The better restaurants are mainly based in hotels or, ironically, B&B guest houses. Reader tips include: Armin’s Grillstube (‘inexpensive and cosy cellar restaurant’), the Sal Fëur in the Garni Broi (‘best meal we had all week’), the Bula (‘fabulous pasta and pizza, very welcoming’), the Rino and the Bellavista for pizza, and the Costabella for Tirolean specialities. The hotel Des Alpes gets mixed reviews – maybe avoid the budget menu.
There are lots of huts all over the area, and virtually all of them are lively, with helpful staff, good food, lots of character and modest prices. ‘Not a bad one all week’ is a typical reporter’s comment, leading us to bestow a rare 5-star rating.
In the Dantercëpies sector, the Panorama is a small, cosy, rustic suntrap at the foot of the drag near the top, tipped for its coffee, chocolate and cakes as well as views. Not far away at the bottom of the Val double chair, the Ciampac is ‘brilliant for coffee or lunch in the sun’. While at the top of the Costabella chair, Rif Pastura is a great place for lunch or ‘chocolate to die for’ later.
In the Plan de Gralba area the Rif Emilio Comici is atmospheric, with a big terrace. Valongia does ‘the best kaiserschmarren’. Piz Seteur has ‘superb lasagne’ (and check out ‘Après-ski’). At Passo Sella, Rif Friedrich August has Highland cattle strolling around outside, and closely related steaks on sale inside.
In the Seceda sector there are countless options. Baita Gamsblut is a ‘super rustic hut with a good menu and a warm, friendly atmosphere’. Daniel’s Hütte is ‘very cosy in a storm, with excellent food and good service’. The small Curona is a favourite of one repeat visitor (‘friendly; best strudel’). The Mastle hut is recommended again for ‘the best pizza of our stay’. On the long Cucasattel run, Val d’Anna is another reader favourite (‘the very best cakes and pastries’).
From the countless options, our Alpe di Siusi specialist picks out Laurinhütte (‘welcoming, excellent food, great views’), Zallinger Hütte (‘charming – a great find’) and Mont Seuc, at the top of the Ortisei gondola – ‘perfect for watching the cliffs slowly turn red while sipping a drink’.
Not without action
At close of play some of the mountain restaurants offer distractions. Piz Seteur is one place where you can expect a bit of a buzz. At the base, the Stua is a popular last stop (and if you settle in for the evening, live music may arrive mid-evening; ‘fairly-priced drinks’) and Kronestube has been recommended previously (‘good atmosphere’).
Café Mozart on the main street ‘serves the best hot chocolate in the world and cakes to match’. The hotel Sochers is said to be good for a quiet drink.
Later on the village streets are fairly quiet, but there are places to go. Goalie’s Irish bar, with its hockey memorabilia, was recommended last year for ‘a quieter drink in a relaxed atmosphere’. ‘Keep an eye out for the dancing girls at Salto’s,’ says a 2010 reporter.
There are several places with DJs open until about 1am – notably the Laurinkeller and the ‘very German’ Luislkeller – ‘bonkers’, says a recent reporter, with ‘a DJ so bad he’s good’. The serious nightclub is the Dali, with dance music for ‘a younger clientele’.
There are many spectacular walks to be done on Alpe di Siusi and Rasciesa, in particular. There’s a sports centre, snowshoeing, tobogganing and sleigh rides. One reporter enjoyed an organised bowling night, another a ‘fun night’ with the locals watching ice hockey – quite a big deal in these parts.
There are buses to nearby Ortisei and more distant Bolzano, with a museum featuring 5,000-year-old Oetzi the Ice Man, among many attractions. And coach excursions to Cortina and Verona. A group of hotels has formed Val Gardena Active, offering free excursions run by ‘impressive’ guides. Pedestrians can reach numerous good restaurants by gondola or cable car.