Embark on a culinary odyssey through the enchanting streets of Innsbruck with Kurt Reindl of Innsbruck Food Tours. Innsbruck Food Tours was originally born from Reindl’s love for global gastronomic adventures and a deep connection to the Tyrolean landscape. His guided year round private and group tours are a celebration of Innsbruck’s unique fusion of urban vibrancy and alpine tranquility.
As a farmer’s son from Tyrol’s Ötztal valley, his roots ground this gastronomic journey, weaving together the authenticity of local traditions and charm only found in Austria‘s Alpine City. Continue reading to savor the diverse flavors that make Innsbruck a culinary haven in the heart of Europe and why everyone should take part in an Innsbruck Food Tour.
Please describe your background and your personal ties to Innsbruck. Speaking personally, what makes Innsbruck, Austria so special?
I grew up as a farmer’s son in the Tyrolean Ötztal. My parents are farmers and have a very small alpine inn. When I was 18, I came to our state capital to study. From the countryside to the city, that is the journey that many young people in Tyrol take. Innsbruck is only about 1 hour away from my parents.
Innsbruck is also a place of longing for Tyroleans, because on the one hand it is a big city, but on the other hand the mountains, hiking routes and ski areas are also located directly in Innsbruck. That’s probably what makes Innsbruck so special in all of Europe! You live in a big city, but at the same time it is very rural. The best combination ever!
What inspired the inception of Innsbruck Food Tours?
I myself have been to many countries around the world and the first thing I always look for and book there are food tours! For me, this is the best way to immerse yourself in a culture. All cultures in the world are also influenced by food; every country, every nation has specialties. I’ll never forget my first real sushi, at 3 a.m. at the Tokyo Fish Market. Or recently my first lavash bread in Gyumri/Armenia.
Based on my food tour experience, I thought to myself: Innsbruck also needs a food tour like this and I implemented it quite quickly.
What would visitors discover in Tirol/Innsbruck that they may not find anywhere else in the world?
The unique thing about Innsbruck is the ingenious combination of city and country! One day you can walk through a gentrified district and enjoy a flat white coffee in a cool bar, and the next day you can climb to an alpine hut in your hiking outfit and enjoy a traditional Speck snack or a dumpling soup.
In winter it’s even “stranger”: you’re walking through the city and suddenly someone is riding next to you on his skateboard and has his snowboard equipment on his back because he’s on the way to one of the many ski resorts in and around Innsbruck. You always see tourists who also think it’s funny and take photos.
Innsbruck is celebrated for its culinary diversity. Can you elaborate on the unique food experiences that participants can expect during the tour?
You shouldn’t reveal too much about a food tour, because that’s what makes food tours special too: the many culinary surprises, along with great stories! The Innsbruck Food Tour will start with our farmers in the Innsbruck market hall (Markthalle Innsbruck). They are the backbone of the Tyrolean cuisine.
There are also many local farmers who prepare samples, through which they convey their passion for the local and traditional culinary art. Then we will dive into the world of bread. Here you will be able to “sniff out” the unique history of baking bread – the kind of insight that usually is not easily accessible for tourists.
In a local bread manufacturer in Innsbruck you will get to know and appreciate bread as a form of ancient cultural heritage, lovingly and passionately produced with hundreds of years of traditional knowledge and experience.
For lunch you will taste specialities from the different Tyrolean regions, indulge your palate with various delicacies and listen to interesting stories. lunch will be followed by a digestive walk through the city, to a caffeinated and award-winning awakener (coffee), and sweet temptations that tell Tyrolean history. Next, a culinary, historical journey will take us centuries into the past, until we finally end up at a cozy “Marend” and taste samples of that specialty, with which Tyrol was usually first associated: Speck!
How did you go about selecting and collaborating with local establishments and vendors for the food tour?
That wasn’t a difficult task: I chose businesses that many Tyroleans love and that we locals also enjoy visiting! I have known many of my tour partners for years because I am often a guest or customer there myself. I always wanted to offer my guests something that we locals also enjoy eating ourselves, and show them family businesses that have been feeding Tyrolean families for generations.
