A holiday region’s image is at the end of the day determined by the quality of its cuisine. So, let’s first of all take a look at dishes bearing the label Typisch Tirol, which means that the food is always based on Austrian cuisine. Dumplings come in all variations, from bacon and spicy cheese to apricot or plum, and these round delicacies tickle the taste buds. Meat dishes include lamb, offal (Tyrolean liver, heart and lungs) and some oddities. You’ll also find, of course, Wiener Schnitzel, roast beef and boiled beef on the menu, as well as locally sourced trout or char. Very many restaurants and inns, whatever their main culinary focus, are committed to the use of regional foods which, thanks to organisations such as "Agrarmarketing Tirol", are also available for quality-certified restaurants. The certainty of knowing how and where the food you eat has been produced is very much part of the latest international culinary trend.

In Innsbruck there are lots of restaurants that belong to the Verein Tiroler Wirtshauskultur (Inn Culture Association). These include Gault Millau award winning restaurants such as the traditional restaurant Riese Haymon or the country inn Zum Wilden Mann in Lans. The Weisses Rössl, the Isserwirt in Lans and the Arzler Alm are also members of this association. You can also enjoy traditional and fine dining in award-winning restaurants such as the Schöneck, a charming old residence, the Sacher café-restaurant in Innsbruck’s Old Town, the Europastüberl or the Schwarzer Adler and Goldener Adler, two culinarily inspired traditional restaurants.

It’s important to emphasise that traditionalists spice up Tyrolean cuisine mainly with an eye to modern culinary sensibilities: light and digestible, using the best regional ingredients, often vegetarian. And that top restaurants with an international focus may also have their own take on regional cuisine. Such as the Sitzwohl restaurant, a Gault Millau award winner, the Lichtblick on top of the Town Hall Galleries with stunning panoramic views of Innsbruck, and Das Schindler.

With views of the mountains and restaurants serving dishes from all over the world, the Innsbruck gastro scene is as international as its guests, its aficionados and the people who live here. The proximity to Italy, only a 20-minute drive away, can be seen on many menus. Il Convento, an architectural jewel whose premises reflect the skilful symbiosis of old municipal history and contemporary architecture, exudes a hint of the italianità. And Die Pizzerei, which serves much more than just pizzas, the Sapori and La Cantina all invite you to enjoy an "intermezzo italiano".

If you’re looking to discover the secrets of sushi or Japanese or Chinese cooking, you can dine in the Sensei or the Bonsai in a fine ambience, or enjoy Lucy Wang's fusion cuisine with a Chinese-French twist. Innsbruck can do Thai as well as Indian, Chinese or Nepalese food. The often vegetarian dishes of Asian cuisine combine the desire for a meat-free diet with the lightness that’s part of the modern lifestyle. Thai Li Ba, Thai Li, Noi, Jaipur and Himal are some of the restaurants that serve delightful Asian food.

The extended breakfast is another culinary trend which is finding more and more devotees in Innsbruck. You’ll come across them in one of the numerous coffee houses that are open from early in the morning: in the traditional Café Central, the Café Katzung under the arcades in the Old Town and in the strudel café Kröll, from where the delicious aromas of every sort of strudel drift from 6 o'clock in the morning. Or they start the day with an extensive brunch, which is served in the Breakfast Club Innsbruck, the Immerland in Wilten (on weekends) and the Tapabar on the market place, to name but a few. In the summer months you can take the chair lift up to the Nordkette for a jazz brunch with live music and marvel at the harmony of city and mountain at a height of 2,000 metres. This is what makes Innsbruck unique.

Casual dining is a culinary trend which is popular in the university town of Innsbruck, which is no surprise given that there are so many young students here. For example, Ludwig, the fine burger restaurant, always uses perfectly prepared regional ingredients. The concept of freshly prepared takeaways, catering for the modern city lifestyle, is finding more and more interesting interpreters in Innsbruck. This includes the Kostbar that conjures up fresh homemade delicacies every day to eat in or take away. Despite the violent sounding name, Machete - Burrito Kartell is very quiet and relaxed restaurant in the city centre. The main focus is on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients for the delicious fillings of the burritos (wheat flour tortillas), which are also available to take away.

Oscar cooks. The name is the programme in this living room-like restaurant located in the Pradl district. There’s room for just eight people here, but they’ll be served a delightful lunch (no need to book) or in the evening can indulge in a culinary treat created by Oscar. He likes Mediterranean cuisine using regional and, where possible, organic and Fair Trade produce as his basic ingredients. Sharing is more is the fresh and imaginative concept implemented by the creative team running Gang & Gebe. The small dishes - "Tyrol meets the (culinary) world" - are intended to whet your appetite to sample a variety of dishes, the lemonades are homemade and the cocktails are served with small complementary "side dishes". Opposite in the café/bar Kater Noster is where people meet up in a relaxed atmosphere for coffee, drinks and, time and time again, Sunday brunch.

There are now lots of restaurants which serve at least one vegetarian and often one vegan dish. But the typical Tyrolean cuisine of dumplings and every sort of strudel still works even with no meat. The Olive, which has been serving delicious creations for years in a relaxed atmosphere, is well-known for its vegetarian and vegan "soul food". The chef at Chez Nico, a tiny little restaurant in the heart of the city, made a real name for himself creating dishes of the highest standards. Its successor is Christoph Bickel’s Oniriq restaurant which maintains the vegetarian concept but will supplement the 7-course dinner, served from 6 pm, with meat and fish courses on request.

Vegetarians - but others too - can also enjoy excellent food in Innsbruck’s market hall. Soultans has Arabian delicacies (also vegan) on the menu. Fish Peer serves fish delicacies from all over the world in its conservatory. At Da Raffaele and Achleitners the noodle maker it’s all about "pasta pure and simple", and Der Franzose welcomes you with a hearty "Bonjour” and serves bistro specialties and cheese.

We’ve already mentioned coffee houses. Here’s a little tip: people meet up in coffee houses from early morning till late in the evening. The various coffee options, sweet temptations in the form of flans and cakes, small snacks, a glass of wine to round off the day and of course - even for digital natives - newspapers and magazines all conspire to make a visit to a café a must when strolling around the city. Especially if there’s something of interest to look at in the street café.

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Photos, 300 dpi


The restaurant Schöneck.

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Gastronomy

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