We all have them: Days when we can’t muster the energy to get dressed, much less get out of the house. Nights when the mere thought of standing at the stove and trying to put together dinner makes us groan. Lunchtimes when we’re too busy to leave our desks. Evenings when the kids, bless ’em, aren’t ready to be taken out in public. And in your hour of need, you rummage through your junk drawer, and find: a flyer for a restaurant that went out of business two years ago, and the menu of your least favorite pizza joint.
Don’t despair. We’ve sampled our way through some of the very best (and, well, not-so-best) delivery food the region has to offer to create this list. Want Thai delivered to your door, kabobs to your office, sushi to your garden party? We found it, tried it, and decided whether it was worth the price of a phone call.
Of course, there are plenty of places offering the trio of usual delivery suspects—Italian, Indian, and Chinese—but the standards were higher for them. They had to have something extra—an unusual location, great phone manners, or multi-ethnic options, and, of course, excellent food—to make the cut. We avoided big chains, seeking out independent operators. In the case of local chains, we sampled from one representative (hey, expandable-waist pants only stretch so far!) and listed their review under that location. And since most places won’t deliver past a few miles, we divided them by geographic area, and gave a minimum order and estimated delivery area when we could. (One note: Delivery areas tend to expand and contract depending on how much you order and how busy they are.)
So put up your feet, pick up the phone, and breathe a sigh of relief: Help, and dinner, is on the way.
CITY: BELOW NORTH AVENUE
Aladdin Cafe 1421 Lawrence Street, 410-625-7800. You wouldn’t normally think of calling up a Locust Point eatery to bring you freshly-made shwarma sandwiches, smooth hommus blahmeh, or a cool, yogurt laban b’khyar (with just a hint of mint). Aladdin Cafe has all that, plus staples like pizza, subs, and onion rings—but it’s their Lebanese specialties that really sparkle, like true exotic pizzas (one with halloum cheese, olive oil, and mint) and lamb kabob with huge chunks of nicely spiced and marinated meat. The wait can be long, but it’s definitely worth it—especially for the perfectly fried falafel. $10 minimum, five-mile radius.
Attman’s Delicatessen, 1019 E. Lombard Street, 410-563-2666. Attman’s has stood on East Lombard—once the cultural center of Baltimore’s Jewish and Eastern European populations—since 1915. Sadly, Seymour Attman passed away in June, but his son has vowed to continue the family business. We hope to see Attman’s around for another 70 years, serving the same incredibly rich and earthy pastrami, thinly-sliced and lean corned beef, and full-of-garlic, house-made hot dogs. You could argue over favorites—a hot and tasty corned beef versus the “President’s Special” of pastrami, sauerkraut, Swiss, and Russian dressing—but why bother, when everything is made to such an incredibly high standard? Get a group together to make sharing the steep delivery charge worthwhile. No delivery minimum, delivery charge rises depending on distance.
Banjara Restaurant, 1019 S. Charles Street, 410-752-1895. Can there be too much lamb in a samosa? No, actually, but Banjara’s overburdened Indian pastry put us in a contemplative mood. So did the just-creamy-enough sauce of the tender chicken tikka masala, and the perfectly tender mushrooms and potatoes of the guchi aloo. But it only took one bite of the outstanding lamb vindaloo (also with those perfect potatoes) to clear our heads, with its solid, spicy kick that never became unbearable—as long as there’s plenty of poori and naan bread left. $15 minimum, 10-mile radius.
Bombay Grill, 2 E. Madison Street, 410-837-2973; Cafe Bombay, 114 E. Lombard Street, 410-539-2233. See listing in Howard County.
Ding How Restaurant, 631-637 S. Broadway, 410-327-8888. This veteran Chinese restaurant survives while others come and go because it has kept its menu simple and its ingredients top-quality. The eggplant in hot garlic sauce is much more than that, a medley of vegetables tied together with lavender spears of Chinese eggplant. The dumplings are pan-fried, the way a proper pot-sticker should be. The broccoli arrives a crunchy, brilliant green. Cornstarch is kept to a minimum, and sauces’ flavors are allowed to shine. Combine that with speedy delivery and their computerized address database, and you have Chinese delivery that puts most others to shame. $15 minimum, two-mile radius.
