Schnitzel, Spaetzle & Strudel

June 2016
Written By: 
Denise Mullen
Photographs by: 
Scott Smallin

Cafe Old Vienna ramps up the German soul food experience with a new alpine village location complete with a biergarten

Stepping up the om-pah, Cafe Old Vienna recently moved from its tiny strip-mall location to a new “alpine lodge” with a biergarten on Kings Highway at 16th Avenue North.

Confined to breakfast and lunch for more than 18 years, the cafe has expanded its German-Austrian service by swapping out mornings for a full dinner menu and adding select beer garden bites.

Traditional German fare appeals to the hearty appetite—heavy on meats, sausages, noodles and potatoes. In my humble opinion, German food is not the most exciting cuisine, so its culinary cornerstones have to be outstanding. And I’m here to say that Cafe Old Vienna hits the mark.

The braised red cabbage is sweet and sour and fresh. The German potato salad has that recognizable slick quality to it with vinegar, sugar and mustard. And the spaetzle follows old tradition with the signature thick, doughy noodles that come plain or with gravy.

No self-respecting Teutonic eatery would forego the pounded and breaded schnitzel, and Cafe Old Vienna offers up 11 specialty versions, including almond and parmesan coatings on veal, pork and chicken.

The pork Jaeger-Schnitzel is smothered in mushroom gravy. Zigeuner-Schnitzel comes with sautéed bell peppers and tomato sauce and the Farmer’s Schnitzel is a mash-up of brown gravy and capers, topped with a sunny-side-up egg.

There’s plenty of knackwurst, bratwurst and sauerkraut, plus the German-specific Weiss-Wurst (boiled veal sausage). Not to mention plates of bone-in, grilled pork shanks.

Borrowing popular dishes from neighboring countries of Central Europe, Cafe Old Vienna also serves a candle-lit kettle of Gulasch—a Hungarian beef stew laced with paprikash—and potato-stuffed Polish pierogies.

Even though I was staring down an “Adkins nightmare” on a plate, the pierogies and potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce were worth every carb violation to my diet.

Besides, I did eat every morsel of the house salad that came with my meal. And Cafe Old Vienna’s honey vinaigrette dressing is one of the best I’ve ever tasted.

Customers could not leave hungry from here. Portions are substantial, especially at dinner. Entrée prices range from $16.95 for a Knackwurst or Bratwurst plate with sauerkraut and home fries to $38.95 for the German Feast for Two, a combo platter of pork wiener schnitzel, sausages, red cabbage and salad.

It’s something of a local mystery why more Myrtle Beach restaurants do not have al fresco dining, so Cafe Old Vienna’s addition of a biergarten was a brilliant business move. Like the inside, it’s a cozy space with friendly baskets of flowers and shaded seating for summer comfort.

The beer garden menu is limited to small plates, but you can still enjoy calamari, grilled pork belly with a pretzel and garlic sauce, chicken tenders, escargot, schnitzel and bratwurst bites, a sausage sampler and potato pancakes. You’ll pay $7.95 for the calamari or pancakes and up to $12.95 for the sausage sampler (weisswurst, bratwurst and knackwurst) with a pretzel.

But there’s nothing shy about cocktails, wine and beer out on the deck. German-Austrian draughts on tap include Paulaner Hefeweizen wheat, Spaten and Hirter Dark lagers, Reissdorf Kolsch from Cologne, Hirter Pils pilsner and Germany’s “Queen of Beers,” the Warsteiner lager.

Desserts are as popular as schnitzels are here. The line-up of sweets change daily, but I’m convinced that a riot would break out if the apple strudel served warm with vanilla ice cream ever went by the wayside.

Besides the apple strudel, the fan base also lusts after Cafe Old Vienna’s Napoleon puff pastry filled with vanilla and almond cream, the lemon cake with butter cream icing and a triple chocolate cake.

Owners Werner and Martini Horvath make it their mission to give patrons the “Gemütlichkeit” (warmth, friendliness and good cheer) experience and a true taste of traditional German soul food.

Come hungry and ready to get your polka on!

Cafe Old Vienna

1604 N. Kings Highway

Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

(843) 946-6252

Hours: Opens at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday