Zurich has great options for drinking, dining, and enjoying a cafe. The official tourist site offers recommendations on dining establishments in the city.
Drinking is generally acceptable in Switzerland apero time (after working hours). There are a wide variety of drinks with many local variations and producers.
Beer - The standard sizes for beer are the 0.3 litre Stange and the 0.5 litre Grosses. Popular medium-scale brewers like Feldschlosschen and Hurlimann (both belonging to the Danish Carlsberg breweries) are getting increasing competition from innovative local brewers. Recommended local brewers include: Sprint, Paul or Appenzeller.
Wine - The most popular alcoholic drink in Switzerland is wine. Swiss wines are not often internationally lauded, but should not be underestimated. Swiss wine is produced mainly in Valais, Vaud (Lavaux), Geneva and Ticino, but Blauburgunders (red) and Riesling Sylvaners (white) come from the Zurich region. Cupli, a sparkling wine, can be seen being enjoyed in the many cafes after work. The most widespread varieties are the Chasselas (called Fendant in Valais) and Pinot Noir. The Merlot is the main variety produced in Ticino.
Liquor - Traditional Swiss spirits are fruit brandies, such as Kirsch (cherry) and Williams (pear).
The drinking age in Switzerland is 16 for wine and beer and 18 for spirits and hard alcohol.
The cuisine of Switzerland is composed of many regional dishes that have slowly come to be associated as Swiss. Fondue, raclette and rosti can be found anywhere in Switzerland, but each region has it's own unique developments. Traditional Swiss cuisine is similar to other European countries, but also has unique dairy products like Gruyere or Emmental. Veal is still very popular, though the use of turkey and other meats as a substitute is growing.
Vegetarian food is easy to find throughout the city. There are many restaurants dedicated to vegetarian dining and even some vegan. Vegans do have slightly more trouble as dairy items are used generously in most dishes. Side dishes can often be ordered as an entree and most Swiss restaurants will be happy to accommodate.
Hiltl - The first vegetarian-only restaurant in Europe, there is a buffet where the meal is priced by weight or ordered a la carte. There are vegetarian/vegan versions of popular Swiss meals like Zuri-Gschnatzlets as well as Indian food and classic vegetarian plates.
Tibits - Fast vegetarian & vegan food and buffet.
Samses - Modern style vegetarian food from the buffet or a la carte.
In the service industry in Switzerland, it is not necessary to tip. Wages are more than adequate with a dishwasher making at least 3,000 Swiss francs monthly, plus benefits.
A service fee and taxes of 15 percent is usually included in the bill. An additional tip is not expected, but certainly appreciated. If service is good, an additional 2–5 SF shows appreciation.
Like most European cities, Zurich abounds with cafes. You can get a cup of coffee, or glass of Cupli, or even better - a chocolate. In the summer, cafe seating spills onto the streets. A complete list of cafes is available on Zurich's tourist page.
Cafe Conditorei Schober - A traditional Conditorei, it is situated in the middle of the Old Town in what is known as the "sweet corner". Handmade chocolates and pastries are available in the original candy shop opened in the mid-19th century.
Gran Cafe - Located along the canal, the decor is bright and beautiful. It was designed by famous Swiss architect Tilla Theus. (Limmatquai 66, 8001 Zurich)
Sprungli Confiserie Cafe - This is a longtime local favorite located on the city's most glamorous shopping strip.
For meals on the go, there are many options from fast food chains to stands conveniently located on the street.
Street stands can be found throughout the city offering grilled Bratwurst and sandwiches made with fresh baked Bretzeln (large, soft pretzels). Vorderer Sternen Grill (22 Theaterstrasse) is Zurich's most famous sausage stand next to the UBS bank building at Bellevue. This tiny spot offers red or white sausage for 6CHF, piece of bread and hot mustard.
Pan-Asian is a popular option for a quick meal. These places offer noodles, rice, sushi, etc. at cheap rates, if not the greatest authenticity. Lee's Take-Away (Preyergasse 8 in the Niederdorf) offers stand-up eating of excellent food in large portions with a special student dishes under 10CHF. Ah-Hua (Ankerstrasse 110, next to Helvetiaplatz) is another option for Thai dishes to budget prices.
Italian cuisine is usually the best cheap option for a meal. These can be found anywhere in Zurich and are relatively cheap. Pizzeria Molino (Limmatquai 16, near Stauffacher) offers pizzas and pastas in a relaxed environment.
Turkish fast food restaurants offer delicious, cheap options like falafal, humus, and salads. These are a great find for vegetarians.
Grocery stores like Migros and Coop offer great ingredients for a perfect picnic or a quick bite. Freshly baked bread, cheese, ham and fresh fruit are all available. Migros Gourmessa is the "gourmet" take away counter, available in larger Migros stores. Note: the Migros branch in the main station is open on Sundays when most other stores are closed, and also until 9PM on weekdays, whereas the Coop Bahnhofbrucke is open 7 AM to 10 PM every day except Sunday.
From gourmet to traditional Swiss to trendy dining spots- Zurich has it all. Zurich's tourist site offers comprehensive listings.
Located within Hotel Adler, Rosengasse 10, CH-8001 Zurich
A kitchy Swiss restaurant that caters mostly to tourists. If you have to have fondue in the summer, this is the place to go.
Bahnhofstrasse 28a (near Paradeplatz)
Offers hearty sausages, stews, rosti in a Brauhaus-like setting. Good food and large portions in a historical building, built in 1487.
This restaurant with the name "Apple Chamber" is unusual in it's challenge. If you succeed in climbing over the roof beams, you get a free glass of wine and can mark your name into the wood.
This restaurant was converted from an old Peugeot garage and serves organic fare (Sfr21 for pasta). White-aproned waiters serve rosti (Sfr25.50) under a frescoed ceiling.
The flagship store of the Sprungli confectionery store chain, this beautiful turn-of-the-century upstairs dining room is popular for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Gorgeous display cases are filled with cakes, tarts, open-face and regular sandwiches.
High-class dining within the famous Widder Hotel. Trendy bar, piano music, red leather decor, and halogen lighting adds to the experience. Mains 20-50CHF.
Traditional French-Swiss food from the French-speaking Kanton Waadt. One of many fondue restaurants in Zurich. Mains 25-40CHF.
This restaurant has earned 17 points from Guide Gault Millau and one star from Guide Michelin. A traditional kitchen, it is one of the best restaurants in Zurich.
Ramistrasse 4 (at Bellevue)
This is the city's most famous restaurant. Good Swiss food is complimented by the opportunity to dine among original artwork by famous Swiss and European artists (who payed in paintings instead of money). Stylish dress is expected. Mains 30-65CHF.