There are countless reasons to order food to go: a bad hair day, simple exhaustion, a spontaneous dinner party, the in-laws showing up unexpectedly. But most of the time, you just don’t feel like cooking. Here’s a look at some local go-to places for great food to go.
D O W N T O W N
* Magpie Caterers Market and Cafe
Seeking seasonally inspired, artisan-style takeout cuisine? This cozy cafe is your place. The display case is stuffed with freshly made salads (try the intriguing black rice salad), cheese plates and items such as grilled artichoke with aioli sauce. Order one of the kitchen’s unique sandwiches or an entrée to go, such as the succulent half Petaluma chicken cooked with red wine or gnocchi tossed with confit of Muscovy duck. Tip: Satisfy your sweet tooth with one of Magpie’s delicious cookies.
1409 R St., Sacramento; (916) 452-7594; magpiecaterers.com
M I D T O W N
* My BBQ Spot
Dishing up some of the tastiest ’cue in Sacramento, My BBQ Spot does a vigorous takeout business. Carnivores will love the ridiculously tender barbecued baby back ribs and supermoist barbecued chicken; the side dishes are equally appealing. (Try the sweetly satisfying “BBQ beans” and potato salad.) Your little ones will devour the chicken strips (if you don’t get to them first). Tip: My BBQ Spot stays open Fridays and Saturdays until 3 a.m.
2502 J St., Sacramento; (916) 442-4446
If a busload of ravenous relatives is careening your way, make a beeline to Buckhorn Grill. Deservedly famous for its terrific tri tip, the restaurant also has a number of platters to go (accompanied by red potato “mashers” and roasted vegetables). Try the charbroiled salmon fillets (marinated in lemon bayou pepper), the hefty chicken and tri-tip combo, or one of the hearty sandwiches. (I like the Bacon-Cheddar Buck.) You even can purchase a whole tri tip to go ($20); it feeds up to six people. Tip: Buckhorn Grill offers online takeout ordering.
1801 L St., Sacramento; (916) 446-3757; buckhorngrill.com
E A S T S A C
* Pasty Shack
What could be easier to eat on the run than a Cornish pasty? This hole in the wall offers several varieties of these nourishing savory turnovers. Try The Bavarian, filled with ground beef, chopped cabbage, bell peppers and onions, or the frisky Chile Verde (available Fridays only). There’s also a vegetarian version. Tip: Take-and-bake pasties are 25 cents cheaper than the baked ones.
4746 J St., Sacramento; (916) 454-9630
* Opa! 0pa!
This pleasant little restaurant cranks out Mediterranean food that’ll leave you feeling healthy and virtuous. From the luscious hummus and refreshing tabouli to the gyros and pita sandwiches, these dishes are perfect for a quick takeout meal. Tip: Sweeties, a dessert shop adjoining Opa! Opa!, offers some of the most stunning pastries in town.
5644 J St., Sacramento; (916) 451-4000; eatatopa.com
* Selland’s Market-Cafe
Many a night, tired and grumpy, I have stopped by Selland’s to pick up dinner for my hungry family. Selland’s is a sure thing. Choose from an array of lovely appetizers (such as the feisty chili-lime prawns and chilled seared ahi tuna) and hot items (we especially like the spicy carnitas and stuffed chicken breasts) along with crowd-pleasing side dishes and fresh-baked pizza. This high-quality takeout food can be a real lifesaver. Tip: Selland’s has an excellent wine selection and a wine-knowledgeable staff. Ask for a recommendation.
5340 H St., Sacramento; (916) 736-3333; sellands.com
L A N D P A R K
* Taylor’s Market
Feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of company for dinner? Taylor’s Market will cook (to your specifications) any meat from the butcher counter as long as you call a day ahead. Add some cheese and wine from the store, and you’re good to go. Tip: Your kids will love the house-baked lasagna and breaded chicken strips.
2900 Freeport Blvd., Sacra-mento; (916) 443-6881; taylorsmarket.com
E L K G R O V E
* Thai Chili
Not only does Thai Chili have one of the biggest menus I’ve ever seen, it also manages to get its takeout fare cooked up lickety-split. Located in a strip mall, this plain restaurant offers an entire menu just for vegetarians, plus a raft of interesting meat and fish dishes, such as chicken and shrimp with pan-fried radish cake, and a lovely mango curry with salmon. Another great choice: Thai honey-garlic barbecued chicken. Tip: You get your choice of white, brown or sticky rice.
