Blog 1604 Stulrichsplatz

My street… Cle­mens Stein­mu­el­ler shows Vien­na’s Burggasse

When Clemens Steinmueller, co-founder of INDIE Magazine, MATERIAL GIRL Magazine, the PR agency Heroes & Heroines and the store Uppers & Downers, wants to show you around in Vienna's 7th district, you better be sure to have an empty stomach, a healthy liver and prepared to indulge in a lot of fun.

You could say that the Burg­gas­se is the main arte­ry of Vien­na’s cur­r­ent­ly boo­m­ing 7th district. This his­to­ric one-way street goes right across the midd­le of the hips­ter quar­ter, lin­king the busy Neu­bau­gür­tel with the posh 1st district. Named after the even­tu­al desti­na­ti­on on down­hill its tra­jec­to­ry, the Impe­ri­al resi­dence Hof­burg, the Burg­gas­se is one of Vien­na’s oldest streets. Back in the 18th and 19th cen­tu­ry it for­med the joint bet­ween an aff­lu­ent wes­tern side, built on the rich pickings of that era’s roa­ring tra­de in silk and vel­vet, and a down-mar­ket grub­by red-light district on its eas­tern side.

Today, of cour­se, you will find neit­her silk and vel­vet nor grub­bi­ness in the area out­side of a few sur­vi­ving dim-lit, dod­gy bars. Gen­tri­fi­ca­ti­on has wiped the sla­te clean, and nowa­days the street life is domi­na­ted by hip bou­ti­ques, cafés, gal­le­ries and deli­ca­tes­sens. So let’s go on a jaunt down Vien­na’s Burggasse.

Having extrac­ted them­sel­ves from the claws of the grim 8‑lane mons­ter of urban traf­fic that is Neu­bau­gür­tel by taking a sharp right turn, tou­rists may find them­sel­ves con­fu­sed at first. Faced with the sad sight of cut-pri­ce pho­ne and inter­net shops, a peep show, a bizar­re (very) spe­cial inte­rest shop tra­ding in mine­rals (“Your per­fect stone expe­ri­ence!”) and a few empty pre­mi­ses, all tho­se loo­king for Neu­bau­’s typi­cal mix of tren­dy bars, vegan restau­rants and vin­ta­ge shops may be temp­ted to exe­cu­te a quick U‑turn. If only Goog­le­maps was­n’t so sure of itself…

Blog 1604 Antiquitätenlade

Gran­ted, the­re may be other things to do in life than indul­ging in the all-you-can-eat buf­fet at the Chi­ne­se restau­rant Lei Lei or making hono­ura­ble friends among the local shadow eco­no­my in the gloo­my Café Burg. But even in this part of Burg­gas­se you will find won­der­ful pla­ces that are well worth a look-in.

Pla­ces such as the unassuming Admi­ral Kino at the cor­ner of Wim­ber­ger­gas­se, one of Vien­na’s oldest cine­mas, enter­tai­ning the public sin­ce 1913. Its audi­to­ri­um is plea­s­ant­ly free of knick-knack, the ori­gi­nal inte­rior is still main­ly inta­ct, the 1950s foy­er a nost­al­gic tre­at in its­elf, and while the cine­ma had to over­co­me some finan­cial trou­ble in the past, to this day the old Admi­ral remains undefeated.

Blog 1604 Admiralkino

If you like it rough-and-rea­dy you could do worse than dive into the smo­ke-fil­led world of Café Latern­derl, the arche­ty­pe of a Vien­nese Tscho­ch­erl”: True to the cha­rac­te­ris­tic style of this par­ti­cu­lar sort of estab­lish­ment, the Latern­derl still proud­ly boasts old-style wood-panel­led walls and a prac­ti­cal­ly tiled floor. The win­dows are dra­ped with nico­ti­ne-satu­ra­ted net curtains, and wine is ser­ved from dubio­us two-lit­re bot­t­les. You won’t have much luck orde­ring a Chai Lat­te here, and asking for a Coke will earn you fun­ny loo­ks at best. From the very ear­ly hours to the very late clo­sing time, you can enjoy watching a fami­li­ar cast of regu­lars enga­ging in dis­cus­sions, argu­ments and sing-songs, stag­ge­ring about, sta­ring at the bar or into their beers and, of cour­se, drin­king, drin­king, and then drin­king ano­t­her one.

Blog 1604 Cafelaternderl

A few houses fur­ther down the street you will find Ungar Grill, an essen­ti­al fix­tu­re of the 1070 post­code area for more than half a cen­tu­ry, not just becau­se of the top-gra­de cui­sine that is ser­ved the­re, but equal­ly so for its pecu­li­ar mix­tu­re of live gipsy music, open-hear­ted hos­pi­ta­li­ty and down-to-earth vibes. A cou­p­le of years ago this legen­da­ry estab­lish­ment with cha­rac­te­ris­tic sweeping neon logo abo­ve the door was taken over by a new land­la­dy, a young, hip and, most of all, high­ly like­ab­le novice to the restau­rant tra­de who per­fect­ly under­stands how to mix the old with the new, retai­ning the old charm of the huge place at the same time as sub­t­ly crea­ting a cool kind of ambi­ence. The new/​old Ungar Grill may well be the most com­for­ta­ble and rela­xed restau­rant along the Burg­gas­se. It still com­bi­nes live music and food, albeit, in its cur­rent incar­na­ti­on, lea­ning more towards jazz and a refi­ned take on tra­di­tio­nal Vien­nese fare.

