5 top St. Louis carryout restaurants (and what to binge-watch while you eat)
Whether it’s date night or refuse-to-put-on-pants night, winter evenings permit a little extra laziness. Maybe we should be gallivanting, but sub-freezing temps have us choosing Netflix-and-chill over out-on-the-town night after snow-covered night.
Ordering in doesn’t have to mean frozen pizza and binge watching “The Office” for the 47th time (not that there’s anything wrong with that). So light a fire and find your remote, because we’re showing you how to eat well – and stream well – all winter long.
1. Kounter Kulture
The best takeout leaves you with enough leftovers for extra meals in front of the fire, and the gargantuan portions at Kounter Kulture fit the bill. Carryout is the only option at this tiny Asian fusion spot, so they know a thing or two about packing big, bold flavor in travel-friendly packages.
Start with an order of steamed buns: soft, carby pillows wrapped around your choice of whatever’s on the menu (usually some sort of smoky meat, crispy fish and a vegetarian option to boot). Every filling is amazing, but don’t be afraid to try the deep-fried tofu – slathered with house-made Kewpie mayo and bulldog sauce, it’s guaranteed to convert even the most carnivorous of haters. While one bun is big enough to be a meal all its own, this is no time to order light.
Everything from the ever-changing ramen to bibimbap is an explosion of flavors and textures that tastes just as crazy-good as it looks.
What to Watch // “Abstract: The Art of Design”
Everything at Kounter Kulture is a work of art. Further indulge the left side of your brain by diving deep into this addicting, profile-style Netflix documentary series – think “Chef’s Table” for the design world. One episode in, and creativity will ooze out of you like the bulldog sauce from that delectable steamed bun.
Nothing warms the belly like a big ol‘ bowl of pasta, and with swimsuit season still months away, this is your time to carb. it. up. With noodles made fresh daily and sauces that could make a Sicilian grandmother weep, you can’t go wrong. Warm your insides with the bucatini all’amatriciana, uber-thick, tubular noodles swimming in a super simple tomato sauce spiked with spicy guanciale and topped with a hefty shower of Grana Padano.
Speaking of cheese, tell your hygge partner in crime to get the canestri cacio e pepe, aka the greatest grown-up mac and cheese there ever was, and go splitsies. Ask for curbside pickup and you won’t even have to get out of your car. Pretty much everything is transportable from this Clayton eatery, but be warned: The usually too-good-not-to-order risotto balls don’t travel as well as the pasta, so you may want to opt for a salad instead.
What to Watch // “Master of None” Season 2
When Dev ditched the Big Apple to learn to make “basta” from someone’s nonna in the Netflix original, he had all of us ordering pasta rollers and dreaming of the Italian hills. Is there any better way to enjoy beauty shots of pasta making in Modena than while twirling your fork around thick, handmade noodles? We think not.
3. Fork & Stix
When going outside requires rubber boots and puffy coats, an order of piping-hot Thai food will make you happier than a tween on a snow day. Let your date slurp down their noodle dish of choice – perhaps the subtly spicy pad kee mao – while you go bold and order the khao soi.
This northern Thai soup boasts a broth that tastes like it was brewed by magic unicorns straight outta Chiang Mai: spicy and sour with the deep, warming, complex flavors of Thai curry. A flavor-packed combo of crisp red onion, sour pickled mustard greens and cilantro bob around in this soul-warming soup, topped with a tangle of crispy egg noodles that elevate things to legendary status. Arriving on the side: a lime wedge for your squeezing pleasure.
What to Watch // “Veep”
There’s only one woman whose biting tongue and quick wit can match the sour, spicy flavors of that khao soi, and Selina Meyer is up for the gig. Let TV’s most irreverent president, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, leave you laughing till soup comes flying out your nose. Hey, at least she’s only fictional, right?
4. Olympia Kebob House and Taverna
Healthy. Fast. Ridiculously good. Order Olympia takeout once, and you’ll have ’em on speed dial all winter long. You can’t go wrong with the deluxe gyro, which holds up surprisingly well in transport, but don’t overlook the shish kebab deluxe platter.
Tender pieces of impeccably seasoned grilled chicken, pork or lamb come surrounded by enough goodies for a snack halfway through the movie: a spattering of sauteed peppers, onions and zucchini; fluffy white pita triangles; fresh tomato slices; and a big brick of salty feta all laying happily on a bed of seasoned rice.
And while we’re all about the flaming cheese when we’re enjoying a beer on the Olympia patio, the baba ghanoush is a better travel partner for takeout, with pitas arriving in a separate container for full effect. Oh, and you’ll never regret the gyro salad. Ever.
Carryout: 1543 McCausland Ave., Richmond Heights, 314.781.1299, olympiakebobandtavern.com
What to Watch // “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”
Pardon the cliche, but can you think of a better way to enjoy epic Greek eats than while watching this Windex-loving, control-seeking, boisterous family drive their daughter crazy? Didn’t think so. Bonus: The occasional “Opa!” is welcomed. You don’t eat no meat? “That’s OK, I make lamb.”
5. Taco Buddha
Who said takeout was a dinner-only affair? When there’s snow on the ground and slippers on your feet, nothing – and I mean nothing – should tear you away from that down comforter. Taco Buddha’s Austin, Texas-style breakfast tacos make for the perfect breakfast in bed, wrapped in foil so you won’t spend the rest of your day washing salsa out of your sheets. Plus, with easy online ordering and curbside pickup, you don’t have to feel too bad for whomever you sucker into taco collection.
The chorizo, egg and cheese taco is a mainstay, its rich meat crumbles adding just enough spice to the fluffy eggs and cheese. Whatever you do, just be sure to get the migas scramble: eggs scrambled Tex-Mex-style with tortillas, cheese, pico and chiles. Add whatever is on special at the time – sometimes green chile pork, sometimes beef barbacoa, always good.
Speaking of must-haves, don’t forget to ask for one of Buddha’s housemade salsas on the side – a roasted red salsa and a vegan jalapeno cream for a little spice. Lazy doesn’t have to mean bland, y’all.
Carryout: 7405 Pershing Ave., University City, 314.502.9951, tacobuddha.com
What to Watch // “Catastrophe”
Breakfast in bed calls for binge watching in your PJs all damn day. And if there’s anyone who can make you feel better about your lazy ways, it’s the half-American, half-Irish duo behind this Amazon original series. Let this hot mess express keep you cracking up through three hilarious seasons of all-too-relatable relationship crises spiked with a plethora of witty banter. You’ll never feel better about your life.
With several food delivery apps now serving the St. Louis area, it’s easier than ever to get a hot meal without having to swap your slippers for shoes. While laziness is the name of the game here, delivery fees aren’t cheap. If you don’t feel like coughing up the extra cash, many spots also have seamless online ordering on their sites that make it easy to grab-and-go while minimizing human interaction (We know how you feel about that.).
Our advice: Invite a friend to come binge with you and pick up the eats on their way. Just be sure to have a glass of something strong waiting when they arrive with the good stuff.
Stacy Schultz is a longtime contributor to Sauce Magazine.