Zurich played its supporting role when the story of electronic music was written in the 1990s. The street parade – then a fun cajole around the lake, now a carnival for a million music fans – brought up-and-coming DJs and bands to the city to celebrate and get the movement started. It was a time when the superstars of tomorrow were discovered behind the turntables in illegal bars, and trips to London or Amsterdam were no longer necessary to buy the latest singles or fierce club clothes. This was the moment when Zurich finally grew from a slightly uptight city to a more urban and diverse place with an exciting nightlife scene. Many things have changed since then, but Supermarket – the club that pioneered nightlife in Zurich City-West – is still a magnet for lovers of electronic music.
However the young and the young at heart like to take it a little slower nowadays. In summer, evenings are spent under the sky in the many outdoor lidos and bars such as Oberer Letten or around Lake Zürich. You swim, you sip a beer and enjoy the city nature at an outdoor BBQ. And when the seasons change and the evenings get colder the many bars and restaurants around Langstrasse in Kreis 4 have plenty to offer for a night to remember.
Expect everything and anything when you come to Pizzeria Rosso. The place is always bustling and its staff always elegantly stressed. Hidden in an old industrial building, this Italian eatery serves a fresh farm-to-table cuisine and is famous for wood-oven pizzas so big they often hang over the plates. It's cosy despite the industrial look and the very basic vintage interior, not least because tables are shared and are set up on the veranda, when nights are warm enough. Prices are high and the somewhat arrogant tone of voice from the staff might have you raising an eyebrow. Don’t be angry, though, the snippy behaviour is what real Zurichers think of as an international demeanour. The wonderful Hotel Rivington & Sons bar, with its Brooklyn feel and bourbon drinks, is just around the corner for a nightcap. Or simply head next door to Frau Gerolds Garten, an outdoor hangout and garden with shops and cafés. This green oasis in the middle of the industrial area hosts gardening classes as well as a flea market during the day on Saturdays, and turns into an outdoor bar at night. Come winter the garden is wrapped into a big tent where delicious fondue and plenty of glühwein will warm your heart.
Wesley Quian's mother, back in Shanghai, is a very good cook, and she taught her son the secrets of Chinese food from her home region. Now Wesley serves Shanghai bao dim sum out of his tiny restaurant in Kreis 5. Word spread like wildfire that delicious dishes such as fried beef, pork belly with red tofu sauce or a refreshing tuna tataki are dished up here. This is simple but exquisite Chinese cuisine with an international twist, because Wesley likes to add ingredients from his many travels. On Wednesdays he takes his Shanghai street food to the farmers market in the big hall of the Hauptbahnhof, where he sells his dim sum from 11am to 8pm. Back at the restaurant the line of people on the waiting list reaches around the corner. Luckily bookstore sec52 is next door: with its eclectic collection of art and design books as well as lots of fiction, this is a paradise for any book lover – or hungry waitee on the countdown to some Shanghai bao.
It took a while but green eating has arrived in Zurich, and it’s all about freshly squeezed juices. Fred Jacobi, a Swede who grew up in Brazil, recently opened his wonderful juice bar, Juicery 21. Green juice, carrot juice, beet juice or orange juice – the bar is a small heaven of wellness and health. Come here after a swim in the nearby Hallenbad (indoor pool) for a breakfast of porridge or a bagel and coffee. When the sun is out, the takeaway will cater perfectly for a stroll in the Alter Botanischer Garten: this old botanical garden is a place of total tranquility, even on the busiest of days. If it’s serenity you’re searching for, you can find it all over the city…literally, with the city’s new craze for pop-up yoga. From nightclubs to rooftops, galleries to playgrounds: relaxation has no restrictions here in Zurich. Check online for the latest locations - www.popupyoga.ch.
Langstrasse in Kreis 4 is where you should head to find the city’s nightlife, while the Longstreet bar is a good starting point for your evening; the former strip club is an ideal place for an early drink. Usually buzzing with a young crowd, leave before they start dancing on the tables (unless you want to stay and join in). Just outside you'll be greeted by the friendly family vibe of Mediterranean takeaway Palestine Grill. The mood is infectious, the food simply delicious and the hip hop beats from the stereo often overwhelming, but in the best possible way. Just opened is Kanoneagass, a modern bar with a classic vibe in the heart of the nightlife area that was a cabaret in its former life. While the red satin sofas had to go, it’s now a very well – yet still cosily – designed space, and ideal for a chat with friends. Richard Dorfmeister of electro duo Kruder & Dorfmeister is a shareholder here, so of course it turns into a club after the clock strikes 10pm. And then the DJ does his stuff until the early hours. You'll happily dance along, with one of the finest cocktails the city has to offer in your hand.