Hoang’s Seafood Grill & Sushi Bar, 2748 Lighthouse Point, 410-534-8888. It’s so unfair: Here we are, slaving away at our office in Inner Harbor East, well within Hoang’s stated five-mile delivery radius (though we’ve had arguments with folks there over that point), and they don’t deliver during lunch! But for Cantonites, Hoang’s offers some great dinner options from all across East Asia. Want some Vietnamese pho, a nice pad Thai, some Szechuan beef, a little teriyaki—with a couple sushi rolls on the side? Hoang’s can oblige. $10 minimum, five-mile radius.
Mondo Bondo Italian Bistro, 30 Market Place, 410-244-8080. Yes, you can get Italian here, but so much more: tasty salads topped with upscale items like grilled salmon and toasted pine nuts, mussels sautéed in white wine garlic butter, and chicken pot pie. Even their pizzas—sized to provide light fare for two—are exotic, veering away from tomato sauce in favor of basil pesto, roasted pepper purée, or simple garlic butter. $10 minimum, one-mile radius.
Mughal Garden, 920 Charles Street, 410-547-0001. You know things are going well when they ask how spicy you want your food, rather than deciding for you (and it shows up the way you ordered it). This Mt. Vernon stalwart is the self-anointed “Taj Mahal of Indian Restaurants,” and honestly, we aren’t going to argue: Their menu is vast, the flavors distinct and well-measured. The meats and seafood are expertly marinated, and the vegetables are fresh and cooked just right. The keema matter (spiced ground lamb and vegetables with ginger) is our new favorite, and anything cooked in the tandoor is always a winner—plus, their delivery area is as generous as the portions. $20 minimum, six-mile radius.
Nacho Mamas/Pizza and Wing Factory, 2907-2911 O’Donnell Street, Canton. 410-342-2922. These two are really the same operation with one delivery service and two different menus. From the Factory, you can get tolerably good pizza and excellent wings (hot enough to keep you drinking but not so salty you wake up parched). From Nacho Mama’s, order gut-stuffer Tex-Mex of remarkable quality: enchiladas with bitter/hot rojo sauce, tender bites of chicken, and enough corn tortilla wrapper to soak up all the juices; a humongous beef chimichanga where the meat is so tender you can cut it with a fork; and a flattened breast of chicken rolled around a mess of mixed seafood and topped with a goopy, creamy sauce. Yes, that last may sound awful, but Nacho Mama’s pulls it off—it’s absolutely delicious. Whatever you do, make sure you get a side of their excellent guacamole. $6 minimum, five-mile radius.
Sotto Sopra, 405 N. Charles Street, 410-625-0534. Okay, so we’re cheating a little here, since Sotto Sopra only offers delivery at lunchtime, and you have to call by 10 a.m. to place your order. But their Scooter Lunches take the brown bag to new heights. For $13, you can get your choice of Italian entrées, from a savory lamb and eggplant sandwich on ciabatta bread to a delicate cold rice salad to spinach ravioli sautéed in sage butter and served with fresh tomato sauce. Along with this, you get a piece of fruit, a dessert (custardy tiramisu when we ordered), crispy breadsticks, and a regrettably warm soda. (Hey, guys, we saw coolers for less than $20 at Target!) Still, room-temp beverages aside, the Scooter Lunch has earned an honored place in our hearts . . . and our stomachs. $13 minimum.
Tutti Gusti, 3100-3102 Fait Avenue, 410-534-4040. Tutti Gusti doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: a small, friendly, family-run carry-out serving inexpensive Italian and deli fare. Steer clear of some of the more ambitious stuff—the caprese salad uses iceberg lettuce and dried herbs, for instance—and treat yourself to a hefty overstuffed sub or a pizza. Their thin-crust version is exemplary: cracker-thin, crispy, with a deliciously generous spread of cheese and just enough sauce to make your tastebuds sing. $10 minimum.
