Last Call: Which restaurants can this country not afford to lose?

the counter at swan oyster depot
Photo: Justin Sullivan / Staff (Getty Images)
Last CallLast CallLast Call is The Takeout’s online watering hole where you can chat, share recipes, and use the comment section as an open thread. Here’s what we’ve been reading/watching/listening around the office today.

We’ve seen lots of restaurants shutter since last March, with the rest clinging to takeout and delivery. Chicago’s lost some icons in the fray, which keeps reminding me how restaurants balance on such a tightrope. Last month, Esquire came out with a list of 100 restaurants that a panel of contributors said America couldn’t afford to lose.


Some restaurants on the list have been local fixtures for what feels like forever. The picks chosen by these writers run from institutions, fine dining locations, to mom and pop places across the states. Many of them are places I aspire to visit. I’ve seen San Francisco’s Swan Oyster Depot on TV so many times I already feel like I’ve been there, along with Dooky Chase’s Restaurant in New Orleans.

I keep thinking of places that mean a lot to me, that I don’t think I could see the world without, and I’d rather stay quiet because I don’t want to jinx anything (but if we lose Hoagie Hut, I swear, someone is going to pay, goddammit). Which restaurant near you, big or small, could you not imagine this world without?

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.



I still don’t understand this. Restaurants are ephemeral and always have been. Outside of some chains, the life span of any restaurant is limited. You’re lucky if it lasts for decades.

But new restaurants always come along, because people need to eat. It’s an essential function. If Abbot’s Lobster in the Rough closes, lobster pounds will still continue to be a thing. If Franklin BBQ goes down, Texas is still gonna have bbq. The culture of mole does not need the Red Iguana.

These are expressions of culture and that will survive the pandemic.  We should be focused more on the people, and not the brands.