A confession: I am sometimes so busy that I bank by iPhone, while doing laundry, while wearing my 9-month-old in a camping backpack, while her little arms stick out like teeny-tiny arms of Vishnu and knock over tubs of detergent. It’s a life.
It’s a life that has led me to realize that takeout is essential to today’s high-performance successful synergistic multi-platform professional. Or even just anybody with a job. Let me explain: Once I made Mexican food from scratch. I drove myself to El Burrito Mercado in St. Paul, purchased all the chilies, all the spices, all the meats and herbs and vegetables. The next day, I woke up bright and early and got to roasting, puréeing, straining, and mincing. By sundown every dish in my kitchen was dirty, I had punched a hole through my strainer, my hands were the color of burnt oranges, and I had a feast about half as good as the takeout I had blithely bypassed at El Burrito Mercado.
Never again. Because outsourcing is what smart time-managers do. They identify situations where someone can do things better, cheaper, and more satisfactorily then they can, and then they delegate. And takeout is the cheapest, smartest outsourcing you can do: Chefs with years of training make your food and charge little more than the ingredients cost, because that’s the business model of restaurants and grocery stores. Exploit it!
To help you exploit it, I spent the last couple months driving in grand loop-de-loops through the Twin Cities, looking for the very best takeout, in every neighborhood, in every cuisine. What I found surprised me: Charlie Trotter’s former pastry chef sells soup by the quart at the Salty Tart in the Midtown Global Market. Some families have this high performance thing all figured out, and have standing orders at Be’Wiched, where hot-shot chefs make them dinner once a week. Masa, Minneapolis’s fine-dining Mexican restaurant, packs up their four-star food in family-size portions.
Surprised? I was. I was so surprised I decided to limit this story to surprises. Which means that you’re on your own for pizza, Vietnamese, Byerly’s, Lunds, Kowalski’s and the co-ops. Yes, those old reliables are all great, but I’m here to tell you what you don’t know, not what you do.
So keep this issue in your desk drawer at work, or in your back seat, or next to your home phone. And the next time the baby on your back throws your phone in the dryer and makes you wonder how life as a high-performance professional could be a little easier, you’ll know where to turn.
Sushi makes fantastic takeout. It’s cold, so it doesn’t suffer whatsoever in transit. Sushi restaurants have better, more diverse, and more skillfully prepared fish than you’ll ever find in a grocery store. And most sushi spots are delighted to make takeout because it gives their chefs something to do during their downtime.
There are three tricks to know when getting sushi takeout: One, don’t even think about putting in an order at 7 p.m. on a Saturday and expect a quick turnaround. Place your order in the afternoon or early evening for pick-up at a specific time: It makes everyone’s life easier. Two, learn to appreciate chirashi sushi. Chirashi sushi is basically a halfway point between nigiri—those thumb-sized fillets of fish pressed onto pads of rice—and sashimi, which, of course, is just the fish. When you order chirashi sushi, you get slices of fish on a big bowl of vinegared sushi rice. The reason this is good? Because you get all the ultra-high-quality fish the sushi bar stocks but you’re not paying for someone to mold it into those little high-skilled-labor and labor-intensive nigiri pieces. You get more high-quality sushi fish for your takeout dollar.
Consider Wasabi, the Japanese restaurant on Washington Avenue near the Metrodome. It’s had a hard time establishing itself in the local consciousness because it’s not as hip or upscale as some. If you ask me, their hook should be: Where your sushi take-out dreams come true! All their sushi combos are actually a dollar or two cheaper than they are for dine-in customers, and they offer these very big platters of sushi perfect for family dinners: There’s the $36 sushi for two, which comes with 18 nigiri pieces, two sushi rolls, and miso soup for two; and the $65 “treasure boat,” which can feed three or four people. Best of all, Wasabi’s takeout sushi is wonderful. When I picked up my order, all the sushi was carefully lined up in trays in a way which made it impossible for anything to fall over; the miso soup was in separate containers, and the manager even helped me out to my car, navigating the restaurant’s front steps amid falling snow. At home, I found that all the sushi was gloriously fresh. The salmon was silky as satin, the yellowtail so fresh that it crunched, and the white tuna weighty and sweet. “Why would anyone ever get grocery-store sushi?” marveled my husband. “I think nobody even knows you can do this,” I said. “But they will.”
What to Order: The sushi for two, the Treasure Boat, or any of their many combo meals, like the various “American Favorite” meals that showcase the very fresh tuna, salmon, and yellowtail.
903 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
The conventional wisdom about Italian food is that it’s so good because it’s “ingredient driven,” meaning that, for a salad, you take great ingredients—ultra-fresh mozzarella, 10-year-old balsamic, and bright green leaves of fresh basil—that are so good on their own that there’s no need to enhance them with fancy technique. Of course, the problem here becomes obvious: If you don’t have the ingredients, this ingredient-driven cuisine is not going to soar like the Italian alps. Instead, it will remain earth-bound, like Italian mud. ¶ If you want your dinner to soar, please know that the mecca of great Italian ingredients in Minnesota is the grand palace of Buon Giorno, high up on the bluffs of Lilydale, just south of St. Paul. There you’ll find squid-ink pasta as black as night, mortadella as light as mist, aged balsamic as thick as molasses, and about a million ready-to-eat pleasures for the time-stressed gourmet. Be sure to look for daily specials such as a rolled pork loin stuffed with roast peppers and vegetables, Brussels sprouts seared with pancetta, and chicken breasts sautéed and smothered in a porcini-mushroom sauce. The Italian hoagies are some of the best in town. But the freezer case is really the key to a life of ease. There, you’ll find savory, complex, expertly constructed eggplant Parmigiana, creamy vegetarian lasagna, and classic meaty lasagnas. Pop a pan in your oven, warm up some Italian Wedding Soup (also from the freezer case), and busy yourself arranging meats and cheeses from the deli case into an antipasti platter. There, you’ve found the sweet spot where ingredient-driven meets easy-peasy.
