Here's our guide to some of the best places to eat like a local, pick up a juicy burger, splash the cash or enjoy a great view.
Some of the best restaurants in Zurich
This modern, casual brassiere makes for an unusual eating experience that, like marmite, you either love or hate. Based on set menus which feature a series of small tapas style dishes that are fixed around the themes of veggie or meat, it makes for gourmet pick ‘n’ mix experience.
Strip the Swiss cuisine from all its cheesiness and cheese - and this is what you get. The Alpenrose has been offering original Swiss dishes from all regions and with only local produce since the 1990s, probably the first restaurant in town that took the 'go local' approach seriously.
The menu takes inspiration from the modern brasserie trend ,with classic options for both lovers of meat or those strictly vegetarian (somewhat unusual to find both on a menu in Zurich). The terrace, open in spring and summer, is an ultra stylish location for summer aperitifs and compliments the restaurant's cosmopolitan ambitions.
Its fabulous setting looking right over the lake and beyond make it worthy alone for a visit, however that is not all that appeals about this quirky, charming and fun restaurant/bar. Its interior echoes that of a vintage ship, with lots of dark wood and shiny brass touches, and there is a South of France feeling in the attitude and menu here too.
Great spots for brunch
Its fabulous setting looking right over the lake and beyond make it worthy alone for a visit, however that is not all that appeals about this quirky, charming and fun restaurant/bar. For Sunday brunch there is no better place to be, and it can be a lively venue in general to spend an evening out for drinks or dinner.
Originally the café bar of the adjacent Maison Blunt, for Sunday's oriental brunch, there's a loungy feel with sofas with exotic fabrics and the traditional Moroccan tea room tables. This seating arrangement might not please everyone, but there are more 'European' chairs and tables at the front.
We love Iroquois' American-style hamburgers and fries - choose from beef, chicken, veal, fish or vegi. All are served alongside bottles of locally-produced artisan ketchups. But it's not all about the burgers. There's also a good range of salads and daily specials, as well as a weekend brunch offering, Znüni (morning tea) and a very decent kids' menu, that doubles as a colouring sheet (pencils are provided) - nice. Rounding it off is a drinks list comprising beer, wine, cocktails, coffee, tea, softdrinks and juices. Iroquios hosts seasonal events, such as its annual pumpkin-fest in October, and screens international sports including tennis and the World Cup. The shabby-chic interior offers a comfortable dining space with a tiny art gallery at the far end. In summer, there's a pleasant terrace area where diners can spill out onto leafy Seefeldstrasse for a meal or a beverage.
With its oh so French feel, cute interiors and lovely outdoor space, this café found the speedway straight into the hearts of Zurich's hip and cool when it opened in 2011. It's a place to chat, to relax, to read - and most of all to have breakfast. But beware, its Sunday brunch is one of the most popular in town and you will have to book a table well in advance.
This bright room with its black and white tiles might have originally been a butcher's shop, but meat is not that much of a concern anymore in a café bar that is famous for its vegan muffins. It's a popular place for brunch on a Saturday and Sunday, so get there early or book a table.
With its gastropub feel and location in a park by the river Sihl, the Fork & Bottle has become somewhat of an expat hub in Zurich for English speakers. And this is by no means a bad thing. The convivial atmosphere and friendly, efficient staff make for a splendid meal, whether it's Sunday brunch (try the eggs Benedict if you can resist the full English!) or a bang-up pub meal from the seasonal menu at other times.
Find the best burger
You can choose from prime, Angus or wagyu beef then pimp it up with a selection of toppings including blue cheese, Swiss bacon and guacamole. There is also a selection of sandwiches and skewers. Don’t be confused by the ‘dirty’ rating Helvti swears by. Here, the ‘dirtier’ the meal, the greater the taste.
A focus on quality over quantity means a limited menu made up of fresh vegetables, homemade bread, grilled Swiss meat and mountain cheese – all free from preservatives and flavour enhancers. It’s about as far from the greasy burger stereotype as you can get. Wash it all down with a beer from the restaurant’s vast selection. Reservations not possible.
Holy Cow! in Zurich could be described as Switzerland in a burger. Part of a franchise that started life in Lausanne, this Zurich burger restaurant not only looks to buy as much produce as it can in Switzerland; it aims to buy at least one product from each canton. It then whips it up into an imaginative menu that works '100% Swiss Guarantee beef’ into a range of burgers – from the classics such as beef or big cheese, and bacon and avocado, to the innovative – think toasted goat’s cheese, honey glazed chorizo and hot chilli. There is also a range of chicken burgers that match the beef for quality, and veggie burgers made from chickpeas, lentils and bulgur wheat. The latter can be a little claggy, though. There’s nothing processed here: expect fast food with a quality spin. Reservations not possible.
Great views and summer terraces
This is an ideal summer oasis located near one of Zurich's most famous local attractions, the Chinagarten. It's the perfect place for drinks after work or lounging around on a sunny Saturday afternoon on sofas set on a wooden decked terrace which sits right out on the waters edge.
Not only has fashion store Modissa on Bahnhofstrasse been fully revamped, its recent re-opening also saw the arrival of its very own restaurant on the top floor, including a stunning terrace with great views of the hustle and bustle on the shopping streets of Zurich’s city centre. Open even after shopping hours and equipped with comfy chairs and a spacious bar, the rooftop restaurant serves Asian snacks from the trolley and cocktails with a touch of sake or yuzu.
George opened in 2014 in a chic attic apartment on Sihlstrasse. Thanks to its location on the 5th floor of Haus Ober, above the casino, the restaurant-cum-bar enjoys enviable views over Zurich’s rooftops. It has the feel of a modern penthouse, but elegantly incorporates traditional bar culture.
This gentrified brassiere restaurant, awarded 15 points by the Gault-Millau gourmet guide, attracts a bohemian and lively crowd of local literati and financial wheeler-dealers. This is partly due to the cooking skills of the charismatic Swiss star chef Françoise Wicki and her menu which is built on a fusion of gourmet cuisine with down-to-earth Swiss fare. The restaurant's appeal is also due to it having one of the best service teams in the city, sometimes a weakness in many top restaurants in Zurich, who are friendly, fun and professional. In the summer months the romantic terrace overlooking the river is a must do at least once in the season.
On the third floor of the PKZ Women clothing store you'll find the latest edition of popular vegetarian restaurant Hiltl. A charming location, incredible views of busy Bahnhofstrasse and across Zurich to the lake, plus the restaurant's signature delicious vegetarian buffet - sounds like the perfect shopping pitstop to us!
Healthy food options
As part of one of Zurich's most famous luxury hotels, the Baur au Lac, means expectations are set high for this upmarket popular dining spot. The menu takes inspiration from the modern brasserie trend , with classic options for both lovers of meat or those strictly vegetarian (somewhat unusual to find both on a menu in Zurich).
Take time out for lunch
The 'kitchen by the water', part of culture and youth centre Dynamo. It is best enjoyed outside. Daily changing lunch menus (including at least one vegetarian option and a vegan menu on Wednesdays) using local ingredients, light snacks and cakes are served on its terrace right next to the river.