The gastronomic scene of Austria's westernmost provinces is as varied as its landscape: first-rate gourmet restaurants, traditional inns, rustic local taverns, as well as international chains and ethnic cuisine are all part of the mix. In small towns throughout the region restaurants are often the dining rooms of country inns, and there are plenty of these. Austria used to have a reputation for substantial but stereotypical dishes of meat, dumplings and sauerkraut, but things have changed considerably. Gourmet meals are available at many wonderful restaurants, often at much more reasonable prices than is typical of Europe’s high-class dining scene. That said, in many villages you’ll find inns catering largely to local farm workers, where the old favorites are still the order of the day—prepare to be filled rather than thrilled.
Most hotel restaurants will be closed in the off-season, usually November and April. In ski season breakfast is typically served early enough for you to hit the slopes in good time, and dinner is timed so that exhausted skiers can get an early night in preparation for the next day.
Restaurants range from grand-hotel dining salons to little Wirtshäuser, rustic restaurants where you can enjoy hearty local specialties such as Tyroler Gröstl (a skillet dish made of ham or pork, potatoes, and onions, with caraway seeds, paprika and parsley), Knödel (dumpling) soup, or Schweinsbraten (roast pork with sauerkraut), while sitting on highly polished (and rather hard) wooden seats. Don't forget to enjoy some of the fine Innsbruck coffeehouses, famous for their scrumptious cakes and cappuccino.