What to Order: Eggplant Parmigiana; the meat or chicken of the day.
981 Sibley Memorial Hwy., Lilydale
I once spent a happy week exploring New Orleans’s world-famous sandwich culture, and found phenomenal po’boys at every turn; simple roast beef and drippings; fried fish, shrimp, or oysters—so many sandwiches fit for a feast. I’d be embarrassed to show a New Orleans native most Minnesota sandwiches; we so often settle for a “good enough” sandwich that really isn’t. However, I’d proudly escort any visitor from the Big Easy to Clancey’s, the locovore butcher shop in the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis—they make sandwiches worthy of a feast. Try them. You’ll find they roast or smoke all their locally sourced meats on site, and then they gild them with sandwich toppings from scratch, like roasted strips of yellow and red bell peppers in vinaigrette, pickled onion slices, and fresh-grated horseradish sauce. They overstuff these potent, carefully considered ingredients into crisp sections of Rustica baguette until they’ve composed something big, heavy, and unique—a sandwich with the ambition, integrity, and heft of a chef-made meal. Are they just sandwiches, or shall we call them po’boys? Nah, that’s just pretentious, they’re something even better, something locally unique: New Minnesota butcher-shop sandwiches worthy of dinner-status and a carefully chosen bottle of Syrah.
What to Order: The roast beef with fresh horseradish sauce and roasted, marinated bell peppers; the ham with pickled onions, greens, and butter.
Clancey’s Meat & Fish
4307 Upton Ave. S.,Minneapolis
EL BURRITO MERCADO
El Burrito Mercado is the Xanadu, the Taj Mahal, the eighth wonder of the Mexican takeout world. When you whisk in the front door of this vast Latino market on the West Side of St. Paul, you will be confronted with so many different exciting takeout options that you will not even be even to count them all and will stand there rubbing your eyes in happy disbelief. Really. There’s hot meat available by the pound, including carnitas (roast pork) and chicharrones (meaty pork rinds). There’s every sort of sweet and bread known to Mexican kitchens, from pumpkin empanadas and tres leches cake to fanciful custard-stuffed creations. There are appetizers ready to go, like lime-cured shrimp ceviche, classic Mexican shrimp cocktail, crispy potato-cheese fritters, and vegetarian and meat-filled chiles rellenos. There are fresh tamales, chicken soup and meaty pork pozole by the quart, delicious chicken tinga (shredded chicken combined with mild chiles and sweet onions in a silky, hauntingly nuanced sauce), and a fascinating stew made with pork with chipotle and cactus strips—it’s smoky, spicy, complicated and tastes like it would take a lifetime to learn to do right. Wait, there’s more! Stews, barbecue, flavored rices, assorted bean dishes, and at least half-a-dozen fresh salsas on offer at any given moment, like an emerald-green salsa verde made with fresh tomatillos, fresh cilantro leaves, and a potent dose of jalapeños; a sweet and lively fresh pineapple salsa with red bell peppers, and a few different salsas made with smoked or roasted peppers and various combinations of tomatillo and fresh, fire-roasted, or canned tomato. Who needs so many fresh salsas? You do, because if you get a few and combine them with the bounty heretofore mentioned you’ll have hundreds of different meals. Hundreds of different expertly cooked, utterly fresh, painstakingly authentic delicious Mexican meals. Now go home, and eat like you’ve had a whole village of Mexican aunts cooking for you all day, which, in a sense, you have.
What to Order: Stews, like the chicken tinga and pork with chipotle; fresh salsas; and spicy pork or creamy chicken tamales.
El Burrito Mercado
175 Cesar Chavez St.,St. Paul
When chefs Mike Ryan and Matthew Bickford left their fine-dining careers to open Be’Wiched, the restaurant community expected great things. After all, Ryan had held key positions in the kitchens of local power players D’Amico Cucina and Restaurant Alma, and Bickford had cooked at Solera and La Belle Vie. So their decision to do sandwiches at Be’Wiched was a bit of a head-scratcher. Sure, they were making a really good egg-salad sandwich, but people do not drive across town for an egg-salad sandwich. Reviewing the place was nearly impossible. What was there to say? Egg salad: better than usual! From a couple folks who you’d figure could pull it off.
Recently, however, Ryan and Bickford have turned their attention to making takeout dinners that have me wanting to trumpet the news from the rooftops. Here’s how it works: You call Be’Wiched during the day to find out what they’re making. Perhaps it will be turkey galantine (a turkey cut into fillets and rolled up around a savory filling). Perhaps it will be a pot roast. Perhaps it will be something that combines the intelligence and technique of a four-star kitchen with the down-home vibe of a sandwich shop, something like a deconstructed pastrami sandwich in which a savory bread pudding envelops chunks of house-smoked, house-spiced beef brisket.
If you decide you want what Be’Wiched is offering, you can swing by on your way home, add a salad, some soup, and maybe a treat like the Meyer lemon bars (little squares of pastry topped with the richest, freshest, liveliest, tangiest lemon curd imaginable and garnished with a sprinkle of even-tangier candied Meyer lemon peel). You go home, you pop the entrée into a warm oven and you bust out your nicest china and pour yourself a glass of wine. Badda bing, badda boom! You’re eating like you’re in a white tablecloth chef-driven restaurant—in your pajamas, if you please.
Be’Wiched is on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis, in close proximity to the I-394 entrance ramp, Highway 55, and I-94. Which probably explains why there are now a bunch of savvy Twin Cities food-lovers who have standing dinner orders: Every Monday and Thursday, say, they pick up dinner on their way home from work. These people, in other words, have managed to achieve all of the convenience of a personal chef—at a fraction of what Steven Spielberg pays for his.
What to Order: The “home-meal replacements,” such as roast pork with braised greens and borlotti beans; soups, like the spicy Cajun seafood bisque, made with lots of shrimp and chunks of white fish; and a spinach salad with smoked apple vinaigrette and spiced pecans.