From your experience, what are some standout dishes or culinary experiences that have become favorites among participants?
A difficult question: Since I talk the whole time during the tour and explain the history and stories about the food to the guests, all I hear from many guests is: “OMG”, “Amazing”, “Thats sooo good“. This is how I leave my guests speechless in the truest sense of the word. But that makes me happy because it shows that I made a good choice with the dishes and the stories that go with them.
For lunch, my guests get a “simple” main dish that everyone in the country appreciates and loves. Sometimes guests say they ate this a day or two before the tour. And when they eat it on my tour, they are very surprised and ask me if it is the same dish.
Many of the dishes that I present are the same as our grandparents produced or cooked, so they are very authentic. But okay, I can name a favorite: At the beginning of my tour, the guests receive a special stone-pine schnapps that my brother prepares especially for my tour. A good start to a food tour and my guests love this special Schnaps!
What are some culinary ‘surprises’ or unique teachable moments along the tour?
I have some nice moments there! Here are just two examples: My tour offers guests the “worst liquor” they have ever drunk. Of course everything with a wink.
During a stop I apologize to my guests: I tell them that I “lied” to them because there is simply nothing “typically Tyrolean”. Culinary cuisine around the world has influenced each other. I want to offer my guests tradition, but also ask them to think outside the box.
How does Innsbruck Food Tour incorporate eco-friendly practices in its operations and engagements with local vendors?
Environmentally friendly practices are an important part of the tour, you could say the HEART of the tour. We are actively committed to climate protection, climate justice and a sustainable lifestyle.
We are committed to implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There are no plastic cutlery, no plastic cups. But cutlery and glasses provided by the food tour. We generally try to avoid waste. At the beginning, guests also receive a doggy bag that can be used for leftover food. The tour partners also try to avoid waste and avoid “disposable products” such as toothpicks, napkins or paper or plastic plates right from the start.
During the tour, guests are also informed about Innbruck’s drinking water, which you can drink directly from all taps – whether in the hotel or from the many public fountains in the city. Various sustainability projects are also presented, such as “No Food Waste”, the cultivation of rare vegetables and fruit-varieties or the importance of biodiversity.
Do you accommodate special dietary preferences or requests from participants? How do you ensure a personalized experience for each guest?
The tour can do almost all dietary preferences and wishes. On almost every tour there are guests with food intolerances, which can easily be accommodated. Guests are asked to let us know briefly before a tour. A Helal/halal tour can also be offered upon request; vegetarian options are also no problem. It only becomes difficult with “vegan”, as Tyrolean cuisine doesn’t really fit here!
One advantage of food tours is that guests always come curious. They don’t know many traditional and typical Tyrolean dishes, and sometimes they look at something very critically. But so far everyone has tried everything and if someone doesn’t like something, my food tour partners can quickly find an alternative
What can visitors expect for 2024? When do you recommend the best time to visit Innsbruck?
This year my guests can once again expect exceptional, tasty, stunning Tyrolean cuisine. There are always small changes to the culinary options on the tour for the various holidays in the country. For example, at Easter you can enjoy a very special bread, or at Christmas you can enjoy a specialty at the Christmas market.
Of course, during the tour the guests also get information about what great events are currently taking place: In the summer there are incredibly great concerts and you can enjoy the sunset on the mountain with a cable-car ride every Thursday, and the Christmas season offers many different markets. I always give my guests very special recommendations.
The best time to travel – like everywhere else in the world – is always outside the main season. But of course many people can’t plan any other way because, for example, their children are currently on vacation. But since Innsbruck has a CITY and a COUNTRY, everything is very spacious and you can spend hours hiking through the forests almost alone, or enjoy the terraces and warm evenings in Innsbruck with thousands of other people.
The same applies to the colder season: you can also hike for hours or go to the ski slopes and enjoy the advantages and hospitality of Innsbruck in the evening. A food tour can be done all year round. There is only one basic requirement: you should definitely come to the Innsbruck Food Tour hungry!