Chef’s Night Out

Chef's Night Out

From Four-Star Restaurants to Neighborhood Favorites,
100 Top Chefs Tell You Where (and How!) to Enjoy America’s Best

by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page
Photography by Michael Donnelly

(John Wiley & Sons; 2001)

Who better to tell you where to get the best hot dog in New York City, or to find the best cup of coffee in Philadelphia, than chefs whose very livelihoods depend on their tastebuds?

CHEF’S NIGHT OUT is a cross-country journey through 28 major cities chronicling the most beloved eateries of 100 of America’s leading chefs, from Rocco DiSpirito’s beloved spot for pastrami sandwiches in New York City to Charlie Trotter’s favorite Italian beef in Chicago.  You’ll learn why top chefs rush to eat at Bizou in San Francisco and Uglesich’s in New Orleans (and what you shouldn’t miss a taste of when you’re there!).  The book is also a guide to top chefs’ own restaurants, as they share tips on what to order and how best to enjoy the experience.

Leading professional chefs across America agree that the most important aspect of a professional chef’s development is eating out. What most of the general public does for sustenance, and many restaurant lovers do for entertainment, is the lifeblood of an ambitious chef’s professional development.

To that end, CHEF’S NIGHT OUT is packed with informative sidebars such as Mario Batali’s “Personal Interpretation of Italian Cuisine” (including the five key ingredients for anyone cooking Italian food), Frank Brigtsen’s “Eating Oysters in New Orleans,” and Barbara Tropp on “How to Order and Eat in a Chinese Restaurant.”

CHEF’S NIGHT OUT answers, beautifully, my favorite question for fellow chefs:  Where do you like to eat and why?”

—Mario Batali

“An indispensable restaurant guide for cross-country chowing.”


CHEF’S NIGHT OUT records celebrity chefs’ picks of their personal favorite restaurants in America’s major cities.  A boon for the foodie traveler, this guide reflects what chefs admire most in one another.  It’s not always the critically acclaimed places that get chefs’ notice; these professionals appreciate the kinds of foods that have local importance, good eats not duplicated elsewhere.”


“Karen and Andrew have done it again!  Their work is delicious — what fun to learn where great chefs eat.  The only thing better than reading about leading chefs’ favorite restaurants in CHEF’S NIGHT OUT is to visit them with Dornenburg and Page.”

—William Bratton, Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department and Rikki Klieman, Court TV anchor and author of Fairy Tales Can Come True

“It wasn’t just [Calvin] Trillin’s article that sent me on a mission into the Mission; a couple of other recent publications had made me hungry for antojitos, too. The useful book CHEF’S NIGHT OUT, by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, questions 100 ‘top chefs’ about their favorite American eateries ‘from four-star restaurants to neighborhood favorites.’ Traci des Jardins mentions La Taqueria (one that Trillin skips), and Mario Batali votes for Taqueria San Jose #2 (‘Why #2? Because it’s better than #3’).”


“From San Francisco to Boston, Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page have created a must-have guide for the most discriminating palates.”

—Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr., Mayor of San Francisco

CHEF’S NIGHT OUT lets readers in on 100 chefs’ favorite restaurants and neighborhood cafes. Two Houston chefs — Robert Del Grande and Monica Pope — are included in this book. Their local choices may surprise you: Among Del Grande’s favorites are Otilia’s Mexican, Goode Co. Barbecue and Beck’s Prime; Pope’s list includes Ashiana Indian, El Meson and La Vista.”

—Teresa Byrne-Dodge, MY TABLE (Houston)

The #1 foodie gift book of the year.  Have you ever wondered where chefs eat on their night off? It would only make sense that people so passionate about food would search out the best places to eat. While I’m often left cold by critical restaurant reviews, this books reads more like good friends sharing their best restaurant finds — if those friends happen to be America’s top chefs (the panel includes such luminaries as Charlie Trotter, Paul Bertolli, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton, Rick Bayless, Bobby Flay, Daniel Boulud, Todd English, Jacques Torres and Hans Rockenwagner).”


“I suggest you find room in your luggage for this brimming-with-insider-information tome on the best eating out venues in America.  I wouldn’t leave home without it.”

—Marcel Desaulniers

“An utterly engaging and comprehensive view of dining for pleasure. CHEF’S NIGHT OUT is a must for every discerning diner.”

