Address: Schönbrunner Schloßstraße 47, 1130 Wien, Austria
Opening Hours: Daily 9:00am – 5:00pm
Official Website: Cafe Residenz
Before Diana, there was Sissi.
If you only have 24 hours in Vienna, there is one place that you should put on top of your list: Schönbrunn Palace. It is the residence of 19th century rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire Emperor Franz Joseph I and the beloved Empress Sissi. Fans of the Netflix show The Empress as well as the 1955 Austrian film Sissi will recognize the yellow walls of Schonbrunn Palace immediately. (There are tons of films made about Sissi including an animation film. But I prefer that 2009 3-part German movie La Principessa Sissi, which thankfully is still on YouTube.)
Just look at the beauty of the palace, even during winter. The fountain waters have gone frozen. And in December, you can catch the popular Schonbrunn Palace Christmas markets at the palace courtyard.
While the residence of Empress Sissi is the reason people come to Schonbrunn Palace, visitors stop by the Cafe Restaurant Residenz to watch the Viennese Apple Strudel show at Cafe Residenz. Vienna is known for their sacher torte, but the Apple Strudel is one Austrian dish you shouldn’t miss. (And there are notable differences between the Viennese and Hungarian version of Apple Strudel!)
You don’t have to spare 2 hours for the Apple Strudel, especially if you have limited time. Best to just grab a real Austrian meal at the Cafe Residenz which is to the left of the Schonbrunn Palace.
Here you can order the Austrian classics.
Vienna sausage, because you’re in Vienna! And they serve it with the Kaiser roll, one of my favorites. You can even eat the Kaiser roll at McDonald’s.
The Kaiserschmarenn or “Emperor’s Mess”. These are shredded pancakes often served with cranberry and apple sauce topped with powdered sugar. This is a winning appetizer to the Apple Strudel.
Of course, the Wiener Schnitzel. The meat is pounded rather thin, which makes it an addicting snack. It’s lightly salted, so people who prefer a stronger taste might not like it.
Krautfleckerl. Traditionally, it is an Austrian pasta made with caramelized cabbage. But at Cafe Residenz, they toss it with sliced ham. Surprisingly I liked this dish with its garlicky tang. It’s a large portion size, but doesn’t make you too full to skip dessert.
I know the dessert lineup is going to give you consumer paralysis, but you must get the Apple Strudel. And save the Sacher Torte for when you go to Hotel Sacher Vienna, Demel or Gerstner.
When it comes to coffee in Vienna, you’ll also face the same dilemma. Black coffee drinkers will find peace with Kleiner Brauner — just espresso. Latte drinkers will be happy with the Melange — Half espresso, half steamed frothy milk. But to the adventurous, try the Einspanner. It literally means “horsedrawn carriage”. The coffee drink was invented for coachmen, who often had to drink their coffee while standing for long hours in the cold. The Viennese cream on top is meant to stop the coffee from becoming cold.
I did say in my past blogs, I was going to tell you how the Einspanner would fare against the Korean coffee shops in Singapore.
And the Einspanner doesn’t disappoint. (And the Einspanner in Singapore coffee shops is a tragedy.) This is what you must order when in Vienna.
While the cream of the Einspanner appears too much, it doesn’t. I happily drank my coffee and ate the rest of the cream.
I didn’t mind they served cream with the Apple Strudel too. Because the cream in Vienna is top notch. So fluffy. I smacked a dollop of cream each time I ate a bite of Apple Strudel and SAVORED it.
Also, the Apple Strudel is so well done. Unlike the Hungarian version — which I’ll write about soon when we travel to Budapest — you get larger chunks of the succulent and fresh apple in between.
Vienna’s whipped cream is what dreams are made of.
Tip: If you want the best apple strudel in Vienna, there’s Cafe Landtmann, which is Sigmund Freud’s favorite.