800 Washington Ave. N.,Minneapolis
While I was working on this story, I ricocheted from one corner of the Twin Cities to another: tasting, questioning, and hunting. As I did, news of economic calamity just kept coming, and coming, and coming. It started to make me feel panicky, and every once in a while, I’d want to seize an old person by the shoulders and demand: How did you do it? How did you make it through the Great Depression, recessions, oil crises—all the bad times? Then I realized the answer was right under my nose. The secret to eating well—the secret to getting quality food made of easily understood ingredients when you’re working three jobs—is to explore your grandparents’ convenience foods: Our old-school butchers will set us free.
Really. A monthly stock-up stop at Minnesota classic butcher shops like Hackenmueller’s, Ingebretsen’s, Morelli’s, Kramarczuk’s, or Ready Meats can forever free you from the need for takeout. How? All these have freezer cases full of butcher-made comfort foods, like meat loaf or lasagna designed to rest happily in your freezer until you suddenly find yourself with nothing for dinner. And then: ta-da! The best defense is a good offense. All of these places also adhere to an old model of shopping: Namely you can often get in and out the door in 10 minutes, as opposed to the half-hour it takes to portage through the big supermarkets just to get to the milk.
I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite old-school butcher. I love Ingebretsen’s for the freezer case full of Swedish split-pea soup, herring, Swedish sausage, and famous Swedish-meatball mix. But Ingbretsen’s is well-known, so I direct your attention to the underappreciated, no less fantastic Hackenmueller’s, which I adore for their porketta roasts, smoked pork chops, frozen loaves of meat and ham, meat sauce and chili, chicken-and-dumpling soup, cream of chicken soup, pea soup with ham, stuffed cabbage rolls, lasagna, and incomparable potpies. Pop one of these pies, still frozen, in your oven, put a baking sheet or piece of foil on the shelf below to catch any drippings, and bake till crispy: You’ll be astonished—the crust is exquisitely flaky and the filling creamy and full of chicken. To me, they taste exactly like the childhood I never had, one filled with warm quilts, aprons, little snowman candy dishes and grandpa fixing the handle on my little red wagon. It’s pure American comfort, which is the same way I’d describe the feeling of having a freezer full of Hackenmueller’s sturdy dinners for when the day goes pear shaped.
What to Order: Chicken, turkey, and beef potpies; meat loaf; house-smoked sausages; porketta roasts; frozen quarts of split-pea soup with ham.
Hackenmueller’s Meat Market
4159 Broadway Ave.,Robbinsdale
For some odd reason, Americans associate Chinese food with takeout. This is peculiar because, generally speaking, Chinese food makes terrible takeout. Texture and color are huge concern to Chinese cooks, and takeout containers are the enemy of texture and color. They make crisp fried things turn gummy, bright vegetables become dull, and silky noodles sticky. But there is a way to avoid this: When you order Chinese, focus on soups, barbecued and smoked meats, braises, hot-pots, and other dishes that can be transported well; you will find the sweet compromise between the food you want and the food the way the chef intended it to be. Oh, and order Szechuan. All the best Chinese spots in Minnesota right now are Szechuan, and they are spicy, spicy, spicy. The numbing, burning, tingling ma po tofu—that silky dish of tofu cubes in a fiery pork sauce—is a must-order at any of the Szechuan restaurants. It’s great—and about as unchanged by the takeout experience as Superman is by bullets.
My favorite Szechuan place remains Little Szechuan in St. Paul, which also happens to be one of only two restaurants in all of St. Paul for which you will consistently wait for a table (the other is Casper & Runyon’s Nook). The food is phenomenal—and phenomenally hot. The people of the Szechuan province believe that there is a sixth taste to food, the quality of ma la, which translates roughly as “tingling and numbing,” which you may think of as “excruciating” or “delightful.” Some dishes at Little Szechuan are cloaked with a sauce that looks like tomato sauce but is in fact a thick purée of some of the hottest peppers known to man.
Get a takeout container of something hot, like the ma la fish fillet with tofu, pair it with something not at all spiced, like the stir-fried a choy (Chinese broccoli), and something rich, like the cumin lamb or house-braised beef brisket. You’ll have a meal that resembles one of those 1960s spiritual quests in which the hero eats mushrooms and wanders into the desert to experience talking dogs, flaming rainbows, and the meaning of life. îƒ¾
What to Order: Ma po tofu; ma la fish fillet with tofu; stir-fried a choy; cumin lamb or house-braised beef brisket.
422 University Ave. W.,St. Paul
GARDENS OF SALONICA
In January, New York Times health columnist Jane Brody wrote a series of stories on the current state of thinking about heart-health. In short, she found that everything we’ve been told for years is not quite right. Strict low-fat diets do little. Surgery is no panacea. The key to eternal life, however, may have been located, and it is in fact the Mediterranean diet, especially the Greek diet, in which lots of vegetables and fish are consumed with red wine and healthy fats like olive oil. Oh, and walnuts figure in there, too. I don’t know what other people got out of Brody’s wisdom, but I was thrilled: Greek food? I love Greek food!
King of the Greek takeout spots in Minnesota is northeast Minneapolis’s Gardens of Salonica. They sell all of their appetizers and salads by the pint and quart—like the classic green Greek salad with olives, feta, and pepperoncini, all made in the best possible way: simply, with good quality ingredients. Order one of those salads, add their garlic-rich, silky eggplant purée melitzana, their meaty fava bean purée, their marinated green-top beets, piaz (black-eyed-pea salad), some artichoke hearts, and maybe some braised octopus, baked cod, or pork skewers, and you have a feast that even your cardiologist could love.
What to Order: Salads, like the classic green Greek with olives, feta, and pepperoncini; eggplant purée melitzana; green-top beets; piaz; braised octopus; and pork skewers.
Gardens of Salonica
19 Fifth St. NE,Minneapoolis
A few years ago, I was overcome by a peculiar longing for health. Since my schedule that day was not health-permitting, I dropped into a new green establishment for a smoothie, to-go.
