Lake Area Restaurant Takeout Options

New ways to stay in for dinner.
Get your dose of daily vegetables with the Marsh's roasted beet salad.

If takeout conjures images of mundane, midweek, too-beat-to-cook exhaustion, conjure again! Takeout can also be romantic, festive, cozy and downright adventurous. Virtually every restaurant in the lake area offers meals to go so you’re not stuck with the brain-numbing pizza-or-Chinese fall-back. Takeout is economical (no tipping, no parking hassles, no booze markup) and low impact. No dirty dishes to put a buzzkill on your evening’s plans, either. Dress code? Optional-to-non-existent. When cooking seems daunting or if you’re in the mood to sample something new, check out these ultra-takeout experiences.


Bukhara Special

Bukhara Indian Bistro

Did you know that Bukhara was once the seat of the Mughal Empire, an important stop on the Silk Route, and now in modern-day Uzbekistan? Neither did we. So how about dinner with a history lesson? Bukhara Indian Bistro sits in an unassuming strip mall emanating serious Pavlovian aromas. We chose the exciting-sounding Bukhara Special, a mix of Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka, Malai Kebab, Boti Kebab and Tandoori Shrimp. Boti Kebab turned out to be tender cubes of yogurt-marinated lamb, the Malai Chicken was spicy and creamy, and the bright orange chicken Tikka was redolent with ground coriander and cumin. The mélange came with slices of lemon, onion, tomato and a scattering of fresh cilantro. Fluffy oven-hot naan bread, fragrant basmati rice, and gingery, soupy dal (lentils) rounded out the meal. The spice level is up to you, but even the hottest is endearingly piquant rather than atomic. $21.99. 15718 Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata; 952.476.7997


Sari Roll

Origami West

Is raw fish to-go a good idea? In this case, yes! This dish screams fresh, like jump-from-the-sea-into-your-mouth fresh. Our first bite of the Sari Roll from Origami, the lake area’s much-lauded sushi joint, was of butter and bracing ocean breeze. The substantial eight pieces present a knob of spicy tuna, earthy burdock root and zingy kaiware (radish sprouts) wrapped in a cloak of tuna and avocado with a side of spicy mayo. Crisp tempura flakes provide visual appeal and crunch. This multicolored beauty came adorned with a fuchsia orchid flower, transforming the serpentine slices into ikebana in a takeout box. Clean, fresh, sexy: a symphony of contrasts in one gorgeous roll. $16.75. 12305 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.746.3393


Toto Pizza


It may be pizza, but this is no greasy carb-bomb. From Punch, you get an elevated pizza-esque experience that will transport you to the streets of old Napoli. Although the restaurant won’t take phone orders, the wait for a pie is fast—90 seconds fast—probably because the wood-burning oven runs at 800 degrees. Stop by to place your order, inhale some wood smoke, order a tumbler of good house wine while you wait, and continue the Italian reverie once you get home. Our black-blistered, thin-crusted Toto pie combined San Marzano and goat cheese with a peppery tangle of arugula and prosciutto. A smattering of sliver-thin garlic slices added a nice kick. The most elegant “pizza night” that you’ll ever experience—without that “uff-da” post-pizza gut. $11.55. 1313 Wayzata Blvd. E., Wayzata; 952.476.7991


Roasted Beet Salad

The Marsh

Feeling virtuous? The Marsh offers healthy yet compelling salad options, including the stunning Roasted Beet Salad: a tumble of jewel-bright cubes of garnet and gold on a bed of wild arugula. Crumbled Stickney Hill goat cheese contributes a creamy tang and local pickled ramps kick it up the proverbial notch. Chef David Jones says, “We buy as much seasonal produce as we can—ramps, fiddleheads, morels —and use them in different ways to make them last.” Thus, the ramp bottoms are pickled for salad; the tops are turned into butter for halibut steaks. The lavender-walnut vinaigrette sounded odd on the menu, but is now my new favorite dressing. The combination of honey, artisanal walnut vinegar, lavender leaves and shallots was a floral, sweet, nutty revelation. $9.95. 15000 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.935.2202