Blog 1604 Buchhandlung

Right next door the Gast­haus Schil­ling is also some­thing of a Vien­nese insti­tu­ti­on, a tra­di­tio­nal inn and secret spot” lis­ted in many a city gui­de (the­re­fo­re real­ly no lon­ger a secret at all). Recom­men­ded espe­cial­ly for the kind of visi­tors who want to expe­ri­ence the atmo­s­phe­re of an authen­tic folksy Vien­nese Beisl” but still expect decent high qua­li­ty cuisine.

Having pas­sed a decent no-non­sen­se Irish Pub cal­led Back­bone at the cor­ner of Schot­ten­feld­gas­se, you will stumb­le upon a shop cal­led The Low-Down On Denim, a favou­rite haunt of raw denim con­nois­seurs from all around the world causing much joy­ful hyper­ven­ti­la­ti­on among its spe­cial inte­rest cli­en­te­le. The shop’s denim-based stock is nice­ly com­pli­men­ted by its own ran­ge of shirts, T‑shirts, shoes and lea­ther access­ories. Its loca­ti­on is slight­ly remo­ved from the main shop­ping area, so the store seems a litt­le lost in its sur­roun­dings, but true denim enthu­si­asts and brand afi­cio­na­dos are unli­kely to give a damn.

Next we recom­mend cros­sing over to the other side of the street, not just in order to make a wide berth around every arach­no­pho­bic’s night­ma­re come true that is Ter­ra Rep­ti­lia, a spe­cia­list retailer for cree­py craw­lies and all man­ner of sli­the­ry crea­tures, but also to have a good look at the faca­de of Burg­gas­se 98. In 2014 this buil­ding was given a make­over by local street artists. It is one of Vien­na’s rare examp­les of bes­po­ke public street art. In kee­ping with the faca­de, artist Niklar Wor­isch, the initia­tor of the pro­ject, has also ope­ned a gal­le­ry, a street art work shop and the somo­gyi color store in the same buil­ding, with more to come soon.

Blog 1604 Burggasse98

At num­bers 79 and 81 the­re are two small but unmis­s­able spe­cial food out­lets. In the tiny Salu­meria Princi­pe pas­sio­na­te deli­ca­tes­sen nerd San­dro Lug­lio offers, among other deli­cious things, an excep­tio­nal selec­tion of Ita­li­an cheese, sau­sa­ges and pas­ta, all of it made from orga­nic far­ming pro­du­ce and not exact­ly cheap, but so good you’ll drop to your kne­es in awe. Next door Pan­te­li­on sells deli­caci­es impor­ted direct­ly from far­mers in various dif­fe­rent regi­ons of Greece. Accord­ing to tho­se in the know about Greek food, the shop’s wares live up to its name, which could be free­ly trans­la­ted as ulti­ma­te perfection”.

By now we have almost reached the epi­cent­re of Neu­bau. The cool­ness and hips­ter quo­ti­ent of the bars and cafés around here has beco­me almost unbe­ara­ble. At any time of day or night, bars such as Wirr with its atta­ched club venue Dual or the fif­ties inte­rior hea­ven that is Espres­so (defi­ni­te­ly the crown jewel among all the fashion­ab­le Burg­gas­se bars) attract anyo­ne on a retro bike, car­ry­ing a Mac­book or wea­ring a full beard. This is the Neu­bau sce­ne at peak level.

Blog 1604 Wirr
Blog 1604 Espresso

And yet in the midst of it all, sur­roun­ded by the cool­ness mafia, you will also find the least pre­ten­tious, most honest and glo­rious­ly dir­ty dive bar in the who­le district. The dark, smo­ky caverns of the Zipp exu­de the sort of mys­te­rious magi­cal powers that will keep you glued to your bars­tool. This is one of tho­se rough wate­ring holes whe­re beer and schnapps will sim­ply tas­te that litt­le bit bet­ter, and whe­re clo­sing time approa­ches at hig­her velo­ci­ty than any­whe­re else. The bar­man and the famous regu­lars have seen ever­ything. Abso­lute­ly ever­ything. Which is also why in the Zipp the­re is no rea­son to be mis­gui­ded by the fal­se cla­ri­ty of rea­son its­elf. It’s just LOVE. Cheers.

