You will often find one or both of the owners of Café Katja walking around the bar and chatting with the regular customers. The two met while working at restaurants in the city and opened this local favorite in 2007.
Erwin Schröttner grew up on a farm outside of Graz, Austria and moved to New York to pursue a career as a chef. Andrew Chase met Erwin while working in the kitchen with him at Monkey Bar. They decided to open their own restaurant in the Lower East Side when the neighborhood was starting to change and rents were still somewhat affordable.
People come to Café Katja for authentic Viennese food, a perfectly poured beer and some local vibes. The restaurant and bar is named after Erwin's daughter Katja.
Café Katja has been a popular restaurant in the neighborhood for just over 10 years. That is quite a feat considering the difficulties facing locally owned restaurants in New York today. Their success speaks volumes for how well-loved this place is by the community. They've had so much success in fact that they have been able to expand the space from a tiny 25 seat café to 52 seats and a large bar.
In addition to a variety of Austrian and German beers, you can taste an array of schnapps from both Europe and the US. The alcohol all pairs nicely with the hearty traditional food. We love their pretzels which are served not only with mustard but with butter and lipateur cheese. And to continue to soak up the beer, we recommend the wiener schnitzel, sampler of sausages, and Austrian meatballs.
This neighborhood has been through lots of changes, as we discuss on our Tenements Tales and Tastes tour. At one time, it was called kleindeutshland and full of German immigrants, many who hailed from present day Austria. They would have been pleased to have a warm, friendly place where they could drink imported beer and eat hearty food from their homeland. And we are happy to bring tour groups by Café Katja to experience this firsthand.
79 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002