People eat differently in the mountains. The fresh air, the natural ingredients, and need to re-fuel after a day outdoors result in a simple, hearty menu. Here are our picks for the top 5 traditional dishes in the Arlberg and where to try them.
Vorarlberg mountain cheese from the surroundings of the Arlberg is famous around the world. Its strong, tangy flavour makes it a great ingredient for Käsespätzle - a dish made from soft egg noodles and cheese. Think of it as an Alpine mac and cheese with an extra dose of warming heartiness.
Try it at Restaurant Fuxbau in Stuben am Arlberg. They serve its as a “snack” between 2pm and 5pm. The restaurant, which is run by a team of young, enthusiastic locals, has quickly found critical acclaim.
What do you crave after a morning of energetic hiking or skiing in the Alps? Lots of flavourful cured meats, fragrant cheeses, and a rustic dark bread to go along with it. This is known as a “Brettljause,” which literally translates to “snack on a board,” thanks to the simple way it's served. Look out for traditional Tirolean speck, which is a staple of any Brettljause in the Arlberg region.
Try it at the Sennhütte in St. Anton am Arlberg. You can reach this traditional mountain hut by car and take a leisurely stroll on a walking path that guides you past different local herbs.
Tossing potatoes and bacon into a pan and roasting them along with some onion and spices is not the pinnacle of haute cuisine, but it’s all you’re going to want to eat in the Arlberg. Gröstl, the dish that farmers would traditionally whip together from yesterday’s leftovers, is perfect for a cozy dinner, or even a lunch at a mountain hut.
Try it at the Bodenalpe in Lech, a 400 year-old traditional hut with a reputation for great local food. You can reach the family-run Bodenalpe on a hike in the summertime, or by car during all seasons.
Most of the Arlberg’s flavors come from a simple diet of mountain farmers. This dish in particular is an example of no-frills home cooking: it’s corn and wheat semolina, cooked with milk and salt, to make a polenta-like, fluffy dough. The few, high-quality ingredients make Riebel feel typically Alpine and like a labor of love.
Try it at Restaurant s’Achtele in Lech am Arlberg. There, it’s prepared in the classic sweet version, with sugar and apple sauce.
5) Knödel Dumplings
Knödel are one of the most quintessentially Austrian dishes. You could almost call them a food group, since there are so many delicious variations. There are sweet apricot dumplings, Leberknödel made from ground liver, and Tirolean dumplings - the kind you'll encounter in the Arlberg. Eggs, butter, flour, dried bread rolls, parsley, and speck (Austrian bacon) combine into a soft dough with just enough chew to be totally satisfying.
Knödel are the perfect fuel after a hike in Arlberg's mountains! Try them at Darmstädter hut at 7,821 feet (2,384 m), which is a 3.5 hour hike from St. Anton.