A Vegetarian Guide to Tirol
Vegetarian, flexitarian – or just fancy something different? Eating out in Tirol doesn't have to be a meat-fest. Throughout the region there are plenty of huts, guesthouses and restaurants with a wide range of vegetarian dishes prepared using local organic produce. Here is our guide to meat-free dining in Tirol.
Down in the valley
Oniriq | Innsbruck
The clue’s in the name at Oniriq, which comes from the French word for „dream“. Here culinary dreams really do come true – vegetarian ones in particular. The basic seven-course tasting menu is 100% vegetarian, though fish and meat elements can be added on request. Head chef Christoph Bickel is a devotee of the nova regio style of cooking made famous by the world-renowned Noma in Copenhagen. That means you won’t find any South American pineapples or other exotic ingredients on the menu. Instead, Oniriq is all about local produce and traditional cooking with a modern twist. „Tiroler Gröstl“, a classic Tirolean dish, is served as a poached quail’s egg with fried onion mayonnaise on a bed of raw grated potato. There are also plenty of pickled and preserved delights on the menu, including some unusual ones such as dandelion heads and spruce shoots in oil. Located in the heart of Innsbruck’s oldtown, Oniriq is a good place to enjoy an authentic taste of Tirol whatever the season. Spring, summer, autumn and winter all taste different – and delicious – at Oniriq.
Vegetarian dreams come true at Oniriq in Innsbruck.
Classic Tirolean dishes are reinterpreted using seasonal and regional produce.
Up in the mountains
Nördlinger Hütte | Reith bei Seefeld | Karwendel Mountains
Tobias, the man in charge of affairs at the Nördlinger Hütte near Reith bei Seefeld, is a big fan of vegetarian food. However, that’s not the reason his hut has specialised in meat-free fare. At 2,238 metres above sea level the Nördlinger Hütte enjoys a beautiful but remote location in the Karwendel Nature Park. Up here in the mountains electricity and water are scarce. That makes it difficult to run fridges and the like needed to keep meat fresh for several days. As a result the only animal-based products you will find on the menu are things like ham and dried bacon, which can be kept for long periods of time without refrigeration. Before taking over the Nördlinger Hütte Tobias trained as a chef and worked for famous names such as Christian Jürgens at the three-star Überfahrt restaurant on the shores of Tegernsee lake in Bavaria. Specialties at his hut include „Kräuterschöberlsuppe“, a hearty soup with handmade croutons and alpine herbs. Oh, by the way, don’t forget to leave space for dessert – the Nördlinger Hütte serves five different varitities of the Austrian classic „Kaiserschmarrn“, including a chocolate and a strawberries-and-rhubarb option. As tradition dictates, each is flambéd in the pan with a generous dash of rum.
Chopped pancake dusted with icing sugar and served with apple sauce – traditional „Kaiserschmarren“ at the Nördlinger Hütte.
Cheese platter at the Nördlinger Hütte hut.
Glungezerhütte | Tulfes | Tux Alps
Italy meets Nepal at the Glungezerhütte! Perched at 2,610 metres above sea level, this mountain hut in the Tux Alps has its own unique twist on „fusion cooking“. Favourites on the menu include a spicy-sauced and vegetable-based Spaghetti Kathmandu, made according to a secret recipe belonging to Sherpa Purba, as well as a warming Nepalese lentil soup. The Asian influence in the heart of Tirol is a result of a project run by the charity NepalHilfe Tirol which sees Sherpas from Nepal come to Tirol in summer to work for the season and earn money. One of the huts which takes part in this almost 20-year-old initiative is the Glungezerhütte. Over the years the Sherpas have brought with them many of their own vegetarian recipes, which often end up on the menu – a pleasant change for vegetarian hikers bored of cheese dumplings. But if you do fancy cheese dumplings, the Glungezerhütte has those on the menu too – served, as Tirolean tradition dictates, in a steaming broth.
Aldranser Alm | Aldrans | Tux Alps
Cheese dumplings, spinach dumplings, „Kasspatzn“ and „Kaiserschmarrn“ – the Aldranser Alm serves all the classics familiar to vegetarians in Tirol. Each day it also has a vegetarian special such as „Zillertaler Krapfen“ filled with tangy cheese and potatoes. Cheese-lovers will appreciate the goat’s cheese dishes made using milk given by the goats kept at the hut. One of the favourites is the delicious „Ziegen Caprese“ with tomatoes and edlerflower-infused balsamico vinegar. We also recommend the goat’s cheese burger with grilled vegetables and red onion relish. The hut is easy to reach on foot from Innsbruck – it takes around one and a half hours to walk up from the city. This makes it the perfect place for an after-work stroll or an early morning ramble, especially since the hut serves a hearty breakfast complete with homemade bread, homemade jam and fabulous views of Innsbruck and the Nordkette Mountains.
