Bay Area counties have reopened and closed and reopened again over the last few months. It can be a lot to keep up with. But if you’re sticking with takeout for now, we totally understand. With that in mind, we’re going to keep highlighting the best dishes you can get for takeout or delivery.
The garlic noodles and five-spice chicken from this Vietnamese restaurant in the Inner Sunset are the edible equivalents of hugs from friends we haven’t seen in months. And since we’re not hugging it out right now (wait, is that a tear? Somebody must be cutting onions), we’ll take all the noodles and chicken we can get. Order them with a side of deep-fried imperial rolls, which are perfection.
The Mill makes some of the best bread we’ve ever had, which is why we have no problem throwing down $4-$8 for a slice of it. The bakery has a rotating menu of toast topped with things like seasonal jam, cinnamon and sugar, and Nutella. But we like the avocado toast, which has the perfect (and most scientifically precise) avocado-to-bread ratio. Head there for breakfast or lunch, and grab a Four Barrel Coffee drink to-go.
If there was an award for Tacos That Changed Our Lives, the ones from Tacos Oscar in Oakland would win. They’re made with incredible hand-pressed corn tortillas we’d eat by the pound, and then topped with things like charred romano beans, pickled onions, and peanut-arbol salsa, or pork chile verde with tomatillo salsa, onions, cilantro, and chicharron dust. Get their house-made Fresno chile hot sauce on the side.
After a fire burned down Eko Kitchen’s commercial kitchen space in July, they started serving their Nigerian Sunday suppers out of Merkado in SoMa. The specials change occasionally, but you should get the dinner combo, which comes with things like smoky jollof rice, chicken with roasted red pepper sauce, plantains, sweet potato and plantain chips, and puff puffs - all of which are excellent. But you’ll be missing out if you don’t order their spicy, honey glazed suya wings on the side, too. Order for pick-up here.
We love Mister Jiu’s for many reasons - but we’re here to tell you about their country ham and scallion milk bread. It’s an appetizer on their takeout menu, and was one of the highlights in a recent order. The bread’s a touch sweet, and unbelievably soft, fluffy, and flavorful. It’s also topped with a generous dusting of salty pork floss. If you’re ordering from Mister Jiu’s, or just need a satisfying, carby snack, get this.
If there’s one thing we need now, it’s comfort. And for that we head to Tacos El Patrón, the Mission taqueria with excellent birria tacos. They’re cheesy, extra meaty, and taste even better after being dipped in their rich consomé broth. Tacos El Patrón recently opened a new taco spot called Guisados del Patrón, which we’re excited to check out.
The number of times we’re at Curbside Creamery on any given week could either be considered embarrassing or impressive, depending on how strongly you believe that ice cream is an essential food group. But this isn’t about us. It’s about Curbside’s perfectly creamy, smooth soft serve. And if you’re vegan or so lactose-averse that you carry Lactaid in your wallet, you’ve still got lots of options - from dairy-free scoops of Thai tea or earl grey on their excellent waffle cones to ice cream cookie sandwiches to their cashew-based soft serve. But whatever you order won’t disappoint.
In our lifelong pursuit of the best poke, Hashtag Poki in Berkeley is a top contender. It’s a build-your-own bowl situation, so you can load up your choice of protein (salmon, ahi tuna, hamachi, tako, and more) with whatever toppings, sauces, and sides your fresh-fish-craving heart desires. A mini bowl is $11.50 (comes with two scoops of protein), and it’ll fill you up. They also have great miso soup.
The katsu sandwich from Stonemill Matcha gets a lot of love, but their chicken katsu curry plate deserves even more. For starters, the katsu is perfect: crispy on the outside, and juicy and tender on the inside. It also comes with pickles, rice, and a side of rich, fragrant curry that you can pour over the katsu or use for dipping. Get this if you want a simple, delicious lunch.
Addis Ethiopian Restaurant
Sometimes, in the pursuit of “balanced eating habits,” we like to order a plate of vegetables for dinner. The vegetarian combo from Addis in Oakland is that plate. It serves two, and comes with generous servings of spicy lentils, slow-cooked split peas, collard greens, cabbage and carrots, and tangy injera. Everything is rich, flavorful, and extremely filling - and at $16, it’s also a great deal.
Arizmendi Bakery And Pizza Emeryville
Arizmendi, the early pioneers of the “San Francisco pizza”, has been topping their entirely vegetarian pies with things like potatoes, squash, and broccoli since 1997. The pizzas change daily and can be hit or miss, depending. We recently ordered an excellent one from their Emeryville location with roasted potatoes, red onions, feta, cilantro, and garlic oil. The sourdough crust was springy and chewy, and tasted even better when dipped in some extra garlic oil. We got a whole pizza to-go, but you can also get them half-baked. Check the online pizza calendar of your nearby Arizmendi to see what’s on the menu for the day. They’re doing takeout in the Mission, Inner Sunset, Emeryville, and Lakeshore.
You have a ton of options for Korean food on Telegraph Avenue in North Oakland - Dan Sung Sa, Tin and Pig, Pyeong Chang Tofu House. Another great option is Bowl’d, and we especially like going there for the bibimbap. The bowls come with a ton of fresh vegetables, quinoa, spinach, and all the classic toppings. We get theirs with the juicy beef short ribs, but they have bulgogi, chicken, pork, tofu, and salmon, too. The Alameda and Albany locations are also open for takeout and delivery.
Our ideal afternoon these days involves a couch, a good book, and food that makes us feel like the equivalent of a warm down blanket, like the super tacos from El Gran Taco Loco in Excelsior. They’re essentially regular-sized tacos topped with large dollops of guacamole and sour cream. Get them with the tender and lightly crispy carnitas, or carne asada. They’re creamy, messy, and delicious. In other words, perfect.
