Eating in Zermatt is not cheap. But the town offers a wide variety of high-class restaurants.
There are traditional Swiss joints serving fare like fondue, raclette and grilled meat, the best of which are Le Gitan and Restaurant Julen. There is Michelin-starred chic at Ristorante Capri and haute cuisine at The Omnia.
And there is great Italian, Japanese and Chinese cuisine on offer at Giuseppi's, Myoko and China Gardens respectively. We finally review places where you can get cheap eats and places to buy quiche, sandwiches and other hearty food for a day in the mountains.
1. Le Gitan: CHF70 per head (3 courses, no wine)
Le Gitan is an intimate grill restaurant located opposite the Mont Cervin Palace in Zermatt's town centre.
Le Gitan keeps things simple: main courses are high quality fish and meat cooked over a wood fire in the restaurant, served with a daily vegetable dish and as many helpings of gratin potatoes as you can eat.
We particularly recommend the rack of lamb, which is served as two separate dishes—lamb fillet followed by lamb chops. Starters vary from tasty salads to snails, with desserts including panna cotta and creme brulee.
Le Gitan is a small, romantic restaurant with attentive service, often provided by the husband and wife owners. Be sure to book in advance, particularly in the winter season.
£$€¥ Starters range from CHF9.5 (Seasonal mixed salad with mustard & lemon vinaigrette) to CHF28 (homemade duck liver terrine with plum – chili chutney). Mains cost between CHF39.5 (Tiger prawns with lime & ginger butter) and CHF62 (250g fillet of beef). Desserts range from CHF8.5 (Affogato coffee) to CHF15 (Warm chocolate cake with banana ice cream). Le Gitan has an extensive wine list, ranging from CHF45 to CHF750.
2. The Factory: CHF55 per head
Also located in central Zermatt, between the Mont Cervin and Zermatterhof hotels, is The Factory (one of the restaurants of the Hotel de Post).
Don't be put off by the name: this restaurant offers seriously high quality Italian food, ranging from pizzas baked in wood-fired ovens to a variety of different pastas and excellent cuts of meat.
We suggest the sauteed squid strips with artichoke and spinach, served with risotto and a selection of vegetables, and the Swiss ossobuco with vegetables and garlic sauce.
The Factory, previously known as the Spaghetti and Pasta Factory, is a large restaurant, set over three floors of a converted 18th century Valaisan chalet, but which nevertheless offers good service.
£$€¥ Starters range from CHF9.50 (broschette) to CHF27 (Smoked salmon trout with orange glaze and cabbage salad). Pizzas start at CHF17.50 (margarita), with pastas ranging from CHF24 (Penne all’arrabbiata) to CHF39 (linguine with giant prawns). Meat and fish range from CHF36 (calf's liver) to CHF49 (180g fillet of beef). Desserts start at CHF7.50 (fruit tart). Wine is available by the glass, with bottles starting at CHF42.
3. Giuseppi's: CHF70 per head
You will not forget a night at Giuseppi's Italian Restaurant in a hurry!
The best Italian in town, Giuseppi's offers a very warm welcome (and a free glass of prosecco), is always heaving, and serves up dishes such as creme of Viagra soup, the "crazy appetizer", fillet of beef 'mafia style' and a set "Bunga Bunga" menu.
Giuseppi's accommodates inside dining, in a small and eclectically decorated dining room (the male toilet has photographs of naked women above the urinal!), and outside dining on a terrace in good weather.
And the food is first rate. We highly recommend the scampi with home made pasta and saffron sauce, and the fillet of venison in red wine sauce with polenta. Whilst a la carte prices are expensive, the set menus are a real bargain at CHF58 and CHF65.
After your meal, you will probably be provided with a bottle of grappa — to help yourself to as many nightcaps as you would like, on the house.
£$€¥ Starters range from CHF10 to CHF20; fish dishes from CHF30 to CHF50; meat dishes from CHF40 to CHF 60; and desserts from CHF12. Wine starts at CHF39 per bottle.
4. Restaurant Julen: CHF40+ per head
If you like lamb, you'll love Restaurant Julen.
Found in the basement underneath Hotel Julen, this is a cosy and traditional little place, with alpine-hut décor (including wood-panelling, black-and-white photographs and wool cushions).
Restaurant Julen is best known for its lamb dishes, which include lamb entrecote, loin of lamb, lamb ragout, braised knuckle of lamb, lamb burger, rack of lamb and lamb and cheese sausages.
Prices are fairly reasonable, with the set menu offering good value by Zermatt’s standards: the two-course option, for CHF35, gives you a main course (for example Venison cutlet on juniper sauce with spaetzli and vegetables) and trip to the salad bar; whilst the CHF55 five-course menu also includes a starter, soup and dessert.
£$€¥ If you are dining a la carte, starters begin at CHF13.50 (mixed salad), main courses range from CHF24 (sausages with Rosti and vegetables) to CHF50 (fillet of beef), and desserts start at CHF9.50 (caramel flan).
