Hidden inside the charming, family-owned ski and spa resort of Burg Vital is one of Austria’s most creative wellness and whole foods-focused chefs.
Thorsten Probost, veteran of the hotel’s fine dining room and two Michelin-starred Griggeler Stuba, was foraging long before “new Nordic” cuisine asserted its domain. He spends several hours a day in the summer collecting herbs for medicinal teas and berries and mushrooms for his dining room.
His menu is radically seasonal. No strawberries in winter, for example. Guests at the hotel can register for a half board (breakfast and dinner) or full board (all three meals) and can discuss their health goals when they arrive.
Probost claims many of his clients who suffered from gluten or lactose intolerance back home, often discover they can eat those very products at Burg Viltal. The reason, he says, is because of the quality of product they use. All breads and pasta are produced from ancient grains that have evaded mass industrialization. Unpasteurized raw milk and dairy products come from local cows who spend summers grazing nearby fields.
The bulk of remaining ingredients are sourced from eight local farms and artisans, for dishes like this breakfast soup.
Griggeler Stuba serves Herbs in Eggs with local mushrooms and tomatoes.
Award-winning Griggeler Stuba presents beautifully plated local trout.
The wine program is almost as impressive, selections representative of the family’s deep love of Austrian and European fine wine.
Find Burg Vital in picturesque Lech in the province of Vorarlberg.
Historically, mountain families produced their own food to survive the difficult winters, including the distillation of schnapps. One of the original Walser settlements in Voralberg still stands outside of Lech.
Comprised of a church, a few outhouses and a little farmhouse, hikers can reach Bürstegg in two hours.
Aside from marveling at the views and its historical significance, visitors will meet the last remaining resident. She, who lives by the light of a single electric bulb, holds the only local license to forage the protected Gentian root.
With it, she makes schnapps in the tradition of her predecessors.
And hikers travel from nearby countries to sample and buy bottles from her directly.
Founded in 1912 for local alpinists, Ravensburger Hutte serves hot, classic dishes to hikers from all over the world.
While the food doesn’t live up to the quality found at others on this list, the accessible location above stunning Spullersee Lake makes it a worthwhile afternoon stop.
To experienced Austrians, the path is considered of moderate intensity, but it does get steep in some parts.
During the summer, the hiking bus departs downtown Lech to stop at Spullersee every two hours. Either make the round-trip loop to the hut for lunch in that timeframe or else start hiking back into town. A journey, by the way, many people do.
Dishes at the hut include a gooey, rich käse spatzle.
Ravensburger Hutte is cash only and nobody speaks English.
When Lech was settled, its new inhabitants assigned buildings a postal number in order of construction. So, Hûs Nr. 8, or House Number 8, was literally the eighth building erected. Today, it’s the last original structure still standing downtown.
A classic restaurant occupies the interior and serves hearty Austrian fare like fondues and schnitzel.
Try one of the best apple strudels in town at Hûs Nr. 8.
During summer months, guests can enjoy the patio and imagine life in the valley 400 years ago. A hiker’s boot repurposed as a flower planter is oh-so-Austrian.
A charming restaurant, Gasthaus Bodenalpe sits nestled at the bottom of a mountain about two miles outside of town.
Only open in the summers, it was initially a hut for processing cow milk as the herd grazed nearby during summer.
Like many “alpes” nowadays, the owner converted it into a popular seasonal dining destination. Its location makes for a perfect stop after hiking down from Bürstegg.
The proprietor has earned a well-deserved reputation for his grilled meats, especially the sausages he orders custom from the local butcher.
The rest of the menu consists of typical dishes like pancake soup, and charcuterie and cheeses made either in-house or from local sources.
Inside the low-slung wooden interior, paraphernalia from the family’s sporting years adorn the walls -- a reminder of the region’s skiing pedigree.
Weisses Rössl is one of the oldest restaurants of Innsbruck dating back to 1509. The property also functions as a boutique hotel with cozy rooms and a ground floor wine bar and coffee shop.
