Eating Vegetarian in Switzerland

My post on my vegetarian week in Norway seems to be fairly popular, so let’s do another one! How easy is it to eat vegetarian in Switzerland? Very!!

Several of the meals I ate in Switzerland are my best travel meals to date! Every restaurant we went to had an English menu, and I don’t think I ever needed to order something and ask for the meat to be left out. The vegetarian options were always very satisfactory. Let’s start at the beginning.

Day One

Our first restaurant in the country was chosen on a whim. It was towards the end of the day, we were jet-lagged, had sore feet, and just wanted to sit and eat something not-too-expensive right off the bat.

We found a restaurant called “Holy Cow” (that we later noticed was a franchise/chain). This is where I learned that in German, the G is hard. Our cashier spoke English with us, but pronounced it “vegh-ee” burger.

Holy Cow, Zurich

It was nothing to write home about, but it did what I needed it to. The chutney on it was a nice addition, but I think it needed cheese.

Day Two

If you know Switzerland, then you know that Coop groceries stores are EVERYWHERE. We quickly made a habit of stopping at one every morning for a to-go coffee before hopping on our next train.

Coop

This day we also got pastries from the bakery. I got an apple something that was very tasty. It’s the stripey-looking one below.

Coop

We had our big meal of the day at Restaurant Stadthaus in Interlaken/Unterseen. I had raclette rosti with tomatoes, pickles, and pearl onions. Not the prettiest dish ever, but very yummy and satisfying.

Restaurant Stadthaus, Unterseen

Rosti is described on a lot of sites as similar to hash browns, but it is so much better!! I find hash browns to be bland and dry. The rosti had no such problems.

Day Three

Day three was Sunday. We had planned to find a nice Swiss cafe to have breakfast in. Unfortunately we could not for the life of us find one that was open! Either they weren’t open at all on Sundays, or they opened much later.

We needed fuel to start our day, so we ended up at the Interlaken McDonald’s. Kevin tried something new and got a McRaclette. There wasn’t anything vegetarian that I hadn’t tried before elsewhere, so I just got an egg and cheese McMuffin. We did try the potato wedges, but they were nothing out of the ordinary. The Swiss sauces were quite good, though.

McDonald’s in Interlaken

We skipped lunch, as we were out and about visiting Lauterbrunnen and Thun. We had dinner back in Interlaken at Bebbis Restaurant right by the West train station. It’s extremely touristy, but we were okay with that.

This is the only restaurant we found during our whole trip that let us split the cheese fondue and only pay for one portion. The cost for the deluxe fondue was similar to elsewhere (28CHF), but between two people it was quite reasonable. It was also delicious! There was a version that came with meat to dip, but Kevin was fine splitting the veggie one.

Bebbis, Interlaken
Bebbis, Interlaken

Day Four

Breakfast at the hotel gave us our first look at Swiss breakfast foods.

Hotel Rossli, Interlaken

We were told the scrambled eggs were included as a nod to the American tourists. Everything else was cold: cheese, bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. and deli meats for the carnivores. They also gave me my own little coffee tray.

For our day in Bern, we had a late lunch as our big meal. We hit up another popular place for tourists, but this was my favorite meal of the entire trip, so I don’t regret it for one second!

Altes Tramdepot is located in the old tram garage across the river from the old town. It is very near where the Bern bears live.

Kevin and I both ordered spatzli, and it was fabulous.

Altes Tramdepot, Bern

Kevin got the bacon one, and mine had vegetables and basil pesto. It was the most lovely-tasting sauce!

Altes Tramdepot, Bern

I’d go back to Switzerland just for this spatzli!

Day Five

The next day we had another hotel breakfast. Bern was our most expensive hotel, so it was also the fanciest breakfast scene.

Hotel National, Bern

It’s very easy to eat meatless breakfasts in Switzerland.

Around lunchtime, we had some time to kill before our train leaving Bern, so we got a bite in the food court at the station.

There were very very few places to sit. We found two seats at the KFC, so Kevin got that. There was nothing on their menu for me, so I walked around the corner and got a falafel bowl from another vendor. Besides falafel, it had tomatoes, french fries, and yogurt sauce. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of it.

By dinner time in Gruyeres, we’d been on our feet a long time and spent more on our hotel that night than we’d planned. The old part of Gruyeres is up on a hill without much variety in the hotels and restaurants and no Coop or grocery within walking distance. We didn’t really feel like spending a lot on dinner.

Instead, we grabbed hot paninis from a shopkeeper to take back to our hotel room. Mine was cheese and tomato. Not extraordinary, but filling.

Day Six

Due to Gruyeres having a more rural location, we had to skip breakfast this day. We could have eaten at our hotel, but for what we thought we’d get (more cold foods), the price did not seem worth it to us. We were also in a hurry to start our day of several train rides. We ended up eating granola bars around lunchtime that we’d brought from home.

We finally made it to dinnertime in Zermatt, and we ate at Restaurant Du Pont. I had another rosti with cheese and tomatoes that had a lovely crispy herb topping. Yum!

Restaurant Du Pont, Zermatt

Day Seven

Breakfast was included at Hotel Helvetia.

Hotel Helvetia, Zermatt
Hotel Helvetia, Zermatt

We bought snacks for lunch from Coop. I had potato salad. Quite good, actually!

Coop

Dinner was in Bellinzona. Finally to the Italian-speaking region!

We got in after dark after a long day, so we just ate dinner at the hotel restaurant, Croce Federale. Luckily it was great! Kevin had pizza and I had maccheroncini alla norma (pasta with eggplant).

Restaurant Croce Federale, Bellinzona

Day Eight

Breakfast was included with the room. This one had the best coffee of all of them! Must be that Italian influence!

Hotel Croce Federale, Bellinzona
Hotel Croce Federale, Bellinzona

This day also happened to be my birthday, so I got a midday sugary treat in Lugano!

Cafe al Porto, Lugano

When we got back to Bellinzona for dinner, it was raining. We checked a few restaurant menus, but our hotel restaurant (that we had eaten in the night before) had had several intriguing menu options, so I convinced Kevin to eat there a second time. This time I got a delicious pizza di bufala!

Restaurant Croce Federale, Bellinzona

Day Nine

One more breakfast with that lovely coffee again, plus bircher-muesli, croissants, and Nutella.

Hotel Croce Federale, Bellinzona

We had a cross-country train trip to do, so we bought sandwiches from Coop to eat on the train. I got two: egg salad and tomato/mozzarella. Nothing too special.

Now what post about eating vegetarian in Switzerland would be complete without talking about Hiltl?? Hiltl Restaurant in Zurich is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world! Today it is a pay-by-gram buffet, and it is fabulous!

Hiltl, Zurich

Kevin spent 30CHF on his plate and I spent 16. I should’ve gotten more, but I was worried the price would be crazy high once I got to the cashier, so I played it safe. Everything was so flavorful and unique! We are thinking about getting the Hiltl cookbook to try more recipes at home!

Day 10

On our last day in Switzerland we didn’t eat too much. We were trying to conserve the last of our Swiss francs.

Around midday we went to the famous Cafe Sprungli and got two pastries to go, as there was nowhere to sit.

Cafe Sprungli
Cafe Sprungli

For dinner we just hit up one last grocery store. There was a Migros on the way back to our hotel, and my last Swiss meal consisted of two pasta salads and a bag of chips.

Overall, we found Swiss restaurants to be very expensive, but supplementing meals with grocery store snacks was a great way to even it out. The Swiss dishes cooked by the local chefs were all so delightful, and I don’t regret spending money on any of them. As a vegetarian, I ate very well and had so many options. I’d do it all again!

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