Where to eat in Zurich, from lido-front canteens to old-school brasseries


There’s no disputing it: Zürich is a bank town. UBS and Credit Suisse paired with the country’s high minimum wage have made dining in Switzerland’s largest city a cost-prohibitive feat for those not on expense account. But the last decade saw the city’s big tech companies like Google, Apple and Siemens import scores of ex-pats, while its long-thriving creative, design and architecture industries have helped nudge the austere, lakefront city away from stuffy Swiss and Teutonic luxuries towards a more casual way of thinking. As a result, a new generation of cosy and carefree restaurants have joined the city’s tried and trusted spots.

Resident food writer Adam H. Graham guides us to his favourite lake spot for fried fish, a fondue speakeasy and a gloriously old school brasserie with walls plastered in Picasso and Chagall.

Restaurant Volkshaus

This roomy brasserie, with pinstripe room dividers and sunny terrace tables, has been a staple for the city’s creative class since 1910 when it opened in left-wing Helvitiaplatz. Today, it remains versatile enough for visiting Instagrammers or suppers with mum. The menu mixes Swiss comfort classics like crispy cordon bleus (like a schnitzel) oozing melted Emmental, with seasonal twists like lamb hunks in dried plum jus atop buttery noodles. A sympathetic kitchen and several vegetarian and vegan options—like lukewarm lentil salad with parsley roots with or without chevré gratin and chestnut honey—ensure the meatless won’t be stuck with pasta again. 

Contact: 00 41 44 242 11 55; restaurantvolkshaus.ch
Prices: ££
Reservations: Recommended (and essential at weekends)
Insider’s tip: Daily cocktail creations and an extensive menu of Swiss wines by the glass make the restaurant’s lively bar a popular spot for an aperitif.

Volkhaus restaurant, Zurich

Volkhaus remains versatile enough for visiting Instagrammers or suppers with mum

Hide and Seek

While its two-Michelin starred sister Ecco snatches the accolades, the casual, Ayurvedic-influenced neighbour, isn’t afraid to take chances. Both restaurants are located in Friesenberg’s Atlantis Hotel, a svelte Brutalist gem visited by the likes of Freddie Mercury, Abba and Steve McQueen in its heyday, before being refurbished with baby blue chairs and avocado banquettes that pay homage to its 1970 construction. Carnivores will appreciate game dishes like rabbit and saffron ravioli but an equal amount of herb-heavy fare, like tomatillo salads, smoked quinoa with lemon stock and horseradish, and risotto with port, radicchio, mint, and blue cheese will please the veg set. 

Contact: 00 41 44 456 55 55; giardinohotels.ch/en/
Prices: ££
Reservations: Recommended 
Insider’s tip: Desserts—green apple with bitter almonds, agave and tarragon—are especially creative and don’t skimp on herbs. 


The secret ingredient to good fondue? Hiking up a mountain to earn it. Austere Zürich is short on alpine decor, but at the end of 15-minute footpath on woodsy Uetliberg—the city’s mountain park—is this crooked, shingled stubli that could have been pulled from the pages of Grimm. From Uetliberg station, follow the scent of melted cheese and sporty locals to the wood-panelled, gemütlich dining room where you’ll be rewarded with plates of heaping salads spiked with smokey speck and pears followed by caquelons bubbling with a heady mixture of melted Gruyere and Emmental laced with kirsh, garlic and Fendant.

Contact: 00 41 79 719 15 94; jurablick.com
Prices: £
Reservations: Essential. Cash or TWINT only.
Insider’s tip: Fondue season runs from October to March, but serves simple summer fare like soups, salads and local meat dishes from April to September.


The thought of fondue might hasten your hike through Uetliberg

David Buzzard – media-centre.ca

The best hotels in Zurich

Maison Manesse

“Fun fine dining.” So says the Instagram account of Michelin-starred Maison Manesse, whose stoves are helmed by inked Aussie chef Fabian Spiquel. It’s located in Manesseplatz, the Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood. Whitewashed brick walls and dangling hurricane lanterns lend a youthful, makeshift vibe but a cellar housing 1,200 bottles and dishes with architectural heft prove a sophisticated, plant-heavy palette: Jerusalem artichokes are inlaid with truffle and macadamia, parsnip tarte tatin is zhuzhed up with pickled blueberries, and semolina knödel party with pike perch and pig feet. Raw milk and wildflower ice cream for dessert? Zwei kugele, bitte.

Contact: 00 41 44 462 01 01; maisonmanesse.ch
Prices: £££
Reservations: Recommended 
Insider’s tip: À la carte dishes are available, but the three tasting menus—vegetarian, plant-based, or everything—are a better bet. Wine pairings are available for each.

Maison Manesse, Zurich, Switzerland

If you can, be sure to nab a seat in the leafy al fresco dining area


Dashing Swiss chef Andreas Caminada has long drawn Zurichers to his three Michelin-starred Schloss Schauenstein in Canton Graubunden not far from St. Moritz. But in February 2020 he opened a branch of IGNIV (one of three in Switzerland) on Zurich’s Niederdorf in the cobbled Old City. Here, a theatrical dining room with velvet couches and long turquoise curtains conjure up a David Lynch set, the perfect stage for haute alpine creations from head chef Daniel Zeindlhofer: oeufs à la royale in their shells with gold flake, venison with cranberries and prunes in cream, and fluffy duck mouse with edifying homemade brioche. 

