WINNER: This is the best restaurant for takeout during the pandemic

WINNER: Best restaurant for takeout during pandemic

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is committed to continuing our normal features, where appropriate, during the coronavirus outbreak. For full coverage of the outbreak in Atlanta, please check our Coronavirus News Section. We have decided to continue Best of Atlanta voting for the time being, despite social distancing. We encourage our readers to support local businesses after the authorities loosen the social distancing rules — along with supporting those businesses that offer delivery or pickup during the outbreak.

Although more than a few restaurants have opened their dining rooms — with limited seating and coronavirus safety protocols in place — most people are still observing safe distance guidelines and getting their food to-go.

The AJC’s dining team switched gears at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to continue to provide you with the latest information.

On March 24 they began their Atlanta Orders In restaurant takeout series. Six months and nearly 150 takeouts later, the dining team published their favorite spots from which to order. We pulled from that list and asked you which was your favorite.

Here are the top five:

In fifth place was Lazy Betty in DeKalb County. Although Lazy Betty’s dining room is open, the restaurant has a special takeout menu that includes everything from Lazy Betty Biscuits to Dry Aged Duck. Earlier this year, Lazy Betty was a semifinalist for a James Beard Award in the national category of best new restaurant.

ExploreAtlanta Orders In: Lazy Betty offers its luxurious tasting menus to go

In fourth place was Kategna Ethiopian Cuisine in Brookhaven.

“First-time restaurant owner Nani Desta (no relationship with Desta Ethiopian Kitchen) recently made the gutsy move to debut Kategna in the middle of a pandemic. The food she is preparing is crazy good,” dining editor Ligaya Figueras wrote in July.

ExploreAtlanta Orders In: Kategna Ethiopian debuts on Buford Highway

In third place was Gunshow in Atlanta.

“Kevin Gillespie is a perfectionist, and it shows in the ways he thoughtfully packages and labels each of the dishes (plus warm cookies) in his Picnic for 2,” Bob Townsend wrote for the AJC. “The Cornish game hen picnic was absolutely delicious, perfectly packaged to go, and plastic cutlery, napkins and Gunshow stickers sealed the deal.”

ExploreAtlanta Orders In: Kevin Gillespie returns to the drawing board for Gunshow

Our second place finisher was Porch Light Latin Kitchen in Smyrna.

“Chef-owner Andre Gomez offers reasonably priced, delicious Puerto Rican food that speaks to the heart as much as the tummy. There is care in every facet of this safety-minded, true-to-concept takeout operation,” Figueras wrote.

“Considering the size of his pared-down team and the limited availability of certain food items, Gomez has scaled down his dinner-only takeout menu to just five or six main dishes and three or four sides,” Figueras wrote. “Some menu items, like Gomez’s popular crispy pork plantain empanadas, beer can chicken, beans and rice, and sofrito mac and cheese, are staples.

ExploreOwner of Porch Light Latin Kitchen dishes up Caribbean specialties in Smyrna

This year’s winner, with nearly a third of the votes, was Cafe Raik in Duluth.

“When I chomp into (Palestinian chef Faik Usman’s) so-called “shawafel” pita sandwich — a chicken shawarma and falafel hybrid, slathered with hummus, tahini and the chef’s own dill sauce, and studded with pickle, onion, tomato, lettuce, cucumber and red cabbage — I taste Israel,” Wendall Brock wrote for the AJC.

“Same thing happens when I spoon into his mejadara, lentils and cracked wheat, cooked with house-made yogurt and topped with fried onions and red cabbage: My brain registers Jerusalem, where last year I enjoyed an exemplary version of this homespun, Arabic comfort food,” Brock continued.

ExploreCafe Raik’s fresh Middle Eastern classics are so easy to love