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Fave "takeout" food from grocers (PHX)?

There's home cooking and dining out. What about that middle ground where you simply want to grab ready to eat fare from a grocer/market? Any faves? It might be a place, or simply a dish worth trying.

This might be a tough thread to avoid chains, as so many markets are indeed chains. But even then, it can be said there's a huge difference between a 40 year old store and its modern cousin. I've got an ancient Bashas and Frys near me and the deli fare is reflective of days gone by... corn dogs, beef-a-rooni, fried everything. They don't even offer roast chicken or fresh bread. But the occasional corn dog aint that bad (try making it at home). Meanwhile the nearest AJs has a sushi bar and a deli that rivals most restaurants in selection and price. In N.Y. And in many a new market we have olive bars, bakers, etc. What's good?

I like hitting AJ's for the salad bar. It's one of those dishes that can and should be dead cheap, but at the same time would be crazy to make if you wanted 50+ choices of things to add. Then I discovered Wild Oats had a better salad bar, with 15% more the selction and at the same cost (I made that up - but they do have more stuff)

A few years back, Sunflower was on my rotation for Deli fare. They seem to have declined in offerings. Sprouts stepped in, but I've not stumbled upon anything I crave. Phoenix Ranch I'd like to figure out, but that will require some serious study. On the flip side, I have popped by the Food City from time to time, and actually scored a nice carnitas dish.

Do you have any fave places or simply certain dishes? Costco Pizza? Lee Lee's duck?
What about those specialty grocers.. Italian, German, etc? Just wondering what might be worth an extended trip.

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  1. Phoenix Ranch Market wins hands down. Just dive in and enjoy yourself. For a good starter, get one of their family packs... carnitas or pollo asado, a ton of fresh corn tortillas, rice, beans, chips, salsa, cilantro/onion, it serves six for under 20 bucks.

    5 Replies
    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

      A new market is opening @ Gainey Ranch called Dish. A James Beard Nominee from the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills (William Gideon) and Martin LaMarche from Binkleys. They are calling it 'A treasure chest of chef crafted food'...the pizza's will be Vera Pizza Napolentana certified
      They will have take out items and homemade pastas.....produce.....boutique wines and cheeses
      A wall of 'Stunning salads' a sandwich bar, soups, a grill station, carved prime rib, rotisserie chicken
      Hot entrees such as duck confit, w/ crispy foie gras and seckle pear and Maine lobster and shrimp pot pie.........

      I can't wait until it opens in August

      1. re: ciaogal

        The timing of this thread is good. We had swimming lessons last night, and by the time that circus was over, mommy declared the kitchen to be closed. I headed to the Safeway down the street for some sandwiches. I'm all about grabbing a $3.49 Subway for a quick lunch, but the sandwiches at Safeway are just a step beyond.

        The AJ's on Frank Lloyd Wright also has an outdoor grill. They make some pretty good burgers and pulled pork sandwiches.

        Ranch Market is great, but I fully understand that not everyone can just hop on over to one. I always end up buying carne asada, salsa, produce, and corn tortillas for grilling while we're there eating.

        My dad was very fond of showing up with a big pack of tortillas and a quart of beans from Carolina's when we were growing up.

        Overall, it's summer. Growing up, summer meant sandwiches for dinner in our house. My mom would say it was too hot to cook, so she would load up on deli meats, cheeses, different breads, and produce. I'll probably continue the tradition.

        1. re: ciaogal

          ciaogal, i'm right near gainey ranch. do you have any more info on dish? i'm ready right now. : )

          1. re: ccl1111

            ccl1111...All I know is what I see when I am driving by... and what I have read in the AZRepublic.
            It's looks as if they are in the hiring process ...and getting ready to open
            Here is their web site: www.mydishmarket.com

            "A food lover's market and bistro. A treasure chest of chef crafted food with tastes from around the world. Enjoy our full service menu nightly in our casual, yet sleek bistro or shop our market for culinary meals to be taken to your place. From scratch bakery, fire roasted pizzas, home made gelato and chocolate, fresh produce and flowers, fine cheeses, abundance of wine, to die for salads and sandwiches....... We are all about the food."
            Market: Daily 6am-8pm; Bistro: M-Th, Sun 4pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 4pm-11pm

        2. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

          If you like really good food to take home and prepare, I went to a place called Entrees Made Easy which is right up the road from Dish in Gainey Ranch. They actually have location all across the Valley. They use all fresh ingredients and you can choose the make the food yourself and they will put it together for you. I like it because they let you make it how you want it. Plus, the food is yummy! I am so glad I found this place.

        3. i like the takeaway stuff from calabria italian deli..sandwhiches, anti-pasta, entrees...also - little known secret - they have some super fantastic frozen sorbets in fruit that are to die for *coconut sorbet in coconut shell, lemon sorbet in a lemon, etc*. ask for 'em, they are deee-lish.

