Gourmet Live + BlogHer Road Trip: Takeout Favorites

BlogHer Original Post
As part of our monthly collaboration with Gourmet Live, we're finding the best restaurants for takeout all around the U.S.

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Kathy Panini Happy
San Diego, CA: Urban Plates
With its terrific variety of fresh, high quality, farm-to-table options at reasonable prices, the curbside takeout at Urban Plates is my favorite. I usually order their grilled urban steak salad or Asian chicken salad for myself, and my kids love their macaroni and cheese. Best of all, you can pull up to one of the designated parking spots, give them a call, and they'll bring your order right out to the car. No need to unbuckle the kids!

-- Kathy, Panini Happy
Nikki Art and Lemons
Florence, MA: Great Wall
Every neighborhood needs a go-to takeout joint, and in my neck of the woods, it’s authentic home-style Chinese food at the Great Wall in Florence. Although there are two menus to order from – the standard and the gourmet – you’ll want to stick to the later to enjoy choice specialties like crisp scallion pancakes with ginger dipping sauce, Chef Cheung’s Own Special Stuff Tofu (stuffed with meat or vegetables), chao fan (wide Chinese noodles), akai rice (a blend of heirloom red, golden, and black rice), and not to be forgotten, garlicky baby bok choy and an eggplant hot pot.

-- Nikki, Art and Lemons
Newberry, FL: Blue Highway Pizzeria
Blue Highway Pizzeria is a small but lively restaurant with an open kitchen, several prime tables, and a few counter seats within easy view of the glowing pizza oven and prep counter. We always wait at the bar for our takeout order (usually the Sicilian-style pepperoni or the Abruzzese pizza with homemade meatballs), and my children watch in amazement as the cooks stretch and toss the dough into the air, forming perfectly round pizzas. If you’re in luck, they’ll have the fried green tomato caprese salad on the menu, too.

-- Merry-Jennifer, The Merry Gourmet
Family Foodie
Locations across TX: Rudy's
Texas means barbecue, and Rudy's -- modestly calling itself "The Worst Barbecue in Texas" -- is my family's favorite place for a take-out meal. We start with smoked turkey (made all the more delicious by a peppery crust), or sliced brisket, or a rack of ribs, or one of the other meats sold by the pound, then add one or two of Rudy's signature sides; our favorite is the luscious cream corn. A bottle of Rudy's tangy barbecue sauce completes the experience: Call ahead with your order and it will be packed and ready for transport when you arrive.

-- Pam, The Family Foodie
 Homemade Cravings
Whitehouse Station, NJ: La Casa Bianca
Pizza is king in our home, and there is only one place we go for takeout: La Casa Bianca. The Tuscan-style brick oven pizza is our usual fare: a thin, crisp crust topped with just enough plum tomato sauce and plenty of gooey cheese. The wide variety of gourmet toppings includes broccoli rabe and spicy seafood fra diablo -- but we usually choose plain old cheese, which is only $5 a pie during the week. You can’t get a better deal than that! Opt to eat there and try some of the extensive "tablecloth Italian" menu on Friday nights, when they have live music.

-- Mary Kay, Homemade Cravings
Los Angeles, CA: Chego
Chef Roy Choi started the country’s food truck infatuation with Kogi, a Korean/Mexican combo topped off with a whole lot of LA. His next step was to go brick and mortar: Chego, with its focus on rice bowls, is familiar Asian comfort food, but with a modern Korean twist overflowing with flavor. The savory description of each bowl will make your mouth water. Try the hot buttered kimchi chow, with fried egg, red chili tofu, edamame, and chicharrones; or the chubby pork belly, with kochujang-lacquered kurobuta squash, fried egg, pickled radishes, and cotija cheese. I’ve personally driven over an hour in traffic just to pick up my favorite pork belly bowl. Yes, it is THAT GOOD.

-- Jenn, justjennrecipes.com
Cara's Cravings
Worcester, MA: EVO
My husband and I recently turned one of our favorite eat-in spots to a top pick for takeout as well. We can pick among of gourmet and casual options, and the to-go service is always fast and convenient. Though we love their stone-baked avocado salad and lobster mac 'n cheese, we mostly turn to EVO when we're in the mood for burgers. Not only do they offer natural, top-notch beef, but you can also choose from a wide variety of free toppings and opt for a gluten-free bun, dairy-free cheese, or vegetable side instead of fries – all at no extra charge.

-- Cara, Cara's Cravings
Nami Just One Cookbook
Almost every night, there is a line going out the door of my family's favorite Chinese restaurant, as patrons wait to enjoy the delicious Shanghai cuisine. From freshly steamed soup dumplings (xiao long bao) to baked rice with salted ham and veggies, each dish is prepared magically fast, and bursting with authentic flavors. On weekends, all the tables are usually full by 5:30pm, so we order takeout instead. Our favorite dishes include Shanghai-style chow mein, braised pork, and stir fry shrimps.

