Last Call: What are your favorite restaurant memories?

Illustration for article titled Last Call: What are your favorite restaurant memories?
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Earlier this week The New York Times ran a series of essays by a few well-known novelists, essayists, and food critics about their favorite restaurant memories. They ranged from waiting around the mall for three hours to get into The Cheesecake Factory to working the pre-theater shift in Times Square to childhood memories of eating Mongolian barbecue in Taiwan.


Now I’m trying to think about what I would write about if someone asked me. Maybe it’s my first trip to a restaurant without an adult, and how my friend Jenni and I only ordered Cokes, and how thrilling it was to get the check and be expected to pay it. Or maybe sitting in a sidewalk cafe during my first trip to Paris drinking chocolat chaud and writing in my notebook the way I had dreamed of for years and feeling very cosmopolitan. Or maybe it’s the teahouse there that smelled better than any place I’d ever been. Or maybe it’s working the late shift at Starbucks when almost everybody else had gone home, wiping down the counters and sanitizing every part of the espresso machine and counting the till. I never thought I would miss that, but it’s kind of magical when you’re all alone in a place that’s usually filled with people. Or maybe my last meal out, an uninspiring breakfast buffet at a La Quinta Inn in Duluth. Had I known it would be the end for a very long time, I might have made an effort to go someplace more inspiring.

But I think Carmen Maria Machado said it best out of anybody: “In this pandemic era, I cannot help but think: What a miracle! To choose a restaurant and get there on your own steam and order a meal and pay for it with your money and then to eat every single bite.”

What’s your favorite restaurant memory?

Associate editor of The Takeout. Chicagoan. Owned by dog.



Three memories came to mind:

The first thing my family went to a “fancy” restaurant, which was the new Ponderosa steakhouse two towns over. The whole concept of buffet blew my mind as an 8-year-old. “I can keep eating whatever I want?”

Going to New Orleans with my wife and wandering into Sylvain, just because we got hungry and happened to be walking buy. Compared to all the Bourbon St. / Quarter noise and nonsense, this place felt like an oasis, small, quiet and intimate. And the food was great.

Going to Uchiko in Austin for the first time and trying sea urchin for the first time.