          2 Replies
          1. re: winedubar

            I love the Soups , chili's and stews @ Whole foods.....
            The seafood bisques, gumbos and chowders are stellar...you can taste most of them before you buy
            They also have many entree selections to go as well as terrific calzones, pizzas and sandwiches....
            Tastyjon...I agree w/ you the salad bar has many entree selections to go as well...

            I also like the prepared salads @ Trader Joe's they are reasonably priced,

            1. re: ciaogal

              I live within walking distance of Whole Foods, and boy, do I walk there a lot! Great soup with good selection of fresh bread at dinner-time.

          2. We often hit Safeway for soup, sushi, sandwiches or salad. My husband really likes their soup.

            I've been impressed with Whole Foods. The only problem, for us anyway, is location. We live no where near Tempe.

            On the cheap, can't beat $2 for a hot dog and soda at Costco. Haven't tried their pizza, though.

            1. AJ's pizza
              Defalco's mozzarella/tomato salad
              Wild Oats' salad bar
              LGO's sonoma salad (also in the pizzeria)
              Food City's carne asada (good for easy tacos)

              2 Replies
              1. re: azhotdish

                azhotdish...which Sprouts do you shop @ ?
                The one by me doesn't have a salad bar.....wish they did :-(

                1. re: ciaogal

                  Oops, I just edited that - I meant Wild Oats. The Sprouts that I shop at though is 28th/Indian School, and they don't have a salad bar either.

              2. DeFalco's!!! Everything is good there. My favorites:
                salads: Greek salad; chicken caesar salad.
                sandwiches: Cheesesteak; sausage pepper and onion; Italian beef.

                1. Down in our neck of the woods we swing by AJ's for the soups a lot. I've brought home dinner a couple times...kind of hit or miss. Huge portions though and one dinner can feed both of us.

                  Someone mentioned the Safeway sandwiches...those are pretty good!

                  We live across teh street from a Sprouts but haven't found their prepared foods to be that good. The Whole Foods is opening up this summer and I"m looking forward to that on the "don't feel like cooking" nights.

                  The Basha's at Chandler and Dobson has one of those Chinese Food counters....for years we were amazed by the lines there and finally broke down and tried it. Most if it is pretty greasy but the white rice, veggies, and either the BBQ pork or teriyaki chicken makes a decent not too greasy quick meal. For less than $7 it's plenty of food to feed both of us.

                  We get take out a lot from Lee's Sandwiches, Pita Jungle, and Cyclo but those don't count as grocers.

                  I keep forgetting about FOod City when I don't want to cook...we're too far from Ranch Market for a quickie take out meal but the Food City is just a couple miles away...does Food City have anything good to offer?(we used to get the grilled chickens out in front but those have gone away since they added that "Su Cocina Dos Ranchitos"

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ziggylu

                    Not quite take out, but super fast non the less:
                    Trader Joe's has a fresh salmon "in a bag"; I toss some citrus in there (orange, lemon) with a little salt and pepper - cooks up in the oven in 12 minutes. Perfect for two who need quick, healthy, and tasty. In the 12 minutes I can either steam fresh veggies or toss together a simple salad. Perfect for after the gym!

                  2. Trader Joe's always carries a decent selection of fresh, pre-made meals, salads, sides, etc., that nearly always hit the spot in a pinch. And of course, always reasonably priced.

                    1. I was encouraged to check out one of the newer Bashas on Hayden/Indian School. It's a nice store in terms of being clean, covered parking, etc. but the takeout/deli fare looked drab. Blah salads. Bad Mexican (probably better at sister store Food City). Poor pizza. There's also a Chinese buffet up front which looks no different from a Panda buffet. Am I just hoping for more or is it we're simple happy with blah?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: tastyjon

                        Hmm...my expectations for a Basha's deli would be pretty low regardless of the age or condition of the store. Sadly, food that is cheap to produce and to buy wins out over quality food nearly every time, especially in situations where convenience is the primary draw.

                        I'm not saying convenient food necessarily is going to be of poor quality; for example, I think Whole Foods (and to some extent, Wild Oats) produce some high quality deli foods. But outlets like those are also working other marketing and production angles ("organic", "healthful", "gourmet") in addition to convenience, and accordingly are able to charge a premium.

                        My general feeling about convenience foods is that we get what we pay for. Five dollars might buy me a mound of food at the Basha's (or Fry's or Safeway) deli, but then what went into producing that mound?

                        1. re: tastyjon

                          The chinese take out at Basha's....for years we were AMAZED by the way people line up for this at the one by our house(Including the local fire house on a very regular basis!) but couldn't bring ourselves to try it. Finally we did...most of it is greasy chinese BUT....the teriyaki chicken and the BBQ pork are actually pretty good(they sell a lot of this if you stand and watch the line)! The vegetables are also good and not greasy. For $5-$6 we can get a two item combo with either the chicken or the pork and some veggies with white rice and is more than enough to feed us both.

                          The rest of the deli is weak and very typical of mainstream grocery. Aj's has a good deli of course and the food court at the Food City near us isn't too bad(nothing like Ranch Market but still good) but the mainstream Basha's aren't anything special at all.