Viccino Bistro, 1315 N. Charles Street, 410-576-0266. Upper Mount Vernon folks and University of Baltimore students pop in day and night for Viccino’s gourmet pizzas, Italian subs, and calzones, but when you don’t feel like leaving home, Viccino’s will deliver an entire Italian meal—from comforting homemade Italian chicken soup to cannoli—to your door. Particularly good are the fresh salads—like mozzarella Caprese with thick slices of fresh mozz, sweet tomatoes, and greens—and the generous portions of pasta. Try the scampi—jumbo shrimp over linguine in a white-wine garlic sauce—or the Italian sausage with peppers and marinara over fettuccine. Yum. Delivers anywhere within the city.
CITY: ABOVE NORTH AVENUE
Casa Mia’s, The Rotunda Mall, 711 W. 40th Street, 410-467-0596. How could we not include these guys, after just bestowing the title of “Best Carry-out Pizza” upon them last month? Friendly, prompt, and serving some darn fine pie, they get kudos for their delivery version as well. Try a white pizza—we love the spinach and fresh tomato, with its combination of creamy and tangy—or go traditional, with a fresh-tasting marinara and whatever toppings you please. The crust is wonderful, with a crunchy bottom and a chewy middle; the thin-crust version is as likely to appease homesick New Yorkers as any in this town. Casa Mia’s also sells subs and pasta—the latter featuring a nicely spicy tomato sauce—but we can never resist the call of their pizza. $8 minimum, two-mile radius.
Dragon’s Breath Burritos, 5713 Harford Road, 410-254-8000. There are burritos, and then there are Dragon’s Breath burritos: massive, self-contained meals filled with a wholesome mix of brown rice, black beans, and whatever else your heart desires. The marinated steak is tender and tangy; the grilled vegetables are softly charred; their choice of four homemade salsas range from sparklingly sweet to screamingly hot. Whatever you get, spend the extra six bits for the “super” version, which gets you sour cream and guacamole. And yes, these guys serve other goodies, like tacos and chips. $10 minimum, $1 delivery charge, two-mile radius.
Mamie’s Cafe, 911 W. 36th Street, 410-366-2996. Mamie’s delivery menu is much more limited than its in-house one (but hey, if you wheedle, we bet you can get their lobster fra diablo or any other favorite brought to your door), but it still offers no-nonsense comfort food. Want a pan-seared porterhouse steak, or a shrimp-salad sandwich, or a burger, or a nice batch of Buffalo wings? Mamie’s can oblige. Avoid the fancier seafood options, which tasted pre-frozen, in favor of meat-and-potatoes stuff. And speaking of potatoes, skip the prefab fries and opt for better ’tater offerings like their lightly lumpy mashed potatoes with gravy, or summery potato salad. $7 minimum, six-mile radius.
Mediterranean Palace, 5926 York Road, 410-532-6677. Let us sing of the Palace’s hummus: tahini-laden, drizzled with olive oil, and impossibly smooth. It comes with warm oversized pita, which can also be used to scoop up creamy baba ghanouj or encase a sesame-flecked falafel patty. If you order the Mediterranean sampler, you get all three, plus rice-stuffed grape leaves and tabouleh salad. For meat-eaters, try a well-seasoned kabob, or range farther with fried kubbeh bell, sweetly spiced ground beef inside a bulgur shell, or samak bil tahini, fish topped with pomegranate and tahini sauce. And if you have a non-adventurous member in your house party, they serve decent overstuffed subs and onion rings as well. $7 minimum, three-mile radius.
