Holidays can be taxing. The shopping, the decorating, the visits to the therapist to deal with family stress. And then there's the cooking: a special holiday meal, perhaps a party, endless baking. It's exhausting, really, and you still have to provide regular meals three times a day on top of all of that. If you're like my family, ordering pizza has become a holiday tradition. The joy of a hot meal requiring little effort overshadows the disappointment of chain-restaurant mediocrity. The truth is, however, that almost any restaurant can and will prepare food for takeout. Just call ahead and arrange it and you'll be savoring your favorite chef's dish at home. If you find yourself too frazzled to plan that far ahead, you're in luck: Richmond is fortunate to have many restaurants set up for takeout. Here are some choice options:
Homemade pastas in a variety of shapes and flavors are made better only by the excellent sauces prepared in-house at Bombolini Pasta in the Fan. A half-pound of your choice of pasta, cut and cooked when you order, can be topped with things as wide-ranging as classic marinara, chicken rosé and smoked salmon ($5.99-$8.25). Don't forget bread and cannoli, both baked on-site. Frozen ravioli ($9.99-$10.49 a bag) cook in three minutes, and paired with one of Bombolini's jarred sauces, make a quick and satisfying meal. I'm partial to the garlicky spinach ravioli with vodka sauce ($6.99). Gluten-free pastas are available as well.
1606 W. Main St.
Tuesday-Friday: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Proper Pie Co.
Don't be daunted by a long line at Proper Pie Co. in Church Hill. Its pre-baked savory and sweet pies help them move people through quickly. Single-serving, New Zealand-style savory pies ($5-$6) will be a sure hit with kids and adults alike. With a rotating menu of fillings, from the classic mince (ground beef) and cheese, to more inventive options such as Thai curry vegetable, picking up enough for your guests is guaranteed to provide an affordable, filling and delicious meal. Don't overlook the sausage rolls ($4.25) and the daily vegan soup ($2.50 cup, $4 bowl). Your guests also will appreciate the wide array of sweets. Slices of pie ($4.50) include fruit fillings, chocolate chess and buttermilk -- and my favorite, banoffee. The homemade moon pie with a shortbread base is a decadent indulgence.
2505 E. Broad St., No. 100
Wednesday - Saturday: noon-7 p.m.
Sunday: noon-6 p.m.
Ever tempted to pick up one of those ubiquitous grocery store rotisserie chickens to feed your family for just a few dollars? Don't be. Make one extra stop on your errands and you can pick up a far superior version for not much more money. Chicken Fiesta, a self-proclaimed Tex-Mex establishment, sells one of the juiciest chickens you'll ever eat. For $14.75 you can bring home a whole chicken and two sides. I recommend fried yucca and beans. Rocoto stays more faithful to the Peruvian origins of this style of roasted chicken, using a more assertive spice rub and only hardwood charcoal. A whole chicken is $9.99, with two sides, $15.99. Get a side order of some pupusas while you're there; the Salvadoran cook is using an old family recipe and making some of the best in Richmond.
7748 Midlothian Turnpike, 320-1112
7925 W. Broad St., 527-0009
Daily: 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
8902 W. Broad St.
Monday-Thursday: noon-3 p.m., 5-9 p.m.
Friday-Saturday: noon-3 p.m., 5-10 p.m.
Sunday: noon-3 p.m., 5-7 p.m.
The Naked Onion
You can be forgiven if you haven't heard of the Naked Onion. Though it's been open for a year, its owners have invested no money in marketing, relying on Richmond's word-of-mouth support for good restaurants. Its low-profile building doesn't raise its profile either, on one of the rare, underused blocks of Cary Street between Carytown and Virginia Commonwealth University. But it's worth seeking out this takeout-only establishment for some of the best sandwiches in Richmond. The pork belly banh mi ($9.50), served on crusty french bread, pairs the rich, soy-marinated pork with acidic pickled carrots and daikon, and is a worthy take on this Vietnamese classic. The grilled brie with caramelized onions and apple compote ($8.50) effectively marries sweet and savory. Gluten-free options are available.
2118 W. Cary St.
Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.