—Alain Ducasse

“What makes CHEF’S NIGHT OUT really interesting is reading why the chefs like to eat at a certain restaurant — understanding what a great chef thinks makes a great restaurant serves up an unusual learning experience…Stephen Beckta, sommelier of Cafe Boulud, [is interviewed for] an outstanding piece unveiling his wine philosophies; his three-page [interview] alone makes the book worth picking up.”

—Jeremy Emmerson, GLOBALCHEFS.COM

“What a fantastic resource!  These are the kinds of places where we get all our inspiration.  We can hardly wait to start tasting!”

—Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken

“One of the hottest food books in the nation.”


One of the bestCHEF’S NIGHT OUT by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page is an excellent insider’s guide.”


“Everything they write reflects Karen and Andrew’s passion for great food and their affection for the people who create and celebrate it.  Where do chefs eat?  Of course I want to know.”

—Gael Greene, long-time restaurant critic, NEW YORK

“Owner Miguel Jara opened the northern La Taqueria in San Francisco’s Mission District in 1973, and once had plans to fill in El Camino Real with taquerias. That would be fine with many people. Now his two taquerias are nationally noted as foodie favorites, featured in such publications as the book CHEF’S NIGHT OUT, Sunset magazine and an upcoming issue of National Geographic.”


“In last year’s CHEF’S NIGHT OUT, authors Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page asked scores of chefs about the most important meals of their lives. ‘Chez Panisse was the single most frequently mentioned restaurant.’ they write.’ Over the last 30 years, it seems every self-respecting American chef has, for the same reason, made a pilgrimage.'”


“Chefs Pick Kansas City’s Best Eats:  Ever wonder where top chefs eat when they’re off work? James Beard Award-winning authors Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page did, so they interviewed 100 highly regarded chefs in 26 cities and compiled their findings in a new book, CHEF’S NIGHT OUT.  The Kansas City entry lists picks by executive chefs Michael Smith and Debbie Gold of The American Restaurant, 25th and Grand.”


“This book may be the ultimate insider’s guide to eating out.  A copy of CHEF’S NIGHT OUT will live in my carry-on to dip into while in transit, and to feast from when I arrive.”

—Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of public radio’s The Splendid Table

“Tasty tidbits are revealed in CHEF’S NIGHT OUT, a sort of Zagat of toques…In it, 100 of the nation’s most highly regarded chefs chew the fat on their favorite restaurants – from four-star shrines to local dives – plus provide tips on how to enjoy the dining out experience.”

—Cynthia Kilian, THE NEW YORK POST

“James Beard Award-winning husband-and-wife author team Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page has a new book that is a must-have for every chef and food enthusiast who lives and dines in America. CHEF’S NIGHT OUT is the first ‘on the record’ inside story by professional chefs about eating, as opposed to cooking.”


“It’s great when your friend recommends a restaurant, but even better when that friend happens to be one of the top chefs in America. If you don’t have such well-placed acquaintances, you’d be wise to pick up CHEF’S NIGHT OUT, which answers one simple question: Where do great chefs go when they want to eat out?”

—Dorothy Krasowska, PLAYBOY

“There’s a new restaurant guide out – but this time, the critics are the top chefs themselves….Ever wonder where some of America’s great chefs go to chow down after hours?  Where Charlie Trotter or Jean Joho make it a point of dining when they’re in Los Angeles or New York?  Or even if any of these distinguished restaurateurs ever sneak a Big Mac or crave a Krispy Kreme?  All these questions, and lots more, are answered in CHEF’S NIGHT OUT, a new book by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page…Filled with great stories…Really fun…This book is a really good read!

—Victoria Lautmann, 848, WBEZ-FM (Chicago Public Radio)

“… I was thumbing through the new book CHEF’S NIGHT OUT and noticed that Etats-Unis was listed as a favorite haunt of Tom Colicchio (Gramercy Tavern/Craft) and Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin).”

—Pascale Le Draoulec, James Beard Award-winning restaurant critic, THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

“This book is packed with indispensable advice from the front line on dining out in the U.S. — from the chefs themselves! We all know that chefs are discriminating diners but do they eat luxuriously all the time? Not at all. CHEF’S NIGHT OUT will introduce you to notable restaurants in American cities and includes insider information such as where to score the ‘perfect breakfast’ or ‘leisurely lunch.’ The chefs’ personal observations are gracious and illuminating, peppered with a good measure of gossip, making this book a terrific travelling companion.”

—Barbara-jo McIntosh, BARBARA-JO’S BOOKS TO COOKS (Vancouver)

CHEF’S NIGHT OUT is also a winemaker’s delight, proving that often the best wine lists are where the best food is.”