Mt. Washington Pizza & Subs, 1620 Kelly Avenue, 410-664-1111. This is a perfect delivery place: Somewhere where the actual space is too rough around the edges for pleasant sit-down dining, but the food is spectacularly good. Pakoras are oily, addictive deep-fried vegetable fritters that you dip in fiery green sauce, and Mt. Washington’s version is so delicious that you may give up french fries. We also had tasty vegetable samosas as well as rogan josh, lamb cooked in tomatoes to buttery tenderness. Alu gobi masala is cauliflower and potatoes simmered with fragrant herbs, and channa masala is perfectly cooked chickpeas. Their bite made our normally resilient children wince, but we loved the spicy melange of cumin, cardamom, and fennel seed. (And yes, as the name suggests, they do serve pizza and subs, as well.) $6 minimum, five-mile radius.
No. 1 Chinese Restaurant, 3998 Roland Avenue, 410-235-1688 or 410-235-1689. Everyone has a Chinese carry-out around them, but No. 1 earns its name by its vast selection—everything from the flat, chewy rice noodle chow fun, to beef with black mushrooms, to cream-cheese wontons, an appetizer we first met in the dairy-intensive Midwest but haven’t seen out here as much. And, their menu asserts, they’ll custom-make any favorite you can’t find listed. They even offer a few desserts—including some addictive, warm, powder-sugared things alleged to be “Chinese doughnuts.” Unless you’re quite timid, ask them to bump up the heat on the spicy dishes, but don’t worry about mushy moo shu: These guys know how to keep their many veggies crispy. $10 minimum, three-mile radius.
Sierra Grill, 1105 W. 36th Street, 410-235-8556. This Hampden eatery had only just begun to offer delivery service when we researched this article, so we’re going to cut them a little slack. Yes, there were a couple glitches. Our burrito should have had some of its fixings—say, the lettuce—put on the outside of the burrito, instead of wilting inside. And the filling could have been a little warmer. But we’ll say this: The good people at the Sierra do not want you to go hungry. The aforementioned burrito was large enough to serve three; the “Seattle spring rolls” (actually mini-chimichangas filled with rice, beans, and smoked chicken) lay in a nest of tortilla chips, just in case they weren’t filling enough. Their wide selection of Southwestern-inspired burgers and sandwiches automatically come with a nice handful of fries. Plus, their delivery was insanely fast—even less than the 20 minutes they quoted us—and came via a personage so cheerful, she made us ready to forgive just about anything. $10 minimum, $1 delivery charge, Hampden and southern Roland Park only.
Tamber’s Nifty-Fifties Dining, 3327 St. Paul Street, 410-243-0383. Wish you could appease your garlicphobic loved one, while getting something more exotic for yourself? Hey, if you live in Charles Village (or surrounding neighborhoods), you can live the dream at Tamber’s, the wacky little diner that delivers up a mean tikka masala along with diner standards like burgers and fries. The full Indian menu boasts a variety of biryanis, curries, kormas, and vindaloos, which the establishment does a fine job of delivering hot and fresh to your door. Yes, you can get meat loaf, chili, or those burgers, but sticking to the Indian specialties is your best bet here (you can get that other stuff elsewhere, right?). But we have found that a chocolate malted makes an excellent cool-down for chicken vindaloo. $10 minimum, delivery between about Northern Parkway and 25th Street.
BALTIMORE COUNTY: NORTH
Andy Nelson’s Southern Pit Barbecue, 11007 York Road, Cockeysville, 410-527-1226. Yeah, you could set up the grill, wait for the coals to light, and then sit around in the heat or cold turning and basting your ribs. Or you could just order Andy Nelson’s sweet, tender spare ribs, and get some tangy baked beans and moist cornbread on the side. This barbecue mecca smokes their meats—which also include pulled pork, beef brisket, turkey, and chicken—over hickory chips till they practically melt in your mouth. The only thing that could improve this place is if it were open weeknights and Sundays, so that you could savor the former Colts star’s recipes while watching the pigskin fly. $25 minimum, five-mile radius.
Bombay Grill, 8801 Loch Raven Boulevard, Towson, 410-668-4040. See listing in Howard County.
