Bern Restaurants

Traditionally, dining in Bern has been a pretty grounded affair, characterized by Italian home cooking and German-style meat and potatoes. Two favorite local dishes are the Bernerplatte—great slabs of salt pork, beef tongue, smoked bacon, pork ribs, and mild pork sausage cooked down in broth, then heaped on top of juniper-scented sauerkraut, green beans, and boiled potatoes—and Berner Rösti, shredded potatoes panfried with onions, butter, and chunks of bacon. But newer options include creative vegetarian cuisine, refined gastronomic delicacies, fresh fish—often caught in the nearby River Aare—and myriad international foods. Most menus change with the seasons, featuring asparagus in spring, berries in summer, and wild game in fall. Food presentation can be sophisticated, and service is almost universally friendly.

Many of Bern's established restaurants are dark, often underground, and accessible through a kind of cellar storm door that looks much like the one Dorothy just missed getting to when the tornado hit her Kansas farm. But once you're down there, you'll find the atmosphere cozy and warm, with a hint of the medieval—especially in the simpler, beer-hall-type venues. Another option is sitting at one of the few tables that are usually outside each restaurant, but under the famous Bernese arches, so you're sheltered from summer showers on a hot July evening, say, or a biting spring breeze. As soon as the weather permits, indoor restaurants are abandoned—but still open—as diners flock outdoors.

Be sure to make reservations, especially if you want to eat outside in warm weather. Popular garden restaurants that attract both tourists and locals will be packed at lunch, so you might try arriving a little before noon—but don't try the other extreme and come late, because most kitchens switch to the snack menu after 2 pm—if they're still open. Bärenplatz and Waisenhausplatz are good bets for all-day dining options, with some restaurants open 365 days a year.

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  • 1. Klösterli Weincafé

    $$ | Bärengraben | Eclectic

    The focus here is on local and seasonal ingredients, served with a flourish on slates and in miniature Dutch ovens, and the impressive Swiss...Read More

  • 2. Meridiano

    $$$ | City Center | European

    A sweeping view of the Altstadt and the Alps pairs perfectly with the opulent yet refined interior in gold, cream, and black, and at night it...Read More

  • 3. Verdi

    $$ | Altstadt | Italian

    The menu sees cold-weather ingredients like truffles, cream, and polenta transition to tomatoes, basil, and fennel as the weather warms up....Read More

  • 4. Zum Zähringer

    $$$ | Matte | Mediterranean

    With its typical bistro, covered terrace overlooking the River Aare, and a garden that hosts barbecues in summer, this place is a chameleon...Read More

  • 5. Altes Tramdepot

    $$ | Altstadt | Swiss

    A beer hall at heart, this restaurant brews dark, light, and "normal" varieties in copper vats behind the bar. Filling dishes like Bernerplatte...Read More

  • 6. Della Casa

    $$ | City Center | Swiss

    Beloved by Swiss politicians, this 125-year-old institution is affectionately nicknamed "Delli" and has been operating nearly as long as the...Read More

  • 7. Fugu-Nydegg

    $$ | Altstadt | Asian

    Modern Thai and Japanese cuisine are the two pillars of this sleek two-level restaurant in the Old Town, with shady sidewalk seating in summer...Read More

  • 8. Gartenrestaurant Marzilibrücke

    $$ | Marzili | Eclectic

    The menu at this casual bohemian spot on the Marzili side of the river reaches to the far corners of the globe. Expect Indian curries, Thai...Read More

  • 9. Harmonie

    $$ | Altstadt | Swiss

    Fondue is Harmonie's raison d'être. Whether classic (Gruyère), moitié-moitié (half Gruyère, half Vacherin), or gussied up with truffles and...Read More

  • 10. Jack's Brasserie

    $$$ | City Center | French

    Time moves a little more slowly here amid the civilized elegance of chandeliers and china teapots, gilt ceiling details, grapevine motifs, and...Read More

  • 11. Kornhaus Café

    $$ | Altstadt | International

    Outdoor tables, a sunny central location, light meals, homemade pastries, several kinds of coffee, and open doors from 8 am (9 am on Sunday...Read More

  • 12. Lorenzini

    $$ | Altstadt | Italian

    This two-story complex of bars and a restaurant is a popular gathering place for stylish patrons looking for an Italy fix. Eclectic photos,...Read More

  • 13. Restaurant Rosengarten

    $$ | Altstadt | International

    This restaurant serves light snacks and sandwiches as well as hearty Mediterranean dishes and Swiss classics like fondue against a backdrop...Read More

  • 14. Schwellenmätteli

    $$ | Matte | Mediterranean

    A chest-high glass barrier stands between you and white water at the tip of this stylish, sun-soaked restaurant and bar. The dining area, indoors...Read More

  • 15. Tibits

    $ | City Center | Vegetarian

    Following the success of its train station branch, Tibits opened this larger and more glamorous version nearby. The food is 100% vegetarian...Read More

  • 16. Zimmermania

    $$ | Altstadt | French

    A deceptively simple local favorite and one of the most typically French bistros in Bern, this cultural transplant tucked away on a backstreet...Read More

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