While the restaurant attracts visitors with its traditional interior and historical significance, the upmarket wine bar in the underground cellar proves popular with young, hip locals. And unusual for a city just discovering third wave coffee, the owner of the hotel installed a Slayer espresso machine in his newly minted café.
Weisses Rössl serves traditional Schnitzel with lemon.
Weisses Rössl is definitely a one-stop address for food, drinks and lodging in Innsbruck.
The street level garden and English menu of the Ottoburg restaurant doesn’t appear to offer much differentiation from the rest of Innsbruck’s tourist spots...
But step through the wooden doorframe, climb up the narrow staircase to the top floors, and you’ll be transported hundreds of years back in time.
Elegant, traditional décor of hand-hewn wood ceilings and chairs, and antique tables topped in checkered tablecloths and candlesticks, creates a romantic ambience at dinner.
Try veal goulash with dumplings or another ubiquitous but delicious schnitzel with potatoes, and pair with a reasonably priced bottle of Austrian wine.
Restaurant Ottoburg presents trout with potatoes and creamed spinach.
Ottoburg offers a view over the streets of Innsbruck.
On Hofgasse Street in Innsbruck, Tirol Geniessen lures in passerby from the street with its rainbow display of backlit bottles. The locally produced brandies, fruit syrups, liqueurs and schnapps make pretty – and tasty – gifts.
James Bond fans will immediately recognize this trio of glass cubes atop a snowy mountain in Austria. . In Daniel Craig’s 'Spectre', ice Q’s contemporary architecture provided the setting for a futuristic clinic and fast-paced chase scenes. In reality, ice Q’s premise isn’t so far removed from the movie.
Engineers had to carefully analyze the factors in building a restaurant and wine cellar on permafrost 3,000 meters above sea level. To the casual observer, the building is undoubtedly a marvel. But once inside, the food and wine tend to steal the show.
Ice Q is home to a fascinating project called Pino 3000, a Pinot Noir winemaking collaboration between three top winegrowers in neighboring countries.
Austria’s native son Paul Achs represents from Gols. The concept: observe how wine ages at high altitude.
To that effect, they age one barrel on the mountaintop.
Retail quantities are limited but guests can buy a bottle at the restaurant or down in the valley at its related 5-star hotel Das Central.
Chef Patrick Schnedl from Das Central prepares the menu at ice Q which consists of reimagined classics, like this pancake soup.
From schnitzel to a modern spin on pancake soup to local trout, all perfectly complement the incredible wine cellar.
Beef tartar is served with egg and a side salad at ice Q.
The chef treats dessert at ice Q with the same reverence with which he imbues main dishes. An elegant quenelle of berry sorbet sits next to a shimmering globe that evokes the snowscape outside. Underneath, a crisp woven of chocolate and nuts comes studded with fresh fruit.
Access the restaurant for lunch only via the gondola system.
Hikers, bikers and winter skiers can reach nearly 100 huts throughout the Ötztal Valley, and Gampe Thaya is one of the best.
Owners Daniela and Jakob Prantl produce cheese, butter and beef from their herd of gray cows, plus jams and foraged teas from local herbs and wildflowers.
Everything is made, preserved, cooked and served in a cozy chalet decorated with awards, vintage photos and oversized cow bells.
In 2014, Gampe Thaya was designated a “Genuss Hütte” for its commitment to high-quality, farm-based food products. It is also recognized as a Slow Food destination.
The menu is overwhelming. Plan to stay awhile and tuck into a few things. Dishes to try include beef carpaccio, the Tyrolean speck and homemade cheese platter, dumplings with sausage, and apple doughnuts.
Kaiserschmarren, a dessert, arrives hot in a pan heaped with chopped fried pancake dusted in powdered sugar, served with a pot of homemade cranberry jam. If it feels too decadent, just hike down the valley after lunch.