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Chefs + Restaurants

Eight Great Street-Food Vendors in Zurich

zurich street food

Heissi Marroni.

Ultra-heavy veal dishes and big pots of rich fondue may be the Swiss city’s quintessential foods, but you can still get a taste of the local cuisine without having to sit down or pronounce the city’s signature dish: Zürigschnätzlets (finely sliced veal with mushrooms in a cream sauce).


The lines at this sausage stand in the center of town are well worth enduring. After all, this is truly the best of the wurst. (Just ask long-time local fans like Roger Federer and Tina Turner.) Choose between the wildly popular, juicy, pale St. Galler style Bratwurst made of veal and pork, or the Servelat, a thicker, dense, meaty sausage made entirely of pork. Grab a big crusty roll and heed the warning that the little paper cup of smooth Dijon mustard has got quite a bit of kick (thanks to the heavy dose of fresh horseradish). Order a side of fries and a Calanda beer. And on your second visit, go for the half chicken, which should definitely not be ignored—roasted and greasy and finger-licking good. Theaterstrasse 22 (+; vorderer-sternen.ch/sternen-grill.asp)


Owner Mouktar Artisi has been shaking hands with everyone that walks up to his little haven of Lebanese street food for the past 17 years. You can’t go wrong with anything—spicy lamb, beef, kafta, or falafel—but you’ll want the chicken shawarma. It’s juicy, flavorful meat piled on top of a thin pita with the works: hummus, baba ghanouj, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, eggplant, cauliflower, and fries. The vegetables go into the same fryer as the potatoes, which accounts for how they pack so much flavor; the garlic sauce, a creamy mix of garlic and mayonnaise, is not to be missed. Delivered fresh every morning, the pita bread is rolled up like a kebab, and just when you think it’s as good as it can get, it goes into a panini press. All the ingredients and flavors mesh together, while the pita’s exterior gets good and crisp. Hafnerstrasse 13 (+; libanaise.ch)


In the fall and winter months, the city is dotted with green wooden huts, selling hot roasted chestnuts, Zurich’s ultimate street food. The very best chestnuts are from Ticino, the southern region of Switzerland that gets the most sun and thinks it’s actually Italian. Vendors slowly cook the chestnuts in huge iron pots lined with charcoal, stirring regularly to ensure even roasting. (Tip: Go where the roaster is tasting his marroni all day long.) Sold by weight, the chestnuts are scooped up into brown paper bags or cones. In typical Swiss fashion, you’ll get one with twin pockets; one side filled with the marroni and the other to place the empty shells. Even if it is street food, it’s Swiss street food—and yes, they thought of that, too. Stands throughout the city: Bellevue, Gemüsebrücke, Paradeplatz


Baking authority Nick Malgieri will tell you that his favorite Zurich street food isn’t exactly on the street; it’s in a train station. Every Wednesday, husband and wife Luigi and Vreni Langone man this piadina stand in the main hall, using a highly-guarded recipe from Luigi’s family in the Emilia-Romagna. Skip the menu. Instead, just walk up to the couple and say, “Yes, I’ll take one flatbread with everything.” (Or, “Ja, ich möchte ein Brot mit allem drauf haben.”) Vreni will put a small round disk of dough through a doughbreak until it’s just thin enough, and then pass it over to Luigi. He’ll toss it on to a dry griddle and flip it over a few times until it’s baked. Then he’ll fold it up with a generous pile of thinly sliced prosciutto and Asiago cheese, both imported from Italy, and fresh arugula from the local Swiss markets. You’ll take a bite of the warm, chewy bread and think you’re in northern Italy—despite the Raclette stand just behind you. Hauptbahnhof, Wednesdays only (+41.78.740.22.25)


Pioneer of the Zurich fast food scene, this bright, clean stand on one of the old town’s bustling pedestrian streets opened in 1976. Even though chicken and vegetarian versions have made their way on to the menu, order the Original Pepito steak sandwich: tender beef rump steak on a thick baguette, covered in cooked onions and—this is key—Pepito’s famous hot sauce. The recipe hasn’t changed in over two decades: a creamy, orange blend of ketchup, mayonnaise, cognac, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and herbs. Niederdorfstrasse 10 (+


An unassuming shack has sat across from the National Museum for 11 years now, where you’ll want to ignore the hot dogs and salami sandwiches and go right for the dim sum. Hui Zhang, from Jinan, a Chinese city between Beijing and Shanghai, makes handmade dumplings every day according to her parents’ recipe, using fresh vegetables, beef, and pork. Choose whether you want yours steamed, fried, or roasted, the latter being the most popular pick. Hui’s husband, the forever smiling Roland Urech, will serve them to you with your choice of sauce: soy, chile, or sweet-and-sour. Best option is the mixed dim sum platter: You’ll get 7 (small) or 11 (large) dumplings for a taste of each. If you want to get on Roland’s good side, tell him you don’t want any sauce with your dumplings, which will just distract from the fillings. Then you’ll really see him smile. Walchebrücke (+


The boisterous guys manning this popular spot with what they claim to be “simply the best döner of Zurich” will without a doubt yell for you to come in as you walk or drive by. Listen to them; they’re right. In what used to be the red light district, their kebab stands out from the other ethnic street food on the famous Langstrasse (long street), and has become an institution of the late night scene in Zurich. Swiss veal is first cooked behind closed doors with a special sauce whose recipe, and even appearance, is a tightly guarded secret. Coming straight from the Erzincan region of Turkey, it’s not available anywhere else in Switzerland. A very thin round of lavaş (Turkish pita) is rolled up with finely shredded meat, lettuce, tomato, onions, and your choice of sauces—cocktail, tartare, and chile. The chile adds extra heat, rounding out the sandwich perfectly. The only question is scharf (spicy) or extra scharf? Langstrasse 206 (+


Think large, soft pretzels, “arms crossed,” made with just flour, water, yeast, and salt. Add toppings like poppy, sunflower, or sesame seeds. Now cut open and add a slice of cheese. Or dried meats. Or ham. Or even tuna fish. Indeed, the Swiss love their pretzels so much that they use them in place of sandwich bread. With five stands across the city, Brezel König makes them fresh throughout the day, so if you time it right, you can show up just as a new batch has been baked. As for the most creative flavor? Ask them and they’ll tell you: Philadelphia cream cheese! Schweizergasse 11