Basel : Cafés and café-bars
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There are plenty of cafés and Bierstubenaround Marktplatz and Barfüsserplatz, with nearby Steinenvorstadt also core snacking territory. Perfect accompaniment to a Basel teatime is the local speciality Leckerli – a melt-in-the-mouth ginger biscuit made with honey, spices, almonds and candied orange- and lemon-peel: buy over-the-counter at the Läckerli-huus patisserie at Gerbergasse 57 or in Café Spitz (see “Restaurants”, below).


Fumare non fumare, Gerbergasse 38. Cool, high-ceilinged espresso bar on a people-watching junction, also with its own beer – one side is smoking, one non-smoking (hence the name). Open late.

Kunsthalle, Steinenberg 7. Gallery with a leafy terrace-café favoured by Basel’s sizeable crowd of arty literati.

Paddy Reilly’s, Steinentorstrasse 45. Standard Irish pub, Guinness and all, also serving up fish and chips and shepherd’s pie for around Fr.16.

Pfalz, Münsterberg 11. Tiny, bright nook, with excellent fresh juices, sandwiches, quiches and a salad buffet. Closed Sat & Sun.

Zum Isaak, Münsterplatz 16. A tranquil, much-loved tea-drinkers’ café and cellar-theatre that knows its darjeeling from its lapsang-souchong, and also offers lovingly prepared snacks and full meals. Also with a courtyard terrace. Closed Mon.

Zum Roten Engel, Andreasplatz. Cosy den on a secluded Old Town courtyard, with trestle tables outside and amiable, alternatively minded regulars scoffing veggie snacks, fresh juices and full meals (Fr.14).


El Platanero, Webergasse 21. Incongruously exuberant little corner deli-café, with two or three tables for chorizo picante con arroz and fried bananas, with red-hot salsa bottled on the tables and playing on the stereo.

Fischerstube, Rheingasse 45. Excellent backstreet beerhall, full of atmosphere, that brews its own beers as a snub to the big-name breweries and so attracts dedicated, single-minded drinkers. Salted pretzels hanging from wooden stands on every table, a dark, smoky interior, rich, powerful beer plus a uniquely hearty clientele make for a memorably convivial evening.

Grenzwert, Rheingasse 3. Cool, jazzy, spotlit little bar, attracting black-clad Kleinbaslers by the score.

Hirscheneck, Lindenberg 23. Graffitied budget café-bar-restaurant, co-op owned and popular with a rough-edged crowd, with loud music and simple food in generous portions (Fr.15).

Kaserne, Klybeckstrasse 1. An alternative-style hangout, with shady outdoor trestle tables and benches, offering veggie menus from Fr.16 and a very popular weekend brunch buffet that exemplifies the difference between laid-back Kleinbaslers and their more traditional neighbours across the river. The evening bar section (closed Mon) retains much the same atmosphere, on Tuesdays becoming Basel’s premier gay and lesbian meeting place.

Parterre, Klybeckstrasse 1. A friendly, atmospheric café-bar next to Kaserne with Tom Waits on the stereo and light bulbs hanging on strings. Excellent food from Fr.10. Closed Sun.

Zum Goldenen Fass, Hammerstrasse 108. Small but very popular bar attached to a restaurant, regularly packed.

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