Lugano : eating and drinking
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Lugano is blessed with any amount of pleasant, atmospheric places to eat, and you’ll have no difficulty finding somewhere to suit your mood and your budget. Those on a tight budget should aim for the self-service diner within the big Inova department store just off Piazza Cioccaro, the lower terminus of the station funicular. The many bars and cafés around Riforma all offer good, inexpensive food at lunch and dinner – yet although they get packed with evening drinkers, hip, bar-hopping Luganesi prefer to tuck themselves away elsewhere, filling out a handful of vibrant bars off the main streets of the centre.

Al Portone, Viale Cassarate 3 (091/923 55 11). Gourmet restaurant that manages to keep a pleasantly relaxed ambience alongside its spectacular, inventive new Italian cuisine. Top quality commands top prices. Closed Sun & Mon.

Bottegone del Vino, Via Magatti 1. Old-style wine bar beside the post office, with waiters in proper white aprons and a huge range of wines on offer by the glass or bottle. Closed Sun.

Cafferia Cattedrale, Via Cattedrale 6. Small, friendly café dispensing espresso as it should be.

Etnic, Quartiere Maghetti, east of the post office. A superb, inexpensive bamboo-and-candlelight diner tucked away in an unlikely looking purpose-built warren of shops and pharmacies. The menu is all Mediterranean, with Greek and Lebanese specialities around Fr.15, or you could plump for a beer or a banana daiquiri from the bar instead. Either way, the atmosphere is happy, studentish and relaxed. Closed Sun eve.

Montecristo, Via Canova, junction Stauffacher. Painfully hip new café-bar, reasonably laid-back during the day but crammed to the rafters most nights, when even the sound system fails to drown the conversation.

Olimpia, Piazza della Riforma. Venerable old institution housed in one wing of the Palazzo Civico, and best of the many cafés around the square for its surprisingly good, inexpensive food. Menus of Italian staples, steaks and a few more interesting dishes rarely go for more than Fr.20.

Salsita, Via Vegezzi. Pumping evening and late-night place doubling as a cool drinking-den and mid-priced Mexican eatery (menus Fr.25 or so), filled with a sharp-dressing, easy crowd of youthful regulars. Closed Mon.

Sayonara, Via Soave 10. Fast-paced central diner offering inexpensive pizza and pasta options, along with filling staples like polenta for around Fr.15.

Tinera, Via dei Gorini 2. Very popular rustic grotto-style restaurant, specializing in Ticinese and Lombard dishes such as pollo alla cacciatora (spicy chicken stew) and home-made pasta, along with an array of excellent local merlots. Menus around Fr.20. Closed Sun & Aug.

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