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Since 1898

From root bunker to a trendy restaurant – In the founding years of 1898, meatless cuisine enjoyed little respect among the population. The “Vegetarierheim & Abstinenzcafé” was even nicknamed the “Wurzelbunker” (root bunker) and the guests, who were derided as “grass-eaters”, preferred to enter the restaurant through the back entrance.

Today, vegetarian cuisine is far more than a trend and our guests exclusively use the main entrance . 😎

Let’s go on a short time journey together. 🚀

How it all began

Ambrosius Hiltl, who was suffering from rheumatism of the joints, visited the “Vegetarierheim” on the advice of his doctor. He recovered surprisingly quickly and fell in love with the cook, Martha Gneupel, married her and together they took over the restaurant, which was founded in 1898. In the domain of gastro cuisine, which is still heavily dominated by men, Martha was a rarely seen exception, a pioneer of vegetarian cuisine and is still considered a source of inspiration today. 🌱

There was also a lot of innovative spirit in the second generation – in the 1950s, for example, Margrith Hiltl traveled to Delhi as the official delegate of Switzerland to the World Vegetarian Congress, fell in love with the country, the people and the cuisine, packed her suitcases full of Indian spices and wanted to introduce Indian cuisine at the Hiltl. The kitchen staff refused, however, because no one would eat such foreign things, and so Margrith began to cook for herself in her private kitchen on the 2nd floor of Haus Hiltl. Not surprisingly, the Swiss guests were not very enthusiastic about the Far Eastern dishes at first. As more and more guests from India came to stay at the Hiltl and also when the airline Swissair asked if Hiltl would cook for their Indian passengers, the skepticism of the kitchen staff vanished.

Above the clouds, we are still drawn to this day – the vegetarian & vegan dishes as well as the special meals in all SWISS flight categories come from the Hiltl recipe fund. 😎


With the introduction of Zurich’s first all-electric kitchen in 1931 and the popular salad buffet, the restaurant was always a topic of conversation. The city had expanded considerably around the restaurant in recent decades, so that the house, which had initially been located on the outskirts of the city, now moved into the center. In 1959, the 3rd generation, Heinz and Hanni Hiltl, entered the family business and, following a study, they focused on a younger target group that was more open to healthy and vegetarian cuisine.

In 1973, a spectacular renovation and the renaming to “Hiltl Vegi” followed. As the city developed, appreciation for vegetarian cuisine continued to grow and people became more interested in plant-based diets and sustainability. 🌎

Oldest Vegetarian Restaurant in the World

Also the arrival of the 4th generation by Rolf Hiltl followed great change – in the 1990s alcohol was served for the first time, because meatless is neither loveless nor listless and the modern part-time vegetarians had become gourmets who combine healthy food with pleasure – the slogan “healthy pleasure” was born. In 1998, exactly 100 years after the company was founded, Rolf Hiltl took over the family business, the facade was completely covered in grass, and the slogan “Hiltl. Vegetarisch nach Lust und Laune” was published at the same time as the first cookbook was developed in the Hiltl Academy, which still enjoys great popularity today.

Since 2012, Haus Hiltl has officially been considered the “oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world” with its own entry in the Guinness Book of Records. 🥇

The Hiltl story is also awailable as a film:

View now

For all those who want the detailed version:

The Hiltl Saga 🔍

Find the Oldest Vegetarian Restaurant in the World

In keeping with the 125th anniversary, our creative agency Ruf Lanz has once again created a crisp campaign – the vegetarian answer to the Google Maps marker. The campaign can be found on posters, screens, in cinemas, ads, online and on postcards.