Tel: 44 271 1030
In hip Zurich West is this half-designer, half-homey, all-Swiss new institution—a kind of mega-Pain Quotidien serving beer instead of soup. The name means "Bake and Brew," and that's exactly what they do. In an effort to redress the heartless, big-business side of beer and the fastness of food, here's a microbrewery-pub-restaurant-bakery that manages to be almost all things to almost all people—low-carb dieters excepted. The space is fabulous: illuminated walkways set into wooden floors with big iron-framed windows, the whole thing bathed in cobalt-blue light. The bakery turns out savory pastries with spinach and feta; chicken and mushroom pies; pizzas; quiches; loaves of peasant bread baked with a joint of ham inside and sliced; filled bagels and baguettes. The third thing they specialize in here is coffee, but "Back, Brau, und Kaffee" wouldn't sound so good.
Tel: 44 421 5050
An only-in-Zurich (okay, and also in Basel) experience: eating in the dark. Really, really dark. Pitch black. This isn't all gimmick; it's to enable us to gain an insight into the world of the blind, as well as to savor your food in a new way. Two thirds of the staff here is not sighted (though the chef can see), and they lead you carefully, gently, and with a necessary sense of humor through what most people find to be a pretty mind-blowing evening. Menus change weekly and are seasonal, simple, and good. People wonder: Are the bathrooms pitch black? And how do you pay in the dark? The answers: no, and you don't. You need to reserve weeks in advance for weekends; midweek is not quite so bad. "Blind Cow" is named after the German blindman's buff, by the way.
Tel: 41 44 227 70 00
A leafy anomaly in a meat-and-potatoes city, the vegetarian Haus Hiltl restaurant dates back to 1898, when one Ambrosium Hiltl decided rösti potatoes and Spaetzle just weren't enough. Renovated since then, the cavernous restaurant is a neo-Baroque showpiece hung with cut-glass chandeliers and crowded with mismatched chairs that run from Victorian to Bauhaus. But it's the snaking smorgasbord's global encyclopedia of vegetarian dishes that takes literal center stage. Load up as many times as you like on dishes such as chestnut soup, leek salad, apple and pepper goulash, Thai curry, sweet corn cake, barley risotto, porcini ragoût, Gorgonzola polenta, couscous Marrakech, and zucchini with saffron sauce. The mango ice cream makes for a crucial palate cleanser after all that border-hopping roughage, and a refreshing end to one of the best deals (about $44 dollars per person for a meal that lasts all day) in a very pricey town.—Raphael Kadushin
Open Mondays through Thursdays 6 am to midnight, Sundays 8 am to midnight, and Fridays and Saturdays 6 am until late.
Tel: 44 251 6669
For decades this old-fashioned brasserie of a place has hosted visiting and resident stars and dignitariesone suspects more because of what's on the walls than what's on the plates. Not that the latter is badit's a fine place to try the local dishes, and the chocolate mousse is meant to be the best for miles; it's just hard to concentrate on your fork with a Picasso, Chagall, Matisse, or Miró staring down at you. For a lighter art fix, belly up to the absolutely stunning bar, an extravagantly curvaceous redwood landscape by Robert Haussmann with bronze lamps by Diego and Alberto Giacometti.
Tel: 44 258 7071
This cool glass box inside the Schiffbauhausthe old shipyard building that's an entire neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood in hip Zurich Westis not just for design fiends, though they certainly helped put it on the map. The food is serious, Italianate, and fish-centric (vitello tonnato; broiled giant shrimp with green curry), but there's also plenty for carnivores (including horsemeatpopular round herein port wine jus) and for vegetarians. Good wine and long cocktail lists, a cigar menu, and a 25-foot-long communal table help keep the pretensions down and the gemütlichkeit up.
Tel: 44 321 7575
Young chef Chris Trewer recently left the Eden au Roc, for whom he'd won a pair of Michelin stars, to open this spare, elegant place with its textured golden cork walls, dark wood floor, and black and cream upholstered chairs. The plan is simple: everything fresh. The kitchen's style is kind of Southern Italy meets Southern Germany, with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients: Fish are filleted at table; risottos are cooked to order; in summer there might be iced cucumber soup with shellfish and rack of lamb with gnocchi and ratatouille; fall features game and truffles. Always there's house-baked focaccia and grissini; crème brûlée, and panna cotta. In summer, try for one of the tables in the cute garden.
Tel: 44 241 0700
A current hot spot thanks to owner Andy Stutz, locally renowned for his Seidenhaus Fabric Frontline, source of Switzerland' sweetest silks. The wild decor doesn't hurt eitherthe room is dominated by an installation featuring thousands of mirror fragments by multimedia artist Ugo Rondinone. Food is scrupulously freshupdated versions of traditional bourgeois dishes that change constantly. And if you don't like what's on the menu, they'll try to cook whatever you want.
Tel: 41 44 262 04 44
This combination deli-restaurant offers a stylish take on traditional Swiss cuisine that emphasizes the ripest locally sourced harvest. The approach is evident in the ground-floor deli, where farm-fresh cheeses and just-baked crusty breads pose in long display cases, and upstairs in the whitewashed dining room, which serves a zealously foraged menu of stalwart Swiss dishes. The seasonal menu may include a Lake Constance pike perch, or a classic Gschnätzlets that features sliced local veal, full cream from a regional dairy, and freshly picked mushrooms. Even the desserts exude a farm-to-table appeal; the chocolate cake folds in white flour from an Emmental mill. The added bonus to all this busy harvesting: In a town where dinner can mean uptown prices, the commendably reasonable tab here (entrées can be had for around $34) seems positively pastoral.—Raphael Kadushin
Deli open Mondays through Fridays 7:30 am to 11 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 9:30 am to 11 pm.
Restaurant open Sundays through Fridays 11:30 am to 2 pm and 6 to 11:30 pm, Saturdays 6 to 11:30 pm.