Takeout was once the sign of a lazy night or a family too busy to make dinner. With indoor dining banned throughout California due to the coronavirus pandemic and many people still uncomfortable eating on restaurants’ outdoor patios, it’s become the de facto way of dining “out.”
Certain cuisines naturally lend themselves to to-go service, while some restaurants that thrived on sit-down dining have been forced to adapt. Four months after the shelter-in-place order was issued, Sacramento-area restaurant operators have figured out how to package everything from barbecue to sushi to shawarma for great at-home meals.
These 10 restaurants are some of Bee dining critic Kate Washington and Bee food and beverage reporter Benjy Egel’s top choices for takeout. Though some may also offer outdoor dining, this list focuses on meals to-go.
Kru Contemporary Japanese Cuisine
Sushi ages notoriously poorly away from the counter, but Kru’s cuts and supply are quality enough for a high-end home date night (or, say, a self-date night). Less is more with Kru’s seafood, and that’s clearest with the clean-tasting, oily fish in the chef’s choice nigiri platter that pop with nothing more than rice and a hearty streak of wasabi. Those turned off by raw fish may prefer the scallion/peas/potato croquette topped with tonkatsu sauce, spicy aioli and bonito flakes, kept warm with a layer of aluminum foil inside the biodegradable box.
Address: 3135 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento
Hours: 4-9 p.m., seven days a week
Roxie Deli & Barbeque
A barbecue shack and market that specializes in sandwiches is well-built for on-the-go dining. Roxie’s smoker rotates through daily specials such as ribs, brisket and pulled pork in addition to the omnipresent meatloaf and chicken, and breakfast sandwiches are served all day. Don’t sleep on the piroshki with the works, either. A compact gut-buster loaded with pastrami, ground beef, tomatoes, onions, pickled jalapenos,mayonnaise and cheese, it’s a steal at $6.25.
Address: 3340 C St., Sacramento
Hours: 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Abyssinia Ethiopian Restaurant
Look no further for delicious, hard-to-find food made by people taking the pandemic seriously. Owner Elfinesh Beri shut Abyssinia down from the start of the shelter-in-place order until early June, has kept it takeout-only and required customers to wear masks before doing so was mandated by the state. Housemade injera, the tangy, spongelike flatbread Ethiopians, is used as an edible utensil. Generous portions make leftovers inevitable, and the base layer of injera will soak through if not placed in a separate container, creating a messy next meal. But hey, who’s there to impress now anyway?
Address: 1346 Fulton Ave., Sacramento
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 12-9 p.m. Saturday, 2-9 p.m. Sunday, closed Monday
In normal times, Wally Matar’s namesake restaurant had a warm, generous feeling manifested in frequent off-menu add-ons. Wally’s Cafe does its best to bring that experience home with small plastic containers of complimentary lentil soup and baklava. The Lebanese restaurant stacks to-go boxes with rice pilaf, salad, tzatziki and a vibrant garlicky sauce called toum, providing a range of flavors well beyond the chicken liver or kebabs listed as entrees. Groups of Lebanese food neophytes should opt for the 4-5 person family meal for $59.99, which comes with two mains — including the mouthwatering chicken shawarma with pomegranate molasses — and six sides.
Address: 2110 Sunset Blvd., Suite 600, Rocklin
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday
This is quintessential summer picnic food. A bucket of expertly fried chicken (or barbecue, or one of the best burgers in town) won’t be quite as good after a half-hour drive out to a suburb, but few foods taste better on a blanket under a tree in a city park. Boozy riffs on Capri Sun and Otter Pops introduced in the last couple of months make for fun, fruity cocktails that pair wonderfully with the heavy soul food for which South is known, and new specials like the peach caprese (peaches, green tomatoes, burrata, mustard vinaigrette, basil and spiced pecans) feature ingredients from owner N’Gina Guyton’s north Sacramento farm.
Address: 2005 11th St., Sacramento
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday
Magpie proprietors Ed Roehr and Janel Inouye are offering limited hours and takeout only, though they’re adding some limited in-house delivery, as well as online ordering at their Midtown spot. But you can snag many of their beloved signature dishes — the lemon chicken, the hummus bowl with roasted vegetables and grains, and the killer B.L.T. loaded with a rainbow of juicy heirloom tomatoes are on the menu, as are cocktails. The patio is set up with limited seating for carryout diners, as well. Or head across the street to spacious Fremont Park for a picnic. Plan ahead for a weekend splurge and take the good advice on the online menu next to the listing for local quail on a bed of frisée: it simply says “order this!!”
Address: 1601 16th St., Sacramento
Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.
Highly portable, pizza is a takeout classic for a reason, and for our money Masullo’s is in the top tier in Sacramento. It’s casual enough for a random weeknight but excellent enough to make for a special occasion. Thanks to perfect wood-fired oven baking and a sparing hand with toppings, the thin, naturally leavened crust holds up through the trip home, the salads alongside shine, and now’s the season for the special Paula: just Singing Frog farm tomatoes, pesto and mozzarella. Those same tomatoes show up in the special Humboldt salad, paired with Humboldt Fog goat cheese and aromatic thyme.
Address: 2711 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sunday 3 p.m.-8 p.m.
Many places doing takeout are offering limited menus, but chef Patricio Wise’s upscale, always-inventive Roseville taqueria has expanded its offerings, including fried chicken and brisket plates (both of which are also available in taco format), plus kits, party packs and boxes for family-size meals. Takeout tacos have been known wilt a little bit with long drives, but customizable burritos, loaded quesadillas, the burger and more all travel well, as do the meats packed by the pound for home assembly. Bonuses: There’s an unusually good selection of vegan options for a taqueria (especially the meaty, smoky mushroom tacos) and there’s easy curbside pickup. Hot tip: don’t overlook the “groceries” tab on the handy online ordering system, and always tack on a pint or two of the fantastic salsas to your order; you can thank us later, when you’re livening up breakfast eggs or afternoon snacking.
Address: 1805 Cirby Way, Roseville
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sushi delivery by chef Taka Watanabe
This one is a little different, and it takes some planning ahead, but trust us, it’s worth it for sparkling-fresh sushi brought straight to your door, with no-contact deliveries on a rotating schedule to different Sacramento-area neighborhoods. Longtime local sushi chef Taka Watanabe sold his interest in Ju Hachi Sushi in 2019 and was working as a personal chef for the greater freedom and flexibility when the pandemic hit and gigs dried up. He and wife Susan Watanabe pivoted to local delivery, also working with their grown sons. Order in advance by sending an email to snag sashimi and nigiri (including weekly specials), appetizers such as gyoza and poke, and rolls basic and inventive, such as the Christianna, with crab mix, apple and salmon, or the more conventional Rainbow, draped with assorted fish.
Delivery-only via https://cheftakawatanabe.com/
Hours: Open Wednesday-Saturday for delivery of preorders (check website for delivery days by neighborhood).
Thai Farm House
Fresh, family-run, reliably delicious and efficient with takeout. Thai Farm House is a tiny gem that has pivoted easily to our new takeout-oriented world. Cool fresh rolls with tofu or shrimp, greens and cucumber are naturals for summer, as is green papaya salad, the spicy lahb redolent of toasty rice powder and the spicy beef salad. Looking to lean a little richer? Go for avocado curry, one of many noodle dishes, kanha moogrob (crispy pork belly with roasted chile) or silky, comforting kao soi. And don’t stint on the flaky roti, either.
Address: 1049 Broadway, Sacramento
Hours: 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. daily
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