Zurich: Hiltl

According to Guinness World Records, Hiltl is the first vegetarian restaurant in the world. The company was founded in 1898 by Ambrosius Hiltl and continues to be run by the Hiltl family. It offers around 500 dishes and includes the à la carte restaurant and Hiltl buffet, self-service and takeaway.

I got to know about Hiltl during my walking tour around Zurich and at the end of the tour, our guide gave us a voucher to enjoy a free brownie from Hiltl. The restaurant is located in the heart of Zurich city, which made it very easy to visit. When there, one has several choices.

  1. Eat at the restaurant and choose from the a la carte menu where vegetarian mains are served from the kitchen
  2. Eat at the restaurant but serve yourself from the vegetarian buffet where you are charged according to weight
  3. Takeaway and pack your vegetarian meal from the vegetarian buffet where you are also charged according to weight

With so many eating options, I did the crazy thing and did both. I ate from both the restaurant menu and the vegetarian buffet table.

One thing to note is that the difference between eating from the restaurant menu and the vegetarian buffet is that the buffet is way cheaper (almost half to one third savings). Interestingly, not all the dishes on the restaurant menu are exclusive to the restaurant. Only some are and you can easily find find most of the restaurant dishes at the buffet section.

I didn’t get a very good impression of service. I waited for quite a while to be seated, before approaching the hostess directly. The table which I was seated at was directly behind the waiter station, hence I spent a lot of my time at the table listening to the wait staff gossip and laugh among themselves. Another note is that payment for meals at the restaurant and takeaway are at separate counters. Initially I had wanted to have my takeaway billed with my restaurant meals, but I was told that this was not possible. I had to make two payments at two different areas of the restaurant.

While at the restaurant, I ordered the vegetarian meatloaf. Not being very used to vegetarian food as a main course, I was pleasantly surprised at how the meatloaf was very tasty and almost tasted like meat. I did find the side vegetables a little undercooked (they were pretty hard to bite into). When I told the waitress this, she informed me that this was how the kitchen prefers to serve the side vegetables. All right…

After my meal, I headed to the vegetarian bar to pack my takeaway. There is wide array of choices, you are certainly spoilt for choice here. There is a huge variety of vegetarian cuisines, from the European salads to the Indian curries.

After you’ve packed your food, head to the more casual area to pay up.

So, for about one third of the price that I paid for my main, I had a pretty heavy mix of salad greens, tofu and vegetarian meats which I brought back to serve as an appetizer for Iz and I during dinner…

My verdict: go for the takeaway. I really feel that you get more value for money here and my experience at the restaurant did not justify the extra $ to sit down at a nice table.

Add: Sihlstrasse 28, 8001 Zürich, Switzerland

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