Austria is home to many leading historical cafés but the unsung hero is by far Café Tomaselli. More modest in size, it delivers on charm, quality service and the quality of their pastries. Nestled in the heart of Salzburg’s old city in the Alter Markt, it has opened its doors for 160 years and has maintained a family legacy.
A historical legacy in a Salzburg café
This quaint spot can be be distinguished by its classic green striped pergola and the gorgeous shade parasols that deck the upper balcony. Roses and daisy bushes decorate the café almost like a crown as it is surrounded by historical buildings in this antique quarter.
Food is served on metal trays engraved by the family crest and name, as the windows of delicious pastries open your appetite. The clatter of dishesand the smell of home-made brioche are part of what makes this café such a relaxing place to have a traditional Austrian breakfast. They also offer a smaller room or a “Stuberl” for more privacy and quiet. The waiters are formal but friendly as they walk around with trays of sweets .
The historic presence of Café Tomaselli starts with old wooden newspaper rack, which symbolizes the intellectual power that cafés used to hold. The crystal chandeliers , historic panting and Austrian wooden in lays are what create that sense of nostalgic charm.
Best historical café founded by a tenor
Looking back, the café was founded in 1700 by a French-born Johann Fontaine. With an approval to sell chcocolate and tea, he created the precendence for the café. It changed hands until it was eventually owned by Carl Tomaselli in 1852.
Over 160 years later, the café has stayed in the family. Originally the family is Italian as Carl’s father, Giuseppe Tomaselli was a young tenor that moved to Salzburg from Milan. The singer actually held a close relationship with legendary pianist Wolfgang Mozart as he attended his concerts and stayed within his circle.
The Tomaselli enterprise
In 1874, Carl Tomaselli passed on the café to his son and the male-dominated aspect of coffee culture ceased to exist . A ladies parlor was subsequently opened in 1891 on the first floor at a time where it was deemed appropriate for ladies to visit the coffee parlor.
Carl Jr.’s wife, Elise Tomaselli would become a symbol of female empowerment and an important part of Salzburg society. She was a patron for museums and many artistic artefacts that still exist today.
The Café Tomaselli is situated in the heart of Salzburg’s Old Town on the Alter Markt and has been run for over 150 years by the Tomaselli family. Its vibrant sense of living history, unique location and tempting array of sweet dishes and exquisite coffee specialties make up the charm of this establishment.
Staying at the top
Although it was briefly owned by American forces and the red cross, it was returned to the Tomaselli family in 1950 and has been upheld ever sice. It is currently owned by two prominent families in Salzburg and is a must-see for locals and tourists alike.
As for the pastries, we recommend to try the classics like the croissant or the brioche, or delve into the traditional fruity strudels, the rhubarb cake, raspberry confections or the popular Salbuzburger Norckerl. Another star pastry is the “Kardinalschnitte” topped with whipped cream and vanilla. A taste of history is why we have deemed Café Tomaselli as one of the best in Austria as one of the best historical cafes.