When traveling to another country, the food has a lot to do with understanding the culture. Sometimes it’s more about how you eat it (chopsticks anyone?), how it’s grown and where the food comes from, how the techniques of preparing and creating it have been perfected over the years.
I’m no foodie, I’m actually more of a picky eater that has just started to be a little more adventurous. The women I went on this trip with are determined to get me to eat sushi (we’ll see about that). I’m up for trying (some) new things, and a lot of traveling has to do with eating. I love trying different local restaurants anywhere I go, in the US or abroad.
In Zürich, we ate at some pretty spectacular restaurants, had a lot of wine and coffee, and Swiss chocolate of course!
Upon arriving around 8 am, I had breakfast at the hotel I was staying at, Hotel Ambassador à l’Opéra, which is a luxury hotel right by Lake Zürich and next to the Zürich Opernhaus (Opera House). In the US most breakfasts are made up of eggs, potatoes in many forms, pastries, cereal, granola, waffles, pancakes, yogurt, toast, bacon, sausage, fruit, etc. Meats and cheeses (similar to a charcuterie board) aren’t usually on the menu, but they are in other parts of the world. Usually the last thing I want to eat when I wake up is salami and cheese, but for some reason the morning I arrived that’s what I ate — with some delicious mustard too! The mustard came in a tiny tube and I slipped one in my bag to bring home with me.
Once all five of the bloggers on the press trip had arrived to Zürich, we headed out to lunch. We walked from our hotel to Restaurant Razzia. When we got there I thought, wow this looks nice. There were people dining outside and inside, and after our meal we were took a tour of the entire restaurant and garden, and I was blown away. IT’S HUGE! And very beautiful. The building is from the 1920s and was renovated in 2007 to it’s current state.
For lunch I opted for the chicken caesar salad, which seems like a boring choice, but the menu was small and a salad just sounded refreshing after my salami/cheese breakfast. The salad was unlike any other chicken caesar I’ve ever had. It was freaking delicious. Being the non-foodie I am I don’t know how to describe how amazing this salad was, it was just different. Fresh and full of flavor.
Julie had the Tarte Flambé (Rachelle even used it as her #travelbite that day), which is basically a flat bread pizza (but way better) made with tomatoes, spinach, and mascarpone on a super thin crispy crust. Luckily it was huge and she was sharing because when I saw it my mouth started watering…
Continue reading for more photos & restaurants!
After eating and touring Razzia, we took a walking tour of the city and stopped into a bunch of famous Swiss chocolate shops. We tasted some chocolate, and wow was it delicious. Very flavorful. You can definitely get away with just having one piece because it’s so rich you just don’t need any more.
I ended up buying some chocolates and macarons at Spruengli to bring home with me. I’m literally eating them right now.
That evening we ate at a very traditional Swiss restaurant called Zeughauskeller. The name Zeughaus means an arsenal storehouse where weapons and ammunition were stored and maintained. It was built in 1487 (before Columbus even discovered America).
I had the traditional dish called Kalbsgeschnetzeltes nach Zürcher Art, which is panfried sliced veal and mushrooms in a creamy white-wine sauce with Rösti which is a Swiss side dish that is basically a giant hashbrown and a Goldsprint Lager. If I could replace all American hashbrowns with rösti, I would. This dish was hearty and filling, and if you go to Zürich you must have it. It’s comfort food, so you will most likely have a food baby that you’ll need to slowly walk off afterward.
We ate breakfast at the hotel, then climbed the tower at Grossmünster. It is a Romanesque-style Protestant church and the towers of are one of the most recognizable landmarks in Zürich. Then it was off to lunch at Hiltl — which according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world.
Hiltl is currently run by the fourth generation of the Hiltl family, but was started in 1898 by Ambrosius Hiltl. With a selection of around 500 dishes, Hiltl is an à la carte restaurant, they have a large buffet, self-service and takeaway, a bar-lounge, a club, a cooking studio and a shop. I had the buffet because I wanted to try several different things, but Eden had this gorgeous mango “chicken” salad that was actually made of quorn, and it was much more photogenic than my buffet plate.
