Tirol’s top restaurants are well-known among connoisseurs, so there’s little point in me recommending places like Martin Sieberer’s ‘Trofanastube’; ‘Alexander’ by Alexander Fankhauser; and the ‘Rosengarten’ by Simon Tasacher, all of which promise an unforgettable experience with every visit.
Instead, I’m going to suggest some of my absolute favourite Tirol eateries – special places which are full of charm, serve excellent food and hold strong associations with the region; the sort of rare finds which you can’t wait to tell your friends about because, alongside great food, they’re truly unique.
For more than 10 years, one of my favourite local restaurants has been the Strumerhof in Matrei, East Tirol. Here, owner Anna Holzer creates local mountain food from her kitchen garden and carbon-neutral farm. Wild herbs from the region feature strongly in the magical dishes she conjures up, which are so tasty they border on witchcraft. For me, her lamb in Heumantel (hay) is one of the best things to ever come out of an oven. A simple atmosphere and very reasonable prices add to the appeal and, if you’re lucky enough to chat with Anna while you’re here, you’ll be completely bowled over.
In Kitzbühel, Winkler brothers Christian and Markus have created an inspiring concept in their new restaurant, Schwedenkapelle. Serving fine Tirol cuisine in the casual atmosphere of a quaint inn, it’s quite different from ‘Schindlhaus’ – the brothers’ Michelin-starred restaurant in Söll. At Schwedenkapelle, the Winklers impress with refined, regional cuisine and, despite the very rustic interior (which, personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of), the relaxed atmosphere, super food and easy-going staff won me over – we need more places like this!
For many years, one of my favourite addresses in the Tirol’s Oberland has been the Gasthaus Gemse in Zams, near Landeck. I never fail to be impressed by the beautiful décor, historic interior and attentive service, which starts with a fresh bottle of water at your table before you’ve even sat down. The game dishes and roast meats are particularly good. A simple village inn near the church, it always amazes me how the Haueis family have created such an exquisite eatery here.
When I visit the Zillertal Valley, Gasthof Linde is somewhere I return to time and again. This beautiful old Ansitz (hunting lodge) has impressive rooms and a refined kitchen with strong regional influences. The Linde has one of the Zillertal’s finest gardens and, located in Stumm, occupies the area of the Zillertal Valley which I find the most beautiful. The atmosphere here isn’t quite as relaxed as I’d like in a guest house but the kitchen more than makes up for it. And if you’d prefer somewhere a little simpler, I’d recommend the excellent Gasthof Nester, just opposite – home to two culinary triumphs, this village square in Stumm is quite something.
In Innsbruck, I’m very fond of Gasthaus Anich in the Anichstrasse district – a proper old-fashioned inn in the middle of the city. Offering excellent value for money, there’s nowhere else quite like it. Expect traditional, hearty dishes washed down with cloudy beer from a local brewery. Unfortunately, the most beautiful and atmospheric wood-panelled room is in the smoking area, and the non-smoking areas don’t quite manage to capture the same mood. So bring your best cigar!
The best way to arrive at Gasthaus Adler in Hinterhornbach, Lech Valley, is by cycling along the banks of the River Lech before branching off into this small and secluded valley – in my opinion, this is the most beautiful bike path in Tirol, but that’s another story. The guesthouse offers very simple but delicious local cuisine which, when combined with its beautiful location and the warm welcome extended by its owners, makes it well worth a visit. If you’re lucky enough to get the venison, expect to arrive in culinary heaven.
Next, I’d like to recommend two very simple but excellent restaurants near Innsbruck: at Gasthaus Koreth in the Muehlau district on the outskirts of Innsbruck, the food is refined and reliably good; and near Absam (just east of Innsbruck), located right next to the church, is the very traditional and simple Gasthaus Kirchenwirt, where high-quality cuisine is served in a village inn atmosphere – I particularly love the Schnitzel.
Gasthof Bretze promises a particularly atmospheric experience. Fine cuisine is served in this indescribably beautiful medieval town house, which is complete with finely furnished rooms and pictures of famous Tirol Artists – a must for art lovers. The service is somewhat unconventional but nonetheless very good.
Tip: Double-check the opening times before you visit.
A fantastic discovery, the Gasthaus Herrenhaus in Brixlegg is not only impressive from the outside, but the rooms inside are real gems. The upscale country cuisine of this former hunting lodge is excellent and the service couldn’t be more attentive.
With so many more Tirol secrets yet be revealed, I’d love hear your recommendations and comments on the region’s best eateries.