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Chicago’s Media Recap the 2021 Restaurant Scene in a Word

At least no one used “pivot” this year

A man playing with fire and cooking a pig.
Entre Sueños was one of several pop-ups that launched in 2021.
Brian Rich/Sun-Times
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Chicago’s media sums up the city’s restaurant and bar scene in 2021 with a single word — or at least most of the panel tried to — as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s experts for their year-end takes.

Michael Nagrant, Popup

Titus Ruscitti, ChiBBQKing: Struggling

Lillian Stone, The Takeout: Optimistic

Brenda Storch, Eater Chicago contributor: Indoors-outdoors

Jay Westbrook, local craft beer professional: Resilient

Amy Cavanaugh, Chicago magazine: Resilient

Janice Scurio, Sports Illustrated and South Side Sox: Just like the NL East in 2021: Volatile. So much volatility.

Sarah Spain, ESPN: Healing. The industry itself healed (though not fully), and also provided healing for Chicago’s residents. Getting back to dining with friends indoors, celebrating over meals and drinks was a necessary mood-lifter after 2020’s patio-only situation. I hope Omicron doesn’t set back the progress made by so many spots after a rough year.

Nick Kindelsperger, Chicago Tribune: Virtual