We’d preserve the massive za’atar-dusted, hand-kneaded bread from Beit Rima in a glass frame and hang it on our living room wall if we could. But since mold exists, we’ll stick with ordering it to-go. The bread is the perfect dipping mechanism for Beit Rima’s fantastic mezze sampler. It comes with hummus, muhammara (which we’ve been known to eat with a spoon), labneh, baba ganoush, and falafel. And another thing to get - the garlicky chicken shish tawook, which comes with rice and a side of hummus.
Flour + Water Pasta Shop
Flour + Water’s new to-go shop in the Mission offers sandwiches, snacks, and pantry items - but we love the DIY pasta kits, especially the corn cappelletti. The pasta is hand-folded with a sweet, lemony ricotta filling, and you’re given everything you need to cook the fragrant, buttery sauce on your own. The kit also comes with freshly baked focaccia, which is some of the best we’ve had in months. You can place an order for pick-up here.
This Laotian, Thai, and Vietnamese spot in Ivy Hill is an Oakland institution - and the Champa Sampler (a name our SF Editor may or may not have tattooed on her left rib) is last-meal worthy. For $15, you get fried rice ball salad, crispy spring rolls, Lao sausages, noodles, and lettuce to make your own wraps. The sampler is best shared, but you’ll probably end up fighting over the last bites of crunchy, flavor-packed rice ball salad that’s doused in fish sauce.
Comal Next Door
Comal recently opened a second location of Comal Next Door - their more casual, takeout-focused taqueria. The new Oakland spot on Grand Ave. has great frozen enchiladas and mole tamales you should definitely get, but the al pastor bowl is the real standout. The meat is tender and flavorful, and it’s topped with pineapple, lettuce, cheese, beans, crema, salsa, and rice. Add this bowl to your lunch rotation immediately.
There are many reasons to drop by La Espiga De Oro, a restaurant and mini-market in the Mission. Burritos, fresh chicharrones, coffee, dried chilies, etc. In this new era, we like coming here for a big assortment of Mexican, Honduran, or Guatemalan-style tamales. The masa is fluffy and light, and the bones are left on the meat to give the tamales a richer, fuller flavor.
The neighborhood coffee shop is our favorite spot to get lattes and iced coffee whenever we’re in the area. They also feature ube desserts from the Bay Area-based small-batch bakery Ube Area. They have everything from ube mochi donuts, flan, and cheesecake. But the ube brownie bar, which is made with white chocolate, is chewy, soft, and not too sweet - just the way we like it.
The Israeli restaurant in Oakland opened back in March in the midst of shelter-in-place (it’s located next to Doña in the former Chow spot). And since then, they’ve been offering hummus, housemade pitas, zingy beet salads, and rugelach for takeout and delivery. One of the standout mains is the majadra plate with pomegranate eggplant (you can also order it with chicken, lamb, or salmon), and comes with a sauce of your choosing ($1 extra). They’re open daily from 11am-8pm, and also have outdoor seating.
The small, counter-serve Argentine empanada spot in West Oakland is perfect if you’re in need of a quick lunch. Their savory, handheld pies are made with a light, buttery dough and stuffed with delicious meat or vegetarian fillings. Try the carne or champiñones mushrooms. They have a vegan option, too. And make sure to ask for a side of the zesty chimichurri sauce (it’s 65 cents extra for a 1-ounce container). Actually, it’s so good you’ll want to slather it on everything, so do yourself a favor and get two - or ten.
Minnie Bell's Soul Movement
The former soul food pop-up is a staple in the Emeryville Public Market, and for good reason. They make an excellent rosemary fried chicken that’s lightly crispy on the outside, and moist on the inside. Get the 4-piece combo (they also have 2- and 8-piece), which comes with a deliciously dense cornbread and two sides - make sure the extra cheesy mac and cheese is one of them.
Thanks to, well, the world, we need pick-me-ups, a lot of them. And these days, this comfort comes in the form of excellent cookies from Anthony’s. We’ll just say it - they’re the best cookies we’ve ever had. Chewy in the middle, and lightly crispy on the outside. They’ll make you rethink all those Nestlé Toll House cookie dough tubes you bought in quarantine. If they have Dark Chocolate Chip or Walnut Chip on the menu, order it. Actually, get one of everything from the cookie menu and call it a day. Both their SF and Berkeley locations are open for takeout.
The cash-only dim sum spot in Chinatown is one of the best in Oakland. You can get everything from chow fun, har gow, lo mai gai, and potstickers (trust us, you’ll look at the full spread from behind the counter and want it all), but you’re here for the steamed pork buns - they’re big and fluffy.
There’s really no better way to say this - El Metate makes our favorite burrito in the city. They’re longer and thinner than most, but we’re not complaining. They’re exceptional. Order a carnitas super burrito to-go. The meat is perfectly cooked every time, and they come with a generous heap of guacamole and sour cream.
If you’re a quick lunch type of person, you need something that stands out. Like, really stands out. Order four carne asada tacos from El Paisa, the East Oakland taqueria off of High St. The asada is well-seasoned and comes on two corn tortillas. You’ll also get a side of pearl onions and nopales, plus a ton of cucumber, radishes, and your choice of salsa.
If there’s one thing we miss about eating at restaurants, it’s kicking back with a bottle of wine and some of the best Sardinian pastas at La Ciccia. This Noe Valley neighborhood spot is offering many of their great pastas to go (they also recently started outdoor sidewalk seating). We’re partial to the spaghittusu cun allu ollu e bottargia, which is the perfect example of three simple things coming together to make something great.