Supriya Yelimeli looks forward to visiting a crowded dining room at Viks Chaat for cholle bhature — then going back in line for sweets and seconds. Photo: Mighty Travels/Flickr

Our final installment of year-end food reflections focuses on the future — hopefully, the not-so-distant future — when we can safely eat, drink and gather again in restaurants and with others outside our immediate households without masks.

Below, you’ll find the hopes and wishes of Nosh, Berkeleyside, Oaklandside and Cityside contributors and staff on the topic, but we’d love to hear what you’re looking forward to most, when it comes to food, when the pandemic is over. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Have a happy, safe and food-filled new year!

What are you looking forward to most when we can eat, drink and gather again?

Lance Knobel: Very simple. Just going out to dinner with a couple of friends. It almost doesn’t matter where (although of course it matters). A good meal, a glass of wine, conversation.

Alix Wall: The whole experience, but especially going out to dinner with friends. It’s such a common way for people to socialize, and it’s something we’ve taken for granted, not ever imagining it could be taken away.

Azucena Rasilla: My typical run of dinner at one place and drinks at another. I can’t wait to see PACKED bars and restaurants with no masks in sight.

Two strangers, shot before the pandemic, enjoy coffee drinks and conversation at Way Station Brew. Photo: Sarah Han

Cirrus Wood: I miss just being in restaurants. I miss sitting for hours at a table, coming up with excuses to stay — another coffee, yes I will look at the dessert menu — because I’m enjoying the company, even when the company is just myself. I miss the sounds of service, of tableware clattering, of conversations at other tables. I miss eavesdropping. I miss chance encounters. I miss being interrupted from whatever book I’m reading. Once it was a guide to Vietnam. The woman at the next table used to live there. She slipped me a list of bars and restaurants to try in Hanoi. I took that paper with me on a vacation and I hit up every bar on the list. (The guidebook stayed home.) She was right, the Hanoi Social Club really did have the best cocktails. Looking forward to another year, even if I can’t go anywhere anytime soon, just having all that back — the noise, the smells, the sounds of other lives at other tables — that would be plenty enough.

Sarah Han: I’m looking forward to being spontaneous again when it comes to eating out. I’m normally a spur-of-the-moment type, deciding what I’m going to eat at the moment I’m hungry. But, with restaurants understandably minimizing hours of operation and/or amending menus or offerings during the pandemic, that’s all changed. Some places are only open on the weekend, or for dinner, or require food to be ordered online days in advance of pickup. It’s hard to keep up! I’m looking forward to more predictable schedules for my unpredictable eating habits.

Nosh contributor Daphne White can’t wait to continue her weekend brunches at Saul’s Restaurant and Delicatessen. Photo: Sarah Han

Daphne White: My husband and I had a sacred weekend ritual of going to Saul’s Deli for brunch every weekend. Saul’s is the kind of place where the waiters knew our name and even remembered our usual orders. Life won’t feel normal until we can have this weekly ritual back.

Risa Nye: Two of my three kids live only 20 minutes away. Because of their bubble restrictions/choices, we haven’t all been together inside for a family dinner since Feb. 29 — an easy day to remember. I am looking forward to having the cousins/grandchildren run around and interrupt the grownups drinking cocktails the way they used to.

Amalya Dubrovsky: I can’t wait to bust into my mom’s kitchen and cook a huge meal with her! Since the pandemic hit, we haven’t hung out indoors to safeguard her health. I know our first real meal together since March will be epic.

Blue Willow Tea owner Ali Roth kneels down to paint the word "Tea" on a sandwich board
Blue Willow Tea owner Ali Roth. Photo: Elisse Gabriel

Kristina Sepetys: Gathering in person at Blue Willow Teahouse with my dear writing group, reuniting with all my favorite regulars who congregate there, and having badass owner, Ali Roth, presiding. I’ll be so happy to share a pot of her perfectly brewed Red Dragon or Jinjunmei tea, bite into one of Third Culture Bakery‘s mochi muffins, catch up on all that’s happened in people’s lives over the past strange year when we all found ourselves unexpectedly marooned, and embrace one another.

Moriah Van Vleet: Aside from sharing a table with loved ones more often, I’m looking forward to sharing our kitchens: cooking with friends. This isn’t something I’ve done much of in the past, but I’ve been daydreaming of it more than ever this year.

Ricky Rodas: I look forward to going to a dive bar with two close friends, where I can enjoy an affordable shot and beer deal.

Supriya Yelimeli: Being in the crowded dining hall at Viks Chaat and ordering cholle bhature, then going back for sweets and seconds. Brunch at Rick and Ann’s (after a night of debauchery, specifically).

Jill Kunishima: I’ve only eaten out a few times since March, but I really miss eating and drinking with friends — especially for celebrations.  My 40th is coming up, and it’s going to be so weird to not celebrate over heaps of delicious food!

The socially distanced line at Trader Joe's in Rockridge.
The socially distanced line at Trader Joe’s in Rockridge. Photo: Sarah Han

Tamara Sherman: I am looking forward to not waiting in line to get in at my local Trader Joe’s on College Avenue. The plotting and planning for the best time to go with as little wait time as possible is futile.

Doug Ng: Large family and friend gatherings, especially eating at Chinese restaurants where you eat family style. I love eating dim sum and picking items off the carts. It’s just not the same when you have to choose what you want off a menu.

Joanna Della Penna: I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I miss big gatherings mostly with and for kids — birthday parties, holidays, pizza with friends or burgers with the whole little league team.

Tracey Taylor: I’m looking forward to going somewhere buzzy — Comal, Wood Tavern, Duende — to experience large, convivial gatherings of non-socially-distanced, happy people coming together to enjoy good food and drinks and each other’s company. It’s been so long that it will probably be a little disorientating when we can finally do that again.

The Oaklandside’s Natalie Orenstein is looking forward to the day she can enjoy a shared platter of Ethiopian food at Cafe Colucci. Photo: Anna Mindess

Natalie Orenstein: I’m looking forward to any truly communal dining or drinking experience: dipping pieces of injera into a big, shared platter of Ethiopian food from Cafe Colucci; spinning the Lazy Susan to get to the 1,000 Chili Pepper Fish Fillet Soup at China Village first; whipping up a pitcher of whiskey sours or Bloody Marys for a group of friends; peeling potatoes to make latkes with my mom.

Jacob Simas: As much as I miss certain foods, it’s really the human interaction that I look forward to most — with people in the community, as well as family and friends that I enjoy socializing with outside of the home. More specifically, as a husband and a father, I miss having the occasional night out on the town with my partner — dedicated time to have an adult conversation, away from the little ones. And music! I’ve always enjoyed hearing live music at clubs and bars, and that can’t come back soon enough.