Hands up if the salads you are concocting at home are boring you. You may know to add greens, but are you also adding another ten ingredients? Who has the kind of time? Chopt has the mission to change fast food, one salad at a time. Salad masters chop through your chosen ingredients with wild abandon, perfectly blending the flavours and evenly distributing the dressing. Ingredients include gold and purple beets, local feta, hearts of palm and panko fried chicken. Chopt supports relationships with local farmers and food artisans. Farm to fast food might become the new norm. Owners Tony Shure and Colin McCabe sure hope so.
Recommended for Take Out because: Chopped salad in New York is hot and these giant salad bowls are local, creative and filling.
Courtney's expert tip: Order online to reduce your wait time. Heck, you can even get a salad delivered. There is no excuse not to eat well.
If you are looking for quick eats that are a little different and a lot healthy, Taim is the way to go. Falafel, sandwiches, salads and smoothies can be found at the two locations of Taim (as well as their roaming food truck). Fitting with the era of food restrictions, the food is naturally vegetarian and gluten-free. It is also fried to order, so it has enough naughtiness to make it interesting. Regulars say that these are the best falafels in town and New York is a pretty big town from our perspective. The price tag is also delightfully low for food that is a struggle to finish in its entirety.
Recommended for Take Out because: Taim means tasty in Hebrew and this isn't false advertising.
Maria's expert tip: Taim doesn't only have a brick-and-motor restaurant. They have also entered the era of food trucks. Check out www.taimmobile.com to track them down.
Whether you decide to go to the Upper or Lower East side, there is a slice of pizza that New Yorkers swear by (and urbanites are serious about their pizza). Rizzos specializes in thin crusted Sicilian style pizza that is cut into squares. If you are a purist and feel round is the only accessible shape, they will do that too. Any sort of topping that you may imagine is available, from grilled chicken and onions to ricotta and meatballs. For those who haven't met a carb they don't love, garlic knots are an opportunity to lose your kissing companions but gain substantial belly fullness. They will even spread a layer of Nutella on a thin crust pizza for $4. Why not?
Recommended for Take Out because: Since 1959, Rizzos has kept it in the family, specializing in thin crust pizzas with a mountain of toppings.
Courtney's expert tip: Free delivery or free pizza: you decide. The free pizza is a coupon on their website that will provide you with some bonus pizza if you eat in.
Served with onions, cilantro, radish and limes, the taco fillings at Los Portales range from the piquante el pastor to chicken, pork, veal flank, chorizo, and spicy pork on a corn tortilla. The more authentic offers include pork ear and beef tongue, but you can stick to the standards. Take a look around: Los Nuevos Portales caters to Mexicans new to NYC looking for a taste of home. Essentially a taqueria not a restaurant, which translates into much more casual, small, and you can improve your Spanish as the TV is tuned into an overly dramatic telenovela. Most of the business here is take-out, hence the rudimentary decor, but don't let that dissuade you from buying one of each of the tacos r full platters of fajita, chilaquiles, quesadillas and taking it home to your honey.
Recommended for Take Out because: Los Portales is a down-home taqueria, no frills, no cocktails, just honest food from the heart of Mexico.
Maria's expert tip: Order on site even for take-out because your mouth will water and you will likely try out more than tacos, burritos and sopes.
Kalustyan's has become a landmark for foods of the world. Step inside for a multi cultural experience all your senses will thank you for. Heady aromas captivate you upon entering the shop. Technically, a specialty store that sells shelves upon shelves of Indian, Turkish, Middle Eastern dried fruits, nuts, syrups, chutneys, seaweed, cookbooks and cookware, Kalustyan's also runs a small counter that sells hearty take out menu with nearly 20 fillings for pita sandwiches. It does not advertise its lunch menu where seats are limited to small bridge tables overlooking Lexington Ave. The counter staff offers samples of muhammara, kibbeh, fattoush, and mujaddara, try them all.
Recommended for Take Out because: Kalustyan's has been here since 1944 as has a ribbon of yellow cabs circling the place testifying to its authenticity.