“Do you have a jar?” asked the bearded young man behind the counter.
“Why, are we going to gather lightning bugs?” I asked. Turned out they didn’t have any to-go cups.
“We don’t believe in takeout,” he explained.
“Believe in it? Son, not only do I believe in takeout, I’ve seen it done,” I replied grandly, sweeping out of the establishment with stentorian aplomb.
Well, actually, that last part didn’t happen. I just left, squinting and muttering to myself. But that was then. Now, happily, green thinkers have come around. They’ve realized that local, organic, and green must also be consumer-friendly if they’re to have any real meaning in the marketplace. This idea has reached its apex with the opening of Local D’Lish, Minneapolis’s first
green, organic, and locally sourced convenience store.
I say it’s a convenience store because it’s not a comprehensive grocery store, though it does have everything you’d need for a quick dinner and a week’s worth of snacks. For instance, they have a refrigerator case stocked with takeout options, such as mock-duck fried rice or spicy noodle salads from Chindian, the southeast Minneapolis restaurant; they have boxes of micro greens from local farmer (and restaurant-chef’s darling) DragSmith Farm; and they have cheese from a number of local artisanal cheese makers, including Shepherd’s Way.
If you put the cheese on the micro greens with a bit of locally made Salad Girl Dressing, you’ve got a salad so fancy and well made that you’ll swear you got it from a restaurant—not a convenience store located in the Warehouse District of Minneapolis. If you can boil water or turn on the oven, you can have a not-quite-takeout, not-quite-cooking instant dinner courtesy of products from Sunrise Creative Gourmet, a small manufacturer located in Hibbing that makes all sorts of Italian specialties like fresh ravioli and up-north treats like pasties. You can also pick up Door County cherries, Lakota-made popcorn, local yogurt and frozen pizza—in short, everything you find in a convenience store, but locally and artisanally made.
What to Order: Chindian entrées; DragSmith greens and Salad Girl dressing; Sunrise ravioli and pasties.
208 N. First St.,Minneapolis
Think of Patrick’s Bakery as a little outpost of Paris right here in the land of sky-blue waters. Walk in the door and you’ll find individual fruit tarts, raspberry egg-white macaroons, and Opera cakes glittering and winking at you from the sparkling cases, as if to say: We are a direct connection to Lenôtre, Carême, and Escoffier. We represent the great French secrets of how to turn cream, egg, flour, and sugar into joy and whimsy. And they do. The pastries at Patrick’s are unsurpassed in Minnesota. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that pastries are the only thing Patrick’s does! If you peer deeply into the pastry case, for instance, you’ll find the quiches, made as only a French pastry kitchen can. The crusts are light as clouds and elegantly flaky. They crisp up in your home oven until they seem like they were made by a world-class French chef—which they were. Some of the quiche fillings from which you can choose are asparagus and tomato, fresh spinach, St. Tropez (with marinated grilled chicken breast), sausage, or a classic quiche Lorraine, with bacon and Swiss cheese. Add a side salad of baby greens, a baguette, and a pastry, and uncork a Beaujolais or a Chianti and you’re having a perfect French bistro dinner.
What to Order: Quiche, niçoise salad with grilled ahi tuna; house-made breads; osso bucco, (a long-cooked, phenomenally tender beef shank served with pasta); a French version of chicken potpie called Bouchee a la Reine, in which chicken and dumplings in a creamy white sauce are served in a crown of puff pastry; and real beef bourguignonne.
2928 W. 66th St., Richfield, 612-861-7570
6010 Lyndale Ave., Minneapolis, 612-861-9277
331 Broadway Ave. S., Wayzata, 952-345-6100
People always ask restaurant critics where we really go to eat, on the premise, I think, that we keep the good ones to ourselves. To which I say: Harry Singh’s! Harry Singh’s! Harry Singh’s! It’s the place I go most often to get takeout for myself. But no matter what I write about it, nobody ever believes me—or goes there. Is it because Harry’s is near the dead-end of Nicollet Avenue, behind Kmart? Is it because the restaurant doesn’t have a liquor license? Is it because people just don’t understand how remarkable Harry’s food is? I think it might be that.
Here’s the reason I love it: The western Caribbean island of Trinidad is home to a melting-pot culture, and the cuisine that evolved out of that culture is like none other on earth. Key to it is a variety of flatbreads, called roti. The most difficult roti to make is called roti dhalpourie, in which a pizza-sized, tortilla-thin flatbread is stuffed with ground lentils. This layer of stuffing is exceptionally thin, which makes the dough flaky and tender. So, what do you do with this roti dhalpourie? You put a big pile of stew or curry on it: a sweet, mild browned chicken stew, for instance, or a slightly spicy lamb or goat curry, or equally mild chickpea and potato curry. When you get this dish as takeout, Harry Singh folds it all up like a burrito, wraps it in foil, and sends you on your way with a little plastic cup of hot sauce and another of anchar (a sour green-mango relish). Whenever you get around to eating this curry bundle, it will be savory, deep, profoundly flavored—and phenomenally good, tasting like a whole spicy Caribbean world.
Harry Singh’s jerk chicken is also fantastic, bursting with layered herbal flavors. And I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that Harry Singh’s is a wonderful little spot to go to as a restaurant, as well. You get to enjoy Harry (he works every day, every shift, every table) and find out what he’s been up to, whether it’s making fresh ginger brew, cooking up hot sauce that’s hotter than lava, or trying to convince the Minnesota State Fair people to let him in. (Note to the State Fair people: Let him in already!) But it’s also a singular pleasure to get a six pack of Red Stripe, a bag of Harry Singh’s stuffed roti dhalpourie, and kick back on the couch with a meal that, by rights, only excellent Caribbean cooks, and their families, should be able to enjoy.
What to Order: roti dhalpourie with lamb curry or potatoes and chick peas; jerk chicken.
