Moy's Chinese Restaurant

Chinese | For 25 years, husband-and-wife team Pok and Berlina Moy have been dishing Chinese cuisine from their tiny Campus restaurant-a gem among the city's ethnic eateries to those in the know. Pok is a versatile chef, particularly skilled in Sichuan traditions (think spicy, garlicky food). His string bean dishes are excellent; the chicken is always tender, and the tofu-some of the best you'll find in Columbus-is always firm and crispy. Perhaps the most popular to-go order, Berlina says, is the B.B.Q. Roast Pork Fried Rice ($10.95). All entrees are generously portioned, and most can be made vegetarian. 1994 N. High St., Campus, 614-297-7722

While you're here: Use this time to grab dessert at neighboring Buckeye Donuts.

Yanni's Greek Grill & Take Out

Mediterranean/Greek | If you don't live near Yanni's, call in and place your order anyway. A trek from Grandview at first felt like too much for just a gyro platter and some chicken-lemon soup, but upon arriving at the restaurant and joining the long line of hungry-yet-patient customers-many of whom were raving Yanni's is the best Greek food in the city-the decision was justified. "If you're looking for traditional stuff, go with the combo," says Kosmas Minatsis, Yanni's son. "It's an all-day special that's only available for takeout." He suggests subs and sandwiches for quick walk-in orders and, for dinner, the large gyro combo ($6.95), Dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves, $7.95) and the soup ($3.25 for the shareable size). 6196 Cleveland Ave., Northeast Side, 614-890-4775

Casa Hacienda Grill

Mexican | Despite the size of the restaurant (quite big), it's not easy to get to Casa Hacienda Grill; doing so involves a U-turn and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it side street that runs parallel with Dublin-Granville Road just east of Interstate 71, more effort than some might take to grab Mexican takeout. But what the place lacks in convenience it makes up for in flavor, affordability and consistency. The restaurant boasts a menu of more dishes than you could try in a year, so stick with a hearty combination platter like the enchilada, taco and tostada ($11.95) or Tacos Mexicanos ($11.95), which travel well.

Fortune Chinese Restaurant

Chinese | At Fortune, the food is as thrilling as the surroundings are drab. Good thing its phenomenally bold fare travels well in sturdy plastic containers that also make great leftover containers. Genuine Sichuan cuisine is the specialty, so adventurous eaters should seek those items while navigating the large menu. Favorites under the "Authentic Szechuan Style" header are tender and fiery sliced Lamb with Chili Pepper and Cumin ($12); explosive Diced Chicken Stir-Fried with Pickled Turnip ($8); and garlicky but mild Vegetable Delight. Note: When ordering "Vegetable Delight," you must specify Pea Shoots (our preference, $11) or Water Spinach ($10, also a good choice). 2869 Olentangy River Road, Campus, 614-263-1991

O'Reilly's Pub

Pub Grub | This irreverent neighborhood fun-factory owned by Marty Calhoun for 31 years is more popular than ever. On weekends, it can get so slammed it's tough to find a table. So mosey up to the old wooden bar and order wonderful pig-out grub, like great fries ($2) and one of the best bacon-cheeseburgers in Columbus (Pepper Burger, $8.75); a killer grilled chicken sandwich with incendiary "Scott's style" wing sauce on the side ($7.25); or, if you enjoy a challenge, the insanely over-the-top Johnny's Sub ($10.75). Your styro-boxed food should be ready in about the time it takes to swallow a beer and a shot. 2822 N. High St., Old North, 614-262-6343

Helen's Asian Kitchen

Chinese | As an ex-strip club with mirrored walls and live opera solos, Helen's ambience is as odd as it gets. But its Chinese food is about as good as it gets, too. Helen's online menu is woefully uninformative, so peruse the photo-filled, big brown menu in person before ordering. It includes wildly delicious if tongue-numbing Sichuan wonders like Stir-Fried Cauliflower with Chili Oil ($11) and a dynamic pork belly preparation undersold as "Twice-Cooked Pork" ($11). If seeking something mild, Helen's dumplings ($8.50) shine. Try the lovely and supple steamed pork or, for something more rare, soup-and-meat-filled Xiao Long Bun.

Gabby's Place

Italian | Gabby's isn't the sort of place you stumble upon. It's not on a main road. It's within walking distance of only a few houses. But you should veer off Route 23 and stumble through the door of this mom-and-pop bar and pizza shop. You know they mean business when there's a separate entrance (around the front) for carryout orders. Gabby's slings bar-food classics like barbecue chicken pizza, toppings spread to the edge and hot and spicy wings. But stromboli is what you should order. Horseshoe shaped and stuffed with cheese and whatever other classic toppings you want (we're partial to sausage and jalapenos), this rendition hits on all the pizza pocket high notes-golden crisp outside, soft inside and plenty of melted cheese that strings along as you pull it. It's served sliced into handheld pieces perfect for dipping in the tomato-heavy house sauce. Every stromboli (starts at $9) is made to order, so give the kitchen a 30-minute head start before you stop by.

Jeddo Kebab

Persian | To say Jeddo Kebab serves the best Persian food in town would be misleading, as the eatery is the only dedicated Persian restaurant inside the 270 belt. But that doesn't mean eating at Jeddo is settling for what you can get. Its tiny previous location, where they set up shop for 13 years, made it a popular to-go spot. Now in a much bigger space on Dublin-Granville Road, what Jeddo has lost in hole-in-the-wall charm, it's gained in quickness. They turn out excellent grilled meat and vegetable skewers, served on fragrant saffron rice, at a rapid pace. Juicy marinated chicken is an unlikely star in the Chicken Barg ($11.99). And it's a winner again in Zereshk Polo Ba Morgh ($16.99)-half a chicken oven-roasted until fragrant and tender. Don't leave here without a starter of silky Kashk o Bademjoon ($6.50)-a spread made with eggplant, onion, garlic and whey.

