To the casual tourist, Innsbruck can be a mere collection of sites and attractions to check off an itinerary. To a knowledgeable traveler, Innsbruck is an exploration with surprises around every corner. Maria-Theresien-Straße, Old Town, The Golden Roof, Nordkette, and the Bergisel are unavoidable when visiting Innsbruck. For locals, it’s a different story. Want to step out of the tourist queue and experience how Innsbruckers actually live? Two words: Wiltener Platzl.
Like residents of any other travel destination, locals avoid touristy areas at any cost. Innsbruckers cringe at the thought of getting caught behind a selfie stick-wielding tourist or careening through crowds of guided tour groups. Wiltener Platzl is where the locals shop every Saturday for organic produce and where they meet friends for Glühwein and Kiachl during christmas time. Wiltener Platzl has undergone a radical transformation in the past two years, emerging as a hotbed for creative gastronomy. This little neighborhood has become a trendy spot for locals, but don’t confuse that with a “hipster” scene. The restaurateurs are all pretty cool folks, but they don’t grow beards and wear lumberjack shirts. They’re just hip. The clientele doesn’t wear ironic shirts or glasses without lenses; they’re just normal people of all ages. Shocking – right? The plaza offers a variety of cuisines for every taste and they all proudly feature local organic ingredients.
Robo – Fast Slowfood – International Street food using local organic ingredients.
Inspired by street food from various corners of the world, Robo offers two daily options; one with meat and the other vegetarian. The menu changes daily; Bahn Mi, Pulled Pork, Falafel, Pastrami, Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomato, and Pastrami sandwiches are just a few examples of the sandwiches dished out at Robo’s. It’s a two man operation with an open kitchen that allows you to watch your meals be prepared. Every now and then you’ll find Robo’s family members shaking and baking at his side. It’s evident that Robert puts so much love and passion into every dish he prepares and he’s won over the locals because of that. The restaurant is simply designed and so is his service. You order directly at the kitchen, go to the fridge for your drink, pop the cap and take a seat; easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.
Robert didn’t want to use garbanzo beans “from I don’t know where”, as he put it, so he adapted his falafel recipe to represent local flavors. He also visits his butcher throughout the week for his meats. Despite always being slammed during the “lunch-rush”, he remains friendly and willing to elaborate on his dishes to anyone showing interest. Service is always quick and the restaurant often sells out before closing time, leaving zero wasted food, very uncommon in the restaurant industry.
Deliris – Cafe, Restaurant, Bakery, and Specialty Goods.
Deliris has lots going on. Outdoor seating, a retail area as you walk through the door, a bakery section, and finally a fully-stocked bar at the rear of the building. It feels like a four-in-one concept as you stroll through the place. The service is super friendly and food delectable. This is one of the places that helped put Wiltener Platzl on the map for a locals hangout. They’ve been around for two years and still going strong.
It’s a popular place for the breakfast/ brunch crowd and locally famous for it’s organic baked goods. Outside seating is a hot commodity as people love to linger in the sun and be “seen”. The retail area offers lots of baking decorations and specialty food items like herbs, pink salt, coffee, and teas. Deliris whips up the best Macarons in town; specifically the orange and pistachio flavors are a burst of flavor in your mouth.
Immerland – Cafe, Restaurant, and Event Catering
The new kids on the block and the punctuation mark on the movement that has shook Wiltener Platzl into the epicenter of cool in Innsbruck. Immerland’s step by step preparation of their dishes and pastries takes attention to detail to the next level. If you’re looking for New York’s cupcake culture, you’ve got it here. The first time I visited as they prepared to launch their business was great. I was blown away by the decor and took notice of their preparations for pastry decorations. I thought it was just flash for the opening day. Second time I visited was a blast; I realized that their tedious pastry decor is more than flash. It is Immerland. Third time, I fell in love with the service. Now I hope it lasts forever. Immerland has the right stuff; beautiful presentation, exquisite taste and friendly service.
Tirolermadl – Specialty Food Shop
Tirolermadl offers a great variety of healthy local and imported fair trade products. You can stock your entire kitchen at this shop. Verival granola, vegan protein powder, bread in a bottle, teas, herbs, spices, superfoods and so much more is available. Tanja opened the shop because she found herself scrambling around town trying to find similar products or resorting to ordering online. Like every person with an entrepreneurial spirit, she opened a business based on her personal needs and now many other health-conscious eaters are flocking to her shop for these products.
You would think that the competition is fierce between all the new businesses at Wiltnere Platzl, but it’s all love. Each place offers something different and the owners even frequent the other businesses as customers. I’ve been at Tirolermadl when Robert from Robo pops in for flour and herbs. Tanja from Tirolermadl has lunch at Immerland or Robo every day. Robert recently recommended I visit Olive, the vegan and vegetarian restaurant a few doors down.
Other than being super friendly, these restaurateurs and shop owners posses another common trait; they’re disruptors. They realized Innsbruck was missing a certain taste and they took it upon themselves to shake up the food scene with their unique take on popular dishes. They’re not in business to improve the status quo, they’re here to blow it up. Make time for these hidden gems on the outskirts of the “Old Town” and you will be in for a treat. Trendy areas can be intimidating because you don’t really know if you’ll fit in with your wardrobe or lingo, but the owners and their customers are all normal and unpretentious folks, and that’s what makes it an authentically cool place. They’re not trying to be cool, they just are.