Basel foodie guide with Basel Tourism

The Basel food scene has so much to offer. Here are some of my favorite eateries and bars in this multicultural city.

By Julian Canlas

Basel bustles with life. Located at the intersection of the Swiss, German and French borders, Basel is a city that’s very multicultural, but also retains a strong sense of identity. In its exciting bars and eateries, you’ll hear German mixed with French, and other languages are spoken widely, too.

Needless to say, there are many spots for foodies who want to have a bite of the city. In this blog post, with Basel Tourism, here are some of our recommendations on amazing spots to eat and drink in Basel.

East Basel

East Basel is marked with exciting contrasts. Old, half-timbered buildings are interspersed with modern architecture and former industrial complexes. There are small handicraft stores for those who want to shop, and museums and the historic St. Albans district for the history nerds. After a day of walking, you can also go to the Rhinbad-Breite for a swim.

Tip from Basel Tourism: After a day of museum visits, why not relax over a drink by the Rhine. The eateries cater for every taste: you can lunch at the Rheinbadhaus with its wonderful river views or dine in Basel’s oldest inn.

Le Rhin Bleu

For me, summers in Basel are always best when I spend the whole day at Rheinbad-Breite, read a book under the sun, swim in the majestic Rhine, and then enjoy the good food at Le Rhin Bleu.

Only open during spring and summer, this restaurant has all the elements of a perfect open-air break under the sun. Located on a platform above the Rhine, you can hear the river ripple under you, and there’s a view of the cathedral on one side and the Roche tower on the other. With plenty of seafood options, being at Le Rhin Bleu is the best alternative next to booking a flight in southern Spain!

St. Jakob

St. Jakob holds the title of being the oldest inn in Basel. But while the historical institution is a great place to sleep, it also boasts a nice restaurant, especially if you love your meat expertly cooked. St. Jakob has what you want for a decadent dining out experience, with hearty servings of popular meat dishes, like the Swiss favorite schnitzel, the delicious roast pork that you should really only eat on special occasions, and locally produced side dishes. Throughout summer, they organize special grilling nights at the garden and play lounge music that is perfect during those lazy dog days.

Gundeldingen

Affectionately referred to as “Gundeli” by locals, Gundeldingen is a diverse melting pot of a district and has a unique charm that shows in the various eateries located in former industrial spaces. Partly due to its modern architecture and being separated from the city through the train station, Gundeli almost feels like a village of its own.

Tip from Basel Tourism: Enjoy a sumptuous brunch at one of the district’s numerous cafés before trawling through the neighborhood shops for something to take home with you.

Markthalle

Markthalle is for the cool kids of Basel. Whether you’re a foodie, a thrift-shopper, or a lover of popup stores, Markthalle is there for you. With numerous bars and eateries, Markthalle is also the perfect place for after-work drinks and some late-night shopping. What more can you want? As more people begin to get more allured by unique eating out experiences, Markthalle innovates and goes above the fray by integrating grocers, boutiques and international street food vendors all in one space.

Werk 8

Werk 8 is located in a former machine factory in the heart of Grundeli. The ceilings are high. And shipping containers are used as decorations to emphasize the industrial feel of the place. The cocktails and food are as creative as the interior design. With specialty concoctions like the Birdman, which includes 23-year old Matusalem rum, Werk 8 has won many awards. It was lauded as the “Bar of the year Switzerland 2019” against heavyweights like Zurich’s Kronenhalle by the Mixology magazine, a renowned industry trade magazine. It’s not hard to see why.

Kleinbasel

Like Gundeli, Kleinbasel is characterized by its youthful diversity (50% of its inhabitants are immigrants), creativity, and trendy spots to hang out. The area has loads of bars and eateries, especially along Rheingasse, Klybeckstrasse and Feldbergstrasse. There are also several independent businesses and galleries that highlight the importance of the artisan.

Tip from Basel Tourism: Along the Kleinbasel banks of the Rhine, you’ll find a series of open-air bars plus an exceptional range of restaurants and bars extending down as far as the port.

