Zurich Restaurants

Since the mid-1990s, Zürich's restaurant trade has boomed. The new establishments, both Swiss and international, tend to favor lighter, leaner meals served in bright spaces that often open out to the street. The traditional cuisine, no longer ubiquitous but still easily found, is called nach Zürcher Art, meaning "cooked in the Zürich style." Think meat, mushrooms, potatoes, butter, cream—an extremely rich cuisine, perfectly suited to the leaded-glass and burnished-oak guildhalls.

In exploring Zürich's core, you will want to enter at least one of these famous medieval "union clubhouses" scattered along the riverfront neighborhoods; the best way is to dine in one, as all but the Zunfthaus zur Meisen, the Zunfthaus zur Saffran, and the Zunfthaus zur Schmide have restaurants open to the public. On your way to the restroom, sneak a peek into their other dining rooms—they are, for the most part, museum-perfect in their leaded-glass and Gothic-wood detail.

Zürich's signature dish, which you'll encounter throughout both French and German Switzerland, is Geschnetzeltes Kalbfleisch, or in French émincé de veau, bite-size slices of milky veal (and sometimes veal kidneys) sautéed in butter and swimming in a rich brown sauce thick with cream, white wine, shallots, and mushrooms. Its closest cousin is Geschnetzeltes Kalbsleber (calf's liver), served much the same way. You may also find Rösti, a kind of hash-brown potatoes, and Spätzle, egg noodles that are either pressed through a sieve or snipped, gnocchi-style, and served in butter.

Another culinary must is Zürich's favorite portable food, sausage and Bürli (a crunchy roll), eaten separately, two-fisted style. The best are to be had at Bellevue at the Sternen Grill; Kalbsbratwurst (veal) is mild, the smaller Cervelat (pork) saltier. Join the locals and munch away while waiting for a tram.

Zürichers also have a definite sweet tooth: refined cafés draw crowds for afternoon pastries, and chocolate shops vie for the unofficial honor of making the best chocolate truffles in town.

Restaurants in Zürich have been smoke-free by law since 2010. Some offer smokers' lounges; otherwise expect smoking at outdoor tables, where it is still allowed.

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  • 1. Haus zum Rüden

    $$$ | Kreis 1 | Swiss

    The most ambitious of the city's many Zunfthaus dining places, this fine restaurant is also the most spectacular, with a wooden barrel-vaulted...Read More

  • 2. Kronenhalle

    $$$ | Kreis 1 | Swiss

    From Stravinsky, Brecht, and Joyce to Nureyev, Deneuve, and Saint Laurent, this beloved landmark has always drawn a stellar crowd. Every panel...Read More

  • 3. Bodega Española

    $$ | Kreis 1 | Spanish

    The coats of arms of old Spanish provinces and garlands of onions and garlic line the dark-paneled interior of this upstairs Niederdorf restaurant...Read More

  • 4. Sternen Grill

    $ | Kreis 1 | Swiss

    At lunchtime the line for its legendary take-out bratwurst sausages snakes out along a neighboring street, but it moves quickly, because the...Read More

  • 5. Swiss Chuchi

    $$ | Kreis 1 | Swiss

    Right on the Niederdorf's main square, Hirschenplatz, this squeaky-clean Swiss-kitsch restaurant has an airy, modern decor, with Alpine-rustic...Read More

  • 6. Zur Oepfelchammer

    $$ | Kreis 1 | Swiss

    Dating from 1801, and once the haunt of Zürich's beloved writer Gottfried Keller, this lively restaurant serves traditional meat dishes...Read More

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