Fresh Kitchen's "Feast Meal"

Image: Tim Robison

“Feast Meal," Fresh Kitchen

8491 Cooper Creek Blvd., Sarasota | (941) 208-3900 | eatfreshkitchen.com

It’s not easy to feed large groups of people a healthy meal. Salads break down quickly and lean meats grow dry and chewy. But Fresh Kitchen’s “Feast Meal” feeds eight people deliciously. The combo includes one “base” (a grain, a green or a vegetable), two cooked vegetables, one protein (chicken, steak, tuna or tofu) and a variety of sauces (we’re addicted to the coconut Sriracha) and other upgrades. It’s a great way to satisfy everyone’s strange dietary quirks without fisticuffs. Not every meal must be entirely healthy, either, so consider an order of cookies or brownies on top of the feast. 

Pho, Pho Cali

1578 Main St., Sarasota | (941) 955-2683 | phocalisarasota.com

The geniuses at Pho Cali know that letting noodles, vegetables and meat sit in hot broth during your car ride home is a shortcut to disaster. Those perfect noodles turn gummy, the vegetables will wilt and the meat will toughen until inedible. That’s why the restaurant packages its pho to-go orders as a DIY kit: a bowl of broth and a separate container with raw ingredients. At home, you just reheat the broth and stir in the good stuff. Perfect for a cold night, a rainy night or, let’s be honest, any night. 

Greek salad from El Greco

Image: Tim Robison

Greek Salad, El Greco

1592 Main St., Sarasota | (941) 365-2234 | elgrecocafe.com

Takeout salads are risky. Will the dressing make the greens slimy? Will the lettuce fade while waiting to be picked up? No need to worry about the fate of El Greco’s Greek salad. The lettuce is formidable enough to stay crunchy, the array of toppings—tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, beets, peperoncini, onions and feta—stays fresh, and the dressing is smartly served on the side. To convert your salad into something heartier, add a heap of gyro beef.

“Big Bowl,” Poppo’s Taqueria

1544 Main St., Sarasota, (941) 706-2849 | 212C Pine Ave., Anna Maria, (941) 254-7941 | 6777 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, (941) 251-6982 | 4220 53rd Ave. E., #108, Bradenton, (941) 727-1078 | 8471 Cooper Creek Blvd., Bradenton, (941) 359-3720 | 5942 34th St. W., #114, Bradenton,
(941) 251-6355 | poppostaqueria.com

One of the ultimate workday lunch options, Poppo’s “Big Bowl” comes stuffed with rice and beans, plus your choice of chicken, pork, beef or tempeh. After that, customize to your heart’s delight at the restaurant’s enormous condiment bar. The selections include Tex-Mex standards such as pico de gallo and sour cream, plus earthy arugula, bright and acidic pickled onions, a honey-lime slaw and a variety of spicy sauces. It’s guaranteed to turn heads in the employee break room. 

Dim sum from Yummy House

Image: Tim Robison

Dim Sum, Yummy House

1737 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota | (941) 351-1688 | yummyhouseflorida.com

It’s difficult to pick one favorite dish at Yummy House, so don’t. Order up a mess of dim sum to please everybody. We love the steamed barbecue pork buns and the shu mai, and we’re nuts about the salt and pepper eggplant with peppers—the fried, spicy hunks of eggplant stay crisp even after the drive home. Another perk: Since the restaurant moved from the North Trail close to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, it’s much more central and convenient. 

The bowtie pasta from Michael's On East

Image: Tim Robison

Bowtie Pasta, Michael’s On East

1212 S. East Ave., Sarasota | (941) 366-0007 | bestfood.com

Takeout doesn’t need to be a budget affair. Plenty of high-end Sarasota restaurants do solid grab-and-go service, too, including Michael’s On East, one of Sarasota’s foodie institutions. A longtime fixture on the restaurant’s menu, the bowtie pasta with grilled chicken, pancetta, peas, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes is a takeout favorite. Our go-to there is the Midtown Club, constructed with grilled sourdough bread, turkey, ham, thick bacon, aged cheddar, tomato slices, mayo and lettuce. It might be the best club sandwich you’ve ever tasted. Lucky for us, it travels well.

Napulè's pizzas are some of the best in town.

Image: Tim Robison 

Pizza, Napulè

7129 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota | (941) 556-9639 | napulesarasota.com

It’s late in the day on a Friday. You’ve been working on a big project all week. And the prospect of fixing dinner is too exhausting to contemplate. Time to dial up Napulè, text a friend and fire up Netflix, slice in hand. The pizzas that emerge from the restaurant’s golden wood-fired oven are some of the best in town—whether you’re craving a classic Margherita or something more decadent, like the Valetellina, which comes topped with air-dried bresaola.

“Tractor Pull,” Nancy’s Bar-B-Q

301 S. Pineapple Ave., Sarasota, (941) 366-2271 | 8141 Lakewood Main St., #104, Lakewood Ranch, (941) 362-2833 | nancysbarbq.com

There’s a reason you see barbecue maestro Nancy Krohngold at dozens of bashes every year: Her food travels well for excellent catering and takeout fare. We love anything with Krohngold’s excellent pulled pork, and her ribs are tender, smoky wonders. If you’re planning a shindig, you can’t miss with the “Tractor Pull,” which feeds between four and six with a slab of ribs, half a chicken, pulled pork, brisket, sausages, sides and a pack of potato rolls. We’ve enjoyed Nancy’s takeout standing around in empty parking lots, at swanky fund raisers in high-rise condos and at the coolest weddings in town. It tastes great everywhere. 

Fried chicken from Made

Image: Tim Robison

Fried Chicken, Made

1990 Main St., #112, Sarasota | (941) 953-2900 | maderestaurant.com

Hot or cold, fried chicken is one of the rare fried dishes you can take on the road, whether you’re headed to a church picnic or a sunset gathering on the beach. Made’s fried bird is some of the area’s best. Chef Mark Woodruff brines his in buttermilk and hot sauce from the local Boyland Sauce Co. before double-dip frying it and tossing it with honey, more hot sauce and a shower of herbs. His chicken also holds up mighty fine in the restaurant’s Nashville hot chicken sandwich.

“Happy Crab,” Thai Bistro

537B E. Venice Ave., Venice | (941) 484-8458 | thaibistrovenice.com

Kwan Taylor brought the flavors of Southern Thailand to Venice in 2005, bending her recipes oh-so-slightly to accommodate American palates. Her pad Thai, for example, is saucier than you’ll find in her hometown. For a less adulterated exploration of her native cuisine, pick from among the menu’s chef’s specialties. Our favorite is the “Happy Crab,” made with hunks of tempura-fried softshell crab, a thick Massaman sauce and a heaping portion of green peppers, onions, broccoli and lemongrass.

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