Dining is never a problem in Innsbruck, as this alpine town has more than 200 restaurants, inns, and cafes, some of which offer evening entertainment. If you're going to be in Austria for only a short time, we suggest that you stick to original Tyrolean specialties. However, if that doesn't suit you, there are restaurants serving international cuisine.
Within a Bordeaux-red decor that closely emulates the rich cafe life of its mother-lode original in Vienna, you can visit the Innsbruck branch of the Café Sacher, Rennweg 1 (tel. 0512/565626; www.sacher.com; tram: 1 or 3; bus: H or Y). Rip-offs and unauthorized copies of this chain's most famous pastry, the Sachertorte, have cost contestants millions in litigation over the years, and the holders of the original 19th-century recipes (the owners of the Hotel Sacher in Vienna) have clung ferociously to their property. You can order coffee, priced around 3.50€ ($5.60), and the famous pastry, at 4.95€ ($7.90) per slice. And if you're in the gift-giving mode, you can haul a Sachertorte, attractively boxed in a wooden container, away with you for between 10€ ($16) and 42€ ($67), depending on the size. Any of these carries a "certificate of authenticity," adding to the experience's somewhat pompous charm. The place is open daily 8:30am to midnight.
If you're tired of too-constant a diet of Austrian pastries, or if you want an insight into the way other countries create fattening between-meal treats, head for the Café Valier, Maximilianstrasse 27 (tel. 0512/586180; tram: 1). Here, within a pink, mostly Jugendstil decor, you'll choose from French and Italian (not Austrian) pastries that -- according to the owners -- are unique in Innsbruck. Forget about apfelstrudels and Salzburger Nockerl here, since they simply don't exist. Instead, look for French-inspired tarte aux framboises; tarte tatin, mousse à l'orange, or mousse au chocolat; a light and airy gâteau au chocolate avec mousse à l'orange; and chestnut creams and chestnut sauces that, while all the rage in France, aren't really understood (except here) within the rest of Austria. There's been a bakery on-site here for at least a century, but the sit-down cafe didn't get set up till 1964. Don't expect full-fledged meals here, as most of the menu is devoted to pastries, most of which sell for around 3€ ($4.80) each, and sandwiches, toasted or otherwise. It's open Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm and Saturday 8am to 1pm.
One of the best views of the exterior of the Goldenes Dachl is available from the front terrace of the Café Katzung, Herzog-Friedrich-Strasse 16 (tel. 0512/586183; www.cafe-katzung.at; tram: 1 or 3), a time-tested cafe whose interior was ripped apart and rebuilt during a 5-month period in 2002. The decor today is more streamlined and a bit more modern-looking than the cranky, faux-baroque decor it replaced, but the medley of international newspapers (at least 10 of them) is still available, suspended vertically on rods, in a style you'd associate with a library. Within a decor of wooden floors and a color scheme of pale green and cream with touches of red, you'll select from a full range of whiskeys, coffees, Austrian wine, and light platters that consist mostly of sandwiches, soups, and salads. More impressively, there's an in-house pastry chef who concocts tray after tray of strudels and tortes, all the Austrian staples, priced at 3.50€ to 5€ ($5.60-$8) each. It's open Monday to Saturday 8am to midnight and Sunday 9am to midnight.
On a quiet corner in the Old Town, Café Munding, Kiebachgasse 16 (tel. 0512/584118; www.nepomuks.at; tram: 1 or 3), is in a comfortable-looking house built in 1720 that has baroque frescoes, carved bay windows, and Tyrolean detailing. Although it's the oldest cafe in Tyrol, the interior has been modernized, offering an interconnected series of rooms. The first thing you'll see when you enter is a pastry and chocolate shop. Food is served in the inner rooms; in addition to coffee priced from 2.75€ ($4.40), the menu includes typical Tyrolean dishes, toasts (sandwiches), plus a vast selection of wine by the glass. Hours are daily from 8am to 11:30pm in summer (until 8pm winter).
One of the most colorful and artfully ethnic cafes along Museumstrasse, Café Wilder Mann (tel. 0512/583295), was once part of a famous hotel that moved out of town, leaving only its cafe behind. The building that contains it is an antique in its own right, and the rustic and woodsy-looking decor seems to celebrate the alpine rusticity that such "Wild Men" (its English name) of the Tyrolean high Alps would have preferred. Come here for tea, coffee, ice creams, pastries, and such platters of rib-sticking food as crepes stuffed with filets of pork; Greek-style gyros with herb-flavored cream sauce; piccata of turkey with spaghetti; and such vegetarian dishes as all-vegetable strudel. Dessert crepes, especially the versions with strawberries and/or chocolate, or the concoction with walnut-flavored ice cream and caramel sauce, are especially popular. This cafe is not to be confused with the more elaborate restaurant and hotel in the nearby suburb of Lans with the same name. Snacks and platters cost from 7.20€ to 11€ ($12-$17). It's open Monday to Friday 7am to 8pm (tram: 3).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.