The end of the 2019-2020 season saw teams competing in a bubble designed to protect players from contracting COVID-19. The bubble is no more, but the league has laid out meticulous guidelines for health and safety this season. Among those protocols: Teams playing on the road are only allowed to leave their hotels to eat dinner in specific, league-approved restaurants in each city. (Otherwise, it’s takeout or room service.)
Teams traveling to Orlando to play the Magic can choose between three restaurants. In Sacramento, only two. In Portland, zero.
Suns competitors will enjoy a little more variety. Per ESPN, players may eat at the following Phoenix restaurants while in town:
*Chantico (Mexican; we recently named it one of the best new restaurants of 2020)
*North Italia (modern Italian)
*Steak 44 (upscale Arcadia chophouse)
*Tomaso’s (white-tablecloth Italian fare in the Camelback Corridor)
*True Food Kitchen (healthy food with seasonal offerings)
What do all these places have in common?
According to ESPN, approved restaurants were required to have "outdoor space or a secure private room that doesn't share air space with the rest of the establishment." The restaurants' servers must "wear masks and faceguards, maintain a distance of 6 feet, and be in the same room with players and coaches only when absolutely necessary." And each establishment must have "a secure entrance and exit path to limit exposure to the restaurant staff and other diners."
The list is subject to change throughout the season. God willing, the vaccination rate will accelerate, and come playoff time Clippers and Lakers players will be free to dine inside at a Filiberto's if they so choose.