In general, food in Geneva is quite diverse, reflecting the international nature of the city. Many of the ‘typical’ dishes are French in origin. Get ready for a lot of cheese. Awareness about allergies and gluten-free diets is moderate, so be prepared to ask specific questions if it is a serious health issue. Vegetarian options are usually available at restaurants, the IHEID cafeteria, and all events hosted by GISA or IHEID. Depending on where you do your grocery shopping and how often you buy meals at the cafeteria and eat out, your food budget will probably be between 150 CHF and 250 CHF per month. Although, you only eat the “plat garnitures” or the student meal for CHF6.50 everyday your month expenses should cut out to less than 150CHF a month. Generally, preparing meals at home and shopping across the border in France are two key strategies for saving on your food expenses.


The Graduate Institute has a cafeteria in the Maison de la Paix that is also used by IHEID staff, faculty, and employees of nearby organizations. When you use your student card to pay, you receive a discount from 15% up to 38% discount on food and beverages. You can load cash onto your student card at the machines outside the cafeteria (only cash bills, minimum 10CHF).

Here are a few of the budget-friendly options available at the cafeteria:

  • Student Menu: A dish, a garniture and a salad: 8.50CHF with a student card. Additional garniture is 2.50CHF
  • Plat du jour / Plate of the Day: 9.90CHF with student card (normally 15CHF)
  • Pasta dish with a sauce that changes daily along with a salad: 6.50CHF with a student card
  • Plat de garniture/legumes: three vegetable or starch side dishes of your choice for 5.50CHF with student card
  • Quiche and salad: 7.50CHF with student card
  • Pizza station: whole thin-crust pizza with side green salad: 9.50CHF – 11CHF with student card
  • Soup of the day: 3.50CHF with student card

An espresso costs about 1.90CHF and a cappuccino about 2.65CHF. You can also buy packages of Nespresso coffee capsules at a great discount (0.25 CHF per capsule) for use in the kitchens.

Please note that after 5pm, there is a student discount of 50% off all perishable products. The discount is off the original price and it is upon presentation of your student card.

Students are allowed to eat their lunch (and use the microwaves) in the kitchens in Petal 2 of each level, which are also used by staff and faculty. We must be very respectful of these shared spaces and ensure that we always leave them clean. The Student Space/Common Room in the main floor of Picciotto/Student House is always available for students to eat their meals and relax. There are microwaves, vending machines, a coffee machine, a sink, dishes, and cutlery.

The cafeteria serves hot lunch between 12:00 and 14:30. Note that the cafeteria is not open on Saturdays and Sundays, and the nearby Co-op is also closed on Sundays. So, bring a meal for those weekend study sessions!

Other Meal Options

There are only a few nearby options for affordable and tasty lunches. Across the street from MdP on Avenue de France, Salsabeel is an excellent and friendly restaurant and café with delicious Indian and Pakistani food. Lunches cost between 10-15 CHF and samosas are 1.50-2 CHF. Another block away is the Montbrillant shopping centre with a large Co-op supermarket where you can find a variety of sandwiches, salads, etc. A short walk away, the Paquis neighbourhood has dozens of Middle Eastern restaurants that offer affordable falafel and shwarma (7-8 CHF) – a student favourite is Parfums de Beyrouth near Gare Cornavin. The Bains des Paquis is busy at lunch for their good quality and affordable plat du jour for about 12 CHF. (In the winter you can get a great fondue dinner for 22 CHF per person – groups accepted!) For tasty hamburgers and fries (all around 20 CHF), try the nearby English pub Mr. Pickwick, The Hamburger Foundation, or Holy Cow (student meal option for 15 CHF). Are you into Japanese food? Wasabi Sushi serves ‘bento box’ meals and if you show your student card and spend at least 15 CHF you get a free beverage.

There are, of course, many other restaurant options, from budget to hyper-expensive, traditional Swiss to Asian and Ethiopian. You will have many opportunities to explore for yourselves, but be aware that eating out in Switzerland is not cheap. Most restaurants, bars and night-clubs are located in the Pâquis and Plainpalais area (which has many student bars). There are also some nice restaurants and cafes in Old Town, and bars in Carouge. The many local markets, especially on Wednesday and Sunday mornings in Plainpalais, are another great option for picking up snacks or trying something new from one of the various international food stations!

Busy, lazy or just need some pizza? Pizza15, Rolling Pizza or Domino’s are decent quality and inexpensive options. The size of the pizza can be enough for two persons as well. If you live in Champel in or around the Cité Universitaire, the restaurant there serves good pizza for cheap prices – you can find Margueritas for 10 CHF and it comes with an Iced Tea and salad. The restaurant also makes food such as sandwiches, hamburgers, kebabs and other specialties for reasonable prices and combos.

For ice cream or gelato on a warm summer day (or after statistics class) look no further than two of the most famous places in Geneva located nearby on Rue de Paquis: Manu Gelato and Gelato Mania.


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