In the past, I have not reviewed restaurants where I just ordered takeout because I like to be the people’s Portland Eater. And since I don’t always give to my people with the frequency I would like, I try to give you the Full Monty, the Big Lebowski, the whole enchilada each and every time out. When I order takeout, that’s impossible to do because there’s no significant service and atmosphere component to my meal. There’s little interaction. There just isn’t much to talk about other than the food. While the food is obviously of utmost importance, there is so much more to the dining experience.
Because it’s been a busy year for me, I haven’t had as much time to get out and eat as I usually do, so less expensive takeout joints have been a significant portion of my restaurant visits this year. Having tried some new places recently and having been to lots of them in the past, I have a pretty good collection of grab and go restaurants in my memory bank. I decided it would be a good idea to point out some of my favorites so you can have those to chew on – both literally and figuratively. Today, I’m going to focus on my favorite ethnic places. Note that I tend to spend somewhere between $15-$25 on myself when I go to these places and that usually includes a lot of food. So here they are presented in no particular order.
Numero Uno – China Villa
Affectionately and exclusively referred to as “We Delivery” by my wife and I due to those words appearing on an old menu, the Westbrook Chinese food purveyor scores a touchdown every time. For traditional Americanized Chinese food, they are easily the best I’ve had in the entire state and were even voted in the top 100 nationwide in 2010. With a pretty nondescript dining area, the restaurant does the vast majority of it’s business with takeout and they appear to be quite busy on most of the occasions I visit.
I love Chinese food and can find something good at virtually all eateries, but China Villa doesn’t put out anything that’s not absolutely delicious. It also doesn’t hurt that their portions are huge and priced reasonably. When I get Chinese elsewhere, I order a variety of food and usually get one or two very good items while the rest will be just okay. I never have to worry about anything just being okay at We Delivery. And because they ask you if you want sauces when you place your order, I never forget to request my beloved hot mustard and soy sauce.
If you find yourself going to China Villa, I recommend their dumplings; they’re the best around. The Crab Rangoons are very good. The General Tso’s Chicken, Egg Rolls, Fried Rice, and pretty much everything else are awesome too. Go there when you’re so hungry you could eat a velociraptor and enjoy your food coma an hour later.
#B. Siam Square
You’re looking for some traditional Thai takeout and want a truly tasty treat, but where do you go? Might I suggest that Siam Square in Westbrook is an excellent choice? Another restaurant that appears to have significant takeout business, Siam Square creates excellent food and makes dishes that win every time. Like any good restaurant, their constant output of delicious food makes this a place I’m never afraid to be disappointed by. They do have a reasonably nice dining room and appear to get some dine-in guests, but they never seem to be slow on the takeout side. I have actually eaten inside this place a handful of times and the service is generally quite good, so that’s a solid option too.
When you stop by the Thai takeout standout, consider the Pad Kee-Mao or the Pad Se-Ewe which are both so good they would repair a leaky roof in a rainstorm. Don’t forget some apps either. The Chicken Satay is delish and so are the Crab Rangoons, but I’d be surprised if you found something that wasn’t. Just go now and bring some food home to stuff your pretty, little face. You won’t regret it…until you explode.
3. Taco Trio
This South Portland hole-in-the-wall is an exceptionally popular Mexican restaurant with regular lines out the door and hardly an available seat in the entire place whenever I visit. They appear to split their business between takeout and eat-in even though they don’t have table service. That’s good because if everyone who ordered there ate there, they’d have to significantly increase the size of the seating area.
The food at Taco Trio is awesome, but after you order, the cashier provides cups for salsa and that’s where the fun really begins. The salsa bar has several rotating options and regardless of what type you like, they’ve definitely got something that will suit your salsa needs. From mild to “pants on fire” hot, the many options will leave you somewhere between happy and full-on brain burn. No matter which ones you choose though, they’re sure to provide a rocket propelled grenade directly to your taste buds.
Everything I’ve had at Taco Trio is good, but I am definitely partial to the Tacos and am particularly fond of the Pastor – pork with pineapple in adobo sauce. Its sweet, saucy love really gets my motor running. In fact, my mouth is watering just thinking about it right now. So don’t hold back – try Taco Trio. It will make you feel like a caged animal who’s just been set free.
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