Contact: 00 41 44 266 10 10; igniv.com
Prices: £££
Reservations: Recommended
Insider’s tip: While the wine list is extensive with several hard-to-come-by Swiss bottles, the ornate cocktails—served in custom made glassware—hold their own.

La Muña

Imagine an wood-panelled, loft-level yacht club plastered with sailboat oil paintings and gable windows overlooking swimmers doing laps in sparkling Zurisee. Phillipe Starck did when he redesigned this new Japanese-Peruvian hybrid in December 2019 at the newly opened La Réserve on Zurich’s lido-lined Gold Coast. La Muña is equal parts tree-fort and atelier, with a menu heavy on crudo tuna and salmon dressed in variations of soy, ponzu, sesame and Karashi miso mustard. A vegan ceviche includes shimeji, avocado and radish, while desserts like fruit with muscovado and popcorn harmonize with the decor’s whimsy.

Contact: 00 41 44 266 25 25; lareserve-zurich.com
Prices: ££
Reservations: Recommended (and essential at weekends)
Insider’s tip: The lake-view roof terrace is open on sunny days.

La Muna, Zurich, Switzerland

La Muña is equal parts tree-fort and atelier


This gloriously old school brasserie is a bastion of Zurich’s cognoscenti. Since it opened in 1924, diners have tucked into crispy schnitzels on monogrammed plates and watched gloved waiters slice into Chateaubriand from the silver carving carts. If these walls could talk… wait, they do. One is plastered with original Picassos and Matisses, another with Chagalls and Miròs, and another yet covered in sconces designed by Giacometti. James Joyce ate here. So did Freud and Einstein. Even fashionistas like Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent risked the calories and fat. The food remains good, insanely expensive, and so old fashioned it’s melancholy—shrimp cocktail, oxtail consommé with marrow, and mousses and soufflés galore are a salve for our times.

Contact:00 41 44 262 99 00; kronenhalle.ch
Prices: £££
Reservations: Essential 
Insider’s tip: Don’t miss the neighbouring bar, a mahogany masterpiece designed in 1965 by Swiss architects Trix and Robert Haussmann.

Kronenhalle, Zurich, Switzerland

Take a seat in Kronenhalle’s bar, a mahogany masterpiece

Bar Basso

Spaghetti might seem odd in Heidiland, but Zürich’s cucina Italia is not to be dismissed. After all, this ancient Gallo-Roman city formerly dubbed Turicum was once part of the Roman Empire. So grab a terrace table under the tricolore neon sign and order a bicicletta at this casual, buzzy ristorante overlooking the gushing Schanzengraben canal and within earshot of the #9 tram bell. The menu includes Italo-Alpine staples like beef tartare and lasagne, but seasonal salads and light pasta dishes like orecchiette with feta and dried tomatoes, not to mention chewy pizzas (gluten-free available) from a wood-fired oven, are the real draw.

Contact: 00 41 43 497 25 28; barbasso.ch/
Prices: ££
Reservations: Essential on weekends
Insider’s tip: All-day dining draws a steady stream of patrons seeking morning espressos in glass cups, after-work Aperol Spritzes, and late-night affogatos.

Fishers Fritz

Zürich teems with badis, lido-like swimming clubs shaded by linden groves that stretch around the perimeter of banana-shaped Lake Zurich. But this sexy, alfresco beiz (canteen) of a lakefront campground is a sweet spot in a city cluttered with overpriced sunset terraces and touristy sandwich kiosks. Do as the local rosé sippers and barefoot and bikini-clad SUP-ers do, and throw a jumper around your shoulders and park yourself at a picnic table for bowls of hummus, platefuls of truffled pomme frites and crunchy fried freshwater fish like pike, perch, trout, and char, all line-caught in Switzerland.

Contact: 00 41 43 497 25 28; fischers-fritz.ch
Prices: ££
Reservations: Essential on weekends
Insider’s tip: Sunday Brunch is especially popular. SUPs, wakeboards and champagne-stocked safari tents are available for hire.

Fishers Fritz, Zurich, Switzerland

Park yourself at a picnic table for bowls of hummus, platefuls of truffled pomme frites and crunchy fried freshwater fish

Where to stay in Switzerland

Zum Guten Glück

Look for the red tables and black cat-painted pendant lamp at the corner entrance of this warren of tiled and wallpapered living rooms devoted to pfannkuchen—Swiss-style pancakes. Thicker than French crêpes, thinner than American flapjacks, and eggier than both, each burrito-sized pillow comes stuffed with a choice of sweet or savoury ingredients like bacon, treacle and horseradish cream-cheese, speck and compote, or avocado and sambal. Bespectacled architects and 20-somethings occupy seats at the tin bar where a rotating selection of craft beers on tap compete for counter space with candy jars, coffees, teas and creamy frappes.

Contact: 00 41 43 540 72 99; zumgutenglueck.ch
Prices: £
Reservations: Essential on weekends
Insider’s tip: Open all day, but weekend mornings are the busiest.

Zum Guten Glück, Zurich, Switzerland

Zum Guten Glück is devoted to pfannkuchen—Swiss-style pancakes

Narawoot Pronnawakul

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