Zum Schwarzen Kameel: a unique Vienna institution

Leigh Turner
Leigh Turner

“Zum Schwarzen Kameel” is one of the best cafes in Vienna.  It is also one of the best restaurants in Vienna; and one of the best bars in Vienna.  A review of a Vienna institution.

No seats.  Outrageous spectacles.  An enigmatic, four hundred-year-old name.  What is it that makes “Zum Schwarzen Kameel” stand out?

Something of an institution

Zum Schwarzen Kameel (Bognergasse 5, 1st District) is not exactly a cafe but I have decided to include it in my famous Vienna cafe reviews it as it is undoubtedly one of the best cafes in Vienna as well as being something of an institution.

Zum Schwarzen Kameel

Some of the decorative detail in the Kameel is breath-taking – Photo LT


Nestled in the heart of the First District close to a plethora of so-called designer shops (Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel et al), the Kameel is frequently packed with both tourists and well-heeled locals enjoying an eclectic blend of alcohol, open sandwiches, cakes and hot beverages.  My first impression was: “all a bit much” (or, as the Germans might say, schickimicki). My second, and conclusive, impression was: “des hot wos” (this place has a certain something).  Service at the standing bars (there are no tables) is excellent; the decorative details are exquisite; and the ambience has an eccentric, headlong, occasionally hysterical city flair.

Even the spelling of the name is original: it goes back to the founding of a shop on this site in 1618 by one Johan Baptist Cameel, who named it Zum Schwarzen Kameel (“camel” in German is usually “Kamel”).

Zum schwarzen Kameel Leigh Turner

Some of the staff at the Kameel make eccentricity an art form – LT

Zum Schwarzen Kameel: worth a visit

Reviews on Trip Advisor show that the Kameel is not to everyone’s taste.  It isn’t cheap.  But on balance, this is a high-concept place whose high-investment attempt to create something unique has hit the jackpot.  Worth a visit at almost any time of day.

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One Response

  1. Das schwarze Kameel ist das spicy pendant zum Demel, in der Tradition und Qualität. Meine Beobachtung ist, dass das Demel, nicht nur eleganter ausgestattet ist, sondern auch das elegantere Wiener Publikum hat und sich die Touristen nicht so in den Vordergrund drängen können. Im Demel esse ich am liebsten die Mehlspeisen, im Kameel die Sandwiches und den Beinschinken mit Kren.

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