At a first glance, Zurich is all about the sparkle & glamour along Bahnhofstrasse. I love to embrace the “savoir vivre” at the Zurich Lake and admire the beautifully preserved historic buildings in old town. But Zurich has much more to offer than sleek picturesqueness. It is off the beaten tourist trails in the youthful districts like Zurich West and Sihlfeld, where you can find the true cultural vibrancy of Zurich…
(Image up right by ACID Instagram)
-The Heart of Cultural Vibrancy-
In the past years, the area surrounding “Hardbrücke” has been revived by dynamic entrepreneurs, creatives and technologists. Once an industrial hub, where ships were built and engines howled, the district has become the artery of Zurich`s new cultural life. Coworking spaces like Impact Hub provide the platform for the new ideas of tomorrow to grow. Les Halles once used to be an industrial site, which has been transformed into a lively vintage-style tapas brasserie and the urban history of construction is still present at LaSalle, wrapped in white table cloths of the atmospheric restaurant.
Colorful shipping containers have been stacked between green plants and light chains at the popular outdoor beer garden “Frau Gerolds Garten”. But there is no place where the fusion between industry and innovative design becomes more apparent than at the “Freitag Flagship Tower”. The iconic messenger bags made from used truck tarpaulins and car seat belts have become the unofficial outfitter of trend-setting, sustainable individualists. And the worldwide success of the brand is a poster child of Zurich`s innovative creativity that has reached far beyond its borders, but always stayed true to its roots!
Zurich`s innovative creativity has reached far beyond its borders, but always stayed true to its roots!
(Photos Freitag Instagram and Frau Gerolds Garten)
Icon of Nightlife: Langstrasse
The bustling “Langstrasse” has made itself a name as a destination for Zurich`s vibrant nightlife. In the former red light district, which has indisputable edges that some might call “shabby”, a colourful cultural mix and diversity lures that you will find nowhere else in the city. Home of neon banners, bars and mesh tights, you can witness a different kind Zurich here, which could not distinguish itself more from the sleekness of Paradeplatz! Capitalism is far away from this microcosm, ruled by cool coffee spots like Acid, funky cocktail bars like Bagatelle and the famous “Longstreet Bar”. The energy of Langstrasse has spread word… Zurich`s celebrated vegetarian restaurant Hiltl opened a new eatery with bike drive through, tourists have discovered the party area and even the one or other banker gladly exchanges the grey suit for a relaxed T-Shirt to blend into the cultural jungle.
(Photos by Acid Instagram and Pascal Grob)
Where to stay?
Between sleek “Europallee” and bustling “Langstraße”, 25 Hours Hotel Langstrasse is a hub connecting cosmopolitan spirits from around the world. In a universe of urban modernity, eclectic design, dangling “FREITAG” bags and a cool gift shop, are setting the right mood for a steady flow of creativity! Regularly changing artists in residence as well as professional coworking spaces & iMac workplaces merge the world of art & capitalism under one vibrant roof.
Cinchona Bar and FREITAG bags at 25 Hours Hotel (Photos by Andrea Diglas)
Feeling for an oriental escape? At the heart of the Hotel, NENI restaurant brings the aromatic street food and exotic spices of Tel Aviv to Zurich. The acclaimed Israeli restaurant of gastro entrepreneur Haya Molcho and her fours has been celebrated in Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam. Telling the stories of culinary Israel in their cook book NENI TEL AVIV, they unveil the main ingredient for a great meal: Being surrounded by great people! Well, here you are exactly at the right place!
Green Shakshuka from NENI Cookbook TEL AVIV (Image NENI Instagram)
Culinary Oasis at Helvetiaplatz
Banks are playing a significant role in Zurich. But it`s a different kind of bank at Helvetiaplatz that is winning culinary hearts. BANK restaurant is a food haven, whose beautiful ambience you can only fall in love with! Watch meals being freshly prepared in the open kitchen between pink painted steel pillars, flower bouquets and decorative artichokes! At the entrance the smell of freshly baked organic bread by John Baker is greeting customers. The industrial-chic flair of the restaurant invites to linger at the end a work day with a glass of “Bank Spritz”, which brings us back to the original meaning of the word “bank”, a place you would like to rest!
Every Tuesday and Friday, the farmer`s market adds vibrancy to the lively Helvetiaplatz. (Image by BANK Instagram)
Freshly baked organic bread from John Baker at BANK.
