The Bianco Guide To: Zurich Food For Lovers
Zurich is for lovers – it’s as simple as that. A town that looks like it came straight out of a Disney movie and superb food if you happen to know the right spot. This is where my guide comes in, because this is what Biancissimo guides are for, right? - Making your life easy, your belly full, and your trousers tight.
This is the first guide ever where I actually got invited to bring some Bianco geezerness to a town. Obviously, I’m more than happy and grateful for this. (Thank you @visitzurich) Alongside a gang of highly skilled food bloggers, I had the chance to spend nearly three days in this city and eat my way through it. Thanks to the help of my international food network of fat and hungry friends, I crossed out the very best recommendations on my list and am now able to present to you my guide to this lovely town.
Since I stayed there for only two and a half days, this won’t be the complete guide to Zurich (if there ever can be one) but a good starting point for diving into its diverse kitchens and bars. Seriously, come to think of it, you try to eat that much in two and a half days! That’s how dedicated I am. I’m doing for you, guys.
On a side note, please do not forget to get yourself a free bike at Züri rollt! It makes you look good and you can reach your destinations while burning calories. Also, some of these joints will be a little expensive compared to your hometown restaurants. However, some of them are actually…kind of…almost…a little bit...well, they are still quite expensive. Let’s just say, if you come from Berlin (like me), it will be a little hard to swallow, but if you are from Munich (like me), it’ll be ok. Either way, there’s still some stuff on this list which will not kill you, so, don’t be afraid and jump right in! Gruezi!
The Bianco Guide To: Zurich Food For Lovers
In Cooperation with @visitzurich
BIG BEN PUB
Due to the fact that Biancissimo is not a normal food blog and we do things differently around here, we will start this guide with two bars and a very good friend of Biancissimo, Lebemann.
Since Lebemann (read the article) is a Zurich mastermind and a connoisseur of the fine and not-so-fine ways of drinking, I spent my first hours in bars. The first bar he took me was called Big Ben Pub. You are going to find a diverse crowd of football, beer, and whiskey loving blokes in it. The owner of the bar has a special connection to Scotland (like me) and, thus, brings a lot of Scottish whiskey and flavor into this wooden, casual, normal – but fucking lovely – bar. If you are into football, beer, and whiskey, that’s your joint! If you are looking for something fancy to go out, I won’t be able to help you. Plus, you should definitely skip the next tip and go straight to the food section.
After a casual warm-up at Big Ben, Lebemann brought me to Gräbli – a notorious shithole with all kinds of people from all parts of society. If you are into the books and characters of Charles Bukowski, that’s the place where you should try to find something you love and let it kill you. The place is cheap and the people are super crazy, lovely, dirty, and sometimes very annoying – I loved it. There wasn't a single time someone didn’t asked me for a guy called “Charlie” and my headache the next morning was insane. On the one hand, I was sad that Lebemann had to leave me for London the next day, but, on the other hand, I knew the next days would have turned into a sheer madness of glasses and booze instead of wine and dine. So, let’s start eating!
Finally, time for food…really good food: meat! I’ve heard about Metzge from a couple of people. Their credo – to find and sell only quality products from selected farmers – made me fall directly in love with them, without even having set one foot inside their good-looking, still very hipsterish design butcher shop.
These people take their meat seriously and show a lot of love to detail. From Charcuterie, to spare-ribs, and a lovely Leberkässemmel, you will find a lot of meat love in this place. It’s a total no-brainer to pay this shop a visit if you’re in town!
On to the next one, on to a Zurich original. Sternen Grill is famous for their Bratwurst and I can absolutely tick the legit box on this place and their sausages. It’s been a long time since I’ve had such a good sausage. Oh, and the mustard…this spicy, yellowish secretion that came crawling up my throat and tingling my nostrils until it shot right down to my belly and warmed up my heart. That’s some real mustard shit right there! I felt dirty but, at the same time, completely satisfied. They actually have a lot of stuff on their menu but I can certainly recommend their classic: St. Gallen Bratwurst. Do it!
When I planned my trip to Zurich, I had the idea that I would only eat traditional food and create a very classic guide. Well, it took me one day to stand in a big line for a very non-Swiss food pop-up store that blew my mind. You know I love Asian food. So, when I heard about this special pop-up that is presenting authentic Thai cuisine from mainly the northern part of Thailand, I knew I had to screw my plans and stay Bianco, instead of classy.
