As soon as spring ushers in the promise of longer days, many Basel area restaurants set tables out on the pavement, creating a boulevard café. Some venues are more garden-like, blessed with leafy cover or captivating views. These are the ones that get my attention. We are fortunate to have a number of options for warm-weather dining under sun and stars.
All my favorite haunts emphasize Mediterranean or local specialties, well prepared. Some dish up fabulous desserts. They provide friendly service in an evocative setting, and are accessible by public transport, and as part of a walking or cycling tour. Here are six Basel-area restaurants where I enjoy the outdoor atmosphere at the first hint of summer.
In the countryside
The quiet terrace at Restaurant Waldhaus (D) in Muttenz, overlooks the Rhine. For a fish fancier, the Egli filets are done to a turn, and there is an extensive, meaty menu as well. Good food and a dreamy setting between river and forest, make Waldhaus special for adults, and a large children’s playground makes it family friendly.
In Basel’s Old Town
Zum Isaak on Münsterplatz is a year-round favorite: cozy indoor dining in winter, and options that transition well into the warmer months. Set in one of the stately houses of Basel’s Old Town, the restaurant provides outdoor tables in summer.
Take your choice: a table facing the Munster, where the people-watching is good, or in the sunny courtyard out back. The draw here is light, healthy cooking in the heart of Basel’s historic center.
On a platform perched over the Rhine in St. Alban, Restaurant Veronika im Rhybadhysli Breiti (D) has a dramatic view of the rushing river, perfect to savor along with a light meal or a drink. Bring a bathing suit and enjoy the beach-like atmosphere and a swim in the Rhine directly under the restaurant. Leafy salads and warm dishes have a Mediterranean touch. Veronika offers an “instant vacation” at lunchtime and is an innovative venue for soaking up the last rays of a setting sun. From May, enjoy an a la carte menu and full bar, and from mid-day until early evening, Rhine swimming.
Gasthof zum Goldenen Sternen in St. Alban-Tal is the oldest surviving hostelry in Switzerland and the oldest tavern in Basel (since 1412). The cooking is refined and varied; the setting idyllic, perfect for a romantic dinner or a sunset drink with friends. Tables under the chestnut trees overlook the Rhine, while the elegant courtyard out back is draped with vines.
In a park or on a hillside
Café Merian at the Botanical Garden (D) in Brüglingen offers light fare with Mediterranean flair. The terrace is behind the Villa Merian, with a view over enormous trees in the Historischer Park, with its lily pond. The café is a great place for a break after meandering through the beautifully tended gardens.
Restaurant Schlosshof (D) with both indoor and terrace dining, is just past the Dorneck castle ruin above Dornach. The restaurant serves traditional Swiss favorites, well prepared. Try a grilled salmon filet with white asparagus or vegetable strudel, on a sauce of tomato with leeks. The dessert menu is really an ice cream menu, perfect for a summer evening. No extra charge for a spectacular sunset!
En guete! Guten appétit!