5. Myoko: CHF65+ per head
With 13 GaultMillau points, Myoko is definitely the best Japanese restaurant in Zermatt.
Myoko is found opposite the Mont Cervin Palace, looks like a Japanese pagoda, and offers outdoor eating during the day and stylish indoor eating in the evening.
Try and get seated at a chair around the teppanyaki grill on the second floor, where you can watch the chefs at work; this has much more atmosphere than the first floor dining area.
The food, though not cheap, is exceptionally fresh, tasty and well presented. The sushi, sashimi and beef get especially rave reviews, as do the sakes and wine list. If Myoko has a downside, it is the sometimes inattentive service.
6. Ristorante Capri: CHF120+ per head
Ristorante Capri is the only Zermatt restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star (in addition to holding 17 GaultMillau points).
It offers diners Mediterranean cuisine, with an emphasis on dishes from southern Italy and seafood. The good news is that the restaurant has great views of the Matterhorn village and the mountains and is praised for its attentive service.
The bad news is that Capri's food has received mixed reviews, with some diners saying that their meal was "unbelievable" (in a good way!) and others saying that it was "tasteless".
Whilst it has been named Swiss Italian Restaurant of the Year, and there are plenty of high-rollers to fill its tables (menus are printed in Russian as well as German, French and English), it seems that executive chef Andrea Migliaccio will need to work on consistency for Capri to become the best restaurant in town.
Unless you have money to burn (the tasting menu is CHF180 for 7 courses!), go to Giuseppi’s, the Omnia or Le Gitan instead.
Note: Restaurant Capri is only open during the winter season.
7. Omnia: CHF100+ per head
The Omnia Restaurant is a high-class alternative to Ristorante Capri.
Offering haute cuisine in a modern 60-seater restaurant, Restaurant Omnia has been receiving rave reviews. It is part of the contemporary Omnia Hotel, overlooking central Zermatt and accessed via a tunnel from the main street.
The Omnia's six-course tasting menu includes a starter of Trout with horseradish, nasturtium and hazelnut, and a main of Veal with violet mustard, winter onions and roots (CHF159, with accompanying wines costing an additional CHF95).
Starters on Omnia's a la carte menu include Pumpkin soup with apple and pumpkin seeds (CHF16) and Alba truffle with free range eg, spinach and potato (CHF30).
Mains range from CHF39 (Tagliolini with crustacean bisque and mussels) to CHF59 (Beef fillet with crispy potatoes, onions and mushrooms).
Desserts range from CHF5 (per ice cream scoop) and CHF31 (for Ali`s chocolate variation with truffle and walnuts).
8. China Garden: CHF60+ per head
China Garden is Zermatt's best Chinese restaurant.
Found just off Zermatt's main street, Bahnoffstrasse, and with a distinctive and authentic red and black interior, the restaurant has now earned 13 GaultMillau points.
Dishes include Chinese favourites such as Kung Po prawns, crispy beef, pork in garlic sauce, shredded duck and sweet and sour chicken.
Reviews are positive, complimenting Head Chef Chen Lijun's tasty food and the restaurant's attentive service. On the downside, the restaurant turns tables at peak times and prices are probably a little on the high side.
But these are minor negatives: China Garden is a great little restaurant, and offers diners a welcome change from traditional Swiss fare. Don't miss it!
9. Cheap Eats: CHF5.50 - CHF20 per head
Eating in Zermatt is not cheap. For those looking for good food at a reasonable price, we suggest:
1. Cafe Murren, on the first floor above Bakerei Hornli (half way up Bahnhoffstrasse on the right hand side as you go uphill), which offers large mixed salads, light meals and a delightful selection of cakes for CHF10-15.
2. Le Petit Royal, a tiny elegant bakery and coffee shop half way up Bahnhoffstrasse (left hand side, as you travel uphill), offering home-made quiche of the day, soup, croque Monsieur, baked potatoes and sandwiches from CHF5.50. You won't find a better cappuccino in Switzerland.
3. The stall outside the Bayard Metzgerei Wursterei butchers half way up Bahnhoffstrasse (left hand side) serves a selection of excellent grilled sausages and rotisserie chicken with a slice of bread and mustard until 6pm, for CHF7.
4. Fuchs Bakery, on the Bahnhoffstrasse between Hotel Cervin and the Zermatterhoff and at two other locations in town, offers great sandwiches, quiches (the spinach quiche is a must) sausage rolls and sweet treats: a fantastic place to visit if you are planning a picnic.
5. The Take It Doner kebab shop, at the top of Bahnhofstrasse (one minute past Kirchplatz) offers generous chicken and beef kebabs, with plenty of salad, for CHF10 each.
6. The Hilde Wilde Take Away, opposite the Matterhorn Museum on Kirchplatz, also sells rotisserie chickens, at CHF10 for a half chicken and CHF16 for a whole.