Bubba’s Breakaway, 905 York Road, Towson, 410-296-4080; 11121 York Road, Hunt Valley, 410-785-7290. Here’s the thing about Bubba’s: Haute cuisine, they ain’t. But when you need them, they’re there. Bubba’s has the delivery thing down, from the moment they pick up the phone and take your order with lightning speed to the minute they arrive promptly at your door with exactly what you ordered. What’s more, they’re open till 12:30 a.m.—and an hour later on weekend nights—seven days a week, standing by to speed inexpensive and filling subs, salads, and wings to your door. $5 minimum.
China King, Cranbrook Shopping Center, 584 Cranbrook Road, Cockeysville, 410-667-4200. You can find all the usual suspects here—egg foo young, fried rice, sweet and sour everything—and while they won’t offer any surprises, their sauces are pleasantly light and flavorful. But what makes the King the king is its page of sushi options. The eel and shrimp roll is a sweet-and-salty delight; the tuna plump and a brilliant carmine color. Sadly, they were out of their octopus salad when we called, but the solicitous folks at the King made up for it for giving us free samples of two other varieties: a sesame-laced seaweed salad and an addictively cool and refreshing concoction of cucumber and crab stick. $10 minimum lunch, $15 dinner, four-mile radius.
Fazzini’s Italian Kitchen, Cranbrook Shopping Center, 578 Cranbrook Road, Cockeysville, 410-667-6104. Fazzini’s is not the place if you’re looking for subtle gourmet Italian, but if you’ve got a hankering for solid Italian-American fare—and lots of it—this is your place (and yes, that place is right next door to listmate China King—maybe it’s something in the water). Home of the “Pound of Pasta”—one cooked pound of homemade linguine, fettucine, rigatoni, or capellini topped with your choice of sauce—Fazzini’s can also whip up a respectable veal Marsala with lots of lovely fresh mushrooms, and a hearty spinach-potato ravioli smothered in good, chunky marinara. If you’re in the mood for pizza, opt for Fazzini’s focaccia, either topped with plum tomatoes and roasted red peppers or simply prepared bianco, with Romano, garlic, and olive oil. It’s delicious. When you gotta have Italian on the fly, Fazzini’s delivers some pretty bella cucina. $7 minimum, between Timonium Road and Shawan Road.
The Orient Restaurant, 319 York Road, Towson, 410-296-9000. See listing in Baltimore County East.
BALTIMORE COUNTY: WEST AND NORTHWEST
Bombay Grill, 11308 Reisterstown Road, Owings Mills, 410-998-9295. See listing in Howard County.
Scittino’s, 1701 Edmondson Avenue, Catonsville, 410-788-2369. As long as you choose carefully from this Italian market’s subs-n-grub menu, Scittino’s can offer a delicious night off from cooking. Stick to the sandwiches—high-quality meats, bread thick enough to soak up delicious juices without getting gummy, and tasty condiments. Impeccably fresh thin-sliced turkey spills from the overstuffed turkey sub. The Italian cold cut, good enough already, is intelligently improved by a stunningly assertive hot-pepper relish. A steak-and-pepper sub, though not subtle, is more than filling. For dessert, there are brownies that our kids termed “scrumptious.” $10 minimum, Catonsville area only.
Suburban House, 911 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville, 410-484-7775. When you order matzoh-ball soup from Suburban House, the tennis-ball-sized matzoh ball comes in its own separate container so it won’t get mushy on its trip to your door. That’s the kind of attention that makes you feel loved by this Pikesville stalwart, even if you’re just a faceless voice on the phone. The food is also reminiscent of a doting bubbe’s offerings: Hot or cold borscht, deli sandwiches piled more than an inch deep with thinly sliced meat, herring in cream sauce, and cheese blintzes with fruit. And then there’s the aforementioned matzoh-ball soup, its featured item so fluffy and easy to eat that you might as well order an extra one to go with the rest of your chicken soup. $15 minimum, delivery area limited during lunch rush.
