Burgers are their business. And their business provides a quality and taste I haven’t encountered elsewhere, even in the USA.
The Helvti Diner, open since October 2011, is definitely the best burger place I’ve ever put foot in.
A diner you say? Well, this may not be the diner that comes to mind when thinking of an American movie or what you may have experienced in real life. This diner does not have greasy tables, cold tile floors, or booths’ that you don’t want to touch because they look filthy. No, this diner is, as my husband would say, the luxury Swiss version of an American diner.
Every time I visit the Helvti I receive a friendly greeting, especially from the general manager Armon. The authentic music they play makes the wait for a table pass quickly (times can vary depending on the day and time). Be warned that on the weekends you have almost no chance to quickly get a table as a walk in so reserve in advance if possible. If you do have to wait, rest assured that when your table is free the experience is worth every minute.
The Helvti doesn’t pretend to be a “serve all types of food” place, which I like a lot. Their slogan “Burgers are our Business” pretty much says it all. You will not find any “foo foo” or “wannabe” dishes on the menu. What you will find are burgers, fries, side salads, milkshakes, and deserts. There are a few options for vegetarians, but really, you come for the meat not the greens.
With luxury burgers also come luxury prices. But once you taste this special burger developed by Françoise Wicki (chef of the Restaurant Helvetia across the road) you will find that it is worth every Rappen (Swiss cent). The Swiss Prime Burger is declared to be 100% Swiss Veal. The classic burger is 100% Swiss Angus Beef, while the Helvti Diner special is made of 100% Wagyu Beef. The Wagyu is supposed to have a more aromatic taste, although I am not sure I would be able to tell the difference. The meat mixtures do not contain any further additives, as often used in other burger places, such as pork meat, eggs or simply fat. A quarter pounder (170g) burger costs between 17.50 CHF (Swiss Prime Burger) and 32.50 CHF (Wagyu Burger) each served with coleslaw, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. If you feel very adventurous, you can even go for the double quarter pounder (2x170g). Just keep in mind that the double is a lot of meat to eat. I once shared a table with three guys who ordered the doubles only to watch them go pale when they were served (which made me laugh to no end).
The burgers come with a homemade sauce of chili, spicy BBQ, cocktail, hot’n’spicy tomato, curry or garlic mayonnaise. I prefer the garlic mayonnaise over the others, especially the hot’n’spicy which was too sweet for my taste buds. You can further “pimp your burger” with cheese (choice of original cheddar, Swiss alpine, and blue), Swiss bacon, fried egg or my personal favorite “holy moly! guacamole” for an extra change between 2.50 and 4.00 CHF. I often order more than I can actually eat. My usual is the Swiss Prime or the Classic Burger with a side of French Fries (extra 4.50 CHF) topped with cheddar, bacon and the holy moly! guacamole. Add a nice cold Amboss blond draft and I am as happy as can be!
The atmosphere at the Helvti Diner is quite pleasant despite the high turn over of guests. The seating is narrow and the tables a bit small so it may not be the best place to go for a long evening. Unless of course you like to hang out at the bar, drink some beers, listen to nice music and watch people come in, go out and go by. As someone described it before: “You never sit at the Helvti Diner longer than on an extended tram ride.”
The people working at the Helvti Diner are extremely friendly and attentive, the burgers are cooked as you’d like them and have always been served exactly how we ordered them. Even when the place is over crowded, Armon and his staff have always been super calm and managed to accommodate all their guests as well as possible.
- Always make a reservation, no matter if lunch or dinner time
- Ask for a booth in the back of the diner
- Watch out: Closed on Sundays
Tel.: 043 322 04 24
Pictures: Helvti Diner, Zuri.net, Flikr