Going Out in Basel
As Art World descends on the knee of the Rhine, gallerist Oskar Weiss dishes out the skinny on Basel’s best croissants, an anthroposophist, Gesamtkunstwerk, and which sweaty dancefloor is worth the queue.
And for more on where to sunbathe, crate-dig for vinyls, and dab on organic beauty products, check out Jean-Claude Freymund-Guth’s 2018 guide.
Kult Bäckerei, as it says on the house facade – not without a pinch of pride – was founded in 1726, making it the oldest Backstube in town. In 2016, the then-idle bakery was renamed and reopened with a wood-burning oven and its new operators’ cultish passion for fabulous croissants. Located near our gallery, Weiss Falk, it naturally became a great place to meet and line up with other gallerists after a long night, in desperate need of probably the best pastries and coffee in town.
Gerbergasse 84, 4001 Basel
Just a few doors down from Strauss, at the bar of the Stadhof hotel, cocktails have been of secondary concern to the Brötli (a local diminutive of bread) since 1906. Sliced, deliciously curated, and made fresh every half hour, these open-face sandwiches come – and why not name them all! – with tartar; tartar and onions; egg; egg and anchovies; egg and salami; tuna and mayo; tuna mousse; anchovies; Rollmops (pickled herring); salmon; sardines; shrimp; surimi; chicken salad; coppa; ham; raw ham; salami; roast beef; roast turkey; tongue; asparagus; celery; cheese; corn salad; curry and rice; fire roll; and russian salad.
Kirchgasse 1, 4058 Basel
I love sitting in the spacious forecourt of Damatti, watching people heading in direction of the Rhine, spotting more Wickelfische (waterproof swimming bags) with every passing year. It feels being on vacation in my own city – with the extraordinary Pinsas (pizzas) and hearty aperitivi offered by owner Ilario Galoppo, I might be in L'Aquila, or even Bari. Just a stone’s throw away from Weiss Falk since 2016, it has not quite been discovered by the larger fair crowd.
Bodega zum Strauss
Barfüsserplatz 16, 4051 Basel
Very rooted in the soil, where tout Bâle (all of Basel) gets together, Bodega zum Strauss is simply the most beautiful restaurant in the city. According to the great, mainly paper-based works hanging on the wall, Jean Tinguely, Keith Haring, and Markus Ratz, to name but a few, must have had the pleasure of lunching or dining here. I recommend the ossobucco!
Restaurant zum Rebhaus
Riehentorstrasse 11, 4058 Basel
A further sign Ilario’s gastronomical Midas touch is emerging down the street at Restaurant zum Rebhaus, which he has run since 2021. Following an overhaul of both the interior architecture and the dining menu, it’s made an example of how to get out of the way of good flavor, serving a limited selection of Italian staples like carpaccio, gnocchi, and – you guessed it – more ossobucco.
Feldbergstrasse 45, 4057 Basel
One of the most legendary dive bars in the city, themed after the 90s hit series Friends. Besides having probably the longest opening hours in Basel, everyone who has stopped by during the fair has a memory – fond or otherwise – of the most famous Jukebox in town.
From my experience, ROUINE is named for the possibility of how you might feel the morning after. It’s certainly not named for its décor or its age – while it’s rather new, having reopened the noise-complaint-shuttered club Terra Samba on a corner of Feldbergstrasse, Rouine has quickly become a hot item in the heart of Kleinbasel during the fair week’s party agenda. Make your way there early if you care to dance, as capacity is limited – both in the hanging garden-like bar and the very raw floor in the back.
OUT OF TOWN
Rüttiweg 45, 4143 Dornach
Designed by Rudolf Steiner and named for the great Weimar writer, the Goetheanum is an architecturally and historically special landmark in Dornach, about ten kilometers – or a twenty-five-minute train ride from the main station – south of Basel. A spiritual Gesamtkunstwerk, it has served since it’s founding in the late 1910s as the seat and meeting place of the General Anthroposophical Society and the School of Spiritual Science, as well as a festival hall, exhibition space, and theater.
OSKAR WEISS is a co-founder of the gallery Weiss Falk, the publisher of Hacienda Books, and the operator of the art cinema Kino Süd in Zurich and Basel. Weiss Falk’s current exhibitions are Olivier Mosset (Basel), Lorenza Longhi’s “Sentimental Pop” (Basel), and Heike-Karin Föll’s “over-painting” (Zurich).