If you ever have a chance to follow your child or grandchild through a new-to-you location, like Central Europe, do it! That’s what I did when my daughter participated in the Global Youth Leadership Foundation program. I followed her through Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Munich, Germany.
One of the highlights of our trip was the search for the best apple strudel in Central Europe. Apple strudel is a delicious dessert that consists of apple filling wrapped in a thin pastry dough. It’s crispy on the outside and warm and juicy on the inside. It can be served with cream, ice cream, or additional sugars or fruits.
But where did this mouthwatering treat come from? And how does it vary across different countries and regions? In this blog post, I will share with you some of the history and variations of apple strudel, as well as some of the best places to try it in Vienna, Austria.
Strudel Origins and Variations
Strudel has its origins in Turkish cuisine, as an adaptation of baklava. Baklava is a sweet pastry made of layers of filo dough filled with chopped nuts and honey or syrup. It was brought to Central Europe by the Ottoman Empire, which ruled over parts of Hungary and the Balkans for centuries.
The word strudel comes from the German word for swirl, which describes the shape of the pastry when it is cut. The first recorded recipe for strudel dates back to 1696, in a handwritten cookbook from Vienna. The recipe was for a cheese strudel, but soon other fillings were added, such as apple, cherry, poppy seed, and cabbage.
Strudel became a popular dessert in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which spanned from Austria to Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Romania, and parts of Italy and Poland. Strudel was often served at festive occasions, such as weddings and holidays.
The main characteristic of strudel is its thin and elastic dough, which is stretched by hand until it is almost transparent. The dough is then spread with butter and sprinkled with bread crumbs to prevent the filling from soaking through. The filling is placed on one end of the dough and then rolled up into a long cylinder. The strudel is then baked until golden and crisp.
Strudel can be served hot or cold, depending on the preference and tradition of each region. In Vienna, Austria, apple strudel is often served with hot vanilla sauce or whipped cream. In Budapest, Hungary, ice cream is more common. In Munich, Germany, powdered sugar is sprinkled on top. Some places also add raisins, nuts, or other fruits to the filling for extra flavor and texture.
Best Strudel in Vienna, Austria
Vienna is the capital of Austria and the former center of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is also the birthplace of apple strudel and one of the best places to try this iconic dessert. Here are some of the best strudel places in Vienna that I visited during my trip:
The premier restaurant for apple strudel in Vienna is Mrs. Braun’s, located on the same square as St. Michael’s Basilica. It is run by a grandmotherly figure who greets you with a warm smile and a slice of strudel. The strudel here is served with a thin vanilla sauce that complements the light and flaky crust. The ambiance is cozy and traditional, with some staff wearing folk costumes. This was the first place I tried apple strudel in Vienna and it set a high standard for me.
Café Mozart is a historic café that dates back to 1794. It is conveniently located near many tourist attractions and concert venues in Vienna. It was frequented by many famous figures throughout history, such as Mozart himself (hence the name), Sigmund Freud (the father of psychoanalysis), Graham Greene (the author of “The Third Man”), and Orson Welles (the actor and director of “The Third Man”). The café serves apple strudel with vanilla sauce or whipped cream in an elegant setting with chandeliers and paintings.
Café Sacher Wien
Café Sacher Wien is part of Hotel Sacher Wien, a luxury hotel that opened in 1876. It is famous for its Sachertorte (a chocolate cake with apricot jam) but it also offers a highly recommended apple strudel. The café has an opulent atmosphere with red velvet chairs and old-fashioned lamps. The apple strudel here is served with whipped cream or vanilla sauce in generous portions.
Eventhotel Pyramide is a modern hotel located in South Vienna. It has a glass pyramid-shaped roof that gives it a unique look. The hotel has a restaurant that serves apple strudel with a thicker vanilla cream that is more like custard. The strudel here is also larger and more filling than the other places. The hotel is close to Shopping City Sued, a large shopping mall that offers a variety of stores and entertainment options.
Best Strudel in Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is the capital and largest city of Hungary, and a cultural and historical hub of Central Europe. The city is divided by the Danube River into two parts: Buda and Pest. Budapest is famous for its thermal baths, bridges, castles, museums, and cuisine. One of the most popular desserts in Budapest is strudel, or rétes in Hungarian. Here are some of the best places to try it.
Első Pesti Rétesház (The first Strudel House of Pest)
This cozy and charming café is located in a historic building that dates back to the 19th century. It is dedicated to preserving the Hungarian traditions of strudel making and serving. You can watch the strudel masters stretch the dough by hand and fill it with various ingredients in front of your eyes. You can also learn about the history and secrets of strudel making from the informative displays and videos.
The café offers a wide range of strudels, both sweet and savory. The most popular one is the apple strudel with vanilla cream, which is made with fresh apples, raisins, lemon zest, cinnamon, and rum. The pastry is flaky and buttery, and the filling is juicy and aromatic. The vanilla cream adds a smooth and creamy contrast to the crispiness of the strudel.
Normafa Rétes Büfé (Normafa Strudel Buffet)
This place is not a fancy café, but a simple buffet that sells strudels from a window. It is located at the top of Normafa Hill, a popular spot for hiking and skiing among locals. The buffet attracts many visitors who come to enjoy the fresh air and the stunning views of the city.
