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.

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Lakeside view was a perfect welcome to Lugano
I got the tagliolini with sea bass, garlic, EVOO and tomatoes. Fresh and tasty.
I got the tagliolini with sea bass, garlic, EVOO and tomatoes. Fresh and tasty.

Nearby was an outdoor plaza with live music and the park.

Weekend music festival
Weekend music festival
Awesome park area where they supply free books and loungers
Awesome park area where they supply free books and loungers

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.

Polenta every where
Polenta all day, every day. Plus an example of the prices.
Polenta with rabbit
Polenta with rabbit
Polenta with beef (we decided the rabbit was better)
Polenta with beef (we decided the rabbit was better)

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.

Fabulous ambiance
Fabulous ambiance
Gotta have wine, and Lugano is most known for its Merlot.
Gotta have wine, and Lugano is most known for its Merlot.

 

Standout dish was the gnocchi with butter and sage. Perfect pillows.
Standout dish was the gnocchi with butter and sage. Perfect pillows.

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!

Emmelle

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