City Guide: Zürich

City Guide: Zürich

Where to eat, drink, shop, and sleep in Switzerland's largest city.

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Beer emporium Frau Gerolds Garten and (below) Freitag bags.

By Mike Dunphy 
Photography by Clara Tuma
 
WHY GO
The parliament may debate in Bern, but Zürich remains Switzerland’s de facto capital for almost everything else: business, finance, education, culture, and entertainment. In 2016, the city flexes its artistic cred with the 100th anniversary of the Dada art movement. Celebrations reach a fever pitch when the European biennial for contemporary art, Manifesta 11 (June 11 through September 18), transforms Dada’s birthplace, Cabaret Voltaire café, into an artists’ guildhall.
 
EAT 
The industrious Swiss spirit melds with the dining scene in the city’s thirteenth- to nineteenth-century guildhalls. The 700-year-old Zunfthaus zur Waag (Münsterhof 8), once the base for linen and wool weavers, serves refined versions of classics such as Zürcher Geschnetzeltes – Zürich-style sliced veal in a cream sauce.
 
For something more experimental, reserve a seat in Maison Manesse’s quirky wood dining room (Hopfenstrasse 2) for multicourse tasting menus; presentations of local ingredients – pike, bear’s leeks (wild garlic), and morels, say – resemble avant-garde works of art.
 
Vegetarians should make Hiltl (Sihlstrasse 28) a mandatory stop. Meat-free since 1898 and the world’s first vegetarian restaurant, according to Guinness World Records, it’s home to Zürich’s largest salad bar and creative bistro plates such as the house tartare, made with eggplant, egg, capers, and okara.
 
DRINK 
Sip cocktails with a dose of Dada inside Cabaret Voltaire (Spiegelgasse 1), the hub of yearlong celebrations. An ideal pairing with the vintage armchair near its fireplace: the classic Swiss combo of coffee and schnapps.
 
History is also on tap a short walk south at the art nouveau Café Odeon (Limmatquai 2), whose regulars included Albert Einstein, Vladimir Lenin, and James Joyce.
 
In the up-and-coming Zürich West arts neighborhood, multilevel beer garden Frau Gerolds Garten (Geroldstrasse 23) is fashioned out of shipping crates in a former industrial wasteland beside the Hardbrücke train station. The vegetables and herbs flourishing in the terrace garden go into the kitchen’s salads and pasta dishes. On the top floor of the skyscraper looming above Frau Gerolds, Clouds Kitchen (Maagplatz 5) offers a classy setting and noteworthy gin, made in partnership with Swiss distiller Humbel. 
 
SHOP 
Fashion house Modissa, watchmakers such as Breguet and IWC, and other high-end Swiss brands have their flagships on Bahnhofstrasse, the city’s main promenade. If their price tags induce sticker shock, find sweet relief at Confiserie Sprüngli (Bahnhofstrasse 21), in business since 1836. Its chocolates and signature Luxemburgerli macarons are great souvenirs – if they make it home.
 
Freitag stitches trendy bags and accessories from recycled truck tarpaulins, bicycle tires, and seat belts at a former cogwheel factory in the Oerlikon quarter (Binzmühlestrasse 170b), open for tours and shopping on weekdays. Its Zürich West flagship store (Geroldstrasse 17), built out of rusty, recycled freight containers, brings more visual splash and longer hours.
 
Discover fashion and home goods boutiques, restaurants, and live music venues beneath the 39 stone arches of Im Viadukt (Viaduktstrasse), a repurposed train viaduct built in 1894.
 
STAY 
The 175-room Dolder Grand elevates Zürich’s charm with a museum-worthy art collection, a spa that makes its own snow, and hillside views that frame the city, lake, and Alps. Specialties at it’s fine-dining restaurant, Saltz, include salt-baked sea bass and grilled steaks and chops carved tableside.
 
The Lounge’s open fireplace lends warmth to the modern, 138-room Park Hyatt Zürich, near Bahnhofstrasse and the ferry docks. Kindle some cocktail fire with Onyx Bar’s barrel-aged potions; wine lovers may prefer Parkhuus’ two-story, 3,000-bottle wine library.
 
Originally appeared in the July 2016 issue of Virtuoso Life.