Tov Pizza, 6313 Reisterstown Road, 410-358-5238. When we saw Tov Pizza’s boast that it serves “Baltimore’s Best Kosher Pizza,” we admit we were a bit skeptical. After all, just how many kosher pizza joints are vying for this title? But one taste of Tov’s pie dispelled all doubts. The pizza may be strictly kosher (die-hard meat lovers may want to try the veggie pepperoni topping), but the taste is strictly Napoli—excellent tender-crispy crust, homemade-tasting sauce, thick layers of mozzarella. Forget the kosher; this may be a contender for Baltimore’s best pizza, period. But if you’re hankering for something other than pizza, Tov is also tops in the falafel department. Skip the so-so knishes and go straight for the combo platter of falafel, hummus, tahini, pita, and Israeli salad. Such a bargain at $5.95. $12 minimum.
BALTIMORE COUNTY: EAST AND NORTHEAST
Bombay Grill, 678-H Harford Mall, Bel Air, 410-828-9007. See listing in Howard County.
The Orient Restaurant, 9545 Belair Road, Perry Hall, 410-256-8100. On first glance, The Orient Restaurant’s delivery menu looks like pretty standard Chinese: a little kung pao here, a little lo mein there. But flip it over, and there is a small but tasty selection of Japanese items: tempura, teriyaki, and best of all, sushi. Whoever their sushi chef is, he or she is a generous soul: Fat pieces of yellowtail dwarf the rice upon which they perch, and their California roll makes up for its lack of cucumber with an extra helping of mayonnaise-crab stick concoction. Just as impressive was their accuracy: They quoted us a 45-minute delivery time, and by golly, they arrived in exactly 45 minutes. Amazing. $10 minimum lunch, $15 dinner, four-mile radius.
Bombay Peacock Grill, 10005 Old Columbia Road, Columbia, 410-381-7111. We’ve sampled the Peacock’s fare while working on our “Best Restaurants” issue, and we can state this as fact: There are no bad things on this menu. This time around, we had murgh tikka: yogurt- and herb-marinated chicken, skewered and grilled and entirely as good as it sounds. We also got lamb vindaloo. It was tasty and spicy without taking our heads off. Our favorite was the dall makhani, a blend of lentils, mung beans, kidney beans, and black-eyed peas sautéed with garlic, ginger, and cilantro. The juice from this made marvelous breakfast over rice the next day. Their naan bread is fabulous, though our kids didn’t give us much of a chance to check it out. The only downside is that you have to order a lot—as in $50, minimum—for delivery. But invite some friends over and make it a party.
Jesse Wong’s Asean Bistro, 8775 Centre Park Drive, Columbia, 410-772-5300. Sure, the name sounds familiar: Jesse Wong’s is a perennial guest in our “best restaurants” feature. You lose some presentation when you order delivery—if you want copper kettles and onion chrysanthemums, you’re going to have to leave the recliner—but you could always create your own garnishes during the 40-minute wait they say to expect on your order. It’s worth that wait for their rich tea-smoked duck, Malaysian satay and samosas, Burmese-style pork chops, and pad Thai. No minimum, $2 delivery charge.
Maiwand Kabob, Harpers Choice Village Center, 5467 Harpers Farm Road, Columbia, 410-992-7754. Despite its simple, one-page menu, Maiwand almost compels you to over-order. Of course you’d like a kabob—tender, plump morsels of marinated meat wrapped in chewy homemade flatbread, served with an addictively tangy green yogurt sauce, a refreshing salad, and brown basmati rice—but how can you resist the appetizers? Will you have sweetened baby pumpkin in a ground beef and yogurt sauce? Or mantwo, delicate ravioli filled with beef? When they’re all $3.50 or less, how can you stop yourself from getting a whole range of starters? Accompany it with a sweet mango shake or bottle of bracing pomegranate juice, and you have yourself an Afghan feast. $10 minimum, three-mile radius.
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY
Cheep Cheep Chicken, 2311-D Forest Drive, Festival at Riva, Annapolis, 410-224-4103. The recipe is pretty straightforward here: chicken pieces dipped in a simple batter and deep-fried in hot oil. But Cheep Cheep, which has been around for more than a quarter-century, has a trick: They use scrawny but extremely flavorful birds from Virginia and North Carolina, and fry them so that they’re simultaneously moist, done in the middle, and covered in skin that’s attained a perfect golden crispness. Potato wedges, prepared the same way, come out creamy-textured in the middle and still tasting (wonder of wonders!) like potatoes. Careful with the side dishes here: They tend to be either bland or overly salty, and they’ll drive up your bill. Just fix yourself a nice green salad while you’re waiting for the delivery guy. $10 minimum.