Cantina Don Camillo

Like Werk 8, Cantina Don Camillo is a former brewery owned by Warteck, a now-defunct brewing company based in Basel. As for food, they have a very international menu, with interesting vegan options, such as the delicious cauliflower steak and Donna‘s Veggie Burger, which has spicy vegan mayo for some thrill in your life. From the bar, you can peek into their open kitchen, revealing an equally international team, which might explain how they keep their food so varied. And the team works in great cohesion; service is speedy and efficient.

On sunny days and pleasant evenings, they also open their terrace to keep you from leaving. If you want to use the terrace, make sure to make a reservation, though. The place gets fully booked almost every evening!

Klarabasel

As its slogan, Klara proudly claims, “nine kitchens, one bar”. This is a popular eatery and bar that features food from around the world, including Japan, Ethiopia, Senegal, India, Mexico and Argentina. They even serve curried insects for the more adventurous foodies out there. The place is also a popular hub for events, from LGBTQ+ gatherings to quiz nights. If you love the eclecticism and energy of street food festivals, and affordable choices (well, relatively, in Swiss standards) in a very chic space, this is the place to visit.

Basel West

Located next to the border of France, Basel West is a rapidly-changing area that boasts a nice variety of places to visit. For those wanting a bit of nature, there’s the world-famous Basel-Zoo and the Nightingale forest. Across the beautiful Johanniterbrücke, you can have a fun night out at its trendy nightclubs.

Tip from Basel Tourism: St. Johann is changing so fast that next time you return you’ll find it offers even more new architectural and gastronomic gems.

Volta Brau

You know that the folks at Volta Brau take their beer seriously, when they have a manifesto on providing an experience of drinking beer that’s original and high-quality to its guests on their website.

Volta Brau also has a very international clientele. At the place, I heard German, Dutch, English, French, Chinese and other languages being spoken. Volta Brau is a repurposed space that used to be an electrical substation in Voltaplatz (hence their name. Creative, right?). These elements come together into the perfect cosmopolitan experience. I mean, whenever I’m at Volta Brau, I altogether feel fresh, international and hip, myself, while I drunkenly chug down their home-brewed beer that’s available all-year round. It’s that aspirational experience other places dream of having.

Acqua

Acqua is an Italian osteria and lounge bar located in a former water plant, next to the Nightingale forest and the Basel Zoo. Acqua also changes its menu daily, based on seasonal preferences and fresh, local produce. The lounge bar becomes alive during summer, when several events and DJ performances take place. If you’re near the zoo, it’s a nice place to visit, especially if you’re into a more rustic interior; the walls remain largely unpainted and grey and the space remains dimly-lit for that romantic atmosphere.

Central Basel

Central Basel retains its old-world charm through a well-preserved historic center and its buildings dating back to the 15th century. There are also several cafés and restaurants for a quick bite or a nice dinner. After eating, you can also take a relaxing stroll by the river Rhine.

Tip from Basel Tourism: a traditional supper at one of the city center’s splendid guild restaurants is a special pleasure.

Atlantis Basel

Since its opening in 1947, Atlantis Basel has experienced several changes throughout the years. What initially started as a restaurant with a North African “flair”, with live alligators and pythons in its vivarium, in the next few decades, turned into many different things: first into a popular jazz club, then one of Switzerland’s most popular rock music venues, and now a Meditarrenean restaurant with fun live music events. Its logo — an illustration of an alligator biting its own tail — serves as a nice tongue-in-cheek reference to its past.

Hotel Brasserie Au Violon

While Au Violon is located in a former prison, you’ll be hard-pressed to find traces of its criminal past. While you’ll find the traditional brasserie offerings, such as osso bucco and sliced beef with mustard sauce, there’s always a hint of fine dining touch coming from its chef, David Goldbronn. Goldbronn claimed to have started cooking at the age of 3 and has worked with many acclaimed restaurants across France. Understandably, Au Violon won the “Bib gourmand” award by Michelin Guide, which is a testament to its affordability and the quality of its menu.

Julian Canlas
By Julian Canlas

Julian Canlas leads content and community at TWISPER. He is a 20-something content strategist who loves to travel and write about online culture. You can email him at [email protected] for blog collaborations with TWISPER and other partnerships.

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