Blog 1604 Zipp

A few yards fur­ther down the road, we cross the alter­na­ti­ve shop­ping street Neu­bau­gas­se, and sud­den­ly our Burg­gas­se gets fashion-centric too. The con­cept store uppers & dow­ners is the undis­pu­ted home of all tho­se far-out inter­na­tio­nal labels from various dif­fe­rent cor­ners of the fashion world. Be it the cur­r­ent­ly much-hyped 2D illu­si­on bags by JumpFrom­Pa­per, access­ories by Skin­ny­dip Lon­don, or per­fu­m­es by Libra­ry of Fra­gran­ce that smell of Gin Tonic, Rain or Whis­key Tob­ac­co. All of the inter­na­tio­nal brands that form part of this har­mo­nious mix are sold exclu­si­ve­ly to the shop in Aus­tria. A care­ful­ly cura­ted choice of vin­ta­ge clothes, far remo­ved from the smel­ly world of the thrift store, com­ple­tes the ran­ge. It’s not so unre­a­son­ab­le then that the shop’s name sug­gests psy­choac­ti­ve powers.

Blog 1604 Uppersanddowners

At Ben Ben­to the com­bi­na­ti­on of avail­ab­le pro­ducts could hard­ly be more obvious: Shoes & Sar­di­nes.” But of cour­se. Here you can buy welt-sewn Por­tu­gue­se qua­li­ty foot­we­ar as well as some of that coun­try­’s culi­na­ry spe­cial­ties, such as the finest sar­di­nes in retro tins. No fur­ther ques­ti­ons, your honour.

The book­shop Zum Glä­ser­nen Dachl is one of tho­se islands of inde­pen­dence that have beco­me such a rari­ty in the­se times of Ama­zon and mas­si­ve chains. A refu­ge for peop­le who want to expe­ri­ence the feel and the smell of a book, and who see the value in being able to brow­se in the spe­cial atmo­s­phe­re of such a small, per­so­nal shop.

At Burg­gas­se 24 we find the epony­mous vin­ta­ge store sel­ling a rather pri­cey ran­ge, while the adja­cent Peng Shop is a garish and joy­ful litt­le place, main­ly sto­cking ori­gi­nal pie­ces from the per­so­nal vaults of the owner who hap­pens to be one of the top sty­lists in this city.

Blog 1604 Ulrichsplatz2

We have now reached the ent­ran­ce to St. Ulrichs Platz pos­si­b­ly one of the most beau­ti­ful pla­ces in the who­le of Neu­bau, not least becau­se of its his­to­ric Baro­que church. In the sum­mer this is a fabu­lous place to sit at an out­side table, e.g. in front of the rather stu­den­ty Mor­gen­stern, or the Restau­rant Ulrich, a beau­ti­ful estab­lish­ment with excel­lent food and an ever-so-chic cli­en­te­le dis­cus­sing the chal­len­ges of being stylish.

At Die Bur­ger­ma­cher you can enjoy all the meti­cu­lous­ly sourced ingre­dients that add up to this restau­ran­t’s famous bur­ger crea­ti­ons, whe­re­as Das Möbel, a com­bi­na­ti­on of desi­gner fur­ni­tu­re show­room and café, allows you to place your drink and your behind on young desi­gners’ crea­ti­ons. And if you want, you can buy them too.

Blog 1604 Altebaeckerei Spittelberg

We’­re down to the last few yards of the Burg­gas­se which are popu­la­ted by all sorts of Aus­tri­an, Ita­li­an and Indian restau­rants of the you could but you don’t real­ly have to” varie­ty. The­re’s a noti­ce­ab­ly hig­her den­si­ty of tou­rists here, owing to the pro­xi­mi­ty of the 1st district with all its Impe­ri­al sights. But the adja­cent Spit­tel­berg quar­ter with its nar­row cob­bled lanes is defi­ni­te­ly worth a litt­le excur­si­on. In this form­er­ly poor area, once plagued by dirt, sick­ness and pro­sti­tu­ti­on, mise­ry still rules supre­me. But nowa­days the pla­gue takes the form of the bour­geois bug and exor­bi­tant rents.

The end of Burg­gas­se is final­ly mar­ked by the famous Volks­thea­ter, pre­ce­ded by the recent­ly con­ver­ted luxu­ry hotel San Sou­ci, which is the source of much invol­un­ta­ry hil­ari­ty among pas­sers-by, thanks to its tas­teless cor­po­ra­te design colour, a fasci­na­tin­g­ly obs­ce­ne shade of mauve. Most osten­ta­tious­ly, the hotel announ­ces its pre­sence with its thea­tri­cal­ly lit-up faca­de, orna­men­tal flower­beds and ring­mas­ter-style bell boys’ uniforms.

Blog 1604 Final Stadtplan Wien Malyvictoria

Best of Burggasse

Shop­ping

uppers & dow­ners, Burg­gas­se 46

The Low­down On Denim, Burg­gas­se 100

Burg­gas­se 24/​Peng Shop, Burg­gas­se 24

Drin­king

Ungar Grill, Burg­gas­se 97

Zipp, Burg­gas­se 66

Espres­so, Burg­gas­se 57

Eating

Gast­wirt­schaft Schil­ling, Burg­gas­se 103

Chi­na Bar, Burg­gas­se 76

Ulrich, Sankt Ulrichs Platz 1

The Sur­re­al

Cafe Latern­derl, Burg­gas­se 103

Ter­ra Rep­ti­lia, Burg­gas­se 100

Lol­li­pop Bon­bon Süß­wa­ren, Burg­gas­se 57

27 Apr. 2016 · NEUBAU EYEWEAR
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