Basel Restaurants

Classic but boundary pushing, bank-breaking but exquisite gourmet cuisine has long been one of Basel's fortes. New trends are appearing and disappearing in the blink of an eye. Snuggled between three countries, Basel has inherited the culinary interests of each, and excels with offering its own specialties and those of its neighbors—and beyond.

Eating out here, as anywhere in Switzerland, can be a costly delight, and top of the range. Michelin-starred restaurants are plentiful. At the other end of the scale, you will never have to go far for a German-style sausage, Italian pasta, or mouthwatering desserts, as reliable local restaurants and cafés can be found on practically every street. Basel is, in fact, full of comfortable haunts. The city's down-to-earth fare owes its roots to the Germanic hordes who arrived here to rout the ancient Romans, bringing with them homey dishes like schnitzel and Spätzle (tiny dumplings), all to be washed down with beer.

As for dining specialties, the proximity of the Rhine means that most Basel restaurants serve a variety of freshwater fish. If the city could claim a regional specialty, it would be salmon. (These days much of it is shipped in from elsewhere, but the Rhine variety is making a comeback.) The meaty fish is best served nach Basler Art (Basel-style), meaning in a white-wine marinade with fried onions on top. Try it with a bottle of the fruity local Riesling.

If you're on the Marktplatz, join other hungry shoppers standing in front of mobile kitchens, holding bare Wienerli (hot dogs) and dipping them into thick golden mustard. You should also indulge in Kaffee und Kuchen—the late-afternoon coffee break the neighboring Germans live for. But locals have their own version: instead of a large slice of creamed cake, they select tiny sweet pastries—two or three to a saucer—and may opt for a delicate Chinese tea instead of a Kaffee.

Beyond local specialties, Basel's strengths are Thai and Middle Eastern cuisines, whether you choose the ubiquitous kebab (a Turkish gyro), a spicy bowl of green curry, or one of the fusion dishes that appear even in Basel's most traditional dining rooms.

For a satisfying and budget-friendly lunch, many restaurants offer lunch specials (Tagesmenu) that include a dish of the day, a starter or salad, and maybe even a dessert. They are the best way to eat well on a budget. Smoking is banned in all restaurants in Basel—except on terraces.

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  • 1. Bel Étage

    $$$ | Altstadt | French

    The formal Bel Étage showcases chef Michael Baader's masterly culinary inventions, with seasonal dishes using a mix of Swiss and international...Read More

  • 2. Cheval Blanc by Peter Knogl

    $$$$ | Altstadt

    In a grand, chandelier-bedecked dining room with sweeping views of the Rhine, chef Peter Knogl prepares sophisticated, beautifully presented French creations (with touches of Mediterranean...Read More

  • 3. Confiserie Schiesser

    $ | Altstadt

    Choose a few jewel-like pastries and order leaf-brewed tea in the carved-wood dining room up the stairs from the tempting displays of chocolates at Confiserie...Read More

  • 4. Stucki

    $$$$ | Bruderholz

    Chef Tanja Grandits gives her guests a delightful culinary experience in a refined—but not uptight—setting, using a cuisine style that the German-born chef calls "aroma...Read More

  • 5. Zum Goldenen Fass

    $$ | Kleinbasel

    Zum Goldenen Fass (the Golden Barrel) bills itself as "radically seasonal and totally regional," with the emphasis on the unique rather than the traditional. Come...Read More

  • 6. Atelier

    $$ | Altstadt | Swiss

    The Teufelhof hotel's less expensive dining option, the artsy Atelier serves modern cuisine made with regional ingredients. Daily specials are...Read More

  • 7. Chez Donati

    $$$ | Altstadt

    This much-loved establishment has been serving up a selection of the finest Piedmont cuisine for more than 70 years and is well-known for its antipasti...Read More

  • 8. Löwenzorn

    $$ | Altstadt

    This classic, comfortable gathering place serves typical Swiss food, including Wiener schnitzel and Rösti, with seasonal side dishes, as well as a smattering of international...Read More

  • 9. Manger & Boire

    $ | Altstadt

    In this quiet little bistro right in the middle of the shopping mayhem of Gerbergasse, the friendly staff will bring you tasty inventions with an...Read More

  • 10. Markthalle Basel

    $ | Bahnhof SBB

    The multimillion-dollar renovation of Basel’s vast cupola of a covered market was a total disaster—no shoppers came, and the designer shops all fled. But the...Read More

  • 11. ONO

    $$ | Altstadt

    With its floor-to-ceiling windows, vaulted ceilings, and wide-open spaces, this eclectic eatery on the edge of the Old Town offers a cosmopolitan atmosphere where you...Read More

  • 12. Restaurant Café Papiermühle

    $ | St. Alban

    With the splashing of the paper mill's waterwheel in the background, this is a restful spot for lunch, afternoon coffee, or Sunday brunch (it's open...Read More

  • 13. Restaurant Fischerstube

    $$ | Kleinbasel

    The restaurant part of the Fischerstube, a famous local brewery, has a simple look, with whitewashed walls and sanded wooden tables, and offers a range...Read More

  • 14. Schlüsselzunft

    $$$ | Altstadt

    This extremely popular historic guildhall has been transformed into an airy and elegant dining room, and is famous for its traditional and beautiful ceramic stove....Read More

  • 15. Ufer7 Basel

    $$ | Kleinbasel

    Not far from the Middle Bridge and right next to the Rhine, this self-proclaimed “urban Swiss” restaurant has a rustic-chic look inside and a wonderful...Read More

  • 16. Zum Isaak

    $$ | Altstadt

    This friendly place serves up a delightful mix of veggie and meat dishes for lunch and dinner, or you can just stop by for a...Read More

  • 17. Santa Pasta

    $ | St. Johann

    The morning starts at this new, tiny eatery with the production of 4 pounds of fresh pasta, half of which is taken by bicyle to...Read More

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