In addition to being a beautiful town to explore, Lugano was a lovely food vacation from the typical Swiss fare. Though still expensive (as all Swiss things are), it was a much-needed departure from the regular German-inspired cuisine that permeates Basel.
Elle and I had some blog-worthy meals on our weekend. Based on what we were able to research online, we think we did a pretty good job finding some of the best restaurant experiences in Lugano. Here are the three top ones, which span the Lugano food scene … a city/lakeside restaurant, a rustic one on the side of a mountain, and a tree-covered grotto on a hill.
Luce Al Gargantini (Riva Giocondo Albertolli 5) – A nicer, Italian meal with a fantastic lake-side view. Pastas were 18-24 CHF each.
Nearby was an outdoor plaza with live music and the park.
Locanda Gandriese (no address, but when you get to Gandria you can’t miss it or the cute waiter) – A great treat after a hike, and if you walk to and from the restaurant then you don’t feel as guilty for binge eating! Lugano is famous for its polenta and this place had the best we tried. The tomato/mozz appetizer and lemon cake dessert were passable.
Grotto Figini (Via ai Grotti in Gentilino) – Escape the city heat by going into the hillside and dining at a grotto. Our choices were limited on a Sunday, but Grotto Figini was open and we had a pleasant evening. If/when I go back, I’d love to try another one to compare. The ambiance at Figini was great though – small, casual and local.
I got the grilled meat platter, which was fine but nothing special. Elle got the polenta and rabbit to compare to Gandriese – it was not as good. But overall, still a nice meal.
Despite still being in Switzerland, Lugano definitely had a different vibe and culture. It was a beautiful and tasty weekend getaway.
If you’ve ever been, please do share any recommendations, as I’m sure I will go back in the future!