Where Can I Get Good Take-out Food?

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Take-out food has always been a popular option, but our idea of what’s good take-out food has changed since the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Previously, we rarely enjoyed the luxury of ordering food online from a fine dining establishment and then having it delivered via fast courier. Now, we love it! So do other people. What do they think is good food, where do they find it, and how do they get it home?

A friend had to quarantine for two weeks in an apartment. After eight days, he wasn’t sick, but he was sick and tired of being a shut-in. The ball game was on. He missed his friends. He couldn’t go to the sports bar. It was closed anyway, and I was hungry. Then he had a great idea. Order Take-out!

What Is Take-out Food?

Other terms for take-out food are carry-out and food-to-go. A literal definition is any prepared menu item taken out of the dining establishment and consumed elsewhere. It just has to come in a takeout container.  The food could be picked up from a restaurant or delivery by a service like Ubereats, Doordash, etc..

Fast food is frequently take-out food. Chinese restaurants, Mexican restaurants, pizzerias, sandwich shops, and many bars offer take-out. Many finer dining establishments, such as Outback, Texas Roadhouse, Applebees, and others, also offer take-out.

 

The onset of Covid-19 saw restaurants shift from dine-in business to take-out, and many restaurants offering take-out now have never done so in the past. It has almost reached the point that all restaurant food and fast food can also be take-out. Even a few one, two, and three Michelin star restaurants offer take-out, such as 3 Michelin star Alinea in Chicago, IL, 3 Michelin star Manresa in Los Gatos, CA, and 1 Michelin star Masseria, in Washington, DC!  You loose the essence of top notch service though!

Better food than I can cook and more selections that last just as long as any other leftovers if I keep them refrigerated. What’s not to love? Really only all the extra trash it generates...

Where Do I Find Good Food Near Me?

One tactic that has never failed is: ask. I have this question a lot when I travel. I also imagine it would be a question when you move to a new neighborhood. I never know where anything is, but the locals know. I listen for one phrase in particular. When I hear, “You have to try…,” I go try it.

Another good tactic is to jump on a laptop, put your location into Google Maps, and search for restaurants. From there, you can look for reviews in Yelp Reviews, Google Reviews, and local food blogs.

If my wife and kids have the car and I am home-bound, I like to go to the DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub websites. There, I can find a plethora of places to eat. Better yet, I get to check out the menus, too. I started looking for a place to order food for lunch one day, and by the time I scrolled through all my choices and decided what I wanted, it was time for supper.

How Do You Get Take-out?

The traditional rite of getting take-out food involved calling the restaurant with an order, going to the restaurant, paying for the food, and walking back to your car, bike, scooter, skateboard, or just walking to take it home.

In some cases, you can still do that, but many restaurants with a website have also enabled online ordering. You can pay over the internet with a bank card and choose the pick-up or delivery option. Many places offer curbside pick-up, so you never need to leave your car. Your food is brought out to you.

If you choose delivery, it’s changed, too. Remember little Joey down the street when he suddenly got all grown up and showed up at your door with the pizza you ordered from the shop around the corner? It doesn’t work that way now. Delivery boys (and girls) have been replaced with food delivery services.

What Are The Top Take-out Food Delivery Services?

Several smaller food delivery services, that you may or may not have heard about, compete for a slice of the pie, such as Postmates, Seamless, Tock, and Caviar. The top three are big. They make up 94% of the food delivery market. They are:

  • DoorDash with 55%
  • Uber Eats with 22%
  • Grubhub with 17%

How Do Food Delivery Services Work?

First of all, making a phone call isn’t how it works. You can still use your phone, but you submit your order over the internet. Search Google for food delivery and choose a service. The site will tell you if they deliver to your area.

They will also give you a selection of different cuisines you can choose from, or just a list of all the restaurants they serve. Each restaurant will have an online menu of food available for delivery. There will be customer comments about the quality of food and service available, and all the restaurants are given an overall rating based on customer reviews.

There is one note to make about the ratings, however. Many restaurants are rated the same, but you know all of them aren’t equal. It might be worth a look at Yelp or Google reviews to temper your final choice with more information.  It always pay to support the local restaurants in your community or else they will not exist.




One of the convenient services offered is the pick-up order. You order through the site, and your food is ready when you get there. Many typical restaurants and also fast food stores offer this option. Yes, you can avoid the line at the local fast food by calling ahead. You also save on delivery charges and tips. Walk in, pick it up, and go. You pay when you order online.

What Is The Cost, And Do I Tip?

Some restaurants have different prices for online menus than they charge for in-house dining. You will also pay a service fee, sometimes to the delivery service and the restaurant. There may be a delivery fee charged, as well. As far as taxes are concerned, the easy way to think about it is, yes, taxes apply to your food. Tipping your delivery person is encouraged. (Don’t be confused. Remember, any delivery fee does not go to your delivery person.) How much do you tip? First of all, in my mind, tipping is not anything I have to do or should do. Tipping is something I get to do to express my appreciation to the delivery person. The standard tip is 10% to 15%, but I will tip 20% or more when the service received warrants an expression of greater appreciation.

When you pick up an order, tipping is not an issue. The exception would be when you go in to get your food, and there is a jar with “TIPS” on it. Proceed with your own discretion.