Penne with Italian Sausage

D’Amico and Sons

What’s more cozy than a saucy bowl of pasta? D’Amico and Sons’ Penne with Italian Sausage is their most popular dish, and when you taste it, you’ll think “no duh.” According to manager Melissa Sanchez, “The sausage is made in-house, and the sauce is pretty simple—tomato, cream, white wine and garlic—but people love it!” The fennel-flecked sausage arrived in hefty, meatball-worthy chunks and showered in Pecorino Romano cheese. Unlike most restaurant pasta, this needed no additional doctoring. Lushness sans overkill, and dangerously addictive. $11.99. 810 Lake St. E., Wayzata; 952.476.8866


Baby Back Ribs

Tonka BBQ & Grill

Need an excuse for a bubble bath? Indulge in a full ’n’ messy slab of baby back ribs from Tonka BBQ & Grill. Ribs are owner Mike Lindahl’s passion, and it shows. Everything is done on-site, in-house. The process includes an overnight marinade, half a day in the hickory wood smoker, and grill time with a signature barbecue sauce. Lindahl knows how to trim the fat to limit greasiness but maintain moistness. These ribs deliver admirable smoke, crispy char and super-tender meat that we gnawed to the quick. Every order comes with two sides and wedges of Texas toast; we chose creamy slaw and molasses-sweet baked beans. Go ahead and get messy: hand wipes included. $22.95. 4016 Shoreline Dr., Spring Park; 952.471.7447


Rib Eye Surf & Turf

Gianni’s Steakhouse

Have a celebratory night in with Surf and Turf takeout—why not? At Gianni’s, a 20-ounce ribeye can be paired with two grilled jumbo shrimp for a decadent surf and turf. Forego the anxiety of buying and then possibly ruining a fancy cut of beef. Gianni’s meat has the proper pedigree: USDA Prime, aged 21 days and “char-grilled to perfection.” Let others gum their way through the predictable filet mignon: We love the densely beefy Flintstone tomahawk of meat, replete with seductive grill stripes and a satisfying chew. Accompanying our kill was whole head of roasted garlic (eat this together or not at all) and two monster shrimp, which gave us shopping envy: Why can we never find those honkers at the supermarket? All the better to eat out. Bust out the good china and light a candle for this one. $54. 635 Lake St. E., Wayzata, 952.404.1100


Shredded Beef Tacos

Porta del Sol

Nothing says fiesta like taco night! Instead of apologizing for not cooking, impress your guests with your ingenuity and good taste with a pile of shredded beef tacos and assorted salsas from Porta del Sol. This off-the-beaten-path cantina seems sprung straight from the heart of Mexico: owner (and musician by trade) Mike Regan simply lets his kitchen staff cook recipes from their native country. Nothing is deep fried; everything is eye-poppingly fresh. The tacos feature slow-cooked flavorful beef served “Mexican style” on soft flour tortillas with a smattering of diced white onion, chopped tomato and fresh cilantro (“American style,” with iceberg, cheese and hard shells, is also available). Try the multiple salsas, from the bright and chunky pico de gallo to the smoky roasted tomato and the garlicky, eyebrow-scorching habanero. The exceptional guacamole relied on the creamy flavor of pure avocado without junking it up with too much other stuff. Muy bueno. Two for $4.99. 5309 Shoreline Dr., Mound; 952.472.3301


Flourless Chocolate Raspberry Torte

Patisserie Margo

Patisserie Margo may tempt you to skip dinner altogether and head straight for the grand finale! Their flourless chocolate raspberry torte comes in three sizes—individual, medium or large—and it is to die for. An “individual” is rich enough for two people. Every bite is like eating a wedge of dark chocolate truffle. With intense deep chocolate on top. And creamy chocolate inside. Wrapped in a haze of heavenly chocolate fantasy. With an incredible chocolate—well, you get the picture. The family-owned bakery’s been an Excelsior fixture, and everything is made from scratch—no preservatives, no trans fats. Swoon city. $4.99. 284 Water St., Excelsior; 952.926.0548