Austria is famed for its pastries, dumplings, and hearty meat-filled dishes – just what you need after a building up an appetite in the mountains.
Mayrhofen may not be a huge resort, but it definitely offers a fantastic array of restaurants providing hale and hearty meals. Having been to Mayrhofen three times now, I have had plenty of time to ‘research’ the best restaurants in town, so here are the first three of my top five…
1. Ländenhof Hotel
This lovely hotel is nestled in the trees a short distance from the main strip of Mayrhofen. The wood panelling and cheerful staff make it a cosy and comfortable place to dine in, both in summer and winter. Menus are available in English, so if you’re not wised up to the local lingo, this can be a handy feature.
The food served is quite traditional and it comes in typically generous portions. Highlights include a mountain trout I had in the summer, which was served whole and with the skin on. It was incredible, and the flesh melted in your mouth, aided by the silky butter sauce that was poured on top. Even writing this now is making my mouth water.
Other notable mentions are the ‘mixed meat pan’, which turned out to be a filling stew made up of various gamey meats and severed with dumplings. Schnitzels also come in a ‘grosse’ size upon request. I made the mistake of doing this (eyes too big for my belly) and I was a little ashamed when the biggest plateful of food I had ever seen turned up. At least I didn’t go hungry…
If you’re feeling a little less adventurous, the pasta dishes are also phenomenal.
This hotel also has, in my humble opinion, the BEST salad bar in town. There are various leafy, green things that you would expect to find, but there are also egg salads, potato salads, seeds, olives and more oils and vinegars than you could shake a stick at. What more could you want?
Note: the hotel is pretty big, so you can get away with not booking.
(P.S. Look out for ‘Elvis’!)
2. Wirtshaus Griena
This restaurant is visited by all the people in the know. It’s hidden away in the residential part of Mayrhofen, and its claim to fame is that it is the oldest building in Mayrhofen (and, possibly, in the Zillertal region).
After walking down a long, dark road past some cow sheds, you stumble upon this traditional wooden chalet with welcoming warm light spilling out of the windows. It looks more like a home than a restaurant, but you have definitely come to the right place.
Everything in the building is made of warm, solid wood. Some of the rooms have old bunk beds arranged in them, with a few bits of ‘washing’ hanging up to create the impression that you are in an old mountain hut. Everyone is seated at sturdy wooden tables that promise not to bow under the vast quantities of food you will be served. If you come in a small group or a couple, at busy times you may be seated with other people. This creates a lively, communal feeling when the restaurant is full.
Waiting staff are efficient and friendly (although beware if one of them produces a deck of cards…) and they’re happy to have a laugh with you.
In terms of the menu, you can’t go wrong if you opt for the ‘chef recommends’. All of the food is very traditionally Austrian – there is lots of meat, and lots of dumplings, and all of it is very, very good. The game pan is fantastic and gives you a good meaty hug. The beef goulash stew is one of my favourites, served with chunky bread dumplings.
If you’re a pudding person, go for the blueberry pancakes. These are best shared, but are ultimately the best thing ever. The pancakes are thicker than the ones here in the UK, and they are smothered in layers upon layers of warm blueberries. If you are planning on this course of action, make sure you wear clothing that can be comfortably expanded in to.
Note: if you’re here in peak season, I would recommend popping in and booking in advance.
3. Wald Cafe
Wald Cafe must be run by the nicest man in Mayrhofen. Martin instantly puts you at ease and he speaks absolutely outstanding English. If you’re ever in town, you’re missing a trick if you don’t indulge in a meal here.
The interior of this restaurant is warm, cosy and friendly. It’s also packed a lot of the time and, if you pop along on a Sunday, many of the locals come here in their traditional dress to eat. All good signs!
In summer, there is a special ‘hunting’ menu. If you’re adventurous, this is definitely worth a try. The menu consists of anything that the hunters have brought back, so you could tuck in to anything from goat to deer. The menu is firmly in German, so if you can’t read it, you just have to bite the bullet and pick something, although the staff do their best to translate. My boyfriend and I opted for this attack in the summer, and I think we ended up with a delicious goat stew with juniper berries. Worth the risk!
There is also a great dish akin to a käserspatzle, which consists of cheese, bacon, potatoes and onion. It’s simple, filling and just plain yummy.
For the less adventurous, I heartily recommend the ‘cordon bleu’ schnitzel. This is basically a bread-crumbed pork escalope stuffed with bacon and cheese. Pork overkill? NEVER.
The apfel strudel with ‘vanilla cream’ (aka custard) is to die for here. If you’ve got room, you should try it.
Be prepared to share a schnapps with Martin at the end of the meal. He likes to do this for every customer, so ready yourself to get it down the hatch in one!
Note: Wald cafe is pretty big, and Martin bent over backwards last time I was there to get my friends and I seated, but it is probably a good idea to book in advance.
I shall post the last two places in my top five tomorrow !