Normally you would arrive in Basel hungry for Fondue or Toblerone, not Pad Thai and Argentine steak. If that is the case, however, you can get your fix of the world food scene in the Markthalle beside the main SBB station.
If, like us, you arrive on a Sunday when virtually everything is closed (standard in Basel) the Markthalle offers a handy option to grab some food. As we had an aparthotel at Aparthotel Adagio Basel City, we decided to go shopping at the only open supermarket in all of the city – SBB train station Coop.
There’s an interesting selection of food to be had in here. We even came across horse meat when looking for steak. I settled in the end on some sausages and pasta along with a birthday cake for Ali, a smart looking Sacher Torte. That one meal came to the average price of our weekly shop – around £30.
Wind back though to the Markthalle. This smart food court plus actual market stalls selling meat,fish, fruit and veg completes a modern area for locals to do their shopping. We arrived pretty much as most of the stalls were closing for the day but couldn’t help but be impressed by the selection.
Here you can have Indian, Spanish, Argentine and Thai food along with traditional fish and chips. A large bar area is an ideal spot to enjoy a German beer or a classy French wine. Looking around at the prices though, it was clear to see that this wasn’t exactly Bangkok. Fish and Chips rolled in at 15 CHF (£11.35).
On our second day in the city, we decided to head into the famous market square. The rumours were that street food vendors set up here but the window in which to catch them is small. Arrive here before 2pm and you won’t be disappointed. Vendors selling pizza, tarte flambee and burgers were all present on our visit.
Other vendors were selling the likes of fruit and veg, Italian mushrooms and risotto mixes and sweet treats. We headed over to try a tarte flambee, a speciality from just up the road in Alsace where we had visited previously. Hausgemachte Flammkuchen serves these beauties fresh from the oven with a variety of toppings.
We decided to stay traditional. A topping of fresh cheese, onions and bacon for 7.50 CHF (£5.68). As I waited on the raised steps leading up to the street food truck, I could see the flammkuchen being made by hand. The vendor flattened out a fresh ball of dough until wafer thin and topped with fresh cream cheese, onions and bacon before placing it into the oven.
The bread cooks in minutes. Before I knew it I had a freshly baked Alsace-style pizza in my hand, we both took our Flammkuchen over to the nearby tables to enjoy them.
These are well worth getting. A queue had began to form at the stall as we took our first bite. The bread really is top quality, crunchy and fresh. The toppings all work well together as bacon, cheese and onion classically do. All in all a superb street snack, made the artisan way.
Other stalls looked decent and were doing a good trade around the square. We took a wander down the maze of streets heading off the main Marktplatz before returning to catch our tram. As soon as we returned the square was completely empty, not one vendor in sight! What people said about the window of opportunity was entirely accurate.
Markthalle Opening Times: Monday 0800-1900
Tuesday – Thursday 0800-0100
Friday – Saturday 0800-0200
Nearest Tram: SBB
Marktplatz: Monday 0830-1400
Nearest Tram: Marktplatz