Walking down Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich or Luzern on a busy day of shopping can really work up an appetite. What do you get when you don’t want to sit down at a restaurant? Street food!
Just like anywhere else, street food can be a bit iffy. Just ask my friend Pierre about his experience with kebabs... Mostly, everything is really good.
Pretzels and Hot Dogs
The staple Brezelkönig ("Pretzel King") is everywhere. You can get a simple salted pretzel or one made into a sandwich with cheese and dried meats.
They also serve hotdogs, but instead of a hotdog bun, they hollow out a baguette on the end and slide the sausage in. They then squirt in some ketchup and you are good to go.
Roasted Chestnuts and Magenbrot
In the fall and winter, Heissi Marroni (roasted chestnuts) and Magenbrot stands are everywhere. Magenbrot is a very popular digestive. It is like a bitter gingerbread.
I always start singing when I walk by Heissi Marroni stands. "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..." They are sweeter than I expected. I wasn’t a big fan at first, but they have grown on me.
The main reason I buy marroni is to warm up my fingers since they come in a little paper bag that fits perfect in your frozen hands. The paper bag is quite clever since it has a little pocket for the shells, so no excuses for littering.
Pizza and Sausage
Switzerland is a mélange of cultures, which reflects in the foods. The influences of the three main cultures (German, French, and Italian) are prevalent. You can grab an Italian pizza, which is much less doughy and greasy than the American counterpart, or a warm cheesy flatbread.
There are numerous stands to grab a German sausage. I am not a big meat person and especially not sausage (the whole idea really creeps me out), so I am not the best person to discuss the different types of wurst.
All I know is that at the stands, it is not just hotdogs. There are normally three or more types of sausages to choose from. I know the white one is veal. They are served with a Büürli (white bread bun) and mustard, and I heard that one of the best is from Sternen Grill in Zürich.
Specifically Swiss foods are of course available, like Raclette or Zurich’s own Zürigschnätzlets (finely sliced veal with mushrooms in a cream sauce).
My favorite street food is from the French influence: Crêpes. The first time I had crêpes as a street food was in Paris when I was 13. It was filled with nutella and wrapped up like a burrito. I became a big fan and tried recreating the simple dish at home.
I was reintroduced to "street food crêpes" when I moved here and went to a traditional Swiss festival. As I said before, I’m not a big meat person so I didn’t even pay attention to the savoury options, but there were a lot of sweet crêpes.
Cinnamon and sugar, lemon, and chocolate were popular, but the most popular was applesauce. The Swiss love their Apfelmus! After cooking the crêpe, applesauce was spread all over, folded in to a rectangle, and cut into squares.
My favorite place for this is in the Luzern train station. On the lower level, right by the elevator is my favorite crêpe stand. Even if I am not hungry, if I am in Luzern, I am getting one!
Finally, When in Zürich on a sunny day, check out the crêpe stand on Hirschenplatz...
I reckon New York has the best street food! Where are you from in the States?
Did you also know that the “white one” Kalbsbratwurst (veal) can contain up to 50% pork? and most have pork in them! Next time when you are in Coop or Migros have a look on the label – especially if you are a practicing Muslim ;-)
I’m from Atlanta so I’m used to everything being battered and deep fried! :)
I have Scottish blood & the Scots invented battered & deep fried Mars Bars! But you won’t catch me eating one!
I know all about deep friend mars bars. I have been to tons of Highland Games. I can do without haggis and Irnbru though.
I’d much rather have Haggis Neeps & Tatties ;-) & I know what you mean about Irn-Bru!
Great piece! I came across it during my research on Swiss street food. I was wondering if you could recommend one Swiss city to visit to get a good feel for what you outlined above. Would you choose Zurich or Luzerne or another?
[…] for me, charcoal roasted chestnuts are at the top of my food pyramid during this season. In fact, I know the location of most green booths or orange stands (or I can […]
Hi Brittany, just a little info — the wording “German sausage” makes it sound as though they are from Germany. In fact, the sausages sold in Switzerland are distinctly Swiss, are not available in Germany at all, and are not limited to the German part of Switzerland. Also, a Bürli (one ü!) is not a white bread, it’s actually a blend of white and whole meal. The white roll is the Semmeli, which is basically baguette dough. These more commonly accompany Wienerli sausages, while Bürli accompany Bratwurst (Swiss Bratwurst is nothing like German ones) and the most Swiss sausage of all, the Cervelat.
Maroni are my favorite in Winter…in other countries they are really expensive but in Switzerland are affordable and delicious.
Thank you for this article! I just arrived after a long stay in Italy and was boggled by the prices. Will definitely check out these options :) :)
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