A vegetarian work of art at the Aldranser Alm.
Lucknerhütte, Kals am Großglockner | Glockner Mountains
Tucked away at the foot of the Großglockner, Austria’s highest mountain, is the Lucknerhütte. This mountain hut located at the end of the Ködnitztal Valley has been recently renovated – and the food is just as fresh and innovative as the building itself. There are vegetarian specials each day plus a good selection of meat-free dishes on the main menu. Favourites include vegan baked potato with root vegetables, artichokes, almonds and salad as well as the classic spinach dumplings served with either melted butter or gorgonzola sauce. The hut is run by the Oberlohr family, who have their own farm (Lucknerhof) and another mountain hut (Luckneralm) with organic farming in summer. This provides much of the produce served at the Lucknerhütte. Don’t forget to leave space for dessert – the homemade blueberry cake is legendary.
At the foot of the mighty Großglockner …
… the mountain lentil soup tastes even better!
From arrival to departure
Theresa Wellness Hotel, Zell am Ziller
The Theresa Wellness Hotel has long been a pioneer in Tirol’s spa and beauty scene. Its wellbeing philosophy also stretches to the kitchen, where head chef Stefan Egger uses regional and seasonal produce wherever possible. „Buy local – or don’t but it at all“ is his motto. Despite the constraints this implies, the hotel restaurant has developed a reputation for fine dining, in particular when it comes to vegetarian cooking. Fennel lasagne, filled turnip and even alpine sushi can be found on the menu, with the latter made using rice from Lower Austria or polenta from Styria rolled in red cabbage or savoy cabbage. The hotel has been awarded the „AMA Gastrosiegel“ in recognition of its commitment to transparency on its ingredients and their origins. We definitely recommend the local honey, which comes from the hotel’s own beehive!
Fennel lasagne, filled turnip and even alpine sushi are on the menu at the Theresa Wellness Hotel.
Hotel Pension Tyrol, Mösern Seefeld
„Just leave whatever you can’t eat,“ is a phrase sadly familiar to people with special dietary requirements – including Conny Wolters, manager of the Hotel Tyrol in Mösern. A vegetarian herself, she was determined to make vegetarian and vegan cooking more than a mere afterthought when developing a new concept for the hotel restaurant. Each day there is a new vegan option such as soya roll and quinoa biscuits. Particular attention has been paid at the Hotel Tyrol to breakfast, which is often a challenge for vegans. Early-morning options include a chickpea omlette, a vegan „Kaiserschmarrn“ and a selection of homemade spreads made from mung beans and tofu.
Vegan cheesecake at the Hotel Tyrol.
Naturhotel Outside – Gourmetrestaurant Inside, Matrei
Inside may not be a 100% vegetarian and vegan restaurant, but the Naturhotel Outside operates on the principles of seasonality, regionality and sustainability. That means the head chef is a proponent of the nose-to-tail school of cooking – every single part of the animal is used, with nothing going to waste. There are also plenty of vegan and vegetarian options on the menu, again based on the philosophy of „buy local“. For example, the bread is made using an ancient variety of wheat from East Tirol. Verena Ganzer, the daughter of the hotel owners, took over the running of the kitchen two years ago and was recently awarded two Forks by the renowned Falstaff restaurant guide, which heaped praise on the 25 year-old’s fusion of Mediterranean and Alpine flavours and her vegetarian dishes in particular. The Ganzer family are keen to support the local economy and welcome not only tourists but also locals to their restaurant – a concept which has been so successful that we recommend booking in advance!
Regional, seasonal, sustainable. The holy trinity of cooking at the Inside restaurant.
Bonus tip: Guatz’Essen, Stumm im Zillertal
Peter Fankhauser has launched his own mini revolution in the Zillertal Valley. His restaurant, Guatz’Essen, serves only vegetarian and vegan dishes – nothing special in London or Berlin, but a radical idea in meat-loving Tirol. We visited him in his restaurant and permaculture garden to find out more. Click here for the full story on Guatz’Essen.