As Bay Area restaurants navigate the new normal of shifting policies and dining protocols, takeout has become a source of consistent revenue as well as an unlikely platform for experimentation and creativity.
Once upon a time, takeout was the default when there was no food in the fridge or you were too tired to cook. Today, the spectrum of San Francisco’s dining rooms can be transported to your living room to celebrate, try something new, or simply fuel your next TV binge.
From extravagant steaks to everyday comfort food, here’s a roundup of notable Bay Area dishes available for takeout on OpenTable right now.
The eponymous Harris steak at Harris’ (Nob Hill)
The restaurant: A classic steakhouse by measures of both menu and history — it’s been around since 1984 — Harris’ success is built on the restaurant’s commitment to sourcing quality steaks and aging them in-house. This focus on quality is evident in the takeout menu, which gives diners the opportunity to bring quintessential dishes home to recreate the steakhouse experience.
The dish: When a restaurant lends their name to a dish, it’s a good rule of thumb to order it. In this case, that dish is a 16-ounce, thick-cut, bone-in New York steak. To up the ante, upgrade to “pepper style,” where the kitchen will coat the meat in freshly cracked pepper and add a side of brandy, cream, and peppercorn sauce.
Smoked salmon taramasalata at Barcha (Financial District)
The restaurant: Barcha draws inspiration from the South of France, Spain, Tunisia, and the Middle East, resulting in a diverse menu of mezze, spit-roasted meats, salads, and soups. While ideal for lunch, the restaurant also offers a few heartier dishes for dinner that are only available after 5 pm.
The dish: Taramasalata usually starts with fish roe whipped into a starchy base such as potatoes or bread; this unique take weaves in smoked salmon instead. Served with a shower of herbs, salmon roe, and Turkish flatbread for dipping, it’s an excellent way to start a meal.
Weekend prime rib feast for two at Presidio Social Club (Presidio)
The restaurant: In pre-COVID times, a meal at Presidio Social Club may have bookended an afternoon wandering the namesake park. In recent months, the restaurant has pivoted from a full-service dining room to the Presidio Exchange, a one-stop shop for comforting classics to create the ultimate picnic or enjoy at home.
The dish: Bring your own blanket and a bottle of something nice and order the weekend prime rib feast for an only-in-2020 al fresco dining experience. Complete with sides, challah rolls, and a half-dozen freshly baked cookies, it’s a $75 feast for two that’s equal parts comforting and indulgent.
Whole crab at Bobo’s (The Marina)
The restaurant: Bobo’s, or Boboquivari’s, is named after the Venetian court jester of comedy. And while the atmosphere at this classic steakhouse may follow its name, the food demands to be taken seriously. The famous steaks and crab are both available via the extensive takeout menu along with an array of sides and cocktails to round out an indulgent meal at home.
The dish: There are no bad dishes at Bobo’s, but you’ll want to bring home the so-San Francisco, show-stopping whole roasted Dungeness crab. The dinner-plate-sized crustaceans are doused in garlic butter, a simple but pleasurable combination that has kept the dish on the menu for years.
Duck leg confit Wellington from ChouChou Bistro (Forest Hill)
The restaurant: If you’re looking for classic French cooking in San Francisco, look no further than Chou Chou Bistro in Forest Hill. With a mix of standard offerings and daily specials that include fresh pastas, sandwiches and sizeable entrées, Chou Chou offers an indulgent deviation from normal takeout, bringing a bit of European flair to your home.
The dish: This undeniably lavish dish raises the bar for what takeout looks like. Roasted duck leg is wrapped in puff pastry filled with a fine paste of mushrooms, shallots, cherry tomatoes, and potatoes, then topped with a maple vinaigrette.
Turmeric roasted cauliflower at Albatross (Danville)
The restaurant: Describing itself as a “farm-to-table restaurant” with a “contemporary global-inspired menu,” the food at Albatross is ambitious but approachable. Shifting to takeout has focused the menu, paring it down to internationally inflected riffs on comforting dishes that feel right at home on your couch without sacrificing the restaurant’s high standards.
The dish: No matter your main, be sure to add on an order of the turmeric roasted cauliflower. Here, the nuttiness of the vegetable is complemented by pine nuts and balanced by sweet golden raisins and mint.
Soba noodles with mustard greens at Abstract Table (Berkeley)
The restaurant: At Abstract Table, chefs Andrew Greene and Duncan Kwitkor have always sought to showcase fine dining techniques in an approachable neighborhood restaurant that draws on flavors from a host of Asian cuisines. Though the takeout menu is small, it’s big on flavor and features creative combinations that nod to the owners’ artistic backgrounds.
The dish: This umami-packed dish is a high-wire exercise in balance, with spicy mustard greens underpinned by sweet and salty miso and complemented by toasted almonds. Topped with a tangle of scallions, it’s great on its own or as a shared side.
Kathi rolls at Desi (Campbell)
The restaurant: A modern take on Indian food, Desi prides itself on embracing both traditional and global flavors, creating mash-ups like Indian tacos, chicken nuggets, and empanadas. With a takeout menu that ranges from quick bites to large-format family meals, you can feed a family or yourself with ease.
The dish: The kathi rolls at Desi are one of the most classic preparations, offering the choice of chicken, paneer, or minced lamb rolled up in flakey, buttery paratha bread. Served with fries or salad, it can be a starter for a group or a meal unto itself.
Cochinita pibil at Reposado Restaurant (Palo Alto)
The restaurant: This high-end Mexican restaurant’s menu goes beyond standard offerings, delving into regional favorites with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Takeout options range from appetizers to tequila flights, making it easy to bring home a taste of Reposado’s technique-driven cuisine.
The dish: In this dish, pork is marinated in citrus with achiote, a seed that gives the dish its signature burnt orange coloring. Wrapped in banana leaves and slowly braised for hours, the result is extremely tender meat that’s citrusy, spicy, earthy, and perfectly paired with creamy rice. Bonus: this dish can be ordered family-style to feed a crowd.
“You Be the Chef!” kits at Donato Enoteca (Redwood City)
The restaurant: Drawing inspiration from almost every region of Italy while taking full advantage of California’s abundance of year-round produce, Donato Enoteca prides itself on variety and freshness. In fact, many aspects of the menu are made in-house, such as the charcuterie and pastas.
The dish: To experience the restaurant’s focus on freshness, bring home one of its many pasta kits. Each serves four and includes the restaurant’s handmade pasta, sauce, cheese, and cooking instructions for $48. Current offerings include classics like spaghetti pomodoro and the indulgent agnolotti “del plin,” a pasta stuffed with three meats (sausage, veal, rabbit) and paired with a tomato and onion sauce.