Venturing out of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Venturing out of the Coronavirus Pandemic
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Venturing out of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Everyone needs a moment to get out of the house and enjoy a great meal. The coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic has made that almost impossible for the past three months, but recent precautions being taken by local restaurants to allow outdoor seating with proper social distancing and the mandatory wearing of face masks has made it a safe option to venture out and enjoy a little relief. We still have along way to go to fight the virus which originated in Wuhan, China, but being able to enjoy a meal outdoors will help strengthen our will to overcome this plague.

By Ray Hanania

This week was the first time I got a chance to venture out of the oppressive restrictions required to fight the spread of the dangerous coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic which has taken more than 2,2 million lives in American and nearly 500,000 worldwide.

The coronavirus is nothing to sneeze at. It’s very dangerous and close contact with people outside of your home can result in death because of the novel virus that began in Wuhan, China and quickly spread around the world as the Chinese government attempted to cover it up.

I went to two place this week, one of was Freddy’s Pizza, 1600 S. 61st Avenue in the Town of Cicero on 16th Street. Freddy’s is one of the best Italian bakeries in the country. It’s sub sandwiches are phenomenal but its assortment of freshly cooked pasta is even better. I missed the subs and the rigatoni in bolognese sauce with chopped sausage and peas.

Freddy's Pizza &bakery, 6100 W. 16th Street. Ricotta stuffed gnocchi. Photo courtesy of Freddy's Pizza

Freddy’s Pizza & Bakery, 1600 S. 61st Avenue. Ricotta stuffed gnocchi. Photo courtesy of Freddy’s Pizza

There is nothing better than eating it and nothing worse not being able to enjoy it because of the pandemic restrictions.

Freddy’s set up a system in which customers wearing face masks — face masks is a must — line up an order from a window on the side of the bakery in a patio that normally is bustling with diners. Only four people can come into the enclosed patio area and order, and the line extends through the door outside on the sidewalk. Everyone maintains social distancing of six feet.

Freddy's Pizza &bakery, 6100 W. 16th Street. Ricotta sausage and peas in bolognese sauce. Photo courtesy of Freddy's Pizza

Freddy’s Pizza & Bakery, 1600 S. 61st Avenue. Ricotta sausage and peas in bolognese sauce. Photo courtesy of Freddy’s Pizza

Simple and fast. Efficient and safe.

The owners and employees are so accommodating doing their best to get the orders done as fast as possible without losing quality and great taste. And they are always friendly which makes the whole experience even better.

Freddy's Pizza &bakery, 6100 W. 16th Street. Sausage peppers and potatoes. Photo courtesy of Freddy's Pizza

Freddy’s Pizza & Bakery, 1600 S. 61st Avenue. Sausage peppers and potatoes. Photo courtesy of Freddy’s Pizza

But I still brought the wonderful menu items to my office where I enjoyed them int he comfort and safety on my coronavirus safe environment.

My first venture to actually eat at a restaurant was to Casa Magarita for lunch on Saturday. The restaurant chain has six locations and I went to the one near my home in Orland Park. Casa Margarita, 9549 W. 151st St., already has a large outdoor patio but it also convert the small parking lot on the northside of the building into an out-door eating area. There; aplenty of parking on the south side of the building in the mall parking lot by the restaurant’s front entrance.

We walked through the restaurant all wearing face masks and were led by an employee to an outdoor seating area in which the outdoor tables were properly spaced.

Casa Margarita, 9549 W. 151st St in Orland Park offers a wide selection of Mexican food. This is plates of Guacamole and Ceviche with extra thin taco chips. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Casa Margarita, 9549 W. 151st St in Orland Park offers a wide selection of Mexican food. This is plates of Guacamole and Ceviche with extra thin taco chips. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Just to be outside of the home or office to eat was exhilarating. And then to enjoy great food only made the experience more relaxing and fun.

I ordered the three taco dinner (streak) with rice and fried beans. We had a bowl of guacamole and also a bowl of ceviche. The restaurant always brings out a basket of thin taco chips and red sauce.

It was all so good to actually eat it outdoors in the fresh air. To see other people eating and to enjoy the family outing together.

What a respite from the trauma of the coronavirus threats and restrictions.

Casa Margarita, 9549 W. 151st St in Orland Park offers a wide selection of Mexican food. This is a plate of three steak tacos, rice and friend beans, with extra thin taco chips and red sauce served on the side. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Casa Margarita, 9549 W. 151st St in Orland Park offers a wide selection of Mexican food. This is a plate of three steak tacos, rice and friend beans, with extra thin taco chips and red sauce served on the side. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

This location is important to me and most long time Orland Park residents. It used to be the location of one of the great Mexican Restaurants, Chi Chis, right there on the same corner of 151st and LaGrange Road.

Chi Chi’s was the absolute best with the best dining layout. The dining areas were at different levels and each area was decorated slightly different.

Another place I need to go to when I want a fine dining experience is 94 West Steak & Seafood at 15410 S. 94th Avenue. This is the place where you go to get the best gourmet food served to you in real style. 94 West has opened the patient or dining, too. And I can’t wait to dig into one of their great men offerings.

That’s my next stop.

Let’s hope that the coronavirus pandemic eases and they find a vaccine to fight it.

Ray Hanania

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