By now, the story is common knowledge: When Seattle fried chicken king Ezell Stephens lost a court battle and the rights to his Ezell’s fried chicken hot spot originally in the Central District, he started his own joint, Heaven Sent—same recipe, better chicken ($19.85 for eight pieces). At Heaven Sent, where the fried chicken’s golden crust is reliably fresher and the hot variety is reliably hotter than Ezell’s, you can either grab your chicken and eat it as soon as possible, or give it a few hours in the fridge; a middling temperature is less appealing. Lake City, Renton, Everett; Pickup and delivery, lunch and dinner.
La Bu La
With the big, busy dining-room style of Asian favorites like Din Tai Fung and dishes loaded with the citrus buzz of Szechuan peppercorns, this Bellevue Szechuan restaurant is an Eastside favorite for good reason. The name, which translates to “spicy not spicy,” reflects its knack for satisfying all palates. The dry-cooked string beans ($10.49), redolent of garlic, compete for favorite status with the ma po tofu ($10.49) and the chicken chow mein (choose the hand-shaven noodles; $12.49). La Bu La’s meals travel well, but delivery services often take hours during busy times, so plan to pick up your food. Bellevue, 288 106th Ave. NE, No. 200; 425.688.7991; Pickup and delivery, lunch and dinner.
Chicken chow mein with hand-shaved noodles from La Bu La.
The experts will tell you it’s silly to order tacos or a burrito to go if you’re going to wait more than a few minutes to consume them; both get soggy. But for El Camión, the Mexican brick-and-mortar taco stop and food truck that started its first little outpost on wheels near Home Depot, it’s just such dishes that have built its good rep: From tamales ($3) to tacos dorados ($7.35), the menu is filled with down-home Mexican fare that travels well. Case in point: the mild green posole ($8.25), rich with hefty hunks of slowly cooked pork. Ask for a side of the green salsa, and stir it in with the cabbage and tortilla chips. Note: If you pay by credit card when you place a to-go order by phone from the restaurant, you can skip the line and pick up your order to the right of the register. Just remember to stop by the toppings bar; salsa isn’t packed in the bag for you. Ballard, 6416 15th Ave. NW, plus three trucks in Seattle; 206.784.5411; Pickup and delivery, lunch and dinner.
From the former owner of Paseo, Seattle’s famed Caribbean sandwich spot, this restaurant has a different name, but the same addictively tender chicken, rich roasted pork and savory vegetarian black beans. Some swear you have to eat the Caribbean roast sandwich ($11.50) on site so the bread doesn’t get too soggy, but if you don’t have far to drive before consuming, you can still revel in that garlicky aioli, those jalapeño slices, the sweet caramelized onions, imperfect bread be damned. But the Smokin’ Thigh dinner ($14.50), an undeniably better road-tripper, does come with the surprise sleeper—the house salad, with those slivered pickled beets. Ballard, 7302½ 15th Ave. NW, 206.588.2040; Shilshole, 6226 Seaview Ave. NW, 206.420.7545; unbienseattle.com; Pickup and delivery, lunch and dinner.
Pop Pop Thai Street Food
Tucked into a strip mall off Aurora Avenue just short of Shoreline, Pop Pop Thai is the type of Thai joint that has the guts not to offer all the dishes commonly associated with Thailand—maybe it’s because of its street-food-savvy origins as a food truck?—and all of the items on the (relatively small) menu seem to go well together. Try the springy woonsen pad thai (made with glass noodles; $10.95), the exceptionally moist grilled chicken ($9.95) or the prawn pad kee mao ($11.95). Note: Pop Pop’s star system is legit. Two out of five stars is hot enough for someone who likes moderate spice. Order plenty of mun gai (rice cooked in chicken fat; $2.50) on the side. Haller Lake, 13242 Aurora Ave. N, No. 104; 206.695.2858; Pickup and delivery, lunch and dinner.
Pabla Indian Cuisine
Ornately decorated and with white tablecloths, this Renton Indian eatery is the place to go for Punjabi specialties. Tragically, the beautiful thalis (an Indian platter of many small dishes) are only available for dining in, although that’s understandable given the packaging that would be necessary. Everything else on the menu, however, is fair game for takeout: more than 50 different vegetarian, kosher dishes ($3–$13). Pabla has an Issaquah location, too, but only the Renton restaurant has an adjoining grocer with a freezer full of frozen house-made samosas to go. Renton, 364 Renton Center Way SW, Suite C60; 425.228.4625; pablacuisine.com; Pickup and delivery, lunch and dinner.
Ballard Pizza Co.
When Seattle restaurant emperor Ethan Stowell opened the first Ballard Pizza, his goal was simple: to create a New York–style pizzeria that caters to families. He’s done it, and with delivery, he’s made it easy. Order the ever-changing Big Moses (“The chosen pizza. Have some faith, it will be good”; $18 small, $25 large) or, if you like a little more control, the Staple & Fancy ($18 small, $25 large), which has pepperoni, pineapple and jalapeños. Ballard, Frelard, South Lake Union; ballardpizzacompany.com; Pickup and delivery, dinner only in Ballard and Frelard, lunch and dinner at South Lake Union location.
Perhaps it’s because Capitol Hill’s thriving Malaysian eatery started primarily as a takeout business, or the fact that Malaysian street food lends itself to travel. In any case, Kedai Makan (which translates roughly from Malay to “eat shop”) packages its food carefully for takeout. You’ll find the sauce for the savory beef bok choy noodles ($14.50) in a separate container, so that you can pour it over the dish yourself; the roti jala (“net” bread) carefully separated from its spicy, mustard seed-studded dal curry accompaniment ($6.50); and nasi goreng kedai, its signature Malaysian fried rice ($11.50), served with an egg that’s somehow perfectly runny, even at home. Capitol Hill, 1802 Bellevue Ave.; Pickup, orders only taken at restaurant, dinner only.