After stuffing ourselves full of vegetarian food, and a little wine of course, we hit up a coffee shop around the corner called Bovelli. They literally had the cutest to-go coffee cup I’ve ever seen. Zürich has amazing coffee shops around every corner. We could always easily find one, and with jet lag there were a lot of coffee stops.
After a boat ride on Lake Zürich, we went back to our hotel for drinks on the rooftop with a beautiful view of Zürich. It was unseasonably hot while we were there — in the 90s! But they had hats for us to wear, and we kept cool with water and rosé on the roof.
After freshening up, we went out for dinner at Quai 61 which is right on the water of Lake Zürich. This restaurant has a gorgeous dining room — all the windows were open since it’s summer — a rooftop bar, and a garden with blue picnic tables, pink flowers and white umbrellas. It doesn’t get much cuter than that.
This night is a little fuzzy for me as far as what I ate. I think it was pasta (it was really dark so I didn’t take photos), but I clearly remember the chocolate volcano cake I had for dessert. It was all delicious, but for me the ambiance was especially memorable.
The next morning we went and had breakfast in the garden at Péclard where I basically drank my breakfast. We tried to order this frozen hot chocolate type of thing that it was supposedly known for, but I think we ordered the wrong item as it was more like chocolate milk versus frozen hot chocolate. Which, hey, I like chocolate milk, and I was starving so I slurped it down quickly. Then I drank some fresh orange juice and coffee. Eden and I ate croissants, Julie had salmon benedict, and Aida had some sort of bacon breakfast pizza which was delicious.
Next up on our itinerary was stand up paddle boarding on Lake Zürich. I wasn’t too sure how I felt about that, but was up for it anyway. We were taking an actual class which was interesting. I think doing yoga and standing on The Level by Fluidstance while at my standing desk helped me get the hang of stand up paddle boarding with ease. My balance is pretty good, so I didn’t find it that difficult. At one point I was doing burpees on the paddle board, and attempting to do crow (the yoga pose). I wasn’t able to fully get my feet up for crow, but the attempt was enough.
Being out on (and in) the water was one of my favorite parts of the Zürich experience. The water was so refreshing, not to mention clean, you could literally drink the lake water. Since it was so hot in Zürich at the time, and most places don’t have AC (because they typically don’t need it) the water felt so good after a few hot days. The view was gorgeous of course. Unfortunately I didn’t take my phone/camera out on the water for obvious reasons, so there is no evidence of said stand up paddle boarding, burpees, or crow attempts.
After about 90 minutes on the water, we got on a little boat and headed over to Fishers Fritz for lunch al fresco. This was one of my favorite meals. The ambiance was perfect with a view of Lake Zürich. It was casual, fun, and delicious. Lots of veggies and fried fish — yum!
Fischers Fritz has their own wine, which we drank during lunch. I of course stuck with the rosé and when I found out I could purchase it I was so excited. Not only is it delicious wine, but the label is soooooo good. I brought the bottle home in my luggage and I might just stare at the label for a while and drink it on the very last warm day of summer.
After our late lunch we were planning to do a little shopping but ended up plopping for coffee at Milch Bar. Hey, all this eating and walking in the heat plus jet lag does a number on you! Once we got our caffeine fix, we also got gin and tonics to-go. Yep, that’s totally fine there.
We headed back to the hotel to freshen up for dinner (more like take a nap, and then take a super fast shower). Dinner was in the garden of Neumarkt which is a magical place. One thing I especially noticed there — a completely full patio — was that our table (six American women) was the loudest by far. Oh Americans!
I had a zucchini and goat cheese salad, white fish with brown butter, and gnocchi, and some sort of hazelnut dessert. So basically after all that I don’t need to eat anything for a month!
Overall the dining experience and cuisine of Zürich was extremely enjoyable. I felt like the ambiance and dining experience was just as important as the food and the freshness of the food is of high importance. The Swiss take pride in what they grow and are very conscious of environmental matters, and it is reflected in the cuisine. Dining was very much an event — an enjoyable, not-rushed, relaxing event.
Have you been to Zürich? Where did you eat? Did you love it?
Photos by Meg Biram
This post is sponsored by Visit Zurich. Meg Biram maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site.