Edgy, avant-garde, and—heaven forbid—gritty are not adjectives that typically describe Zürich, a sedate city if ever there was one. But that was before the transformation of the city's old industrial quarter, now dubbed Zürich-West, or more familiarly, "Züri-West," into the city's SoHo. A ten-minute taxi ride from downtown, the beacon of Züri-West's transformation is the dazzling Schiffbau (4 Schiffbaustrasse), a former shipbuilding factory containing the restaurant LaSalle (dinner, $100; 41-1-258-7071), four theaters, a jazz club, and a tango-dancing school. Züri-West comes most alive at night—especially at LaSalle. This greenhouse-like room serves tweaked traditional European dishes such as coq au vin with asparagus. Not far away is the 19th-century redbrick Löwenbräu brewery (268 Limmatstrasse), now an arts center with three museums: the Kunsthalle (41-1-272-1515), the Migros Museum for Contemporary Art (41-1-277-2050), and Daros Exhibitions (41-1-447-7000).
For Swiss comfort food, there's Alpenrose (dinner, $80; 12 Fabrikstrasse; 41-1-271-3919), a bistro where the schnitzel mit rösti is complemented by an exclusively Swiss wine list. And Monsoon (dinner, $70; 180 Förrlibuckstrasse; 41-1-271-7787), done up in tropical prints and big plants, offers a dizzying choice of Asian-fusion dishes, and—just so everyone's happy—a juicy steak frites. After dinner, revelers slip off to Nietturm, a dramatic glass-tower bar with great views, and the jazz club Moods, both in the Schiffbau. Just as hot is Club Indochine (275 Limmatstrasse; 41-1-448-1111), a sumptuous Vietnamese restaurant with a members-only boîte in the cellar (ask your concierge to arrange a guest membership). The contrast between Indochine's lush interior and its unimpressive facade may be striking, but then, Züri-West is not a pretty place from the outside. It's the life within that is so magnetic.