Harry Singh’s Original Caribbean Restaurant
2653 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis,
For decades, the trend was for Americans to abandon their neighborhood shops in favor of ever bigger, ever boxier big-box stores. Then people started doing upper-level math in their heads. Is there really any benefit to driving, parking, and hunting through a 20,000-square-foot megamart to get vast portions of corn syrup–laden processed foods? Isn’t it smarter to shop close to home, get smaller portions, and use the time saved for exercise or conversations? Newly constructed downtowns sprang up in suburbs, and old downtowns became revitalized. Critics dubbed the whole thing New Urbanism, but I’ve decided to hijack the term because it also neatly describes the restaurants and food-spots which make living more intensely in your neighborhood a joy.
The epitome of good food at the center of a old neighborhood has got to be Jerabek’s. The place was founded in 1906 on St. Paul’s West Side, and it anchored the neighborhood for generations, providing cakes to grandmothers, daughters, and granddaughters in a continuous line. However, a year ago the Jerabek family decided to sell the business. The neighborhood was terrified that a Starbucks or another chain would come in. So two neighbors pooled their money and bought it. Today, the place is run by two couples: John and Holly Wills and Russ Spangler and Ronda Vincent. They’ve made the place a Shangri-La of comfort foods: The chicken potpies have gorgeous puffy, flaky tops and a creamy filling that’s so good it borders on ice-cream/birthday-cake good. Homemade pasties, sage-scented French meat pies, classic American soups (such as chicken wild rice or beef-barley and vegetable), salads, quiches, and every sort of baked good known to man fill out the takeout options. Haul home a shopping bag of Jerabek’s treats and you’ll feel like you suddenly time-traveled to a wonderful land: that of mid-century American plenty.
What to Order: Pasties and potpies, homemade soups like a creamy mushroom wild-rice.
Jerabek’s New Bohemian Coffeehouse
63 Winifred St. W., St. Paul
The Ultimate Takeout Directory: Where to Go, What to Order
Caffrey’s Deli & Subs
3008 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-822-5551
What to order: The grilled hot pastrami sandwich on pumpernickel; the chicken cheesesteak; and the spinach salad with blue cheese.
651 Cleveland Ave. S., St. Paul, 651-698-0334, cecilsdeli.com
What to order: The matzo ball soup, the super-thick turkey or corned-beef sandwiches.
2795 Hedberg Dr., Minnetonka, 952-546-6595, crossroadsdelicatessen.com
What to order: The matzo-ball soup, which is rightly hailed as the best in Minnesota. The beef goulash or flanken-in-a-pot are also ideal takeout dishes.
Golooney’s East Coast Pizza Café
2329 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-377-8555
What to order: The best cheese-steak in the Twin Cities. Also the best calzones, with crisp dough enclosing your choice of fillings (the spinach-and-roast-garlic is a winner).
1746 Lexington Ave. N., Roseville, 651-488-1788, mavericksroastbeef.com
What to order: The house-made roast beef and brisket sandwiches are so good that regulars order 15 at a time, and use them to feed the whole family.
525 Winnetka Ave. N., Golden Valley, 763-544-2900, morts-deli.com
What to order: The pastrami and corned-beef sandwiches are sourced straight from New York’s Carnegie Deli.
Nelson Cheese and Deli
1562 Como Ave., St. Paul, 651-647-1288, nelsoncheese.net
What to order: The iconic “Town of Nelson,” made with ham, turkey, cheese, and more cheese piled high on tender caraway rye.
2280 Cliff Rd., Eagan, 651-895-1088, royalcliffineagan.com
What to order: Check out their “party-food menu” for deals on the ultra-rich eggplant Parmigiano and baked rigatoni with sausage.
Broders’ Cucina Italiana
2308 W. 50th St., Minneapolis, 612-925-3113, broders.com
What to order: Family-style dinners for four, such as the chicken parmigiano with caesar salad, a loaf of focaccia, and lemon-pistachio bars.
Broders’ Pasta Bar
5000 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-925-9202, broders.com
What to order: Sturdier dishes like the lasagnas, such as the lasagna al forno made with porcini mushrooms and blue-cheese cream; or risottos, such as the one with shrimp, butternut squash, herbs, and mushroom truffle pesto.
211 Seventh St. W., St. Paul, 651-222-3476, cossettaeventi.com
What to order: From the restaurant side, get the Gorgonzola salad, veal Parmigiano, or lasagna and stuffed shells. From the deli side: bread, meats, olives.
D’Amico & Sons
Multiple locations, including downtown, Uptown, and University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis; St. Paul; Edina; Wayzata; Eden Prairie; Golden Valley; and Roseville.
What to order: The catering menu is a gold mine for great food fast. Try the chicken cacciatore, the butternut-squash ravioli in brown butter with fontina cheese, or the Tuscan pot roast.
Jakeeno’s Trattoria Midtown Global Market
920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-767-1102
What to order: Take-and-bake pizzas.
Yarusso-Bros. Italian Restaurant
635 Payne Ave., St. Paul, 651-776-4848, yarussos.com
What to order: Consult their “family takeout” menu for deals on meals sized for a crowd.
600 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-871-4055
465 Wabasha St. N., St. Paul, 651-310-0111
What to order: Kaiso seaweed salad, oshinko (vegetable pickles), kinoko-sautéed mushrooms, deluxe sushi platter.
6534 Flying Cloud Dr., Eden Prairie, 952-941-5115, kabukisushi.com
What to order: Chirashi sushi, “nara” sushi dinner.
251 First Ave. N., Minneapolis, 612-333-1999, namisushi.com
What to order: Oshinko (vegetable pickles); hiya yako (chilled tofu with a ginger sauce); chirashi sushi; Nami special dinner.
30 N. First St., Minneapolis, 612-333-8430
12401 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka, 952-746-3393
What to order: Ton-jiru, a hearty rib-sticking miso soup; chirashi; deluxe sushi.
Sakura Restaurant & Bar
350 St. Peter St., St. Paul, 651-224-0185, sakurastpaul.com
What to order: Something from their lengthy cold appetizer list, such as goma ae, or sushi deluxe. Sakura also has the state’s best vegetarian sushi.
