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Where to eat at the Davos World Economic Forum

When all else fails, there’s a cheese-stocked vending machine.

(left) A sharing plate at Lokal; and a selection of dishes served on hot stones at Steakhouse Ochsen.
(left) A sharing plate at Lokal; and a selection of dishes served on hot stones at Steakhouse Ochsen. (@davoslokal and @steakhousechsen, Instagram)

For 51 weeks a year, the high-altitude Swiss town of Davos is a relatively modest ski resort.

Then, for one week in January, Davos turns into the hardest place to book a restaurant table on Earth. This year’s projected attendees for the World Economic Forum (Jan. 15-19) include World Bank Group President Ajay Banga, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Standard Chartered CEO Bill Winters.

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The marquee attendees will not be making spontaneous reservations; they’ll be sitting at white-cloth-covered tables at restaurant takeovers and private events that were booked months ago. Accordingly, top spots, such as Restaurant Gentiana (home to some of the best fondue in town) and the dining rooms at fancy hotels such as the Grischa and the Morosani have been bought out for the entire week by individual companies to facilitate entertaining. 

Still, for Davos attendees with dining openings on their dance cards, there are still some very good options, including places that reserve space for walk-ins and others that just aren’t taking reservations for the week. In a pinch, seek out the cheese-stocked vending machine; it’s located near the Hard Rock Hotel.

Where You Can Still Get In

For the week ending on Jan. 19, the engaging Lokal is open only to walk-in guests. Chef Stefanie Hein’s menu offers notably good whiskey-cheese sauce-topped burgers with onion rings for 27 Swiss francs ( 2,635 approx.) and a chana masala chickpea curry ( 2,535 approx) among its vegetarian options—which aren’t so easy to find in Davos. Among the drinks are local beers, Broken Negronis, a kombucha spritz and a handful of mocktails.

Steakhouse Ochsen 
Ochsen is as known for the individual square hot stones it uses to cook slabs of meat as for the array of meats that can be slapped atop them. Among the options: venison, lamb, Swiss rib-eye, bison and even zebra filet, many of which can be cut to sizes from 180 to 400 grams (about 6 oz to 14 oz). Prices range from 39 Swiss francs( 3,804 approx.) to 69 Swiss francs ( 6,730 approx.) and include a choice of sides such as grilled vegetables and house-made spaetzle. Bonus: Diners get bibs to protect their clothing. Ochsen is accepting bookings through its website, as well as walk-ins. 

Up the funicular to the aptly named Panorama, at the historic Schatzalp Hotel, you’ll find fondue that comes with splendid mountain views. The long, window-lined dining room at the restaurant also offers such dishes as creamy mushroom soup with crispy potato cubes and cured meat-wrapped pork tenderloin in bock beer sauce. The hotel is accepting bookings via email for Panorama and for its more elegant Belle Epoque dining room. 

La Carretta 
This Italian dining room has an old-school menu that matches the decor (tables topped with red-and-white-cloth set the scene). The menu runs the gamut from minestrone soup and beef carpaccio to a selection of risottos and pasta—tortellini with cream sauce, gnocchi with butter and sage—and pizzas, including a Hawaiian option. For meat entrees there’s a range of veal options, and horse, including a stroganoff. La Carretta is available every night and has take-out options, too. 

Tonic Piano Bar
This amusing bar at Hotel Europe, on the Promenade, is probably WEF’s most famous drinking option—handy if you’ve run out of choices. The bar is jammed with bottles and offers a wide array of very good cocktails that spotlight a range of classics: Negronis, mojitos, espresso martinis. True to its name, there’s a piano, and the music starts at 9 p.m.

Cheap-ish Eats

Kaffee Klatsch
This quintessential Alpine café has two locations. The small, original one is close to the Convention Center, and a bigger outpost lies at the other end of Davos. Both are prime places to fuel up in the morning with muesli, potato rosti and pancakes with seasonal apple compote for 14 Swiss francs ( 1,365). At lunch, the King Size burger has more than half a pound of beef with two cheeses—local mountain and Cheddar—and fried onions for 30 Swiss francs ( 2,926). The menu also offers soup-and-salad combos and pasta. 

Pizzeria Padrino 
For decades, Padrino has been dispensing a crowd-pleasing roster of wood-fired, thin-crusted pies (20 to 35 Swiss francs) that include the spicy salami-topped Diavolo; the Mafiaso, with chili and garlic; and the Al Capone, which features gorgonzola, mushrooms and thinly sliced beef tenderloin. There are also a couple of pastas such as Bolognese-filled lasagna and pork schnitzel and osso buco, plus an Italy-focused wine list. Padrino holds spots for walk-ins for as many as four in a group. 

Where to Book for Next Year

Stall Valär
One of Davos’s best-looking dining rooms is the Scandinavia-styled Stall Valär, with light wood tables and a contemporary European menu featuring entrees such as braised veal cheeks, with saffron risotto and kale chips, and Swiss salmon with mustard cabbage. There is lots of fizz on the terrific wine list, as well as natural bottles. At press time, the restaurant was still taking bookings for Monday, Jan. 15, and Friday, Jan. 19, but was fully booked for three intervening days of private events.

The appealing, tapas-focused menu offers platters of cured Iberico meats and Swiss and Spanish cheeses; plates of garlic shrimp and croquetas; and paella for two or more. There’s a long list of cocktails, with alcohol and without, and a big wine list. What Jody’s doesn’t have this year is availability: It’s been booked by one company for the entire week. Put it on your list for next year. 

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