Zoomin' Through Zurich
- Greg Henry
I have an interesting dilemma. I have never been to Zurich. Know nothing about the layout, the neighborhoods or anything about it's food scene. Naturally I have researched Zurich here and elsewhere, but can't seem to keep anything in context with my specific needs.
Basically I am going to arrive on a Thursday afternoon after a hell flight from L.A. I am staying at Arabellasheraton Neues Schloss, Stockerstrasse 17-Zurich 8002. I will be in Zurich 20 hours before continuing to Prague, Vienna and Dubrovnik on business.
Zurich is my one night to choose what I do for myself. I know I'll be tired, but I'll muscle through. I am looking for a one night experience in Zurich that is walkable from my hotel (cause walking to and from dinner will be the only way I'll get to see any sights at all).
I do not care if it's expensive, or cheap, trendy or traditional...just authentic to the city (I know it is a very international city so I do not necessarily mean a purely "Swiss" experience either).
If there were a great bar or someplace to stop in for quiet music on the way that would be great. Maybe an after dinner idea too!!
I should add that my travel companion and I are gay, late 30's and early 40's. However, I am not interested in strictly gay establishments. I know EXACTLY what that is like in any city in the world.
I know it's a specialized question that requires some thought and knowledge. I don't really expect a lot of responses. But my experience with Los Angeles Chowhounds has proved to me that there are people out there with the information, the time and the love to point me in the right direction. I promise a full and honest report when I return.
My trip is not until early April I am posting this very early in order to increase my chance of getting a response. So if you want to think about and get back to me later, cool! I am a fun and decent guy with an adventurous palate so do not hold back.
I really appreciate what ever time any of you can put into this!!!
For the most purely Swiss experience you can get, go to a Migros (especially one of the larger ones). It is Switzerland's supermarket chain and offers great deals on food. Their restaurants are serviceable, but nothing special. Their house brand of chocolates, Frey, is as good as Lindt. I spent a very nice summer working at a Migros in Zofingen.
I spent a couple of days in Zurich last year on business and I had two excellent meals. One was at Kronenhale (Ramistrasse 4), it's a Swiss restaurant and very traditional in Zurich. It is expensive. The potato roesti was amazing.
Another good option is Alpenrose (Fabrikstrasse 12). It's also Swiss food, but more low key and inexpensive than Kronenhale.
If money is not a problem I would suggest Kronenhale, it's more festive, nicer room, nicer service.
I don't know if these places are close to your hotel, but Zurich's tram system is quite easy to use and you can go everywhere using the tram. It will be a short ride.
I would suggest walking bahnhofstrasse - the street that goes out of the train station to the lake, not for a specific meal, but because it is a nice experience.
sprungli, mentioned before, is an excellent cafe expereince for chocolates and pastries.
I would suggest having somebody from your hotel recomend a place for Raclette - that is one meal you should have when you are in Switzerland for just one meal.
Kronenhalle charges ridiculous prices. But if you don't mind paying for the ambiance, the restaurant is a legend in Switzerland. Not for its food but for its customers and the decoration. Thomas Mann, James Joyce and Duerrenmatt are said to have dined here. And you'll dine under original paintings by Klee, Chagall, Matisse, Miró, Kandinsky, Braque, Bonnard, and Picasso and lamps by Giacometti. I would suggest going there for a drink (they have a bar) and going elsewhere for food.
If you want something traditional Swiss Oepfelchammer in the old town might be a good choice. It's where Gottfried Keller is said to have lived. If you wonder why there are so many names engraved into the wooden benches, if you manage to jump over the wooden beam under the ceiling, hang over the beam upside down and drink a glass of wine in this position you can crave you name into the benches. No kidding. Mine is on one of the benches. :-)
The address is Rindermarkt 12.
Rosengarten is a great place to eat if its warm enough to sit outside. They have a beautiful courtyard. The food is good and not too pricey. It's typically Zurich: hearty food but prepared with a little twist to it. One of my favourite places. Inside is also nice. But you need to make a reservation. Gemeindestr. 60. Tel 01 251 37 36
If you want to eat in funny alternative setting try Les Halle in Zurich's hip going out quarter Zurich West. It's in the Pfingstweidstrasse 6, the food is good and cheap, international I would say, but they don't have a lot of choice. They ususally have Moule, Pasta and two Plats du jour - vegetarian and meat. It used to be an old garage.
Spruengli is a very good recommendation. Do not leave Zurich without trying the Luxemburgerli. You cannot get them anywhere else as they must always be fresh.
For cheaper Swiss food you can also try the Crazy Cow, menus are in Swiss-German, but I think they have English available. Leonhardstr. 1. Haldenegg Tram stop 6/7/10/15,
Thai in the old town? The Blue Monkey is nice but a bit loud for my tastes. They make up for it by having actual spicy food which can be hard to find here. it is right next to the the Rathaus tram stop on the 4 and 15 lines.
Another interesting place to try is the Belvoir Park just off the 7 tram stop Brunaustrasse 3 or 4 stops from Stockerstrasse. It is a place where apprentice restaurant workers train to manage and work in top end restaurants. They do things like decant your wine over a candle, the service and food are exceptional leave time though, and you might have to make a reservation.
If you want a more local experience there are restaurants/cafeterias on the top floors of most of the big department stores (Migros, Manor, Globus, and Jelmoli, ascending cost.)
I am a big fan of the Sternen Grill in Bellvue at the top of the lake. I have never eaten in the restaurant, but the Bratwurst/Mustard/Brötli at the stand up/takeaway area are the best in the city. the Cervela are pretty good too. You should try a Cervela as there are new rules starting this summer that will change the casings and all the Swiss think they will be ruined, I can't taste the difference though.
Stockerstrasse is sort of an office area so definitely get a 24 hour tram ticket, it should cost CHF7.80. You will be near the 6 7 and, I think, 8 trams and right between Paradeplatz and Enge which connect to just about every other tram line
Ok, I'll stop now one of these day I will do more about Zürich.
oh and www.zuerich.com has extensive listings for everthing.
I just saw your post. If you still have time to plan, get yourself a reservation at a restaurant called Bü's, telephone 044 211 94 11. They have excellent food, great wines by the glass, but no music. But there is still cigarette smoke. This is one of the best places to eat in the city. I doubt that you want the standardized, glutamatized fare served in the Migros joints.