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Takeout Dinners in Howard County

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Some nights you just need to just carry dinner home. Pull some plates. Spread out the food. Start eating right away.

Howard County is made for takeout. Every shopping center has a Chinese restaurant and a pizza joint. But bad food doesn't make for a great night of takeout, so there are the places where I'll drive a little extra to pick up.

This list is about pick-up, no-cook dinners. Tacos at Lily's are great to eat right away, and the crab cakes at Boarman's broil up to a dinner worth serving guests. However, this is a list about lunch in a bag (or a box) that you can take home, eat right away, and maybe have something left over for lunch the next day.

  • Chinese at Jesse Wong's Asean Bistro off Rte 108 in Ellicott City. This was my wife's staple when we lived up near there. Hot and sour soup with crunchy noodles. Chow fun. Black bean chicken. That's my wife's comfort menu, although you can't go wrong at Jesse Wong's -- and it tops the list because they'll deliver so you don't even have to go there.
  • Fried chicken at Chick N' Friends in Columbia. Chick N' Friends is takeout -- no seating at all. If you can, get chicken right out of the fryer. Pair it up with corn bread, maybe collard greens. This is home cooking in the best possible way.
  • Pizza from Pazani Trattoria in Elkridge or Coal Fire in Ellicott City. Pizza is personal. I go thin crust with premium toppings, so I go to Pazani off Rte 103 north of Rte 100 or Coal Fire on Rte 108 near Snowden River.
  • Korean soup and panchan at Lotte Supermarket in Ellicott City. It'll be a while before I forget the Channel 2 report about vermin. But I have to still say that Lotte serves up a unique takeout if you buy a quart of spicy beef soup near produce and your selection of pickled vegetables and other dishes at the panchan bar near dairy.
  • Peruvian grilled chicken at Mega Chicken in Laurel. This is all the way into Anne Arundel, but it's only 15-20 minutes from much of Howard County. The delicious chicken and the yucca fries are worth the drive, and the fries crisp right back to life in a 400-degree oven.
  • Any grilled meats and the pumpkin appetizer at Maiwand Kabob in Columbia (or in Burtonsville or near the Arundel's Mill Mall). This growing Afghan chain sells wonderful food and especially wonderful bread. That pumpkin is worth any drive.
  • Thai curries and mango sticky rice from Bangkok Delight off Rte 108 in Ellicott City. The curries all travel well. This is one of my favorite places. The sticky rice dessert is best right out of the kitchen, but it travels okay as long as you don't put it in your refrigerator.
  • Pho from An Loi in Columbia. This may be my favorite. You get the Vietnamese soup in pieces -- a quart of broth, a container of noodles and meat, a bag of sprouts, herbs and hot peppers. So it's as fresh in your kitchen as it is at An Loi. Warm comfort in winter. A light dinner in summer. We always have leftovers and have learned to refrigerate the noodles in with the broth so that they don't dry out.

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