Zurich is the ideal place to test out Switzerland’s culinary traditions. With traditional dishes from across the country’s 26 cantons as well as specialties from Zurich on offer, you’ll have plenty to try. Here are some of the dishes you really must eat when you’re in Zurich.
It goes without saying that cheese fondue is a must for any visit to Switzerland. The first recipe was written down in Zurich, so it would be a shame not to try out the famous Swiss dish. Basically, it’s a whole lot of melted cheeses (the type can vary but it is usually either Gruyère or Emmental), mixed with different ingredients of your choice (mushrooms, herbs, tomatoes). Always served with bread and washed down with some white wine, fondue is a must-try.
In Zurich you are well past the Röstigraben, an imaginary line that separates Swiss-French cantons from the Swiss-German cantons. This is a national dish and steeped in farming tradition. Potatoes are fried in oil leaving them crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Sometimes you can have bacon or even apple mixed into the batter to flavour it up a bit.
The Swiss sure do love their melted cheese and raclette is no exception. A little more lively than fondue as your melted cheese comes with potatoes, onions, gherkins and pickled fruit. They’ll often keep topping up your plate with all of the above until you tell them to stop, so if you’re famished it’s the perfect, filling dish.
One of the quintessential dishes from Zurich, which literally translates as “meat cut Zurich style”. Don’t be put off by the unpronounceable name: Zurcher Geschnetzeltes is quite simple and consists of slices of veal cooked with mushrooms, cream, onions and wine. It’s often served with rösti, rice or noodles.
Zurich is the birth place of muesli, the well-beloved breakfast meal. Dr Maximilian Bircher-Benner started feeding his patients at a local Zurich hospital a more nutritious diet of cereals and fruits. It soon became a hit, both inside the sanatorium and out. Flughafenbeck, with outlets across the city, is one place to find a good bowl ofSwiss-style muesli.
On a cold winter’s day there’s nothing better than a nice hot pot. Zürcher Eintopf is a hearty mix of pork, onions, cabbages, potatoes and carrots cooked in white wine.
Perfect for those with a sweet tooth, Zuger Kirschtorte is a cake layered with nut-infused meringue, sponge and butter cream. To add to the sweetness it’s drizzled with cherry brandy. Be sure to look out for this one on the dessert menus.
In Eastern Switzerland meat, usually beef cuts, are cured and air dried in the Alpine air for between 10 to 15 weeks. Traditionally from the canton of Graubünden, this delicacy is available all over the country and you’ll find it in butchers across Zurich.
Zopf is easily recognisable amongst the many types of bread on offer in Switzerland, it’s name means “braid” and it’s not difficult to see why. Before baking, the dough (made from milk, eggs, yeast and flour) is coated with egg yolk, giving it a rich, golden shine. Traditionally the bread is eaten on Sunday mornings but it’s available all week long in most bakeries.
Another fine dish to warm the bones during winter is Bündner Gerstensuppe, a Swiss barley soup. Traditionally eaten by farmers in the Alps to keep warm in the winter months, this soup dish is the most popular in Switzerland and supposedly has over 150 variations. This is also one of the dishes you can easily take away and make for your friends at home.
Restaurant, Vegetarian, $$$
Switzerland’s dishes are meat and dairy heavy, if you’re in need of a break head to the Haus Hiltl, the world’s first vegetarian restaurant. At the Hiltl try out the specialty tartar made from okara, eggplant and spices. It’s so rich in taste, you probably won’t even realise that there’s no meat in it.
Haus Hiltl, Sihlstrasse 28, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland, +41 44 227 70 00