8696 Elk Grove Blvd., Elk Grove; (916) 714-3519; thaichilielkgrove.net
A R D E N A R C A D E
* Nagato Sukiyaki
Sure, it’s fun to sit at a crowded sushi bar and watch the playful antics of the chefs while sipping hot sake from doll-size cups. But eating sushi at home (or in the park, or your dreary office cubicle) also can be quite pleasurable. Order your favorite rolls or a soothing noodle soup to go from this quiet, congenial restaurant, which is celebrating its 40th year of business in Sacramento. Tip: Get the Roxspin Roll (spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado, masago roe and special sauce).
2874 Fulton Ave., Sacramento; (916) 489-8230; nagatosukiyaki.com
* Gourmet Wraps
Serving Mediterranean-inspired wraps and entrées, Gourmet Wraps is a great grab-and-go option. Specialties include the flavorful lamb shawarma wrap (marinated lamb, tahini sauce, tomatoes, onions and pickles) and the chicken platter: strips of moist grilled chicken with rice, sautéed bell peppers and onions, hummus and warm pita bread. Tip: Add some baklava to your takeout order.
Town & Country Village, 2912 Fulton Ave., Sacramento; (916) 482-8792
* La Flor Pupusas Grill
Hungry? Consider grabbing a pupusa or two to go. A traditional El Salvadoran snack, the pupusa is a thick corn tortilla stuffed with a variety of delectable fillings (most involving cheese), then grilled. Inexpensive and smokily delicious, this indulgent, cheesy treat is even better when paired with a crisp, cold lager. Tip: Try the fried plantains—they’re greasy and delicious.
2440 Fulton Ave., Sacramento; (916) 487-1549
* The Market at Pavilions
Formerly known as David Berkley, this upscale specialty market offers a fabulous selection of prepared foods. Daily hot specials—from soups and creamy chicken enchiladas to an ever-changing menu of meats, pastas and fish—are perfect for a hastily assembled dinner. The market also has a mouthwatering lineup of olives, cheeses, pâtés and salads. (Beware: The broccoli-bacon salad is addictive.) And the wine selection is legendary. Tip: On Friday nights, the market holds a wine tasting from 5 to 7 p.m. ($10 tasting fee).
Pavilions, 515 Pavilions Lane, Sacramento; (916) 929-4422; marketatpavilions.com
R A N C H O C O R D O V A
* Udupi Cafe
If you think vegetarian food is boring, try a couple of dishes at Udupi Cafe and you’ll change your tune. I adore this Indian restaurant’s vibrant, flavorful cuisine. Sample the fiery curried cauliflower, the masala dosai (delicate rice crêpes filled with soft potatoes and onions) and the tender rasa vada (fried lentil donuts submerged in tangy, creamy yogurt). Tip: Udupi Cafe offers a number of vegan dishes.
2226 Sunrise Blvd., Rancho Cordova; (916) 851-5900; udupicafe.net
F A I R O A K S
* Sunflower Natural Foods Drive-In
Health-minded folks have enjoyed Sunflower’s super nutburgers, black bean burritos and egg salad sandwiches for decades. This little shack o’ goodness, a drive-in with old picnic tables and preening wild chickens, is a Fair Oaks dining gem. Don’t miss the enormous falafel, with its yogurt-drizzled, cumin-scented patty (made from ground garbanzo beans, cashews and sesame seeds) stuffed in pita bread with alfalfa sprouts, tomatoes, lettuce and crunchy slices of cucumber. Tip: Be prepared: Sunflower’s all-vegetarian fare can take a long time to come out.
10344 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks; (916) 967-4331; sunflowernaturalrestaurant.com
F O L S O M
* BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery
The real reason to order takeout fare from BJ’s? The opportunity to sit at the bar and savor a pint of the brewery’s freshly crafted beer while waiting for your food. (Try the sassy, bitter Piranha Pale Ale or the enticingly sweet, voluptuous Jeremiah Red Ale.) BJ’s makes the process simple: There’s a separate takeout counter, the menu is huge and full of variety, and the food comes out before you’re done with that pint. Recommended dishes include the sourdough burger (make sure you have lots of napkins), the vegetable-stuffed potato and the Sweet Pig deep-dish pizza (pineapple, seasoned tomatoes and oven-roasted ham). Tip: BJ’s offers curbside takeout service, so you never have to leave your car.