Sihlfeld: From working class to Hipster Neighborhood
In every city, no matter how distant I travel, there is a neighbourhood where a creative heartbeat and vibrancy can be felt that can’t be bought by money. Sihlfeld in Zurich is one of them. The former working class district (“Kreis 3”) charms with relaxed streets of individual restaurants and shops! At Café Boy left young thinkers advanced the emancipation of the working class in the 1930s. While Paradeplatz became an international financial hub, Sihlfeld emerged as a political center for Europes young lefts. Since then, the neighborhood of Sihlfeld has undergone significant sociocultural change.
The cherry blossoms at “Bertastrasse” were in full bloom when I strolled past cozy spots that conveyed laid-back youthfulness. At Brupbacherplatz, crowds of young people were waiting in a gigantic line for the celebrated ice cream from Gelateria Di Berna, whose homemade organic ice cream has become such a hit in their hometown Bern that the organic ice cream parlour expanded to the big sister Zurich. I met with friends I hadn’t seen for a long time at 169 West, a relaxed coffee and wine bar, where we gushed about the news of our lives and the trending neighbourhood. I wanted to explore Sihlfeld more. It turned out an old friend of mine was staying in Zurich at the same time, just around the corner. Sometimes life is a perfection oft coincidences!
The organic ice cream from Gelateria di Berna with cherries from “Kirchlindach” or plums from “Gerzensee” is a popular treat for young crowds.
Eat & Drink
We first stopped by at Miki Ramen for lunch, lucky enough to get a table at the neat ramen restaurant at “Sihlfeldstraße”. The freshly prepared dumplings, Tantanmen & Ramen were SUPER delicious! I still crave the homemade ramen noodles soaked in the most wonderful Japanese flavours. In Asia slurping is a sign of politeness, well, it might have been over the top in Switzerland, but I certainly enjoyed this lunch date and would love to come back any time!
There is no way you can dislike anything given this short name! Just like that, the restaurant “Rosi” is a lovely piece of home amongst the existing diversity of international restaurants! Young chef Markus Stöckle, Elif Oskan and Patrick Isler created a “Neo Wirtshaus”, where the food culture of Bavaria and the Alpine region are celebrated in a modern way! Classic roast pork or “Schnitzel” can be found equally on the menu like family recipes with innovative twists. All thumbs up for this hip “Wirtshaus”, which confirms that the coolness of Bavaria can’t be just found at the Oktoberfest!
Colorful murals and Peruvian food at BARRANCO (Images by Caroline Krajcir)
The Peruvian restaurant and pisco bar BARRANCO, brings the bold flavours of Lima and its vibrant street food scene to Zurich Sihlfeld. Embrace the zest for life of South American culture and conviviality, sharing ceviche and authentic Peruvian dishes. The colorful graffitis on the wall by Peruvian street artist Entes are feeding the soul with the eclectic spirit of Barranco, Lima`s famous artist district!
“Café du Bonheur”
There was only time left for a cup of cappuccino at Cafe du Bonheur, which also serves Mediterranean cuisine, my friend had to pack for a trip and it was time for me to head back home too. But there could not have been a better place to end this day than at a coffee meaning “happiness”. I asked my friend to wait for a second, so I could take one last picture. The magazines postcards and notes I had collected were scattered all over the wooden table between the waiting cappuccino cups. I lifted my phone with happiness, knowing I had collected all ingredients for a new story…
A Different kind of Zurich!
Image by Café du Bonheur Instagram
On beautiful days young people and students gather around the fountain at Bullingerplatz and Café du Bonheur to soak up the sunshine. It was a different kind of Zurich that I had discovered on this trip! I recognized many parallels to young ascending neighborhoods of other cosmopolitan cities, reflecting the same cultural vibrancy and challenges of gentrification. But it was the kind of Zurich that won my heart! A more colorful, vibrant and fun Zurich – that will refute every cliché of Swiss sleekness.
Acid Langstrasse 67, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland
Bagatelle Langstrasse 93, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland
Longstreet Bar Langstrasse 92, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland
Les Halles Pfingstweidstrasse 6, 8005 Zürich, Switzerland
LaSalle Schiffbaustrasse 4, 8005 Zürich, Switzerland
Cafe du Bonheur Zypressenstrasse 115, 8004, Switzerland
Barranco Sihlfeldstrasse 141, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland
“Rosi” Sihlfeldstrasse 89, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland
Café Boy Kochstrasse 2, 8004 Zürich, Switzerland
Miki Ramen Sihlfeldstrasse 63, 8003 Zürich, Switzerland