For the last three years, this pop-up has only been there seasonally, which means by the time you are reading this it will probably be closed again until next summer. However, trust me, wait and go there next year! You’re going to love me for that one.
So, let’s talk about the food! Me and my new friend – the undisputed Berlin food master, Per (aka @berlinfoodstories) – tried to order everything this restaurant had to offer. We had some amazing duck laab, fried fish, papaya salad, sticky rice with mango, sous vied finessed chicken, aubergine salad, some great nature wine, and a couple of beers on top – fucking yes! Before I had even taken one single bite of this lovely madness, I was already struck by the historical location, the view, and the whole vibe that was going on in there. It was (almost) the exact opposite of a cheesy, excessive, but still totally overbooked Thai restaurant you can find in any hip neighborhood of any city. I’ve never really smelled such great aromas as I was waiting for my food to arrive. It’s one of these places where you really know something good is coming for you.
The food was simply perfect and I really can’t add too much to it. The fish had a fucking incredible sour sauce with it, which showed the chef’s ambition to not just please the calm European taste. The papaya salad was on point. There was a spiciness to it on a really good level between fucking hot and pleasing tasty. The chicken was just perfect and the sticky rice with mango was the best finish for my belly, and my T-shirt. Per, who traveled 6 weeks through Vietnam, also looked very happy and confirmatory of the food we just had – but you will probably find out more about it on his side! So, what else is there to say about this place? I really loved it and I would go there regularly if it was in my town. Throughout the meal, Per told me about some very interesting spots in Berlin. So, let’s wait and see if I can find Thai greatness like this back home.
Time for some classic Swiss cuisine. Time for the most expensive Cordon Bleu of my life. The last spots were all a little bit more pricey than everything I know in Berlin, but now we are going for the real ass, Swiss money dinner. Volkshaus is a really old school but very smoothly modernized restaurant with a high-ass ceiling and a really, really good vibe inside. My second Zurich homie, Michael, joined me for the evening and urged me to order the Cordon Bleu.
And he was right. This Cordon Bleu was on a perfect level, aka Sonny Black & Frank White - Cordon Sport Massenmord. No seriously, the ingredients were the best possible and far ahead of any German Cordon level – perfectly cooked and well prepared. Perfect meat, perfect cheese perfect potatoes, perfect food. Sure the price was high, but I didn’t regret a single bite. Don’t think about your bank account and miss out on this place!
After Volkshaus, Michael took us to Kern Bar. A nice bar with good beer and a wall made out of old cassette tapes. A nice place to drink beer and to look at the nice wall. A very nice place to drink even more and to look even further around. You can’t really go wrong with this one, except you don’t like beer (or other liquor), old tapes, and good music.
Time for some breakfast and a totally 10-out-of-10 place for it. John Bank has the breakfast straight out of your dreams. Even though I’m not the picture-perfect breakfast person, this place just nailed it. From sweets, to perfect bread and sandwiches. Again, you really can’t make any mistakes with this. Just go there, order everything you want, eat all you need, and love it! EASY.
WIRTSCHAFT ZUR STUND
Now, it’s time for some Flammkuchen, time for Gschund. This is, once again, a no-brainer. Go to this cozy, cozy restaurant to eat classic Flammkuchen, drink local house wine, and be happy! Order the standard Flammkuchen and a glass of wine!
The Flammkuchen is actually quite big, so you might want to share it with your loved one. It’s one of these places for the simple things in life and I totally appreciate that.
Oshiii! Let’s eat some ramen! It wasn't really easy to choose a ramen place to go to, because every person I talked to recommended a different spot. At the end, I just randomly walked into Ikoo on my way to bed. Originally, my over overfull belly urged me to go to sleep but when I saw Ikoo’s open doors I took the chance and just ordered a small good night ramen and didn’t regret it at all.
I took the miso broth, which really came through on point. The char siu was very tender and tasty. The bamboo sprouts were actually perfect and the noodles were a little hard but totally fine. The egg was tasty, but just as tasty as a good egg not like the yolky ramen masterpieces that some of my favorite ramen spots are capable of. Still, this place is totally rated by me. You can go there and eat good ramen – no worries at all. They have a Japanese chef and a nice service on top. Do it!
