachertorte if you want to tick off a few items off your Viennese bucket list in one go. Piano music is occasionally performed, giving you the chance to experience the sweet treat in a truly elegant environment.