In the foodie galaxy, Chicago occupies an interesting niche, as it’s arguably the home of America’s most inventive
cuisine and some of its most venerable restaurants. Giving us the tour are Tony Mantuano (chef of the long-standing Spiaggia) and Steve Dolinsky (food reporter on the city’s ABC News affiliate).
For a taste of Chicago, Tony Mantuano gets in line for a hot dog at Hot Doug’s: “Doug uses real yellow mustard and neon green relish. You get your dog, grilled, with a big wedge of pickle, fresh tomatoes, celery salt, and sport peppers. If you go on a Friday or Saturday, they will have duck fat fries, which is exactly what duck fat was put on this earth for.” 3324 N. California Ave., (773) 279-9550, hotdougs.com
If Steve Dolinksy wants a completely unique approach to dining, he takes a shot at getting into Next (the toughest reservation to snag in Chicago): “There is only one menu at Next, and right now they are replicating Paris in 1906. But it changes every three months. I’ve had duck with a sauce made from cognac and cream and the duck’s own juices (pressed out before cooking); that was magnificent. Next has a backlog of reservations, but you can try walking in on a Wednesday or Thursday night. If you get rejected, check out nearby Publican for excellent pork and shellfish.” 953 W. Fulton Market, (312) 226-0858, nextrestaurant.com
When Mantuano wants Sunday brunch, he goes to Takashi: “No one else in Chicago does noodles like Takashi Yagihashi. He does them only on Sunday, all day long, and compromises nothing. I like the soba, which is very good and very authentic. He also has an excellent ramen, and it’s impossible to go there without eating the pork-belly steamed buns and Maine scallops with soba gnocchi.” 1952 N. Damen Ave., (773) 772-6170, takashichicago.com
Zurich is most often a business destination for travelers, but that’s no excuse for missing out on some of the city’s excellent cuisine, inspired by the neighboring countries of France, Germany, and Italy. Jérémie Varry (chief concierge of the highly respected Baur au Lac hotel) tells us where to make our reservations.
Jérémie Varry knows he’ll get a great business meal at Kronenhalle: “This is one of the most famous restaurants in Zurich. Kronenhalle displays original work by Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall. The food is a nice mix of French, Italian, and Swiss-German. Favored entrées include grilled young chicken and entrecote cafe de Paris [a cut of prime beef, served with a complex sauce with a foundation of butter]. For dessert, order the fantastic mousse au chocolate.” Rämistrasse 4, 011-41-44-262-99-00, kronenhalle.com
When Varry is in the mood for a taste of local cuisine, he makes his way to Zunfthaus zur Waag: “The classic dish from Zurich is minced veal served with mushrooms and onions in a cream sauce. At Zur Waag, you get it with thinly sliced potatoes that have been cooked in butter, so they are nice and crisp. The restaurant feels like a bistro in a building that is 150 years old.” Munsterhof 8, 011-41-44-216-99-66, zunfthaus-zur-waag.ch
If Varry craves an after-hours meal, he stays up late for Brasserie Schiller & Goethe Bar: “This is a modern brasserie next to the opera house. On most nights the last seating is at 11 p.m., but when there’s an opera you can get there at midnight. A popular dish there is mussels in white wine and cream sauce with onions and herbs. The crowd tends to be on the artistic side. Schiller also makes a great spot for a nightcap of locally brewed beer.” Goethestrasse 10, 011-41-44-222-20-30, brasserie-schiller.ch