Zermatt fine-dining

Panoramas and the best tables

Claude Hervé-Bazin
Grand Hotel Zermatterhof | CERVO Mountain Resort | Schweizerhoff Zermatt
Winter 2023-2024

Few places in the world can lay claim to having so many highly rated restaurants for so few inhabitants. Whether you prefer traditional, inventive contemporary, or exotic, Zermatt has something for all palates — with an emphasis on ultra-fresh local ingredients.

Zermatt is synonymous with fine dining. Of the 150 registered restaurants in the village and surrounding hamlets, four are Michelin starred and Gault&Millau have ranked 21 establishments, for a total of 298 points! And that number only continues to rise, placing Zermatt far (very far!) ahead of any competition. To celebrate the area’s rich culinary heritage, Taste of Zermatt (tasteofzermatt.ch) organises a special gourmet hike to discover the best high-altitude restaurants, taking place on January 27 in Findeln. It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy the other key highlight of dining in Zermatt: the panoramic views.

Here, many great restaurants are connected to a hotel and most of them only open for the winter season, from late November or early December until April.

Culinary mountain stars
When it’s time to eat in Zermatt, the number of dining options to choose from can be practically overwhelming. One of the stand-out options is Alpine Gourmet Prato Borni (1 Michelin star and 16 points) inside the Grand Hotel Zermatterhof, which juggles two exceptionally inventive menus: one with a local focus, and one that’s very international. And don’t miss out on the wine pairing; Peter Zimmermann was named the “2023 Sommelier of the Year.” There’s also the very chic Omnia restaurant (15 points), which boasts a similar Alpine excellence with an emphasis on vegetarian dishes, although that’s far from the only options on the menu. At the Backstage Hotel, After Seven (1 star and 17 points) combines high-flying cuisine and a dreamy ambiance that was carefully crafted by owner-architect Heinz Julen, who is often present at the restaurant. Expect a menu full of surprises! Three floors down, the Diner’s Club (15 points) has reopened the legendary Vernissage in a relaxed musical atmosphere. The more traditional Le Restaurant (14 points), at the Mont Cervin Palace, offers a host of fish and shellfish delights with a French Mediterranean flair. At the Chalet Hôtel Schönegg (a Relais & Châteaux establishment), Saveurs (14 points) offers a four-course menu or a la carte dining, with a fantastic wine collection featuring many Valais options, and an absolutely stunning view of the Matterhorn, front and centre.

Recently awarded a Michelin Green Star, Brasserie Uno (1 Michelin star and 14 points) proposes a unique seasonal menu that focuses on organic ingredients and includes multiple vegetarian and vegan options. Potato Fine Food Restaurant also emphasizes locally produced ingredients and wine from Valais, apart from a few (very) select wines from elsewhere. A more discreet option is at the Hotel 22 Summits on Fridays, when diners gather for a remarkable menu put together by Zermatt chef Alain Lerjen for Soulfood by Alain. Signature dishes include a Fendant soup and a house-made brie with truffles.

Traditional dining in Zermatt
Spending time in Valais and not enjoying a traditional fondue, raclette, or a classic barley soup with some PGI dried meats would be as silly as ignoring the Jet d’Eau in Geneva. Luckily, there’s no shortage of traditional restaurants in the station, most of which are housed in rustic, oh-so-charming wooden chalets. Topping this list are Restaurant Schäferstube, Restaurant Walliserstube, the Whymper-Stube, the Swiss Chalet (particularly charming) and the discreet, centenarian Café du Pont.

One of the leading restaurants in this category is the Restaurant Julen, which graciously straddles the divide between traditional and modern-day cooking. At Ferdinand by CERVO, classic dishes are served in a contemporary setting — don’t miss out on the customizable fondues with pear or apricot brandy. Along those same lines, the intimate Saycheese! stays true to its name and serves cheese in all its forms (including fondue, of course).

Locally raised, barbequed lamb is in the spotlight at Chez Heini (14 points) and at Im Hof, which gets its Black Nose sheep from the Julen farm. For more smoke and flames visit Spycher (where the meat is cut tableside, amongst hunting rifles and trophies), Chez Max Julen, at the Grill Le Cervin (14 points), and at 1818 Eat & Drink (13 points), which features decor by Heinz Julen. There’s also Sonnmatten Restaurant (13 points) where the signature dish is wiener schnitzel, and Filet & Fils that specializes in tomahawk steaks. There’s also the very locavore The Grill, that makes its own air-dried meats and smoked salmon in a decor of rich reds and deep greens.

