Editor's note: In the wake of Gov. Mike DeWine's March 15 order to close Ohio's bars and restaurants to diners because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, restaurants still were able to operate via carryout service and delivery. Check ThisWeekNEWS.com for updates about any new restrictions during the pandemic.
Louis Smith and Connie Cline live 67 steps from Barcelona Restaurant and Bar, 263 E. Whittier St. in German Village.
Smith, who is in the automotive business, is yearning for the spicy cornmeal-crusted calamari served at the Spanish-influenced restaurant, which is closed during the COVID-19coronavirus outbreak.
"It does have a distinctive taste to it, and the kitchen does a nice job with it," Smith said.
Cline, a retired teacher, likes Sidebar Downtown, 122 E. Main St. in Columbus, for the tuna tartare, with its yielding texture and freshness, and the addition of crunchy cucumber and creamy avocado.
"She'll share a bite or two with me," Smith said.
Many devotees of restaurants have been itching to get back on the scene since March 15, when Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all bars and restaurants to close down dine-in service. While many restaurants have offered carryout and delivery services, the order is in effect until at least May 1.
Those who dine out frequently say it's not just about the food: The ambience, service, freshly pressed linen and grade-A flatware all factor into the experience.
"We truly, truly do miss the camaraderie, the friends, the neighbors who drop in (at Barcelona)," Smith said.
George Stefanidis, owner of the Red Brick Tap & Grill, 292 E. Gates St. in Merion Village, said social interaction is important.
"I'll tell you what, a lot of my clients, they may come in three or four times a week," said Stefanidis, whose restaurant has been open for carryout and delivery during early evening hours.
"It's part of their lifestyle. They make friends with my staff, my bartenders, myself. It's like a little meeting space."
For Keith Larmi, Gallo's Tap Room, 5019 Olentangy River Road in northwest Columbus, is a veto-proof choice for him, his wife, Annette, and their son, Finn.
"I really miss the pizza at Gallo's," Larmi said. "A lot of times I go for the special that day. I think their crust is really, really good."
A logistics specialist for a publishing company, Larmi said Finn, 13, can be a finicky eater, but he enjoys a few dishes at the restaurant.
"He can find what he likes on the menu," Larmi said.
Annette Larmi, a hairstylist, craves the PBB&J burger at The Half Pint, 671 N. High St. in Worthington.
"I got that the last day they were open," she said. "The bartenders are nice, and there's always more than one beer choice we like."
Tracy and Ron Zglinicki of Westerville are fond of Old Bag of Nails, 663 N. High St. in Worthington.
"We love the fish fry," said Tracy Zglinicki, who sells meeting space at a conference center. "I'm sure you can pick it up but it's not going to be in that pub, that joint atmosphere. It's our go-to place. It's the atmosphere; it's comfortable. We know the servers.
"You miss going to your places. It's not the same thing as pickup or carryout."
Tom Bruce, an independent business owner who lives in Worthington, said he can't wait to cut into the walleye with garlic mashed potatoes at Cameron's American Bistro, 2185 W. Dublin Granville Road in Worthington.
The restaurant is part of locally based Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, which has closed all operations until further notice.
"It's just a right-around-the-corner joint for me," Bruce said. "It's been there forever. It's a staple."