Eating in Zurich
Where to Eat
The quintessential Zürich dish is Zürigeschnätzlets, chopped veal in a cream and wine sauce, normally served with Rösti. Various kinds of grilled Würste (sausages, singular: Wurst) are also popular. These are most often accompanied by boiled potatoes, or Rösti, a kind of hash-browns, just much better (boiled potatoes then grated, then pan fried in butter until crisp) or Chnöpfli (small noodle dumplings, in Germany called Spätzle).
In general many kind of different meat (veal, beef, pork, lamb and mutton, chicken and other poultry meat, or even horse (considered to be very delicious and of high quality), and rabbit and venison during hunting season in autumn) you can find in many various dishes. In quality-aware restaurants they originate from a personally known, local source and are normally served with fresh, local and seasonal vegetables, besides standard side dishes.
While Fondue (melted cheese in a central pot, dip bread into it) and Raclette (cheese melted in small portions, served with potatoes and pickles) are not really local to Zürich (they originally come from the western French-speaking Switzerland) and consumed by locals only during winter season, they are available at some restaurants aimed at tourists even in summer.
The bread available in Zürich is generally delicious. There are many varieties, and your best bet is to go to a bakery or a supermarket in the morning or just after work hours, when most people are doing their shopping and bread is coming out fresh. A typically Swiss bread is the Zopf, a braided soft bread made from white flour, milk, eggs, butter and yeast that is commonly served on Sundays (the other name for it isSonntagszopf, or in High German Butterzopf), or its luxury version called Buurezopf (Farmer's Zopf) made with Buuremehl (Farmer's flour, a combination of wheat and rye) instead of white flour only.
Try grilled Bratwurst from street stands, served with a large crusty roll of sourdough bread and mustard, or sandwiches made with fresh bakedBretzeln (large, soft pretzels; an original Bavaria treat and just recently "imported" by a shop chain).
For breakfast, try a bowl of (Bircher-)Müesli, which was invented by Dr. Bircher as a health food in Switzerland. The Sprüngli confectionery store tea rooms serve a deluxe version of this fiber-filled cereal with whole milk, nuts, fruits such as crushed berries and cream.
There are a huge variety of cheeses available at the supermarkets, specialty stores and markets, as well as all kinds of hams and dried sausages. Dairy products are generally delicious, especially the butter and yoghurts. Do not miss the supermarkets! You should take a thorough look through Migros or Coop and maybe even assemble your own lunch or dinner some time. Even the cheap, budget prepackaged desserts in the supermarket exceed the quality of what you may be used to.
Generally, locals prefer local and seasonal produces, though the prices for them are usually higher. The demand of so-called Bio products (aka organic products) is so high that local farmers cannot fulfill it, and therefore a large part of organic produces is imported, but probably come along with less thorough quality checks than Swiss are usually used to.
For those with a sweet tooth, there's a huge variety of chocolates to enjoy, from the cheapest chocolate bar to individually hand-made truffles. (See the Shopping section above). The chocolate bar displays at the supermarkets will overwhelm you! Also enjoy pastries and cakes from the various Konditorei scattered around town. In pastry shops, you can also find special pastry from Zurich: The most famous of them probably is Tirggel, a rather hard pastry made of flour and honey. Although traditionally made and eaten during the Winter holidays, many pastry shops (including larger supermarkets) sell them throughout the year. Often, they've got sights of Zurich printed on the top, can be stored for months and thus make up a pretty good and cheap souvenir. Another famous type of pastry are Luxemburgerli exclusively sold by the confectionery chain of Sprüngli (part of the famous chocolatier Lindt & Sprüngli). A typical cake is the Mandelfisch, an almond cake shaped like a fish.
Like most European cities, Zürich abounds with Cafés where you can enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee, glass of wine or other beverage, and watch the world go by.
There are many international dining options available, too. The current hot trend seems to be pan-Asian noodle/rice/sushi places. However, due to the far distance to the sea and the lack of original, well-trained Chinese/ Japanese cooks, the quality cannot live up to that of the original countries. Instead, the Italian cuisine holds the highest popularity among the foreign restaurants. They can be found throughout the city and are relatively cheap. Turkish fast food restaurants are also a delicious, cheap option.
Vegetarian food is easy to find throughout the city. Vegans may have a little trouble because cheese is used generously in most food, but should be fine living off supermarkets at the very least. Hiltl, the first vegetarian-only restaurant in Europe, is also worth a visit. You choose from the buffet, where your meal is priced by weight or from a variety of à la carte menus, which are a bit more pricey, but include vegetarian/vegan versions of popular Swiss meals like Züri-Gschnätzlets or Beef Stroganoff amongst Indian food and classic vegetarian plates. Another vegan friendly restaurant is "Bona Dea", which is located directly at Zurich's main railway station.
Splurge (High End)