—Robert Mondavi

“The authors of BECOMING A CHEF, CULINARY ARTISTRY and DINING OUT are at it again. This time, they interviewed 100 top chefs to find out their personal favorite restaurants in 26 cities. From fine dining to modest ethnic restaurants to beloved fast-food spots, chefs such as Mario Batali, Paul Bertolli, Charlie Trotter, Rocco DiSpirito, and Rick Bayless weigh in with their top restaurant pics. Through their interviews, the authors discovered the chefs’ firm belief that dining out is as important as — if not more important than — cooking school for a chef’s educational and professional development.”


“There is no more pervasive foodie urge than to know a fabulous restaurant that only true devotees have discovered.  And who better to guide you there than a great chef?  In CHEF’S NIGHT OUT, top restaurateurs coast-to-coast reveal their secret favorites. Sample: Jean-Georges Vongerichten eats at Pho Bang, the Vietnamese soup shop on Mott Street.”


“Who else can tell you where to eat in town?  From burgers to foie gras, this book of chef recommendations is a must for any food lover.

—Caprial Pence

“[CHEF’S NIGHT OUT] offers top chefs’ picks for local dining, and the real finds are relatively unknown holes-in-the-wall.  Anyone for Mr. Beef?  I learned of [chef Charlie] Trotter’s fondness for Mr. Beef from a new book called CHEF’S NIGHT OUT by the husband and wife food-writer team of Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page. The authors had the inspired idea of asking 100 top American chefs where and what they like to eat when they have a night off and don’t want to cook. If you travel a lot on business and like good food, I recommend consulting the book before you head out on a trip to any major city, from Atlanta to Washington, DC.”

—Thane Peterson, BUSINESS WEEK

“Ever wonder where chefs go when they eat out, what they look for in a restaurant, and what we can learn from approaching food as they do? Wonder no more because Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page have interviewed 100 of America’s top chefs and asked them not only where they eat out, but why they eat out in CHEF’S NIGHT OUT…More than 500 restaurants are included, so don’t leave home without checking in with the pros on eating out.”

—Sybil Pratt, BOOK PAGE

The incisive, hip writing team of Dornenburg and Page style their sophisticated yet democratic guidebook to chefs’ favorite restaurants as a peek into today’s great culinary minds….Their purpose is to inform devoted foodies how to savor a meal the way the big boys (and gals) do, and why it is critical for would-be chefs to do so.  Then, arranged alphabetically by city (there are 28 in all), chefs offer their candidates for the best in popular categories (pizza, bagels, etc.) as well as where they like to catch a quiet bite after a long, hard day or luxuriate on their day off….Sidebars and personal stories are the real gems, such as Rick Bayless’s sweet tale of saving money when he was 12 to go eat at a fancy Oklahoma City restaurant.”


“For a man from out of town, CHEF’S NIGHT OUTis exactly the book I would look for – an easy, friendly, concise guide to the right places to eat, with the authority of professionals behind it.”

—Gordon Ramsay

“Dornenburg and Page have unearthed the secrets of the restaurant business and made every reader an insider.  It’s fascinating to hear chefs talk about how they taste and evaluate others’ restaurants, and it will be irresistible to track down their favorites and try them yourself.”

—Phyllis Richman, long-time restaurant critic, THE WASHINGTON POST

“It may be the equivalent of taking coals to Newcastle, but top chefs do eat at restaurants other than their own once in a while. If you’ve ever wondered where the likes of Charlie Trotter or Paul Bartoletta go for a pleasant dining experience in Chicago, tune in tonight as we welcome Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, authors of CHEF’S NIGHT OUT.

—Milt Rosenberg, host, Extension 720 – WGN Radio

“This Week’s Best-Selling Cookbooks…CHEF’S NIGHT OUT: One hundred chefs across the country pick their favorite local restaurants and offer tips on what to order. A short biography of each chef and a personal description of their own restaurant’s food precedes their picks.”


“Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page are perhaps the most serious and discriminating of the younger food writersCHEF’S NIGHT OUT is a book not to be missed.”

—Dieter Schorner, professor, The Culinary Institute of America

CHEF’S NIGHT OUT is the #1 culinary book of the year….By far the best restaurant guide I have ever come across….I LOVE this book….While I’m often left cold by critical reviews, this book reads more like good friends sharing their best restaurant finds – friends that know of what they speak.”

