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Where Chicago Media First Ate After Indoor Dining Resumed During the Pandemic

Recalling a time that included limits on parties and social distancing

The interior of a restaurant looking out towards the street.
Sochi in Lakeview was a popular destination.
Garrett Sweet/Eater Chicago

Chicago’s restaurant writers dish on where they dined last year after the government restored indoor dining as part of Eater’s ongoing tradition of polling the city’s experts for their year-end takes.

Amy Cavanaugh, Chicago magazine: Virtue. My birthday in May coincided with the first weekend my partner and I were both fully vaccinated, so we dined indoors for the first time since March 2020. Revisiting Virtue for favorites like the fried green tomatoes, catfish, collards, mac and cheese, and red velvet cake was a worthy celebration.

Janice Scurio, Sports Illustrated and South Side Sox: My first meal indoors was a BYOB excursion with friends to Bayan Ko in Ravenswood: I had the ropa vieja, with black beans and plantains.

Sarah Spain, ESPN: Ooh, tough to remember but I waited a long time — only after I’d been fully vaccinated. Probably Farm Bar for their amazing cheese curds in June.

Jay Westbrook, local craft beer professional: I’ve been spending a lot of time in the West Loop for obvious reasons (Hi Haymarket!!!), so I moseyed over to the Fry Them Thangs pop-up at Blind Barber for giardiniera-crusted wings.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Giardiniera-crusted wings. I still sometimes stare longingly at the picture I took of them all those months ago.

Nick Kindelsperger, Chicago Tribune: We’d been eating on patios, but the first restaurant both my wife and I tried together was Longman & Eagle. It felt surreal and strange at the time, but damn that wild boar sloppy joe tasted great.

Brenda Storch, Eater Chicago contributor: NoMi in the very early spring. Because, patio.

Michael Nagrant, michaelnagrant.com: Avec, because most awful things in the world can in fact be salved by bacon-wrapped dates and puffy focaccia.

Titus Ruscitti, ChiBBQKing: Sochi Saigonese Kitchen, another one of the year’s best openings.

Lillian Stone, The Takeout: I had a patio brunch at Eris Brewery & Cider House back in late March. It was euphoric. had no idea what to do with my hands.

Virtue

1462 E. 53rd Street, Chicago, IL

Bayan ko

1810 West Montrose Avenue, , IL 60613 (773) 698-6373 Visit Website

Eris Brewery & Cider House

4240 West Irving Park Road, , IL 60641 (773) 943-6200 Visit Website

Farm Bar

1300 West Wellington Avenue, , IL 60657 (773) 281-2599 Visit Website

Longman & Eagle

2657 N Kedzie Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 773 276 7110 Visit Website

Sochi Saigonese Kitchen

1358 West Belmont Avenue, , IL 60657 (773) 904-8511 Visit Website

Avec

615 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60661 (312) 377-2002 Visit Website

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