The buffet offers several flavors of strudels, but the most recommended ones are the sour cherry and plum strudels. They are made with fresh fruits that are tangy and sweet, and balance well with the sugary dough. The strudels are served warm and dusted with powdered sugar. You can also order a cup of hot chocolate or tea to go with your strudel.
This place is located in Judenplatz, a square that was once the center of Jewish life in Budapest. It is a small and cozy café that specializes in strudels. The owner, Hugo Klein, learned how to make strudels from his grandmother, who was a Holocaust survivor. He uses her original recipes and techniques to create authentic and delicious strudels.
The café offers both sweet and savory strudels, such as cheese, cabbage, poppy seed, walnut, apricot, cherry, and apple. Among them, the apple strudel is one of the best ones. It is made with fresh apples that are cooked with sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, and vanilla. The dough is thin and crispy, and the filling is soft and flavorful. The strudel is served with whipped cream or vanilla sauce.
Best Strudel in The Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe that boasts of rich history, culture, architecture, and natural beauty. The capital city of Prague is one of the most visited destinations in Europe, known for its stunning bridges, churches, castles, museums, and monuments. The Czech cuisine is hearty and satisfying, with dishes such as goulash, dumplings, roast pork, sausages, beer cheese, and kolache.
One of the most popular desserts in the Czech Republic is strudel or závin in Czech. It is similar to the Austrian version but usually has more filling than dough. Here are some of the best places to try it in Prague.
This hotel is located near Prague Castle and offers elegant rooms, restaurants, and spa facilities. It also has a café that serves a variety of cakes and pastries, including apple strudel. The strudel is not very impressive, but adequate. It has a thick and soft dough and a generous amount of apple filling with raisins and cinnamon. It is served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The café is not handicapped accessible, so you might want to avoid it if you have mobility issues.
Grand Hotel Pupp, Karlovy Vary
This hotel is located in Karlovy Vary, a spa town that is about a half-day trip from Prague. It is a luxurious and historic hotel that has hosted many celebrities and film festivals. It also has a café that serves exquisite cakes and pastries, including apple strudel.
Best Strudel in Munich, Germany
Munich is the capital of Bavaria, a region known for its rich culture, history, and cuisine. Besides the famous Oktoberfest, Munich also has many attractions and landmarks to explore, such as the Marienplatz, the English Garden, and the Nymphenburg Palace.
But if you are craving for some sweet indulgence, you should not miss the opportunity to try some of the best apple strudel in Munich. Here are some of the places where you can find it.
Schlosscafe im Palmenhaus
This elegant cafe is located inside a historic greenhouse in the Nymphenburg Palace gardens. It offers a delicious apple strudel that is freshly baked every day, along with other pastries and cakes. You can enjoy your dessert with a cup of coffee or tea, or a glass of wine or champagne.
The cafe also has an enjoyable outdoor seating area, where you can admire the beautiful views of the palace and the park. It is a perfect place to relax and savor the taste of apple strudel in a royal setting.
This traditional beer hall and restaurant is one of the oldest and most famous in Munich. It serves authentic Bavarian dishes and beer, as well as an amazing apple strudel with vanilla cream. The strudel is made with fresh apples and raisins, and has a flaky and buttery crust.
The restaurant also has a garden seating area, where you can enjoy your dessert under the shade of chestnut trees. It is a pleasant experience to eat apple strudel while listening to live music and watching people having fun.
This cozy and rustic restaurant is located in the heart of Munich’s old town. It offers a variety of Bavarian dishes, such as sausages, schnitzel, and roast pork. But if you are looking for something sweet, you should try their apple strudel with vanilla sauce. The strudel is moist and tender, and the sauce adds a creamy and smooth texture.
The restaurant also has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, where you can feel the warmth and hospitality of Bavaria. It is a great place to enjoy apple strudel with your family or friends.
Gaststätte “Zum Brünnstein”
This charming and quaint restaurant is located near the Viktualienmarkt, a famous food market in Munich. It offers a range of dishes, from salads and soups to meat and fish. But if you have a sweet tooth, you should not miss their delicious apple strudel. The strudel is served with your choice of ice cream, whipped cream, or fruit, making it even more decadent and satisfying.
The restaurant also has a lovely and cozy interior, where you can enjoy your dessert in a comfortable and relaxed setting. It is a wonderful place to treat yourself to some apple strudel after a day of shopping or sightseeing.
This modern and stylish restaurant is located in the Schwabing district, a trendy and lively area in Munich. It offers a fun and casual fine dining experience, with dishes that are creative and innovative. But if you are looking for something classic and traditional, you should try their apple strudel. It is one of the favorites among locals for its quality and taste.
The restaurant also has a chic and elegant ambiance, where you can enjoy your dessert with a glass of wine or champagne. It is a fabulous place to celebrate or impress someone with some apple strudel.
Central Europe has many delicious offerings when it comes to apple strudel. Whether you prefer it simple or fancy, plain or topped with cream or ice cream, you will surely find something that suits your taste buds.
I have personally tried some of these places and I can say that they are worth visiting. But don’t take my word for it; go ahead and explore them yourself. You will not regret indulging in the best apple strudel in Central Europe.
Hi, I’m Ben Holland. I love cooking, traveling, and spending time with my family! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes, travel tips, and stories about my adventures with my wife and kids.