Finding food in Switzerland that doesn’t involve cheese is a breeze, discovers Leigh-Ann Pow, thanks to a unique vegetarian concept.
Finding good food is never a problem in Switzerland, what with all that fresh milk to make cheese, all those delicious cured meats, all the decadent chocolate treats and, of course, the fondue, which is offered up in all its slightly stinky glory in restaurants across the country.
But if you’re not into eating your weight (and then some) in cheese and meat and chocolate, what is there to choose from?
The answer is Tibits, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant that more than caters to those wanting something a little less Swiss, shall we say.
Located in Basel, Lucerne, Bern, Winterthur and various locations in Zürich (as well as an outlet in London), we stumbled across the restaurant on Seefeldstrasse, just minutes from the Zürich Opera House (as well as from the excellent Hotel Ambassador where we stayed).
It is the eclectic décor that first piqued my interest – a series of rooms that present like separate restaurants, all decorated individually; my favourite had an exuberant floral wallpaper and a mishmash of tables, chairs and fittings.
Once actually inside it was the concept that intrigued me; no menus but rather a generous central buffet laden with exclusively vegetarian and vegan fare – tofu curries and salads and bread and desserts. The idea is to grab a plate and pile it with as little or as much as you like.
You then take it to a bar area where it is weighed and you’re charged accordingly.
You can order suitably healthy drinks too, like fresh-pressed juices and all manner of teas and coffees, or opt for chilled Swiss tap water from water stations scattered throughout.
It’s all the brainchild of three Swiss brothers – Daniel, Christian and Reto Frei – who opened their first Tibits in 2000 with the ethos of delivering healthy cuisine that was as speedy as a fast food joint and as cosy as a corner cafe.
There’s also an accompanying cookbook: Vegan Love Story.
Back in our seats, the food is as flavoursome as the concept is entertaining.
The ingredients are incredibly fresh, seasonal and delicious, and there is obvious attention paid to the benefits of vegetarian food, with lots of raw creations.
Everything on my plate complemented everything else, and the desserts were pretty fabulous too.
The whole vibe is convivial and fun, packed with a mix of diners (opera goers next to families next to Zürich’s young creatives) and a buzzy atmosphere that lends itself perfectly to a casual night out.
It all adds up to being a uniquely Swiss experience after all, just minus the fondue forks.
Seefeldstrasse 2, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland
The IT Verdict
Tibits is a fun, friendly, healthy and economical way to dine, which makes it hugely popular with locals who all seemed to be having a ball when we visited.
It doesn’t hurt that the food is delicious too.
- Food and drink = 8/10
The fare here is incredibly fresh and flavoursome, with an array of vegetarian and vegan dishes to choose from.
With so much on offer, the buffet, ‘all you can eat’ pay-as-you-go concept is perfect.
- Service = 7/10
The help-yourself practice means that interaction with staff is kept to a minimum, but the staff behind the bar were smiling and friendly and happily explained the concept to the more bewildered newcomers like myself.
- Value for money = 9/10
Considering you pay for what you get, this is a very good value option.
Plates are weighed to the 100 grams, with diners paying $6 per 100 grams, and take-away priced at $5 for the same amount.