Relatively few restaurants focus on a see-and-be-seen angle; what unites diners at the best ones, whether simple cafés or gastronomic havens, is an appreciation for good food (read "slow food"—the noted food movement which puts emphasis on locally sourced ingredients, regional tastes, and authentic preparations). Increasingly, there's a non-French spin to Geneva's dining scene: note the
rise of tapas-style grazing menus, places that offer both light menus and five-course meals, and signature restaurants run by well-known chefs. At the other end of the scale, fast food usually runs to fresh sandwiches, interesting salads, and warm quiche to go; lunchtime plats du jour and bakeries with tearooms are delicious budget options.
While dress-code days are gone, casual elegant is rule of thumb. Hours for meals generally remain noon to 2 pm and 7 to 9:30 or 10 pm; pubs, bars, and clubs satisfy hungry night owls. And yes, after the stores close on Saturday afternoon Geneva's city center is virtually dormant—and most, but by no means all, restaurants close. That's because the Genevois spend their weekends eating at country inns and village cafés.
Geneva restaurants (and bars and clubs) are all nonsmoking. Some are now charging for the carafe d'eau (tap water). Since it is not local custom to take small children to better restaurants, amenities (and welcome) may be poor if you arrive with babies in tow. Tipping? Local diners may leave the change as a gesture when they leave, but tipping for exceptional service is up to the customer and is still the exception, not the rule.