Cravings Carryout Cafe

Soup & Sandwiches |There's some kind of magic involved in Matt and Lindsey Tewanger's brioche. You might say the same for anything with that much butter, but it's what really makes their sandwiches stand out. Soft and flaky, it's the perfect sandwich book-end, especially in the savory Breakfast Roll ($8) and the Cravings Club ($8). Sandwiches come tightly wrapped and are best accompanied by a milk-chocolate pretzel cookie. The Italian Village cafe doesn't offer much room for seating, but that's for the best: It gives you a better chance to chat with the Tewangers while they prep your lunch.

Firdous Express

Mediterranean/Middle Eastern | The "express" part of this North Market vendor's name is no joke-the time between ordering and walking away from the counter is rarely longer than two minutes. Admittedly, what you gain in time, you lose in interaction; don't expect much small talk from employees, who are typically busy satisfying a line of customers. Steam trays hold a dozen or so entrees inspired by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Moist, flavorful grilled chicken kebabs get raves, but pass on the sometimes-dry chicken shawarma. The Greek salad is crisp and dressed with tangy vinaigrette, and hummus is preternaturally smooth and creamy. The napkin dispenser near the cashier warns market wanderers that napkins are for Firdous customers only; this less-than-hospitable touch is the last impression you'll have of Firdous before rushing off to find a table upstairs.

El Arepazo

Latin | A tucked-away gem in Pearl Alley, this tiny Latin eatery is a popular lunchtime spot among many a Downtown worker-especially during warmer months when the patio is perpetually packed. It's fast-paced, crowded and can get loud, so review the menu before stepping up to order at the counter. Still can't decide? Try the Venezuelan Platter ($11) for a little bit of everything, including dense fried plantains and fluffy two-bite arepitas. Before you head out, order in hand, be sure to ask for extra cilantro sauce. You'll want plenty of the tangy, creamy condiment for dipping, smearing and slathering.

Brown Bag Deli

Soup & Sandwiches |This corner deli has been a German Village favorite since 1974 and indeed packs to-go orders in brown paper bags. Before you order at the counter, scan the chalkboard menu, which features 16 standards and one daily special. The aptly named Village Addiction ($7.50), grilled with smoked turkey, havarti and not-too-sweet cranberry mayonnaise, has become the deli's most popular sandwich, says manager Ali Thilavong. Don't miss the ever-changing deli salads, like the chunky, smoky potato ($3.50 for a half-pint), displayed in the glass case. At lunchtime, it's packed but still speedy. To get your food even faster, go for dinner and grab a bottle of wine or some craft beers, too.

While you're here: Stock up on mini cupcakes at Kittie's or a beer at Hausfrau Haven.

Nida's Thai on High

Thai | Though Nida's Short North dining room is plush and welcoming, it can be challenging to snag a table, especially on weekend nights. Some items from Nida's travel better than others. Go for curries loaded with coconut milk and broth, soups and stir-fried dishes, which are packaged expertly in leak-proof containers. Appetizers like chicken satay and the restaurant's excellent pork gyoza flop around a bit in boxes that sacrifice too much heat. Hiding deep on the menu is Nida's positively healing Thai Noodle Soup ($14), which is packaged in two parts for takeout: One container is filled with beef broth redolent of garlic and spices, complete with little meatballs and hunks of beef, and another is filled with noodles and mung bean sprouts. Combine them at home for a meal at the right temperature, flavor and texture.

Ted's Montana Grill

American | Our love for Ted's in the Arena District and Dublin is two-fold. Yes, it's a good spot for juicy bison burgers and steaks topped with lemon butter. But it's also one of the few chains that get it, adhering to a sustainable mission no matter how much the company grows. An example of the latter: Takeaway containers are made with recycled aluminum, and plastic-looking flatware is actually crafted from corn starch and tapioca (and is therefore biodegradable). That means you can get your Avalon bison burger ($16) with gruyere and bacon caramelized onions to go without a side of Styrofoam.