These days, food carryout and delivery provides perhaps the single greatest refuge to what can feel like an endless stream of bad news. (Netflix comes a close second.)
With restaurants closed to dine-in service, carryout can also be small way to support local businesses hurting from the statewide shutdown.
That said, I’ve heard from people who don’t want to order either carryout or delivery during the pandemic, despite health experts saying it’s safe to do so. (There have been no cases of foodborne transmission of the coronavirus, although if someone in your household is showing symptoms, take care when sharing a meal with them).
I encourage everyone to eat as they feel comfortable. Food should be restorative, not another source of stress.
Here are some meals we’re loving lately. Most places offer no-contact delivery and encourage customers to pay online. Call ahead, as hours and days of operation are subject to change.
When food is made with care, it shows — and a recent feast delivered by South Baltimore’s Himalayan House was a wondrous example of that. Among the highlights: A smoky and well-seasoned biagan bhartha ($11.99), or eggplant mash, that was the hit of the newsroom (back when we were still in the office). Steamed vegetable momo dumplings ($7.99) made me say “Oh, I’ll just have one more,” one too many times. Mulligatawny soup ($3.99) proved a filling and comforting starter, if just a touch too salty.
Carryout often translates into heavy and fried, but a recent meal from the Avenue Kitchen and bar tasted light and healthy enough for a somewhat guilt-free weeknight meal. To start, try the grilled octopus ($15) with red quinoa salad and grapefruit segments, a zesty and refreshing combination. Like a few other places such as Wicked Sisters on Falls Road and Noona’s in Bolton Hill, the Hampden restaurant is also offering family-sized meals. Offerings include steak, chicken or veggie fajitas (2 for $30 or 4 for $50).
The teensy cafe in Federal Hill is a regular haunt of mine during non-pandemic times, and a carryout order from here provided a taste of normalcy — if only for a moment. Dishes like fresh made tabbouleh, hummus and foul, a fava bean stew served cold, make great snacks to keep in your fridge during the week. Best of all is a cup of cardamom-infused Lebanese coffee, paired with a slice of nutty baklava for a sweet (but not too sweet) afternoon pick me up.
This Medfield eatery specializes in pizza — they even sell make-your-own kits, which at $19 for 2, sounds like a great way to stave off the stir crazy. During a recent visit I opted to try their locally sourced spud skillet ($8.50), which sees seasoned sweet potatoes topped with cheddar and chorizo. Guess what? Local, sort of healthy food can also be incredibly delicious. Tack on to your order a 6-pack of beer from Union Craft Brewing, a pint of ice cream from neighboring Charmery or even a dozen fresh eggs from Kitchen Girl Farm near Cockeysville.
Sichuan peppers can help you forget the problems of the world, and focus instead on the intense numbing and delicious sensation happening in your mouth. Few places in Baltimore make better use of the little flavor bombs than Towson’s Red Pepper Sichuan Bistro, where you can find them on spicy prawns, a house specialty, ($21.95) and dan dan noodles with minced pork ($8.95), which I like to think of as the ultimate in carbo-loading comfort food. Start off with garlicky eggplant ($13.95) or a side of sauteed green beans ($13.95) and revel in your leftovers.