What Take-out Food Comes In At #1 In The US?

Being cooped up in an apartment eating peanut butter and jalapeno sandwiches made some of those menus online seem like treasure chests. I started shopping, and I started swooning. A Rueben. Breaded cauliflower. Jalapeno cheese poppers. Cheesecake!

Like I mentioned above, I frowned at the price, but the delivery was prompt. I opened the containers, and there was my Rueben. On a bed of fries.

It turns out that the most popular take-out food in the US is French fries. I looked down at those soggy, greasy finger chips and found it hard to believe. I hate fries. But people in 10 states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Washington) seem to love them.

 

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Does Anyone Else Think Like Me?

 

A thought occurred to me. If people in 10 states love fries, that means people in 40 states don’t.

What do they love, and what about the world?

 

I didn’t find any reason to disagree with the world. Who could? Everybody in the world loves it.

 

Pizza!

ooni pizza

People in 44 countries place it at the top of their list. But, guess what? It doesn’t top the list in the US. We already knew that, though. French fries came in at number one. Well, maybe not.

Could there be more ways to look at this subject than one?

Can There Be Another #1?

According to Google, the most popular take-out food in the US is Chinese food. (This is really Americanized Chinese food!) My thought was, “I never heard of Chinese fries!” I think Google got it wrong. Fries are American food. If we add cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and milkshakes, what happens? American food gets more popular. What happens if we split Chinese food up into General Tso’s Chicken, Beef and Broccoli Teriyaki, and Moo Goo Gai Pan? Chinese food gets less popular. I think this is a comparison of apples and vegetables.

In defense of Chinese food, fries in the US come in many flavors. There are curly fries, seasoned fries, cheese fries, buffalo fries, and more, just like different Chinese foods. However, Chinese is a cuisine in the final analysis, and fries are an item. As much as I hate them, I say fries are the number one #1.

Why All The Opposing Views?

I had the same question. In looking for the answer, I remembered something. 40 states didn’t list fries at the top of the take-out list. I looked into that. I discovered you get different answers for what is popular if you look at the US by region. You may not agree with some regional tastes, but the following list is food for thought.

Popular Take-out Foods By US Regions

The US Census Bureau divides the country into nine regions. Let’s take a culinary tour and see who likes what and where

Northeast (New England): Clam Chowder

The excellent seafood dishes that come from this area are blessings. This region knows the satisfying delight of sitting down with a hearty bowl of this favorite, and so do I.

Northeast (Mid-Atlantic): Soft Pretzel

This one got a “huh!” from me. However, soft pretzels came to the New World from Europe on the Mayflower, and modern Pennsylvania bakes 80% of the pretzels in the US. There is an Amish connection here.

Midwest (East North Central): Fried Cheese Curds

Think Wisconsin. Deep-fry some of these babies in vodka batter if you want a real treat.

Midwest (West North Central): Chislic

This one got a “huh?” from me. The word isn’t seen too much outside of South Dakota, but I knew what it was when the dish was described. Cubed red meat, deep-fried or grilled, and served on skewers. Shish kebabs! It turns out shashlik is Russian for shish kebab, and chislic is an Americanization of the Russian word.

South (South Atlantic): Shrimp and Grits

I’m a Midwesterner, and grits around here are somewhat less than desired. I was less than enthused to be presented with shrimp and grits when I visited Georgia. OH-EM-GEE! I’ll take them delivered, as take-out, or any other way I can get them.

South (East South Central): Southern-Fried Chicken

You might think I’m crazy, but I stopped at a little diner in Mississippi and ordered fried chicken. I’ve never had anything so good it made me cry like that chicken did. Take-out? I wanted to take the whole place with me.

South (West South Central): Chicken-fried Steak

This is a breaded, fried steak with absolutely no chicken in it at all. Why is it called “chicken-fried?” The truth is, nobody knows. However, the best answer I heard is that it’s steak fried like chicken. Huh. Whatever the case, serve it with some mashed potatoes and smother it with gravy. Oh yeah, that’s finger-lickin’ good.

West (Mountain): Rocky Mountain Oysters

I’m pretty sure God didn’t create any oysters up in the mountains. It may be that this name is a little misleading. If you know what they are, you also know they are worth trying. If you don’t, well, this is a family-oriented article, so…

West (Pacific): Poke

I’m not sure everyone in the Pacific West would agree with this selection. I know it is common in Hawaii. It is a simple salad of raw tuna, tomatoes, and onions. Sometimes called ahi tuna tartare, you see poke on menus of many California American restaurants.

And The Winner Is…

The winner is whatever you want it to be. I order nachos a lot. Chicken, steak, shrimp, fajita, lobster, ground beef, and even scorpion pepper nachos. They’re my winner. My wife loves a sandwich made of bologna, cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, ketchup, mayo, pickles, and peanut butter on white. I’ve never seen her find it for take-out, though.

Taste is nothing that can be pinned down or stuck in a box. Global, national, regional, cultural, local, or individual, I’m with Oscar Wilde. He said, “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”

Now, I have to lodge a protest with the court of public opinion. Nobody said a thing about chocolate or ice cream…

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