—Cheri Sicard, editor, FABULOUSFOODS.COM

“Away from their own stoves, where do Washington area chefs like to break bread? CHEF’S NIGHT OUT, a new guide to dining recommendations from 100 top toques around the United States, finds that Bob Kinkead of Kinkead’s likes the crabs at Cantler’s Riverside Inn in Annapolis as well as the pupusas at Atylacyl in Gaithersburg….And if he’s thinking French, Michel Richard gravitates toward Bistro Francais and Bistrot Lepic, both in Georgetown. So far, pleasantly predictable picks. But an amusing revelation caught our eyes on page 289, where Patrick O’Connell shares his appreciation for the baked potatoes at Wendy’s and — wait! there’s more! — the chicken breasts at Burger King. Inquiring minds called the Inn at Little Washington for comment….”


“Sort of a ‘busman’s holiday’ guide to interesting restaurants in major U.S. cities.  Where does Stephan Pyles of Dallas’ Star Canyon restaurant go when he wants to eat out? How about Jamie Shannon of Commander’s Palace in New Orleans? As it happens, Pyles is a devotee both of The Mansion on Turtle Creek (a hyper-expensive yuppie haven) and Mia’s Tex-Mex on Lemmon Avenue, where I used to go myself occasionally for the terrific pork tamales. Likewise, Shannon loves both Bayona and Brigtsen’s, at the high end of the eco-culinary scale, and the classic muffulettas at Central Grocery at the lower end. Which tells you that good chefs like a nice cholesterol-wallow, just like the rest of us…It’s a great browse, worth picking up to check the professionals’ ratings against your own opinions.”


“In this city-by-city guide, great chefs show you where to find great eats. While the fine dining recommendations won’t surprise anyone (we all know Nobu works wonders with raw fish), the out-of-the-way joints and insider tips give this book a culinary advantage.”


“LOCAL BESTSELLERS:  Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page offer a clever guide to neighborhood restaurants in CHEF’S NIGHT OUT: From Four-Star Restaurants to Neighborhood Favorites: 100 Top Chefs Tell You Where (and How!) to Enjoy America’s Best (John Wiley & Sons, $29.95). Dornenburg and Page interviewed more than 100 top chefs in 28 cities across the country — from Miami to Honolulu. They spoke with some of America’s top chefs — including Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill, Chicago), Daniel Boulud (Restaurant Daniel, New York), Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken (Border Grill and Ciudad, Los Angeles), and Lydia Shire (Biba and Pignoli, Boston). These culinary stars share their insights about where to dine and how to maximize the dining experience in more than 25 of the nation’s top restaurants. The book includes a special section entitled ’10 Steps to Educating a Palate,’ which can help make anyone a better diner — and even a better cook. Dornenburg and Page also are the authors of BECOMING A CHEF, which won a 1996 James Beard Book Award.”

—Susan Swagler, BIRMINGHAM (AL) NEWS

“Tasty dish:  In CHEF’S NIGHT OUT Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page serve up restaurant recommendations from the nation’s most prominent cooks and restaurateurs, including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Lydia Shire and Daniel Boulud (who likes the coal-oven-baked pizza at Lombardi’s in Manhattan).”


CHEF’S NIGHT OUT is my new reference for dining out around the country.  If you love eating out, get this book!”

—Charlie Trotter

“Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page present the wisdom of the nation’s top chefs about their favorite places to eat across the United States in CHEF’S NIGHT OUT: From Four-Star Restaurants to Neighborhood Favorites. CHEF’S NIGHT OUT includes a special section entitled, ’10 Steps to Educating a Palate,’ as well as sidebars providing readers with information about local and ethnic cuisines, matching foods with wines, ordering more creatively and knowledgeably in any type of restaurant, and more. This is the perfect gift for the gourmand in your life.”

—The Twig Book Shop / San Antonio, Texas

“Some time around 1985, chefs finally started to learn a way to both cook and still see a bit of the world.  It was a slow process, like learning to live ‘on the outside,’ in certain vernaculars.  Stop worrying about looking to just the journalists (‘the guards’!) to talk about the world of food — the inmates are running the asylum, and they know just where to get anything you want!  Here it is: CHEF’S NIGHT OUT. Make a break for it!”

—Norman Van Aken

“In 28 cities across the U.S., you can eat where the people who really know food love to dine.  CHEF’S NIGHT OUT is my new secret weapon when traveling.  Thank you, Andrew and Karen!”

—Shoshana Zuboff, professor, Harvard Business School and author, THE SUPPORT ECONOMY