Dining out in Zürich can mean a lot of different things, from sitting down to a filling meal of traditional Swiss fare like fondue and raclette to eating sophisticated dishes in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Yet visitors will find one consistency among Zürich restaurants: They're expensive. Even "budget" restaurants in the city are more expensive than their counterparts in many other big cities in Europe or elsewhere.
Once you get past the sticker shock, you'll find a vibrant dining scene that goes well beyond bread and melted cheese—though there's plenty of that to go around. Here, we've selected the top restaurants in Zürich for whatever kind of meal you're looking for.
There are a lot of places to find fondue in Zürich, but Le Dézaley—housed in a rustic building from the 1200s—is an institution. For more than 100 years, servers have been bringing patrons pots of piping hot fondue, as well as other specialties of the French-speaking Vaud canton. If cheese isn't your thing, this is one of the few places where you can find fondue Bourguignonne, cubes of raw meat to be cooked at the table in a vat of hot oil. Service here can be a bit snarky, but just chalk it up to part of the experience.
If you've got a hankering for a meter-long sausage, you've come to the right place. That's just one of the specialties of Zeughauskeller, a raucous restaurant serving traditional Swiss fare in a former weapons armory dating from the 1400s. The main hall is always filled with hundreds of hungry diners as the kitchen turns out plates heaped with every possible variety of sausage, in addition to Rösti (shredded, fried potatoes), Weinerschnitzel, and veal Cordon Bleu. Wash it all down with a tall mug of beer and you may just feel transported to Zürich in the 15th century.
In a glass pavilion overlooking the Schanzengraben, Zürich's medieval moat, this fine dining establishment is perfect for a birthday, anniversary, or other special event. The bright and stylish dining room is designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, and the wildly creative dishes issued forth from the kitchen confirm Pavillon's two-Michelin star status. This is no place for a bargain meal, though they do offer a two-course lunch special for 76 Swiss francs ($77). You're sure to find something you like on the 40-page wine list. Prices start at about 60 Swiss francs ($61) a bottle and go way, way up.
Set on the 35th floor of Prime Tower (Zürich's tallest building), upscale CLOUDS Kitchen and the more casual CLOUDS Bistro both offer stunning daytime and nighttime views across all of Zürich, Lake Zürich, and the surrounding countryside. Both dining rooms offer menus that blend Swiss and Asian influences, and the Bistro has familiar comfort food items like club sandwiches and burgers. The Kitchen offers a weekend brunch for 65 Swiss francs ($66) per person. For meals at any time of day, reservations are recommended at this Zürich West hotspot. Be sure to request a window-side table when booking.
At the foot of Prime Tower in Zürich West, Frau Gerolds Garten offers casual, fun, and reasonably priced dining whatever the season. In the summertime, the ample outdoor area is a festive marketplace, with bars, food stalls, crafts merchants, outdoor seating, and frequent live music. The menu leans towards sandwiches, salads, and grilled meats. In the wintertime, a wooden pavilion goes up, and a fondue-heavy menu is served in a cozy setting. At any time of year, this is Zürich at its carefree best. Reservations are recommended in winter, when Frau Gerholds is only open for dinner.
If you need a break from sausage and schnitzel, try this airy and modern pan-Asian eatery in the trendy Europaallee district near Zürich Hauptbahnhof train station. Comfort foods from across the Asian spectrum include pad Thai, Vietnamese pho, Indian dal curry, teriyaki salmon, and ramen noodles. In nice weather, there's sidewalk seating, but the dining room is quite cheerful anytime. They also deliver if you want something brought to your hotel, and there are two locations in the city. As Zürich goes, this is an affordable place for lunch or dinner.
This might be the chicest place in Zürich—or Europe, for that matter—for a burger. And fortunately, at Loft Five, the food lives up to the hip, urban-chic ambiance. Guests can build their own burgers, choosing everything from the meat to sauces to the bun. Or, they can dig into meaty sandwiches, grilled items, or a decent selection of vegetarian items. A late-night snack menu will help soak up all those craft cocktails from the trendy bar. As with many joints in happening Europaallee, when the weather is good, the party spills out onto the sidewalk.
At lunch or dinner, Bauernschänke serves contemporary, creative cuisine in a warm and woodsy setting. There's no set menu, but rather a changing selection of small plates based on what's fresh in the local markets that day. Dishes are intended for sharing. The presentation is stunning and precise, meaning you might have to Instagram your plate before you dig in. Reservations are recommended, especially for dinner.
On a sunny day in Zürich, this industrial-chic locale is a glorious spot for weekday lunch, thanks to its outdoor patio overlooking leafy Helvetiaplatz. A small but well-thought-out menu of burgers, pasta, and fish is accompanied by a selection of soft drinks, beer, and cider. BANK also does breakfast, afternoon snacks, dinner, and weekend brunch.
If a picnic strikes your fancy—either as a way to save money or just to enjoy a pretty day outdoors—head to Markthalle Viadukt. One of the focal points of buzzing Zürich West, the cavernous food and retail hall is built into the arches of a railway viaduct. Throughout the hall are gourmet purveyors selling DIY picnic supplies and ready-to-eat items (there are tables and chairs inside), and along the viaduct, there are bars, restaurants, and stores selling fashion and housewares.
Hiltl bills itself as the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world, and it probably is. This temple for non-meat eaters has been open since 1898 and is now run by the fourth generation of Hiltl family. The menu reflects the influences of Swiss, Asian, and Indian cuisines, and the dishes are rich and colorful. Haus Hiltl is an empire, with a cooking school, cooking classes, a cocktail bar, a vegetarian butcher, and franchises. This is where it all began.
To find Zürich's most kid-friendly restaurant, head to its most family-friendly destination, Uetliberg. Gmüetliberg Restaurant is located right next to the Uetliberg train station, meaning it's a great stop at the start or end of a day of outdoor recreation. Fondue is a specialty, as is typically hearty Swiss fare. There's a playground on-site, and it's fun to sit outside and watch trains come and go.