Pandemic closures have been particularly tough on the restaurant business. The National Restaurant Association estimates roughly 110,000 restaurants have shuttered either temporarily and permanently as patrons ate at home to avoid COVID-19. (These are the saddest restaurant closings of 2020.)
Most states have lifted pandemic-inspired restaurant restrictions, however, and diners are venturing forth again. According to a Morning Consult poll this month, 70% of diners say they now feel comfortable eating in restaurants, though outdoor dining remains preferable to indoor.
The review site Yelp asked its users, in December, to send in lists of the eating places they most looked forward to patronizing again in 2021. 24/7 Tempo is showcasing their top 25 choices. (For more dining-out recommendations, see this list of the one can’t-miss restaurant in every state.)
Yelp’s list of the top places to eat in 2021 is based on thousands of suggestions sent into the site in response to their request in December for users to name the restaurants they most looked forward to visiting as pandemic restrictions are lifted this year. The choices, according to Yelp, are “representative of the uniqueness of our community and…powered by the people.”
This isn’t a roster of Michelin-starred establishments or trendy hangouts. The places listed here serve everything from Ethiopian fare to sushi, pasta to barbecue. A hot dog joint, a saloon, an ice cream parlor, and a coffee shop made the list. And the No. 1 most anticipated restaurant is a women-owned vegan café. If this list shows anything, it’s that American diners have wide-ranging tastes.