Maria's expert tip: Consider sharing a vegetarian platter with a friend for $7-$9 for two. You can take their homemade tahini and hot sauce home too.
Mass produced burgers used to taste just fine. Then New York became even more epicurious and the burger world needed to follow suit and just do better. With two New York locations churning out delicious burger creations that are made "for you" not "BEfore you" there is a whole lot of choice on a bun. There are even five types of patties, from chicken to tofu to grass-fed beef (the purists collectively breathed a sigh of relief). You can trust their burger expertise or create your own masterpiece with everything from avocado to crispy onions to artichokes. With nine types of cheese and three types of fries, 67 Burger doesn't mess around.
Recommended for Take Out because: Whether you have a solid red meat craving or need a good salad in your life, 67 Burger consistently (and deliciously) delivers.
Maria's expert tip: You can also get 67 Burger delivered if you don't want the burger-seeking exercise.
Although Il Bambino is technically a sit down restaurant, we couldn't leave it out of our list for take out favorites. Panini are lusciously filling and with ingredients like goat cheese and mushrooms or gorgonzola and fig spread, this is luxurious sandwich eating. They also have cheese plates, crostini and litres of good wine to keep you as happy as a clam. That clam would have lived in parts of Spain and Italy since the concept behind Il Bambino is blending an Italian-style paninoteca with a Spanish-style tapas menu. Meats and cheeses and breads are hand-made to which we say: delicioso.
Recommended for Take Out because: These sandwiches will make you feel ashamed that you ever ate peanut butter and jelly.
Maria's expert tip: Even if you have put a panini in a "meh" category, Il Bambino will convert you.
Say the word "vegan" and you are hit with polarizing responses. Blossom Du Jour takes the people who generally make a face when presented with vegan options and seamlessly converts the yucky faces into smiles. Even if your diet generally consists of meat and potatoes, Blossom Du Jour presents alternative fast food that tastes as addictive as fast food. Everything on the menu at the four New York locations is healthy, environmentally conscious and quick. There is unchicken and vegan bacon that have the same luscious naughtiness as their meaty counterparts. From bowls to wraps, smoothies to cupcakes, restaurateur Pamela Elizabeth has your health and your hunger covered.
Recommended for Take Out because: This "shrewd fast food" is 100% vegan, with a positive impact on the environment and your health.
Maria's expert tip: Order online for super-fast pickup and delivery.
If there is one thing that you don't want your birds to be, it's dirty. Or so you thought. Dirty Bird To Go has the philosophy of fast food done slow. Indulge in a kale salad with lemon pecorino dressing or a chopped salad with cornbread croutons. Of course, you should probably add one of those birds, which happens to be grilled or fried chicken that was humanly raised. Vegan options are clearly marked and chicken is expertly cooked to perfection. Buttermilk dipped fried chicken is probably not a treat that you have everyday, but the days that you do indulge will be very happy indeed. Delivery is also available through the Dirty Bird To Go website.
Recommended for Take Out because: Organic, local and sustainable chicken that is anything but dirty.
Maria's expert tip: People in New York are not always used to friendly service, but Dirty Bird To Go consistently changes that. They honestly seem happy to serve you. Go figure.
When Momofuku Noodle Bar opened in 2004, chef David Chang managed to convert a sea of hipsters and the people who love them over to the dark side (read: really, really good side). His weapon of choice? Pork buns. Today, Chang has secured his spot in the foodie hall of fame, while continuing to churn out his Asian-inspired fare in the East Village. Though Momofuku is now a global empire, Noodle Bar still holds a special place in the hearts of countless New Yorkers. One reason may be the fried chicken - feeding 4-8 people, the chicken must be ordered in advance, and is served Southern style (buttermilk and Old Bay), as well as Korean style (triple-fried and lightly glazed). Getting Momofuku as takeout is the easiest way to inspire jealousy in your friends.
Recommended for Take Out because: You lucky peach, you. Take out doesn't get much better than David Chang's steamed pork buns.
Maria's expert tip: You have to wait in line for a long time due to the hype, so call in your take out order in advance.