Ena's Caribbean Kitchen

Caribbean | "What's your name?" asks the girl behind the counter at Ena's as she finishes taking our order. As we reply, she turns with our ticket and yells to the cooks through the pass, "Everybody say hi!" A greeting pointed with a Jamaican accent echoes from the kitchen. Picture wrapping this friendly and Caribbean-spiked welcome into a dish, and you'll have a handle on what Vinell "Ms. Ena" Hayles' carryout is like. The menu at her tropical Linden joint is full of foods she cooked at restaurants in Jamaica: slow-braised Oxtail ($10.95), fall-off-the-bone spicy Jerk Chicken ($9.95), fried red snapper (market price). Portions are huge and each meal includes a choice of two sides (cabbage, rice and beans, and plantains are all good choices). If you stop in on Sunday, be sure to check the menu for Creole specials.

Cornerstone Deli & Cafe

Deli/Sushi | Cornerstone Deli & Cafe is charmingly random. Sushi? Check. Meaty sandwiches? Got 'em. Salad bar? Yep. Plenty of better-than-average vegetarian fare? You bet. If it wasn't so good, it'd just be plain odd. But its please-everyone nature makes Cornerstone an ideal spot for a hungry and disagreeing crowd. Order at the counter and grab a cup of Crimson Coffee while you wait. Bread-like bagels are made in-house and work best when containing a sandwich, like the spicy Herbivore ($5.50) with soft marinated tofu, banana peppers and lots of hot sauce, or the Portobello Melt ($5.50) with meaty roasted mushrooms and red peppers, sauteed onions and gooey mozzarella cheese.

Portia's Cafe

Vegan | Diners regularly pack Portia Yiamouyiannis' Clintonville cafe around dinner time, so takeout is always a safe bet. (The cafe is easy to miss; look for its burgundy awning on Indianola.) Delayed by traffic, we arrived 20 minutes late to pick up our order. Yiamouyiannis didn't miss a beat, re-heating and re-packaging the Thanksgiving Quesadilla ($10) with a smile. She is also known to whip up to-go orders 15 to 30 minutes after closing. "If they show up hungry, I still feed them," she says with a laugh. Complete your order with a slice of vegan Cheezecake ($6) that, as the menu puts it, is "so richly delicious that you'll be tempted to inspect the kitchen to see if we're cheating."


Mediterranean | Although Nasir Latif has nearly tripled the amount of seating at Lavash Cafe since it opened in Clintonville five years ago, the restaurant's healthy soups, sandwiches and salads are ideal for on-the-go eating. (Nearly half of the restaurant's customers opt to carry out.) Skip the nearly out-the-door line by calling ahead, but be prepared to actually cut in front of people when you go to pick up your spread. Use apologetic sidestepping to the on-site eaters and strong eye contact to let the cashier know that you're the one whose kefta sandwich with lamb rolled in lavash bread ($7.45) is in a bag at the pick-up counter. Bonus: Generous portions of pita or lavash accompany most orders.

While you're here: Fill a growler at neighboring Growl!, or grab a vegan treat at Pattycake Bakery.

Whole World Natural Restaurant & Bakery

Vegetarian | Whole World Natural Restaurant & Bakery is a best-kept secret among Columbus vegetarians. Established in 1978, Dan Otanicar's Clintonville one-stop-shop (right off the corner of High Street and Como Avenue) is perhaps the oldest meat-free restaurant in the city. Whole World's aim is to offer food that is familiar-think hummus, nachos, burgers, pizza, baked goods-but free of animal products, Otanicar says. (Order one of the inventive burgers, and chances are almost every ingredient, from bun to patty to dressing, is made at the restaurant.) Otanicar recommends adding soup to your order ($3.50 for a cup, $4.75 for a bowl and an extra 75 cents for a side of whole wheat toast) and a freshly baked cookie for dessert. We're crazy for the EarthQuake, baked with chocolate chip and cayenne pepper. 3269 N. High St., Clintonville, 614-268-5751

Cafe Kabul

Afghan | The look of Cafe Kabul is nothing special. It's your nondescript, order-at-the-counter joint in a shopping plaza off Olentangy River Road near Campus. The menu is a little Indian (think tandoori chicken and chicken biryani) and a little Middle Eastern (gyros and hummus)-but the standouts are the Afghan dishes. Start with an order of Buranee Bonjon ($5.99). Slices of sauteed eggplant are topped with house-made yogurt and served with Afghan bread, a naan-like flatbread baked in a tandoor oven. Follow it up with delicate pieces of lamb in the Kabuli Pallow ($15.95), which also includes Afghan rice, carrot strips and raisins. You can walk in and order at the counter, and pictures on the menu help guide your decisions. But dishes can take time to prepare, so call ahead if you're in a hurry.

Huong Viet

Vietnamese | At Huong, an order for more than two means you're walking out with a box full of individually wrapped orders, separated noodles and pho broth and bahn mi accoutrement that could soggy the sandwich safely corralled on the side in plastic baggies. It's obvious owner Huong Pham takes the delivery of her food as seriously as the creation of it. And so when we can't sit and enjoy a meal at this Morse Road restaurant, we can trust that the Pho Dac Biet (arguably some of the best in the city with just the right amount of anise, $8.80) or noodle salad packed with shrimp (Bun Tom Nuong, $8.20) will be nearly as good as it would be if we were dining in. Bonus: Huong also has a short vegan menu, including Vietnamese crepes and curry.