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Spilling the beans on Basel’s gastronomy

Fondue, rösti, sausages, muesli and Rivella are just a few of the Swiss delicacies found in abundance throughout Basel.  But aside from these classics, there are gourmet establishments with potential to become the toast of the town.

A gastronomic selection by Ella Revitt

With the Basel food scene on the rise, independent restaurants are introducing a great variety for foodies, both Swiss and foreign. Inexpensive (for Switzerland, at least) and unique culinary adventures are just waiting to be discovered.

If you’re looking for: trendy…
La Manufacture hasn’t been on Basel’s gastro scene for very long, but it has hit the ground running.  The original Gundeli restaurant, close to the main railway station, specialises in homemade burgers, with a seasonal menu accompanying various meat and vegetarian options. The brioche buns, chunky fries and diverse accompaniments add to the excitement of these gourmet burgers, served on stylish wooden boards. Produce is supplied locally, and the owners pride themselves on their unique recipes.  The newer addition on Elisabethenstrasse also serves breakfast, bagels and lighter meals, and both restaurants provide extensive drink and dessert options. It can get busy at times, but reservations and takeaway are possible. For the quality of food and service, prices are reasonable, with a burger and fries costing just over 20CHF, and bagels approximately 10-12CHF.  Students with their student card receive a 10% discount if they also choose a side dish. La Manufacture offers visitors a welcoming and hip atmosphere alongside delicious food.
La Manufacture announces appetisers at the entrance

Just outside Basel in Münchenstein, restaurant Gartenstadt has opened the Pavillon, a Danish-style café.  The outdoor seating, complete with blankets and a swinging chair, and snug indoor sofas make an afternoon at this unexpected gem unmissable. The shabby-chic accents and subdued grey colour scheme create a relaxed, warm space to meet friends, family or colleagues for a coffee break.  The hot chocolate is a particular favourite, along with the various sweet treats on offer.  Assorted wines are also available, and, being open from 9am until 9pm Tuesday to Saturday, they also serve light food options, such as the Alsace speciality Flammekueche.

A Swiss restaurant chain, with recent openings also in London, Tibits can hardly be called a small, independent eatery.  However, with its pay-by-weight and ever-changing buffet, it is a little more thrilling than any old salad bar.  Initially, it began as a family endeavour, with the Frei and Hiltl families establishing the first Tibits in Zurich seventeen years ago. Now, one of Basel’s “cinema streets”, the Stänzlergasse, boasts its own outlet, open seven days of the week.  Food is served all day, convenient for those who need to eat at irregular times – whether eat-in or takeaway. Be warned: paying by weight may lead to a hefty price when the eyes are bigger than the tummy. However, when the plate is sensibly filled, meals are reasonably priced. The philosophy of this vegetarian restaurant is expanding the health food industry in Switzerland, and the variety of cuisine they provide makes it accessible for all.

Be it a formal gathering, dinner party or casual meal, Cantina Don Camillo can cater for any affair.  It is situated a short walk from Wettsteinplatz, at the old Warteck brewery, with its striking white, angular staircase leading onto this second-floor restaurant.  Two menus are available, one being entirely plant-based. Food changes seasonally and is again sourced from regional farms.  Certain eccentricities make dining here truly memorable, with a crudité platter and pesto dip replacing the traditional bread basket, while impromptu speciality cocktails are served on request.  The service is excellent, with staff being friendly, genuine and providing recommendations for certain dishes. Their English is also very good, making this a popular spot for employees of nearby pharmaceutical companies.  Although more expensive than other offerings in this selection, it is still affordable in comparison to other fine-dining options around the city.

Although initially focused on Italian gelato, the quaint Acero café one street from the Rhine near Mittlere Brücke has since expanded to serve mezze, quiche and salad, as well as hot waffles.  Their homemade ice cream is certainly a treat, but the traditional Italian hot drinks are also delectable. The café is small, with little seating – although there is space outside – but this only adds to the intimate spirit of the place.  More interesting flavours of “glace” and “granite” (a semi-frozen fruit dessert) are on offer here than at many of the parlours scattered across town. There are also dairy-free options for those with dietary restrictions.  Daily cakes and pastries, displayed at the back of the café, are definitely worth a peak. English-only speakers may experience more difficulty than in more touristy spots, but staff are still patient and polite.
Acero attracts customers with homemade specialities

The decadent delights of “froyo” have long penetrated the British and American food industry, but Basel has embraced this refreshing sweet treat only recently.  Marketed as being somewhat healthier than regular ice cream, tangy frozen yoghurt is now available from Yogurt Now at Schifflände.  Within its pastel pink walls and youthful decor, this café offers froyo in various sizes, with altogether 35 topping options. Customers can choose both light and decadent options. Cupcakes, smoothies, parfait and waffles are also sold for those with a sweet tooth.  With a vintage feel to it, this niche café comes at a price, with a small yoghurt at 4.30CHF – toppings costing extra.  However, as an occasional indulgence, Yogurt Now offers a feel-good dessert to be enjoyed by the Rhine.
+41 61 262 00 92
Pink is the dominating colour at Yogurt Now

…or variety
Markthalle, near the Basel SBB train station, stages a different culinary concept.  Essentially a food hall, on Thursday through Sunday evenings, as well as lunchtimes on most days, several stalls provide a variety of catered food.  Brits may be pleased to hear the traditional fish & chips is often available, while those wishing to explore something a little different may try Venezuelan, Afghan, Greek, Vietnamese, Persian, Hungarian and Thai delicacies, among many others. Markthalle allows different types of food to be eaten by members of a group, removing any necessary compromise when dining together. Small food markets and shops are scattered around the historic concrete monument, selling fresh produce from both the region and more exotic locations. An element of unpredictability adds to the excitement, with stalls alternating and changing daily.  Regardless of what is presented, the diversity ensures there will always be something to enjoy.


Brits are please that one of their favourite dishes is available at Markthalle


Pictures © 2017 TBJ / Martin Pütter

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