Time for more ramen, time for some Tori Paitan aka Yume special ramen. Tori Paitan is one of my favorite ramen and it it’s very hard to find outside of Japan. The ramen consists of high pressure cooked chicken broth which creates a creamy and very lovely taste. If you’re planning to go to Tokyo or Kyoto, click on the names and find the best Tori Paitan ever!
However, let’s talk about Zurich and Yume! After having my first Swiss ramen bowl at Ikoo and a little sleep, I made my way to the small restaurant just around the corner.
Their menu was small and full of authentically Japanese things to order – but, of course, I went for the paitan (aka) Yume special. The bowl was good, very legit, and, compared to Ikoo, the egg was on point like crazy. The broth though could have been stronger, but after having eaten at ginza Kagari, I’m a sucker for the real, hardcore, heavy chicken bowls. The noodles tasted very handmade (they were) but a little bit more like spaghetti than soba noodles. Still, this is a very good place to eat some ramen, don’t get me wrong! I’m just slowly turning into a ramen snob with every year I’m tasting the realness in Tokyo. Go there and be happy! There’s nothing wrong, trust me!
Züricher Geschnetzeltes with Rösti, aka stir-fried veal with Swiss hash browns, for breakfast was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. It was also one of the most stupid ideas I’ve ever had, because this creamy, heavy meal almost killed my energy for the whole damn day. (Most likely because I went straight unto the next meal, afterwards.) Aargauerhof is a really calm and low-key place. Plus, compared to Volkshaus, it’s a little bit cheaper and more relaxed. The whole atmosphere is really chilled and laid back. A classic inn – nothing too fancy. The Züricher Geschnetzeltes was the best one I’ve had since probably ever – partly, because of the tender meat, the perfect hash browns, and the amazing mushroom sauce. Partly, because I’ve actually stopped ordering this dish, since almost every German I’ve ordered it in screwed up the tenderness of the meat and created a mushroom sauce from hell. From now on, I will never order it again, except when in Zurich. It’s like eating sushi at Tsukiji fish market, aside from the wooden table, lots of beer, and veal instead of fish – amazing!
Züricher Geschnetzeltes is something you shouldn’t miss when in Zurich!
Being born-and-raised in Munich, this restaurant really reminds me of the Hofbräuhaus. You probably won’t find too many locals in here, at least no young ones. It’s full of beer, tourists, more beer, and the dishes are very simple and authentic. Still, same as with the Hofbräuhaus in Munich, you really can’t hate it once you’re there.
Everything is fine, the atmosphere is nice, the food tastes good, and the beer is cold. Since I already had Cordon Bleu and Geschnetzeltes, my good friend Cong, aka @opticchina, told me to order something from their special sausage menu from different regions around Zurich. This was the moment I felt more German than ever before and, surprisingly, it wasn’t bad at all. Amazing sausages, mashed potatoes, and beer – life’s ok. You should really go there, order the rest of the menu as well, and trytheir chestnut dessert with cream. Just by the looks of it I knew this was boss, but, with all the food in my belly, there wasn’t even a slight chance for me to order it. Please, got for it and tell me how it was!
For the last spot on my list, we were invited by Visit Zurich to a special food market called Fooby Food Zurich. So, again, you won’t be able to go there once you read this guide. However, you should wait for Zurich food week next year and go there. I have to admit, I’m super tired of all the street food markets we have in Berlin, because, after 2-5 times, you have seen it all. It’s always way too crowded and there isn’t enough space, energy, and seats to really enjoy it. Eating my food with 400 people an hour constantly bumping into me is actually not my kind of food dream. So, why is Fooby better then? Easy. Their selection of exclusive chefs, restaurants, and food was just one of a kind. Compared to the dishes you find at other food markets, this one was really fucking ace. From grilled mussels, to foie gras cubes, tartare, and some fancy schmancy drinks and people – this place really was amazing. And yes, this market was also crowded af, but all the food made it more possible to survive and to fight my way through it. Actually, a perfect ending for nearly 3 days full of food and drinks and a perfect end for my Zurich guide.
Thanks a lot, Zurich! See you soonish, I guess. Adieu!