Off the Grid trucks in Menlo Park, CA (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)
Before there were food trucks and home delivery from restaurants of every kind, there was the question,”For here or to go?” Takeaway has long reigned supreme in the realm of lunch sandwiches, Chinese food, pizza and ice cream…and these days, there’s a brisk to-go business at the airport, too. So whether you’re heading back to the office, home for a quick and easy dinner, out to the park or off on a plane, the convenience of carry out food will forever carry on.
Off the Grid
Various locations throughout the Bay Area
The only thing better than coming across your favorite food truck is finding it has no line. Know where to go for Off the Grid Weekly Markets that bring lots of food trucks together, as well as live music and a party atmosphere. From Novato to Pleasanton to San Jose, the network has grown to 40-plus food markets every week throughout the Bay Area, and it’s still going. Choose from dozens of international and ethnic cuisines or all-American favorites like clam chowder and garlic fries. Download the Off the Grid app to follow your favorite roaming trucks and to stay on top of pop-up events, updates and announcements.
314 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
You can upgrade your brown bag lunch with Asian flair. One of the best is E&O near Union Square, where E&Go is a ready-in-five takeaway option. The Asian-inspired takeaway menu from Executive Chef Sharon Nahm features Chinese chicken salad, green papaya cucumber salad, chicken Banh Mi, minced chicken with green bean stir fry and yam noodles with grilled market veggies. Side dishes are steamed prawns, ahi poke, deviled eggs, three kinds of sweet potato chips…and cookies! The takeaway menu is available Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. E&O is an active supporter of CHEFS, Conquering Homelessness through Employment in Food Services, Dress for Success, GLIDE Foundation, Edible Schoolyard and more local charities.
Mitchell’s Ice Cream
688 San Jose Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94110
No grab-and-go discussion would be complete without ice cream, the granddaddy of all takeaways. Homemade, creamy, small batch ice cream from Mitchell’s is: a) heavenly and b) an award-winning family operation since 1953. True, there’s always a line, and sometimes the wait is ridiculous, but that gives you more time to decide whether it’s a mango, buko or ube kind of day. Or all three. Choose a cup, cone or gluten free cone and you’re set to go. Did we mention the grasshopper pie flavor? It takes mint chocolate to a whole new level.
1512 Shattuck Ave.
A focus on takeaway needs to include pizza. This place is a worker-owned collective since 1971, which means that members work together in a close-knit environment and are involved in every aspect of operating the business. The formula is highly successful, judging from the line out the door. There’s live music at lunch and dinner time (not the 8 p.m. closing). Vegetarians love this place where one kind of fresh, vegetarian pizza is made daily (gluten free) available; they don’t deliver. Seating is tricky, so grab and go happens a lot. Closed Sunday and Monday.
7856 St. Helena Highway
Oakville, CA 94562
Wine tasting in Napa goes great with a picnic from this country store, the oldest continually operating grocery store in California, flaunting an 1881 pedigree. Pull in off Route 29 for prepared foods, made-to-order sandwiches, salads, breads, cheeses, charcuterie and bakery items that come from local farmers and producers. Everything you see can be neatly packed up for takeaway or consumed at the picnic area on the premises. While you’re waiting for your sandwich, have a look at the 19th-century well beneath the floor in this building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A second location is in Healdsburg.