Mountain restaurants with exceptional views
Up in the mountains are 50-some cabins, stübli, restaurants, bars and self-service options for skiers, sledders and mountain lovers to feast in the most beautiful of settings. The Matterhorn is often the star of the show in all its Alpine glory. And Zermatt’s reputation as a gastronomic destination certainly extends to these high-altitude restaurants, many of which are also rated by Gault&Millau and the Michelin Guide!

Furi (1,867 m) is accessed via a 45-minute walk from Zermatt (or a 5-minute walk from the new gondola lift), where you’ll find Hotel Silvana and its Restaurant Gitz-Gädi, featuring rösti, fondues, dried meats, lamb, or even baby goat served as the fireplace crackles. There’s also Simi, with both traditional and modern-day dining options, and the Aroleid Restaurant (awarded a Bib Gourmand) with its creative and vegetarian-focused dining (and which also offers pottery and barista classes). At the start of the Moos-Trail, Restaurant Alm specializes in trout and is also near Ritti, which could be prescribed by your doctor for its rösti and fondues served in view of its stone-tiled roof and micro-terrace tucked in between the trees.

One of the walking paths that links Furi and Zermatt passes by the adorable hamlets of Blatten and Zum See, each of which feature centuries-old chalets and one namesake restaurant. Zum See (14 points) is an ideal place for fine-dining, mountain cuisine (their speciality is chopped veal liver) and has a superb terrace. The nearby Blatten is über traditional, serving bolete mushroom soup with a Philo dough crust and hosts fondue nights on Wednesdays.

Higher up, at 2,200 m, near the foot of the Matterhorn itself, you’ll find Stafelalp and its enormous terrace. Only accessible by ski (via the #53 red slope), the locale is run by Maison Matthiol and was recently awarded 13 points by Gault&Millau.

Towards the east, the former Maiensäss of Findeln is one of Zermatt’s best known fine dining destinations with two restaurants that each have 14 points with Gault&Millau. Chez Vrony beautifully highlights local (often organic) ingredients from Valais, makes house dried meats, and features a creative menu and lightly-chic but very chill vibe with interior design by Heinz Julen, Vrony’s brother. Meanwhile, Findlerhof is known for its beautiful panoramic terraces, its mountain cheese ravioli, quiches, and its gigantic Matterhorn röstis. Three other nearby establishments are also worth a visit: the Adler Hitta, with occasional live music, Enzian, and @Paradise (13 points), which is now run by Vrony’s team.

But there are still additional options to explore! Near Riffelalp (at 2,222 m), the lovely Alphitta features a musical lunch. In Blauherd (2,571 m), the light-coloured wood of the Blue Lounge comes to life in the winter months with bands and DJs, serving simple sandwiches, tartes flambées, and burgers with a view of the Matterhorn. Upstairs, find the delightful Rothorn Ristorante Pizzeria, or opt to visit Fluhalp with its charming and retro mountain cabin ambiance, to enjoy dishes from Valais, fondues, rösti, homemade pastas, and delicious tarts.

Exploring far-off flavours
Given Zermatt’s international renown, it should come as no surprise that cosmopolitan options are also easy to find. With Italy just across the border, Italian options abound, like Capri (1 star, 17 points), Madre Nostra by CERVO
(14 points), and at the more informal Vieux-Valais da Nico or Grampi’s (both with excellent wood-fired pizzas), and at the Chalet da Giuseppe.

At the Zermama Bistro and Zermatt Kitchen (affiliated with the Aroleid), the entire world is invited to the table, between choleras (savoury pastries stuffed with potatoes and leeks), tapas, superfoods, and Asian flavour notes. Both also offer brunch. The hip Bazaar by CERVO (awarded a Bib Michelin) features not only a variety of Eastern-inspired dishes, but also a host of vegetarian options with a low environmental impact.

For even more exotic flavours, head to Golden India, one of the best Indian restaurants in the country. There’s also La Muña (13 points) with its Japanese-Peruvian cuisine, and the only Chinese restaurant in Zermatt, China Garden (14 points). You can also enjoy Japanese food at Myoko (13 points) — which will be moving to Hotel Schweizerhof this winter — and at Shogun, which resembles a Japanese countryside abode. Bon appetite!