Yumi’s Waterfront Cafe & Sushi Bar
28 Water St., Excelsior, 952-474-1720, yumissushibar.com
What to order: Yumi’s sashimi, a vast assortment of 30 pieces of sashimi for two.
Boca Chica’s Taco House
407 S. Wabasha St., St. Paul, 651-222-8226
What to order: Make sure to order your burritos “enchilada-style” from this St. Paul institution, which makes them moister, tastier, and more of a meal.
4749 W. Hwy. 13, Savage, 952-736-8307
2501 Horizon Dr., Burnsville, 952-808-0068
What to order: Chile Colorado (beef in a spicy tomato sauce) or the parillada, a giant meal for two including everything but the kitchen sink, and lots of meat and quesadillas.
El Norteno Authentic Mexican
4000 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-722-6888
What to order: The veggie burrito or tamales—El Norteno offers the best vegetarian Mexican food in the Cities.
El Paraiso Mexican Restaurant
3501 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-823-4707, elparaisominneapolis.com
What to order: Carnitas, slow-roasted pork, is essential to Mexican cuisine. Who has the best in town? Probably El Paraiso. Try it in a burrito or starring in a combo platter.
Lone Spur Grill and Bar
11032 Cedar Lake Rd., Minnetonka, 952-540-0181
What to order: Smoked chicken with a couple of beef tamales on the side.
809 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-825-4978
895 Arcade St., St. Paul, 651-774-7623
What to order: The pozole is particularly homey and rich. Los Ocampo thoughtfully supplies a whole host of to-go ingredients so that you can flavor it to your tastes at home.
1515 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-728-5408
920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-870-3930
What to order: The chorizo and egg torta or, for the non-carnivorous, the veggie torta—one of the greatest vegetarian sandwiches in town.
1070 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, 612-338-6272, masa-restaurant.com
What to order: Everyone loves Masa, Minneapolis’s premiere fine-dining Mexican restaurant, but did you know they have a special takeout menu sized for families or groups? Shrimp tamales with cilantro rice and ancho-lime roast pork are two spicy fine-dining finds.
Salsa a la Salsa
1420 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, 612-813-1970, salsaalasalsa.com
What to order: Cilantro chicken soup or chicken pozole (soup with hominy), both available in 32-ounce portions, and the mixiotes de pollo, chicken and cactus strips cooked in a banana leaf.
Salsa a la Salsa Midtown Global Market
920 E. Lake St., Suite 155, Minneapolis, 612-872-4140, salsaalasalsa.com
What to order: Check out their various “corporate lunch specials,” such as enchiladas with rice and beans for five people.
Taqueria La Hacienda
1515 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-728-5424
334 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-822-2715
What to order: The two-meat alambres with al pastor and chorizo, in which pineapple-marinated pork and pork sausage are fried up with bacon and served on a bed of corn tortillas.
Rosedale Center, Roseville, 651-636-7173
Ridgedale Center, Minnetonka, 952-797-9888
What to order: Why wait for hours for a table? Some of the dishes that hold up best in transit include the spicy sesame-peanut noodles, Chinese hot-and-sour soup, the curries, and the pork fried rice.
1711 Rice St., Roseville, 651-488-1246
What to order: The great Taiwanese and Japanese soups; the best vegan Asian food on the east side of town.
Evergreen Chinese Restaurant
2424 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, 612-871-6801, evergreen-chinese.com
What to order: Famous for their vegetarian dishes, Evergreen also boasts a satay sauce lamb noodle soup that is wonderful. Also be sure to get their signature five-spice boiled peanuts.
Hong Kong Noodle
901 Washington Ave. SE, Minneapolis, 612-379-9472, mnhongkongnoodle.com
What to order: The Hong Kong–style barbecue—especially the barbecued pork, chicken, or duck; dumpling soup; Hong Kong–style lo-mein, with your choice of barbecue, served on a bed of noodles.
326 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-340-0937, keefercourt.com
What to order: Soups, like the big dumpling noodle-in soup or deep-fried garlic pork chop noodle-in soup, barbecue, and rose wine soy chicken.
Rainbow Chinese Restaurant & Bar
2739 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, 612-870-7084, rainbowrestaurant.com
What to order: Sesame noodles, wonton soup (ask them to add barbecued pork), and the spicy pork with cilantro. Note: Rainbow has extensive vegetarian offerings.
2710 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, 612-872-8815
What to order: This vast Asian supermarket has a phenomenal takeout barbecue counter in the back. Get a pound of red-roast pork and add it to rice (which you can make yourself), then garnish it with cilantro and veggies from Shuang Hur’s produce section.
88 Nathan Ln., Plymouth, 763-544-3422, ourteahouse.com
What to order: Look hard at the specials board. If they have the “licorice duck,” an anise-flavored, cilantro-garnished smoked duck, grab it. Otherwise, order the roasted asparagus, cold chili-sauced bamboo tips, dan dan noodles, and garlic eggplant.
Tea House 2
1676 Suburban Ave., St. Paul, 651-771-1790, ourteahouse.com
What to order: The mini Shanghai “juicy buns” don’t really travel well, but get them anyway. They’re delicious. Add asparagus crab-meat chowder, Szechuan ma la beef tendon, and tea-smoked duck.
2015 E. 24th St., Minneapolis, 612-721-6677, unitednoodles.com
What to order: The biggest Asian market between Chicago and the Rockies has a hot-food counter that offers truly authentic soups, barbecued duck, and roast pork.
Bill’s Imported Foods
721 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-827-2892, billsimportedfoods.com
What to order: It’s not exactly take-out, but any list of Greek food in the Twin Cities has to take this market into consideration. It has some of the best feta cheese, the biggest olives, and the freshest pita in town. Add some fresh vegetables and you’ve got a lovely, quick light meal.