-- Nami, Just One Cookbook

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San Diego, CA: Yogurt on the Rocks
Frozen yogurt probably isn’t the typical answer for favorite takeout, but for me Yogurt on The Rocks in a Pacific Beach tops any pizza or Chinese. They're one of the few non-chain, self-serve frozen yogurt places in San Diego, and the friendly staff and impeccably kept toppings bar have made them one of the best. Although they have a great storefront, I prefer to fix my yogurt to go to enjoy at the office … or the beach. My go-to is a red-velvet and peanut butter mix topped with whichever cereal I'm feeling that day, but they have enough flavors and toppings to accommodate anyone (even the tart crowd).

-- Roddy, Rodzilla Reviews
Corvallis, OR: American Dream Pizza
Last year on our anniversary, my husband surprised me with a dinner date in our back yard after the kids were in bed. Music played and there were flowers on the table, but the one thing I remember most --aside from how madly in love I was with him -- was the food. He had ordered calzones from American Dream, and they were divine. We've since visited often and have loved the generous gourmet toppings and yeasty braided pizza crusts. We even had a pizza delivered to the hospital after I had our last baby! It’s well worth the visit if you’re in the area.

-- Heather, Heather Likes Food
Boston, MA: Mike & Patty’s
Four stars for the food; one star for ambiance -- a good reason to order to go. Mike & Patty’s serves fabulously gussied-up breakfast sandwiches out of a tiny storefront where a mere six seats share space with an open kitchen and a steady flow of customers squeezing inside to ask how long the inevitable wait will be. The fried egg "fancy" makes for a top-notch brown bag breakfast: cheddar, avocado, and golden cornmeal-crusted peameal (aka Canadian) bacon are all served up on Izzy’s locally famous artisan bread with house mayo and red onion.

-- Janice, Gigabiting
Seth Jenn
Dana Point, CA: Thai Dara
The best takeout place in the world lives on an unassuming row of shops on the Pacific Coast Highway, in a sleepy little beach town. It is a tiny local favorite, home to just six indoor tables and one cozy outdoor table. The menu is a wonderland of Thai comfort food, from the healing powers of the pineapple curry to the zing of beef with basil and Thai chilies. Standing alone at the counter, waiting hungrily for my takeout, immersed in the smells of spice and the sounds of laughter, I feel as though I am in on something special... our secret oasis of all things happy.

-- Seth and Jenn, Home Skillet
Denville, NJ: SOGO
One of my newest favorite places for takeout is SOGO. I have been going there for years for their hibachi -- a favorite with my kids, particularly when they're tasked with catching flying cucumber pieces in their mouths! But recently, a friend made me try SOGO's sushi, and I swear it's all I can think about. Both are available on the to-go menu for busy or lazy nights. I recommend a platter of monkey rolls. Divine.

-- Cate, Sweetnicks
East Sacramento, CA: Juno’s Kitchen & Deli
This tiny spot is about simple food sporting sophisticated worldly tastes. Chef Helms transports you to several countries on your journey through his menu, all while sourcing locally and operating sustainably. The easygoing, casual vibe lends itself to takeout -- your dog can curl up in the Juno community dog bed and enjoy sips of filtered water under an umbrella outside while you wait; and the place is bike-friendly, with security racks. My favorite things to order: the kale Caesar salad, the banh mi sandwich, and garlicky gambas al ajillo. Don't miss the daily, housemade artisan bread.

-- Lynn, Sacatomato
Costa Mesa, CA: Garduno’s
Mark and Julie Garduno are a lovely couple who have a true passion for the culinary arts, and their restaurant is my favorite go-to place for an Italian meal that tastes home cooked. Order a quart or two of your favorite sauce and bags of freshly made pasta to take back home to impress your guests with. It’s hard to select a favorite dish, but I do seem to favor the pasta primavera, loaded with fresh vegetables. The lentil soup is the best I’ve had, and we always ask for a little extra Italian salad dressing to dip our bread in. My son’s favorite dish is the arrabiata; he’d love to know their secret for making it taste so special.

-- Deborah, Delicious Happens
Sunny Vegan
San Diego, CA: Pizza Nova
Elevating Italian takeout to an exquisite art form, Pizza Nova offers unusual and delectable flavors on the hand-stretched pizzas they bake in a woodburning oven. My favorite is the portobello and pancetta with black truffle oil, which I order without pancetta or cheese. My friends rave the signature dish, the Pizza Nova, which is topped with Smoked Norwegian salmon, red onions and capers with mozzarella, fontina and goat cheese. The chefs here have an amazing ability to combine basic ingredients in a way that creates sophisticated taste combinations -- as in their tomato basil angel hair, which may be the best pasta dish I have ever had.

-- Amanda, Sunny Vegan

See all the blogger-recommended places on the Gourmet Live and BlogHer Road Trip so far. And don't miss more mouth-watering takeout recommendations from more BlogHer bloggers on Gourmet.com now!