Welcome to the Instagram Restaurant, Where I Bookmark Meals Cooked by Random People

In pre-quarantine times, I was addicted to looking at restaurants on Instagram. I would scroll through their accounts, salivating over gooey slices of lasagna, crisp little gem lettuces sprinkled with toasted hazelnuts, bread baskets brimming with golden brown crusts, uni perched on tiny mounds of rice, perfectly roasted Brussels sprouts, and chicken thighs so tender they fell off the bone. I would do my due diligence–reading comments, swiping through carousels, searching the restaurant’s “location” for additional content–all in pursuit of determining where I would like to eat my next meal.

Though my former gastronomic haunts are heartbreakingly closed at the moment, I haven’t stopped evaluating future meal opportunities on Instagram, but the restaurants I fantasize about visiting look a little different now: fewer chairs, humbler dinnerware, with a much bigger emphasis on “family style.” Okay, fine, they aren’t actually restaurants. They’re people’s kitchens and couches and dining room tables, the places where home-cooked meals are made and consumed. Pete Wells won’t be stopping by any of them for an impromptu review anytime soon, though maybe he should–I’m not sure if quarantine has brought out the chef in everyone I follow on Instagram, or if I simply wasn’t paying close enough attention before, but damn! I’m impressed. And hungry.

Join me below in a stroll through some of my favorite humans to follow for meal inspiration from regular people whose edible creations seem consistently attainable for me to recreate.


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A post shared by Diana Tsui (@chupsterette) on

The deep yellow yolks of the hard-boiled egg that sits atop this Burmese noodle salad have been burned in the part of my brain that registers cravings, like the bright blotches that appear behind your eyelids when you’ve stared at the sun for a second too long. And don’t even get me started on those crispy slices of garlic!!!! Since I can’t visit the proverbial restaurant that is Diana Tsui’s marbled countertop, however, I’ll just have to attempt a version myself with the recipe she kindly shared in her highlights, adapted from the one her mom would always make when she was growing up. It requires a lot of ingredients, but I’ve got a lot of time!


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A post shared by jeannette ogden (@shutthekaleup) on

As Edith has duly documented, pancakes are the only celebrity worth following on social media these days. I was particularly eager to bookmark these posted by Jeanette Ogden, not only because I don’t need to be convinced beyond the words “butter + salt” but also because the ingredients delineated in her caption were all ones I happen to have on hand (well, except cashew milk, but I have a hunch oat will do). Click into the post if you want to see the full recipe!


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A post shared by RUBY REDSTONE (@rubyredstone) on

Ruby Redstone, whose name you undoubtedly recognize from her bylines on Man Repeller, happens to be an incredible cook in addition to being an incredible writer and styler of runway approximations. While I’ve admired many of her edible creations before, this springtime pavlova struck a particular chord, perhaps because I have a soft spot for Easter Peeps. I think I saw her mention that the recipe is adapted from this one on NYT Cooking.


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A post shared by Barrett Prendergast (@barrettprendergast) on

Barrett is one of my favorite follows on Instagram in general these days, not only for her mouthwatering meal content but also for her charming videos of life at home with two young children during quarantine (who routinely request piggyback rides while she is attempting to work out). From one-bowl banana bread to garlic broth, her Instagram highlights are a treasure trove for home-cooked comfort food ideas. Though I’ve enjoyed many bowls of cacio e pepe at restaurants before, I’ve never attempted it myself, but this tangibly cheesy post makes me want to try (full recipe is toward the end of this highlight).


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A post shared by Heidi – Apples Under My Bed (@heidiapples) on

I’ve also followed Heidi for a while, and I find her social media presence immensely soothing–there’s something about the way she writes captions that feels like the equivalent of someone rubbing your back. This is particularly true of her food posts, which focus on meals that are both nourishing and delicious. Her lunch concoction reminded me that I’ve been meaning to try making Minimalist Baker’s gingery lemon tahini sauce, and that I should pick up a jar of sauerkraut next time I shop for food (click into the post for a list of the other ingredients Heidi used here).

The Instagram account @regular_meals is operated by the one and only Louisiana Gelpi, a.k.a. the lens behind some of Man Repeller’s loveliest still life shoots (among other things!). She is a prolific poster of meals that somehow always seem to be exactly what I’m craving, even if I don’t know it until the moment I see the photo. While she often cooks from elaborate recipes, she also frequently posts simple but delicious things like the above ricotta tomato on toast, which is more up my limited expertise alley.


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A post shared by Lara Pia Baroncini (Arrobio) (@piabaroncini) on

If you’re not clued into Pia Baroncini and her husband Davide’s absolutely charming IGTV cooking series, YOU’RE WELCOME. I would watch them even if I didn’t care about the food because their banter is great fun. The food though? A damn treat. They share classic recipes for things like pasta pomodoro and rigatoni alla norma, approaching each with a casual irreverence that makes them feel like something even a novice home cook like me could take a successful crack at. Since I can’t teleport myself to their kitchen, I’ll settle for trying to make their eggplant parmesan in mine.

What instagram “restaurants” have you been wanting to visit lately?

Feature photo by Diana Tsui.

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

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