Christos Greek Restaurant
2632 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, 612-871-2111
15600 Hwy. 7, Minnetonka, 952-912-1000
214 Fourth St. E., St. Paul, 651-224-6000
What to order: Koupepia, grape leaves stuffed with ground lamb, beef, and rice; Christos also sells Greek salads by the pan or half-pan. And, if you call ahead, you can get most everything they do, from hummus to their springy tabbouli, in catering-sized portions.
It’s Greek to Me
626 W. Lake St.,Minneapolis, 612-825-9922, itsgreektomemn.com
What to order: The cold mezze (appetizer) sampler, with the splendid tzatziki sauce and the garlic-laden skordalia. For a healthy family feast, add some lentil-spinach soup, a giant Greek salad, or the braised lamb with tomatoes and vegetables.
Santorini Taverna & Grill
13000 Technology Dr., Eden Prairie, 952-546-6722, santorinimn.com
What to order: the well-marinated lamb souvlaki; horiatiki (the traditional country Greek salad of tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and feta cheese in a red wine–olive oil vinaigrette).
600 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-379-3030, brasa.us
What to order:The slow-cooked local Berkshire pork, spoon-tender beef, and the crispy, roasty, uncommonly wonderful chicken; for sides: the creamy cheese grits and andouille-sausage- flecked yams.
1432 W. 31st St., Minneapolis, 612-825-9800, lucias.com
What to order: Any of the daily specials, like the meat loaf and mashed potatoes, roast chicken breast with Meyer lemons and thyme, and honey-mustard-glazed organic salmon. Add a Budapest Bundt cake, a green salad, and a loaf of their dense, flavorful flax bread.
The Salty Tart
920 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-874-9206, saltytart.wordpress.com
What to order: The soups—such as the roast garlic and sweet potato, curried carrot, or classic French onion—with a loaf of sourdough bread, and a pan of take-and-bake brownies; or opt for a vegetable quiche, savory turnovers, and a cream-filled brioche.
Anoka Meat & Sausage
478 W. Main St., Anoka, 763-421-5580, anokameats.com
What to order: Cooked barbecued chicken, pork, turkey, and beef; sliced roast beef au jus, house-made ham loaf.
1601 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-729-9333, ingebretsens.com
What to order: Soups, herring in a half-dozen flavors, Swedish and Norwegian sausage.
215 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-379-3018, kramarczuk.com
What to order: From the restaurant, get the Szeged goulash, borscht, dumplings, stuffed cabbage rolls. From the butcher shop: sausages, ham, bread, pastries.
535 Tedesco St., St. Paul, 651-774-5961, morellismarket.com
What to order: The red sauce, pans of manicotti and lasagna, and Italian-marinated pork chops.
3550 Johnson St. NE, Minneapolis, 612-789-2484, readymeats.com
What to order: Cheddar-and-bacon twice-baked potatoes; pasties; homemade sauce and pizza crusts; pans of chili, manicotti, meat loaf, and ham loaf.
850 Grand Ave.,St. Paul, 651-224-5687, cafelatte.com
What to order: Not just cake! Check out the soup and stews to-go, in flavors like pumpkin wild-rice, Spanish black-bean, and Thai coconut chicken, or the French chicken stew made with potatoes, roasted leeks, and spinach.
Dorothy Ann Bakery
710 Commerce Dr.,Woodbury, 651-731-3323, dorothyannbakery.com
What to order: Beef or white-chicken chili, chicken and wild-rice or lentil-vegetable soup, salads (like the simple green or the Greek), and the Vienna bread.
2610 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-870-7855, frenchmeadowcafe.com
What to order: French Meadow’s famous soup, a seeded baguette, and a roasted-beet and caramelized-pear salad make a wholesome dinner, but consult the menu for more options, like a bison potpie or the organic butternut-squash gnocchi.
816 W. 46 St., Minneapolis, 612-822-1119, rusticabakery.com
What to order: Sandwiches, from farm-to-table restaurant Corner Table, combine Rustica’s wonderful bread with fresh ingredients such as local ham, fennel salami, or roasted vegetables with goat cheese.
232 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul, 651-645-8950, trotterscafe.com
What to order: Trotter’s soups, like the wild mushroom and smoked gouda, pair perfectly with the house-baked breads, like the cheddar cornbread or the complimentary bread sticks. Add a pint of fruit salad,
a vegetable potpie, or a nightly special, like beef stew, for a homey dinner.
3421 W. 44th St., Minneapolis, 612-924-6013
4762 Chicago Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-823-7333
What to order: Turtle Bread’s Solveig Tofte is one of America’s premiere bakers, so put a loaf of her bread in your basket, stock up on quarts of spectacular soup like tomato basil, New England clam chowder, or artichoke heart, and call it a day.
3311 E. 25th St., Minneapolis, 612-722-4474, birchwoodcafe.com
What to order: Salads, such as the one made with beets and Donnay Farm chèvre, or weekly specials like pork-confit cassoulet.
300 First Ave. N., Minneapolis, 612-342-9230, cafebrenda.com
What to order: The sesame-crusted walleye; the southwestern mock-duck tacos; and niçoise salad.
Common Roots Café
2558 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-871-2360, commonrootscafe.com
What to order: The soups are made from locally sourced or organic ingredients; there’s usually a vegetarian option as well as a locally farmed one.
The Strip Club Meat & Fish
378 Maria Ave., St. Paul, 651-793-6247, domeats.com
What to order: Braised dishes like Swedish meatballs with black-truffle gravy or a pork shoulder with sausage-rich black beans.
750 S. Second St., Minneapolis, 612-436-2236, spoonriverrestaurant.com
What to order: The soups, such as the organic ginger squash or the Thousand Hills beef-and-barley, travel well, as does much of the regular restaurant menu, including the famous mushroom terrine.
4950 France Ave. S., Edina, 952-922-8974, beaujos.net
What to order: Soup (like beef-and-barley-mushroom or creamy celery-root purée), and more substantial entrées like herb-roasted chicken or a beef-tenderloin sandwich.