2730 E. Bidwell St., Folsom; (916) 404-2000; bjsbrewhouse.com
O R A N G E V A L E
* Kolbeh Kabob
Craving kabobs? The takeout entrées at Kolbeh Kabob easily feed two people, and they come with a mountain of fabulous, fragrant rice. Great choices include the koobideh (spiced ground beef kabob) and the vegetarian kabob (a flavorful combination of mushrooms, eggplant, squash, onions and peppers). If you want to expand your culinary horizons, try the fesenjan, an exotic stewlike chicken dish prepared with walnut purée and pomegranate sauce. Tip: Schedule your to-go pickup on a Friday or Saturday night after 6:30 p.m. and you’ll get an eyeful of Kolbeh Kabob’s belly dancer.
8700 Greenback Lane, Orangevale; (916) 990-0233; kolbehkabob.info
R O S E V I L L E
* Bravo! Pastaria Market & Eatery
A great resource for time-crunched family cooks, Bravo! Pastaria has several preassembled dishes, including lasagna (meat and vegetarian) and Italian meatloaf with mashed potatoes, that you can bake at home. But if you call ahead, the restaurant can box up a wide-ranging menu of takeout items, including the popular four-cheese ravioli and chicken parmigiana. Tip: Ordering takeout for the office? Bravo! offers catering and corporate delivery.
1465 Eureka Road, Roseville; (916) 772-8777; bravopastaria.com
* P.F. Chang’s China Bistro
More upscale than your average takeout restaurant, P.F. Chang’s is a to-go machine. There’s a special takeout counter, and the food comes out quickly, even when the restaurant is busy. One thing I adore about P.F. Chang’s is that the staff always double-checks your items (by pulling them out of the bag and showing them to you) to ensure your order is complete. Don’t miss the Chengdu spiced lamb or the steamed shrimp dumplings. And kids will love the honey chicken. Tip: Order your takeout food online at pfchangs.com. It couldn’t be simpler.
Creekside Town Center, 1180 Galleria Blvd., Roseville; (916) 788-2800; pfchangs.com
D A V I S
* The Hotdogger
A much-loved Davis institution, The Hotdogger dishes up a delectable assortment of hand-held goodies, from the traditional all-beef hot dog and the lemon garlic chicken sausage (my favorite) to a Louisiana hot link and a veggie tofu dog (served on a sprouted wheat roll, of course). The Hotdogger also has an enticing selection of condiments, including six different types of mustard, plus some seriously addictive wedge-cut fries. If you’re feeling daring, try the Gut Bomb! (a hot link served with hot salsa, hot peppers, chili, cheese, diced onions and tomatoes). Tip: The Hotdogger has a booth at the Davis Farmers Market, held Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings in Davis’ Central Park.
129 E St., Davis; (530) 753-6291; thehotdogger.com
N E W C A S T L E
* Newcastle Produce
Perched on a hill in historic Newcastle, this friendly, community-focused store offers a gorgeous selection of locally grown produce in addition to a plethora of takeout items. From house-baked casseroles and lasagna to an array of salads such as the chunky “All-American” potato salad and sandwiches such as the popular Caprese (tomatoes, pesto, mozzarella cheese and black olives), there’s a lot to get excited about. Note: The menu changes frequently. Tip: Newcastle Produce also has a fun lineup of locally made preserves and breads.
9230 Cypress St., Newcastle; (916) 663-2016; newcastleproduce.net
A U B U R N
* Le Bilig Kitchen
Yep, even French food can come in a to-go box. Known for its rustic, flavorful country French cuisine, Le Bilig offers its menu items in takeout form (and often accepts special requests). Owner/chef Marc Deconinck will pack up a petite filet mignon with green peppercorns; quail with a curried-salsa demi-glace; or a comforting container of Mamy’s (his grandmother’s) tomato soup for Le Bilig’s loyal bevy of time-challenged customers. Tip: Ask for the freshly picked spinach salad.
11750 Atwood Road, Auburn; (530) 888-1491; lebiligkitchen.com
THEY DELIVER—Feeling lazy? Here are some places that bring the food to you:
New China Restaurant, 6363 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 424-1717
Boon Boon Cafe, 3022 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 456-4647; boonbooncafe.com
OneSpeed Pizza, 4818 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 706-1748; onespeedpizza.com
M. Shahrzad Fine Persian Cuisine, 2931 Sunrise Blvd., Rancho Cordova; (916) 852-8899; shahrzadrestaurant.com