Value: Kategna Ethiopian Cuisine — From colorful dals to doro wat, the budget-friendly, filling fare from this new addition to Buford Highway explodes with flavor.
Food: Persian Basket & Bar — Easily the most stunning presentation of my restaurant takeout. Color and fragrance are hallmarks of Persian cuisine, but to-go food (morasa rice!) from this Johns Creek eatery engages the senses as if presented in an upscale dining setting.
Overall experience: Porch Light Latin Kitchen — 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. Following closely behind: Staplehouse and the Deer and the Dove.
The Alden’s sea scallops a la plancha come with sweet corn, sunchokes and preserved Buddha’s hand. CONTRIBUTED BY BOB TOWNSEND
Ordering/pickup process: The Alden — After a lot of online ordering, it was a pleasure to call on the phone and go over the menu with a human, then arrive for fast curbside pickup.
Packaging: Gunshow — 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.
Value: Aria — For around $50, you get a full prix fixe meal for two, cooked by one of Atlanta’s best chefs. There’s a daily choice of two entrees, and you can opt for one of each.
Food: Leon’s Full Service —The meal that surprised me the most included perfectly cooked steelhead trout with summer veggies, and a bountiful salad with local produce.
Overall experience: Gunshow — The Cornish game hen picnic was absolutely delicious, perfectly packaged to go, and plastic cutlery, napkins and Gunshow stickers sealed the deal.
Richly coated hand cut pastas from Bocca Lupo make it to your dining room with almost the same feeling as the Italian southern comfort the restaurant provides.
Angela Hansberger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Credit: Angela Hansberger
Credit: Angela Hansberger
Ordering/pickup process: The Iberian Pig — Ordering a five-course tasting, a medley of tapas, sommelier-selected wines, or a tray of charcuterie is seamless, with carefully packed meals placed inside your car trunk with a thank-you card.
Packaging: Mujo pop-up at Cooks & Soldiers — Takeout that looks like a work of art, with pretty bamboo vessels tied in string, and plating with attention to detail, like grilled shrimp atop banana leaves, and dessert dusted with matcha topped with edible gold.
Value: The Little Farmhouse Cafe — A transcendent, crispy, flaky, gut-bustingly big fried chicken biscuit that is both breakfast and lunch for $6. It comes with a side of local honey for dipping, or for your tea at home.
Food: Bocca Lupo — Steaming buns filled with lacquered pork belly, spicy tuna crudo over crispy rice, and sturdy, hand-cut pasta ladled with richly flavored, tender meat sauces. Southern comfort food, Italian-style.
Overall experience: the Deer and the Dove — Rustic, meaty dishes, local veggies prettily plated, value-priced family meals, pantry necessities, easy ordering, careful packaging and swift curbside pickup provided luxury and an essential service.
Takeout from Spring in Marietta: fried chicken dinner with honey drop biscuits; braised greens; mashed potatoes; gravy and house-made hot sauce; peach tart and polenta sourdough.
Courtesy of Wendell Brock
Credit: Wendell Brock
Credit: Wendell Brock
Ordering/pickup process: Spring — This Marietta gem does everything to maintain chef Brian So’s high standard of service. Once you park and call the restaurant, a server in a long apron rushes the food to your car.
Packaging: Lazy Betty — Each tasting-menu creation is explained carefully in writing; where necessary, assembly instructions are included. The clincher is the petit fours, in a little Japanese paper box meant for housing dainty treasures.
Value: Cafe Raik — For $8.95, you can get one of Atlanta’s best pita expressions, the shawafel (chicken or beef shawarma with smashed falafel and all the sauces and crunchy things). For $50, feed four and have leftovers.
Food: Talat Market — Chefs Parnass Savang and Rod Lassiter make the best Thai food in Georgia; after opening their restaurant with multi-course, prix fixe dinners, everything is now a la carte.
Overall experience: Spring — I’ve had exceptional meals from Southern Belle, Banshee, Tigi’s Ethiopian Cafe & Food Truck, Food Terminal, and so many others. In the end, Brian So’s fried chicken, with honey drop biscuits and house-fermented hot sauce, comforted me like nothing else.
Where to find the best of Atlanta takeout
The Alden. 5070 Peachtree Blvd., Chamblee; 678-395-6982, thealdenrestaurant.com.
Aria. 490 E. Paces Ferry Road NE, Atlanta; 404-233-7673, aria-atl.com.
Bacchanalia. 1460 Ellsworth Industrial Blvd., Atlanta; 404-365-0410, starprovisions.com/bacchanalia.
Bocca Lupo. 753 Edgewood Ave. NE, Atlanta; 404-577-2332, boccalupoatl.com.
Cafe Raik. 1160 Old Peachtree Road, Duluth; 770-476-7595, caferaik.com.
The Deer and the Dove. 155 Sycamore St., Decatur; 404-748-4617, deerdove.com.
Gunshow. 924 Garrett St., Atlanta; 404-380-1886, gunshowatl.com.
The Iberian Pig. 121 Sycamore St., Decatur; 404-371-8800, theiberianpigatl.com.
Kategna Ethiopian Cuisine. 2857 Buford Highway NE, Brookhaven; 470-355-9979, kategnaethiopiancuisine.com.
Lazy Betty. 1530 DeKalb Ave. NE, Atlanta; 404-975-3692, lazybettyatl.com.
Leon’s Full Service. 131 E. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur; 404-687-050, leonsfullservice.com.
The Little Farmhouse Cafe. 3781 Presidential Parkway, Atlanta; 678-687-5844, thelittlefarmhousecafe.com.
Local Three. 3290 Northside Parkway, Atlanta; 404-968-2700, localthree.com.
Mujo at Cooks & Soldiers. 691 14th St., Atlanta; 404-996-2623, mujoatl.com.
Persian Basket & Bar. 2100 Ray Moss Connector, Johns Creek; 770-674-2779, persianbasketatl.com.
Porch Light Latin Kitchen. 300 Village Green Circle, Smyrna; 678-309-9858, porchlightlatinkitchen.com.
Spring. 36 Mill St., Marietta; 678-540-2777, springmarietta.com.
Talat Market. 112 Ormond St. SE, Atlanta; 404-257-6255, talatmarketatl.com.
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