Summertime in the Alps is exhilarating and inspiring. The sun (usually) shines, the air is clear, temperatures aren’t too sweltering and you are surrounded by lush pastures and high peaks. The cuisine is varied and uses an array of local ingredients: Alpine herbs, vegetables and fruit, local meats and cheeses. Here, we select six of the best places to enjoy mountain cuisine and sweeping vistas
1. Restaurant Findlerhof, Zermatt
Findeln is an ancient hamlet of dark wooden huts, on a mountainside high above the resort of Zermatt, just above the treeline. On the extensive terrace of the Findlerhof, you have a view across the forests to the magnificent Matterhorn, and you are surrounded by the sounds (grasshoppers, bees), sights (butterflies, wild flowers) and smells of the Alpine high pasture in summer.
Must try: All the food is high-class, simple Alpine quality, but the chocolate fondant is worth the journey in itself.
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2. Hotel Walther, Pontresina
This grand hotel at the end of the pretty high street in Pontresina, across the valley from St Moritz, has a grand dining room that is both grandiose and fun. A modern take on a traditional Alpine palace, it has an engaging holiday dinner ambience and superb wine list.
Must try: the traditional Swiss speciality of veal cooked sous-vide with roesti potatoes and local vegetables.
3. Berghaus Wispile, Gstaad
Wispile is the big, forested green hill that rises above Gstaad, and in summer the restaurant at the top is transformed from a ski lodge to a family-friendly casual diner and farm with petting zoo, with beautiful views over the surrounding region. Kids can be taken on personalised goat petting tours by the local farmer in the neighbouring pasture; some regular human kid visitors have grown up with the kid goat residents over the years.
Must try: the special of the day, often local sausages with a rich gravy and vegetables
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4. Avenue Montaigne, Hotel Park Gstaad
Contemporary Swiss chic abounds at the Montaigne, which brings a touch of Paris to Gstaad. This is a place for a long, relaxed dinner, followed by a cigar in the cigar lounge, over cocktails, blending city sophistication with Alpine feel.
Must try: The Swiss quinoa tabbouleh, combining parsley, goji berries, tomato and avocado.
5. Fuorcla Surlej, St Moritz
The wildest type of mountain hut, Fuorcla Surlej sits atop a mountain pass accessible only by foot, above St Moritz. To one side is a lake and a view over the glaciers, to the other is the deep valley of the Engadine. Hardy mountain food is served here, amid stunning views, on a basic terrace.
Must try: Whatever’s on offer that day – the kitchen makes it up according to the ingredients they can get.
6. Hornli Hut, Zermatt
The Hörnli hut is the base camp for the Matterhorn; climbers arrive the afternoon before their climb, are subject to a strict curfew, and awaken well before dawn to start an ascent that some never return from. Ordinary people can also visit for lunch: it involves a rather vertiginous two-hour climb from the top lift station at Schwarzsee, but no actual climbing. After lunch, walk five minutes up from the hut to the point at which the wall of the Matterhorn starts: a vertical piece of rock with fixed ropes. The views are literally breathtaking. Not a place for the fainthearted.
Must try: The surprisingly excellent (for a place accessible only on foot) pasta al ragu, with rich local ingredients.
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