It feels like forever since we’ve had restaurants in our lives, and, at times, it feels like it will be another forever until we get them back. But it will happen, and when it does, each bite of crusty bread and smoked salmon croquette set to the lively din of your favorite eatery will taste that much better.

COVID-196 Easy Ways to Support Your Local Businesses During LockdownWe may still be a ways away from that dine-in reality, and we’ll continue to look to trusted health professionals for direction and a safe timeline (pensive sigh). But with hopeful hearts—and stomachs—we asked a few friends in the restaurant business about their post-quarantine dining and drinking hopes and dreams. Heck, it can’t hurt to learn about a great new spot while we’re pining over our regular rotation, right?

It’s still rather unclear exactly what the industry will look like upon reopening, and there will be some casualties, for certain, but the list proves to be a snapshot of some of the best local restaurants in a few of the country’s best food cities. From New York to L.A. and a whole mess in between, these are the restaurants top chefs and restaurateurs can’t wait to dine at again. 

Lorena Garcia – Chef & Partner, CHICA 

  • City: Miami, FL
  • Where They’re Going: Beaker & Gray
  • What They’re Eating: “I love all the tapas and can’t wait to enjoy their delicious white sangria again. Beaker & Gray is a place I go frequently as it’s close to my home; they have excellent food and a really cool ambiance for dining or just having a cocktail.”

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Memories of tasty things…#idreamofbeakerandgray

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Bobby Benjamin – Owner, Butchertown Grocery

  • City: Louisville, KY
  • Where They’re Going: Chik’n & Mi
  • What They’re Eating: “I’m definitely going to eat everywhere when the dust settles, but the first place in Louisville will be Chik’n & Mi to eat everything and then drink my way through the Sake menu.”

Anita Lo – Michelin-Starred Chef, Restaurateur & Cookbook Author

  • City: New York City, NY
  • Where They’re Going: Juku
  • What They’re Eating: “My big fear is that we aren’t going to have as much to choose from when this is all over, especially from the small independent [businesses]. But I’ve already been missing sushi. In a perfect world—one with no monetary restraints—I’ll go to Juku in Chinatown for omakase and a big bottle of sake. Eating a wide variety of seafood in one sitting with each type possibly aged to its archetypal flavor state is something I could never pull off myself.”
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#no sushi no life. #call 646-590-2111 #thursday

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Jakob Esko – Executive Chef, The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay

  • City: Palo Alto, CA
  • Where They’re Going: Bird Dog
  • What They’re Eating: “The first restaurant I would like to visit once the shelter in place has passed would be Bird Dog in Palo Alto. The food is great and it is a very vibrant restaurant. What I am missing most during this time is busy restaurants with music and happy guests, so this will be the perfect place. I will definitely go for the pork belly if it is still on the menu, and sake to wash it down.”

Justin Macy – Executive Chef, CIVANA Wellness Resort & Spa

  • City: Carefree, AZ
  • Where They’re Going: Vino Panino
  • What They’re Ordering: “I can’t wait to get back to Vino Panino in Cave Creek for their Cave Creek Snowman Panini. It has meatballs and provolone and is smothered in sauce. I’ll wash it down with a Peroni and chat with chef/owner Ralphie Castellano. The place has amazing atmosphere and great food too.​”

Justin Cucci – Executive Chef & Restaurateur Edible Beats Restaurant Group

  • City: Denver, CO
  • Where They’re Going: Uchi
  • What They’re Eating: “What gets me excited, once we can leave the house, is the 72-hour short rib at Uchi. It is hands down the best bite of food I’ve had in the last five years. Every time I go, I get a few orders. I can’t get enough. The salty-sweet seared short rib, the marbled fat, the rice wine vinegar bite of the sushi rice, and the full concert of flavors makes this flavor nirvana.”

Andrew Scrivani – New York Times Food Photographer

  • City: New York City, NY
  • Where They’re GoingIll Posto Acanto
  • What They’re Eating: “The first place I want to return to once quarantine is over is Il Posto Accanto in the East Village. It’s my second home and I miss my friends there and especially the atmosphere during brunch on the weekends. I’m going to order Beatrice’s famous Pasta all’Amatriciana. She also makes an Almond Lemon cake for dessert that is making my mouth water just thinking about it.”

Adam Volk – Chef and Owner, Redcrest Fried Chicken 

  • City: Philadelphia, PA
  • Where They’re Going: Royal Boucherie
  • What They’re Ordering: “Late night snacks or a burger at the bar. It’s such a beautiful room and the food and service is spectacular. Their elevated late-night menu is perfect after a shift of frying chicken.”

Lisa Blount – Antoine’s Restaurant

  • City: New Orleans, LA 
  • Where They’re Going: Broussards, Dragos, & Café Degas.
  • What They’re Eating: “It’s too hard to choose just one, so here’s my restaurant crawl for when things get back to business as usual. Broussard’s to continue celebrating their 100 years of business. Dragos for Charbroiled oysters and other seafood treats and then Café Degas for the Quail Salad.”

 Chef Patrick Rebholz – Corporate Executive Chef, Yardbird Group

  • City: L.A., Dallas
  • Where They’re Going: chi SPACCA (Los Angeles) & Pecan Lodge (Dallas)
  • What They’re Eating: “The focaccia at Chi Spacca is something everyone should experience once—it’s difficult to describe the joy. In Dallas, Pecan Lodge’s #5 meat plate will give you an excuse to gather again with family and friends around a plate of the best BBQ in the country.”

Jacob Sessoms – Chef and Owner, Table, Imperial Life, All Day Darling, & Cultura.

  • City: Asheville, NC
  • Where They’re Going: All Souls Pizza & Benne on Eagle
  • What They’re Eating: “Without my friends all over Asheville being able to keep their doors open, I am constantly finding myself hungry for good food and company. When quarantine lifts I’m definitely hitting up All Souls for vegetables, a pizza covered in Brendan Reusing’s fermented chili (Chef Brendan Reusing), and then Benne on Eagle to have some of chef John Fleer’s amazing oxtail and cream peas.”


Header image courtesy of d3sign / Getty Images.

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