815 W. 50th St., Minneapolis, 612-823-4790, blackbirdmpls.com
What to order: The vegetarian chili with the works (add roasted chicken or steak for a big meal); spicy peanut noodles. Check for specials like foie-gras meat loaf.
Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar
308 Prince St., St. Paul, 651-228-9274, blackdogstpaul.com
What to order: Nightly soup specials (baked potato with cheese, Thai red curry, or bean-andbacon); cheese and sausage plate; blue cheese–apple salad.
Black’s Ford Restaurant
862 Lake St. E., Wayzata, 952-473-2940, blacksford.net
What to order: Hearty soups or stews, like the chicken stew or vegetarian yellow split-pea soup; fish tacos.
1839 E. 42nd St., Minneapolis, 612-729-2377
What to order: Ever-changing to-go dinners are available till about 3 p.m. daily. Expect treats like flaky chicken potpie, spanakopita, spicy meat loaf, or cilantro-and-jalapeño salmon cakes.
France 44 Cheese Shop
4351 France Ave., Minneapolis, 612-925-3252, france44.com
What to order: Fancy gourmet chicken salad, house-made charcuterie, tomato confit, New French Bakery bread, and soups, like turkey chili or tomato basil.
822 W. 36th St., Minneapolis, 612-825-0818, gigisuptown.com
What to order: The homemade soups, North African chicken curry, tamale pie, lasagna.
5013 France Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-436-5590, premiercheese-market.com
What to order: Homemade soups like mushroom barley, fancy cheeses stuffed into a loaf of local bread with artisanal butter.
1965 Cliff Lake Rd., Eagan, 651-454-7464
What to order: Scratch-made soups; try the chicken wild-rice, steak and black bean, or chicken chili, with fresh-baked breadsticks.
Surdyk’s Cheese Shop
303 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-379-9757, surdyks.com
What to order: Dinners to-go, which change daily (posted on surdyks.com). Expect dishes like beef stroganoff, whole crisp-skinned herb-dusted baked chicken, and a beet, dill, and chèvre salad.
Wilde Roast Café
518 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-331-4544, wilderoastcafe.com
What to order: Pot roast or turkey meat loaf with garlic-smashed potatoes; macaroni and cheese; curry chicken salad.
Chiang Mai Tai
Calhoun Square, 3001 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis, 612-827-1606, chiangmaithai.com
What to order: Nam prig ong, a steamed vegetable appetizer with sticky rice and spicy dip made with tomatoes and pork; sweet dried beef; fried cashews; penang curry with chicken.
1500 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-676-1818, chindiancafe.com
What to order: The pork sandwich, a Chinese-fusion version of a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich, or the chicken curry.
Marla’s Caribbean Cuisine
3761 Bloomington Ave., Minneapolis, 612-724-3088, marlascuisine.com
What to order: Marla offers many of the same dishes as Harry Singh’s, run by her brother, but Marla’s strong suit is vegetarian food. Try the Jamaican jerk tofu.
Peninsula Malaysian Cuisine
2608 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis, 612-871-2863, peninsulamalaysiancuisine.com
What to order: Roti canai, a roti pancake with a remarkably flavorful curry dipping sauce; the beef rendang, in which beef is cooked in a dry red-curry sauce.
Satay 2 Go
6670 W. 150th St., Apple Valley, 952-891-8551
What to order: Nasi Lemak, a sweet but spicy coconut curry made with potato and chicken, served with a creamy coconut rice.
Singapore Chinese Cuisine
5554 S. 34th Ave., Minneapolis, 612-722-2050
What to order: Captain’s curry; Singapore noodles.
2627 E. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-375-9942, truethairestaurant.com
What to order: Yellow curry with sweet potatoes and mock duck; red curry with beef.
Abu Nader Deli & Grocery
2095 Como Ave., St. Paul, 651-647-5391
What to order: Spinach pies; the baba gannouj and the tabbouli are the best in town. Beirut Lebanese Restaurant & Deli
1385 Robert St. S., West St. Paul, 651-457-4886
What to order: Combo plates like the Byblos with chicken kebab, baked kibee (like a beef and lamb meat loaf), cabbage rolls, and stuffed grape leaves.
Black Sea Restaurant
737 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, 651-917-8832, blacksearestaurant.com
What to order: Borek spinach pies, the mezze platter with cabbage rolls, mercimek red-lentil soup, chicken kebabs.
Caspian Bistro Restaurant
2418 University Ave. SE, Minneapolis, 612-623-1113
What to order: Ghormeh sabzi, a Persian stew; Koubideh kebabs of seasoned ground beef and lamb.
2339 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis, 612-782-0169, crescentmoonfoods.net
What to order: Afghani pizza; any of the combo meals that feature kebabs.
6408 Bass Lake Rd., Crystal, 763-533-4900
What to order: Sambosa pastries, stuffed grape leaves, lentil soup, kebabs.
Emily’s Lebanese Deli
641 University Ave. NE, Minneapolis, 612-379-4069
What to order: Wonderful spinach pies with bready, biscuity crusts; great baba gannouj.
701 W. Lake St., Minneapolis, 612-824-7887, falafelking.com
What to order: Chicken shish kebabs, Greek salads. Note: The small party platter makes a big dinner.
2513 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis, 612-781-2627
920 E. Lake St. (Midtown Global Market), Minneapolis, 612-870-6104
What to order: The platter Sheik’s dinner (or vegetarian Sheik’s dinner).
15718 Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata, 952-476-7997, istanbulbistro.net
What to order: Shepherd salad, stuffed grape leaves, mercimek red-lentil stew, lamb claypot stew.
7814 Portland Ave. S., Bloomington, 612-636-7786, thekabobs.com
What to order: Samosas, naan breads, kebabs—especially the reshmi-marinated, minced-chicken ones.
1668 Grand Ave., St. Paul, 651-690-2212, shishcafe.net
What to order: The tangy wonderful chicken kebabs, shish taouk; the big mezze appetizer platter is a vegetarian feast.