Chick & Ruth’s Delly, 165 Main Street, Annapolis, 410-269-6737. It’s hard to recommend Chick and Ruth’s only for delivery, because you really have to go see the alarming brown and orange color scheme. But if you want good, solid, filling sandwiches delivered, this is your place. Their whole “U.S.S. Annapolis” is lots of high-quality Italian cold cuts packed into an 18-inch crusty loaf, and is enough for three reasonable people. There’s a satisfyingly thick layer of thinly sliced turkey on the “George Nutwell” turkey/bacon/rye toast. (And where else is a sandwich named after the registrar of wills?) If you’re from Philadelphia, keep an open mind on the cheese steak. This is a whole six-ounce rib-eye, covered with goopy American cheese on a kaiser roll; delicious enough, but perhaps not what you’re used to. $10 minimum, limited delivery area.
Thai-Gour Cafe, 7477 Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard, Glen Burnie, 410-761-8399. Thai-Gour’s (pronounced “Tiger’s”) menu proudly proclaims, “Where Dining is Art!” They’re not just referring to the art on the walls at this sweet little shopping-plaza restaurant. Thai-Gour delivers some of the best Thai food in town, with flavors that pack the kind of punch you’d find on the streets of Bangkok. Simple but wonderful standards like nam sod, a combo of ground pork (or chicken) in lime juice, fresh ginger, peanuts, and hot peppers, will have your taste buds singing. Entrées like the brandy neau—beef sautéed with brandy, fresh basil, and green chili—and honey-ginger duck will make you want to work your way through the entire menu of enticing choices. $12.50 minimum, five-mile radius.
China Inn, 444 W. MC Drive, Westminster, 410-751-9073. Westminsterites don’t have a lot of delivery options available to them, but happily one of those options is the delectable “Chinese” from China Inn in the new Safeway center at the west end of town. The menu includes the usual assortment of things that you’ve seen before; Westminster isn’t the place to go for that cutting-edge sea-slug and black-mushroom dish you had in Hong Kong, after all. But the shrimp-filled egg rolls are crispy, the moo shu pork is delectable, and the vegetables in the kung pao beef have nearly as much crunch as the peanuts. $15 minimum, five-mile radius.
Best Pizza, 45 Pennsylvania Avenue, Westminster, 410-848-3600; 105 N. Church Street, New Windsor, 410-635-3400; 109 E. Baltimore Street, Taneytown, 410-756-4000. This is the soft, sink-your-teeth-into-it kind of crust that would raise an Italian’s eyebrows, but which we found sort of comforting. This is America, after all. Leave the front door open and give instructions for the delivery guy to walk right in, and chances are you’ll never have to leave the couch. We got one pie with pepperoni and pickled banana peppers—which proved to be potent and tasty, if a bit soggy—and a white pizza for the finicky eater, who rendered this opinion: “Cheesy and awesome with lots of basil and oregano.” There you have it. $7 minimum, four- to seven-mile radius, depending on location.
Thai Classic, 1720 Liberty Road, Eldersburg, 410-795-0017. Nestled among the strip malls and big-box retailers along Liberty Road in Eldersburg is this unexpected gem of a Thai restaurant. Make sure to try the marvelous spring rolls—long, cigar-shaped, crispy things stuffed with shredded vegetables. We also got the phad ped: lovely, thin shavings of beef floating in a rich coconut-milk and red-curry sauce that’s just begging to be soaked up by your rice. Pork in green curry with tender bamboo shoots is equally savory. And the three-star shrimp pad kee mao served over wide rice noodles left us with a healthy, though survivable, residual burn. $15 minimum, five-mile radius.