Chefs' Takeout Picks

By: Ann Limpert, Cynthia Hacinli

Peter Smith: PS 7’s

“When I need a quick meal right before the dinner service, one of my favorites is the roast pork and noodle soup from Full Kee” (509 H St., NW; 202-371-2233), says Peter Smith, chef at PS 7’s. The Capri sub from the Italian Store (3123 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 703-528-6266) is another go-to meal: “I pickle my own peppers, and when I get home I add those sweet and hot peppers.” Smith’s morning-after pick: the barbecue-bacon sandwich from Bahn Mi (3103-C Graham Rd., Falls Church; 703-205-9300): “Take that home and add a fried egg—it cures everything.”

R.J. Cooper: Vidalia

R.J. Cooper, chef de cuisine at Vidalia, likes to doctor up the Milano sub (two Italian hams, Genoa salami, provolone cheese) from the Italian Store (3123 Lee Hwy., Arlington; 703-528-6266). “We make it our own,” he says, by adding buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomatoes, and chili peppers. When he totes roast pork home from Mark’s Duck House (6184-A Arlington Blvd., Falls Church; 703-532-2125), he livens it up with his tangy homemade molasses-infused barbecue sauce.

Morou Ouattara: Farrah Olivia

Most Fridays, chef/owner Morou Ouattara of Alexandria’s Farrah Olivia swings by Flying Fish (815-A King St., Alexandria; 703-600-3474) and picks up dragon rolls, spicy tuna rolls, or crunchy salmon rolls: “It’s only a few blocks away, and it’s open late.” His guilty pleasure? Chick-fil-A (multiple area locations; chick-fil-a.com)—especially for the fries. But nothing is more convenient than popping into Balducci’s gourmet market (600 N. Franklin St., Alexandria; 703-549-6611) right next to his restaurant. He’s fond of the Kobe-roast-beef sandwich and has been known to bring home a roast chicken to turn into chicken Caesar salad. Add some cheese, wine, and a baguette, he says, and you’re all set.

Jamie Leeds: Hank’s Oyster Bar, CommonWealth

Lots of moms have hectic schedules, and chef Jamie Leeds (Hank’s Oyster Bar, CommonWealth) is no exception. Her five-year-old son is a fan of Chipotle (multiple area locations; chipotle.com), but for delivery Leeds looks to Rice (1608 14th St., NW; 202-234-2400) for chicken with cashew nuts, shrimp fried rice, and pork-filled green-tea dumplings with “really good dipping sauce.”

Brendan Cox: DC Coast

With three children under age six, DC Coast chef Brendan Cox is always on the hunt for takeout with kid appeal. “If they’re happy and it’s not burgers from McDonald’s, it’s okay by me,” he says. The family’s standby for takeout is Southern-accented Southside 815 (815 S. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-836-6222), where chicken-fried steak and “awesome” sweet-potato biscuits with country ham, crab, and gravy are the usual orders. When they’re in the mood for pizza, it’s delivery from Monterey’s (1230-A N. Henry St., Alexandria; 703-683-9400), which makes thin-crust pies with creative toppings. If Cox and wife Leslie are dining alone, they’ll ring up the country-style Thai restaurant Rabieng (5892 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church; 703-671-4222) for chicken-galangal soup, fried catfish cakes, and pad Thai.

Johnny Monis: Komi

When he’s not picking up an order of pad see-ew with salted fish and Chinese broccoli from Thai Square (3217 Columbia Pike, Arlington; 703-685-7040) or feeding his staff pizzas from his parents’ and brother’s pizzeria, La Casa (4551 Duke St., Alexandria; 703-370-3600), Komi chef Johnny Monis seeks out the roast chicken from El Pollo Rico (932 N. Kenmore St., Arlington; 703-522-3220). “I’ll reheat it with onions, garlic, and some chilies,” he says. “I’ll mash some avocado with lime juice and yogurt. Throw in some warm, soft tortillas, your hot sauce of choice, a well-made margarita or an ice-cold beer, and you’re talking pure comfort.”

Todd Gray: Equinox

Equinox chef and co-owner Todd Gray heads to Spices (3333-A Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-686-3833) for dragon rolls and ginger salad with carrot to go. He also swears by the thin-crust veggie-loaded pizza from Alberto’s in Adams Morgan (2438 18th St., NW; 202-332-2234) and mezze from Lebanese Taverna in Woodley Park (2641 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-265-8681)—the hummus, he says, “is the best in the world. Sometimes I just get that.”

Jonathan Krinn and Jon Mathieson: Inox

Jonathan Krinn and Jon Mathieson, chef/owners of Inox in McLean, have their own takeout strategies. Come dinnertime on a rare night off, Krinn craves the spicy tuna rolls from Matuba Japanese Restaurant in Bethesda (4918 Cordell Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-7449), but at 1 am, after he finishes up at the restaurant, it’s pancakes from the Tastee Diner (7731 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda; 301-652-3970). Mathieson’s Saturday-morning tradition is the breakfast bagel crammed with double egg whites, cheese, and ham from Tysons Bagel Market (8137 Leesburg Pike, McLean; 703-448-0080). A nighttime favorite? Chicken kebabs from Shamshiry (8607 Westwood Center Dr., McLean; 703-448-8883).

This appeared in the November, 2008 issue of The Washingtonian.