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Zürich for Foodies


Photos in order: Sacred Destinations (1); Restaurant Josef (1); Tibits (1); Le Dezaley (1)
Story by Nick Malgieri

Host to this year’s Europride 09 festivities, Zurich is as gay-friendly as a city can be: from leading the charge to legalize same-sex unions nationally in 2005 to Barfuesser, reputed to be the oldest gay bar in Europe, and to the city's openly lesbian Mayor, Corine Mauch, now in office.

Eating in Zurich can be as cheap or expensive as you wish, and -- as with the city's wide range of accommodations -- there are many excellent moderate choices available, too. For a full list see www.zuerich.com, which lists hotels by starred categories, and restaurants by district and style of food. The suggestions below are all personal favorites, gleaned from over 35 years of frequent travel to the city.

Eating Your Way Around Zurich

Swiss food isn’t all cheese and chocolate, but it’s easy to find plenty of both without much effort. Restaurant prices are high by American standards, so I usually limit to one restaurant meal a day and grab lunch or a late dinner on the fly.

Picking up a bratwurst and a big crusty buurli roll at the Horber stand in the Wednesday food market in the main hall of the train station is one of my favorite economical choices. Made from veal or pork, bratwurst and their cousin cervelat (similar to what we would call a knockwurst), are Zurich’s favorite quick lunch. Buurli and mustard are included in the price, usually around CHF6., so just help yourself to both.

Other places for a good wurst are the street-side stand just north of the corner of Niederdorfstrasse and Muehlegasse, and another classic, Fordere Sternen, a tented courtyard at Theaterstrasse 22, right across from the big Bellevueplatz tram stop. Migros, the Swiss hypermarket, has a small food store (lower level) and self-service restaurant above at the corner of Niederdorfstrasse and Muehlegasse. There are prepared salads, sandwiches, pastries both savory and sweet, a variety of soft drinks and beer, plus pizza and a few hot dishes dispensed from the main counter. A Migros meal with a drink will cost around CHF20.

A step up from a wurst or sandwich is the Globus Takeaway on the ground floor of the department store of the same name at Theaterstrasse 12. You’ll find Asian noodles and curries, a counter of antipasti and panini, a sushi counter, and an espresso bar that also serves desserts.  Every counter dispenses all the drinks available.

Tibits, a slick vegetarian self-service at Seefeldstrasse 2, just a few minutes’ walk from Globus, features an enormous salad bar, a large variety of breads, several hot dishes, plus drinks and an espresso counter.

In the main train station the Brasserie Federal offers traditional Swiss food such as aelplermagronen (Swiss mac and cheese), fleischkaese (like a meatloaf, but made with a meat mixture similar to the inside of a wurst), and both appetizer and main course salads galore. Over 100 Swiss beers are on the list. Service is brisk and efficient and service charges are included in the price of the menu items, though it’s customary to leave a couple of francs as a tip.


Photos in order: Sacred Destinations (1); Restaurant Josef (1); Tibits (1); Le Dezaley (1)
Story by Nick Malgieri

Host to this year’s Europride 09 festivities, Zurich is as gay-friendly as a city can be: from leading the charge to legalize same-sex unions nationally in 2005 to Barfuesser, reputed to be the oldest gay bar in Europe, and to the city's openly lesbian Mayor, Corine Mauch, now in office.

Eating in Zurich can be as cheap or expensive as you wish, and -- as with the city's wide range of accommodations -- there are many excellent moderate choices available, too. For a full list see www.zuerich.com, which lists hotels by starred categories, and restaurants by district and style of food. The suggestions below are all personal favorites, gleaned from over 35 years of frequent travel to the city.

Eating Your Way Around Zurich

Swiss food isn’t all cheese and chocolate, but it’s easy to find plenty of both without much effort. Restaurant prices are high by American standards, so I usually limit to one restaurant meal a day and grab lunch or a late dinner on the fly.

Picking up a bratwurst and a big crusty buurli roll at the Horber stand in the Wednesday food market in the main hall of the train station is one of my favorite economical choices. Made from veal or pork, bratwurst and their cousin cervelat (similar to what we would call a knockwurst), are Zurich’s favorite quick lunch. Buurli and mustard are included in the price, usually around CHF6., so just help yourself to both.

Other places for a good wurst are the street-side stand just north of the corner of Niederdorfstrasse and Muehlegasse, and another classic, Fordere Sternen, a tented courtyard at Theaterstrasse 22, right across from the big Bellevueplatz tram stop. Migros, the Swiss hypermarket, has a small food store (lower level) and self-service restaurant above at the corner of Niederdorfstrasse and Muehlegasse. There are prepared salads, sandwiches, pastries both savory and sweet, a variety of soft drinks and beer, plus pizza and a few hot dishes dispensed from the main counter. A Migros meal with a drink will cost around CHF20.

A step up from a wurst or sandwich is the Globus Takeaway on the ground floor of the department store of the same name at Theaterstrasse 12. You’ll find Asian noodles and curries, a counter of antipasti and panini, a sushi counter, and an espresso bar that also serves desserts.  Every counter dispenses all the drinks available.

Tibits, a slick vegetarian self-service at Seefeldstrasse 2, just a few minutes’ walk from Globus, features an enormous salad bar, a large variety of breads, several hot dishes, plus drinks and an espresso counter.

In the main train station the Brasserie Federal offers traditional Swiss food such as aelplermagronen (Swiss mac and cheese), fleischkaese (like a meatloaf, but made with a meat mixture similar to the inside of a wurst), and both appetizer and main course salads galore. Over 100 Swiss beers are on the list. Service is brisk and efficient and service charges are included in the price of the menu items, though it’s customary to leave a couple of francs as a tip.

Schipfe 16 is also the address of this restaurant run by Zurich’s social affairs department to train the unemployed for front and back of the house restaurant jobs. Lunch is the order of the day, though you can also stop by for a beer or a coffee and there are outdoor tables right at the riverbank in good weather. Several set menus are offered every day and there are a few a la carte choices too. A meal at any of these places will cost about CHF30.

 If it’s cool and you’re in the mood for fondue, head to Le Dezaley at Roemergasse 7, just up from the east bank of the river. Excellent white wines from canton Vaud in Western Switzerland are a traditional accompaniment to the rich cheese dish. Fondue with a glass of wine and a coffee afterwards should total about CHF40 per person.

Set in a 15th century armory with canons still decorating the dining room, the Zeughauskeller at Bahnhofstrasse 28a serves up sausages, meat and fish dishes, soups, and salads at large communal tables. For a small supplementary charge to your main course, add a portion of roesti, that uniquely Swiss version of buttery home-fried potatoes. A large selection of Swiss and imported wines and beers is also available. About CHF45. for an appetizer, main course, and a drink.

For a lively contemporary setting and excellent food, my favorite is Restaurant Josef (German only) at Gasometerstrasse 24, a short tram ride from the center of the city. The entire menu is composed of small plates and you can order from 2 to 5 with prices ranging from CHF36 to 69 for food only. Lunch is a la carte with main courses in the range of CHF20 to 25. Alpenrose at Fabrikstrasse 12 (German only) serves up traditional Swiss food in a beautiful early twentieth century setting. Also a short ride from the city center.

If sweets are on your mind, don’t miss Confiserie Spruengli at Bahnhofstrasse 21, one of the world’s great pastry shops and chocolatiers. Outdoor and upper floor cafés cater to Zurich’s well-heeled citizens and tourists alike.

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