HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


"doggie bags"??

I'm sure being "ancient" is a factor, but find that amount of food served in a restaurant is WAY more than I'm gonna eat at one sitting. I don't hesitate to have what I dont finish boxed up to go.

Back in June, joined brother and his family at the NJ shore for the day and we went out to a local/family place. I had fried flounder... hunka fish could EASILY have fed 2. Baked potato was MASSIVE... only ate half. When I asked to have left-overs boxed up, think I shamed SIL and her mother into doing the same?? One had 2-3 big fried shrimp and other had 2-3 fried scallops left on plate. I KNOW them well enought to just say... ya KNOW you're NOT really gonna EAT that tomorrow!?! Came home with lunch/dinner for next day... and not one shred of guilt!

Used to be a Victoria's Station in King of Prussia, PA... specialty was prime rib. Ranged from a boneless cut (probably a good 8ounces) to TWO bones (like from that scene in Uncle Buck!!). We'd come home with LOTS of stuff for dogs that dined on prime rib scraps... we'd reroast the MEATY bone, slather with BBQ sauce, and munch away the next day.

Are you a DB person??

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Absolutely. We make a point of setting aside a portion of our restaurant meals for our American Eskimo. She would be crushed if we returned home from dinner without a few morsels for her.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Perilagu Khan

      when my parents go out without me they bring home a "maggie bag" sometimes if they go to a place we frequent often it comes home with a note and and extra treat from the chef in it.

    2. Not any more. As I live alone, any leftovers would at most be an appetizer. Not like the kid can take it to school for lunch.

      2 Replies
      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

        Same here, it's usually some kind of late night or random fridge-grab snack.

      2. Certain restaurant insiders advise asking the server for a container so you can do your own packing of leftovers at the table, because it is not uncommon for the server or kitchen staff to help themselves to some of your food before packing it for you.

        I keep a baggie or two in my purse for that purpose, since sometimes the restaurant's DB packaging leaks.

        13 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          I can't imagine why a waiter would want to eat off my plate that I've been eating from. It's one thing for me to eat my own leftovers. If I were a server I would find that just disgusting. It's bad enough you have to look at another persons half eaten food but eat it?? Gross.

          1. re: Jpan99

            I'm not going to say this is "common" but it is not unheard of. If you had a pasta dish, they are not taking a fork and twirling themselves a fork full of pasta, but if you had a side of fries, onion rings things of that nature, yes they are sometimes eaten by staff.

            1. re: jrvedivici

              That tells me more about restaurant staff than I want to know.

              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                I've been in and around the business since I could first walk. Literally my first job at 3 years old was scraping gum off the tile floor of my fathers diner. There is NOTHING I haven't seen or experienced and what I mentioned here is rather tame.

                I laugh every time I read about people complaining about a hair in their food, or a servers thumb on the rim of a glass etc. While I completely agree it's poor service, it's such small consequences compared to the journey your food takes before it get's on your plate. Or in this case after!

                1. re: jrvedivici

                  Spare me the grisly details if you please!

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    When i was a young pup working in a very well known restaurant, the GM of the place used to pull Costanza's before it was ever a thought on a future Seinfeld episode. I used to shake my head in disbelief.

                    As a patron....there was a restaurant chain known as Bobby Rubino's Place for Ribs...a copy of Tony Roma's back in the 80's. Members from my club had the exclusive New Jersey franchise rights and had two restaurants in Bergen County. One of their feature specials was this thing called an *All City Rack of Ribs", which was actually two full racks/slabs of Canadian Baby Backs for $14.99...an amazing deal. I could just barely finish one rack, let alone two...so I asked for them to be wrapped up to go. The first two times I went to reheat the leftovers....only a half rack was in the doggy bag....Very annoyed to say the least. I could wait to go back and order them again, just so I could confront the Busboy or Server when they brought the bag back to the table....Sure enough, only a half rack was returned. I brought the issue up with the manager and he asked me if I was sure and if I did not eat the other half rack...

                    I told him he was an idiot and told the owners they owed me one and a half racks of ribs.

                      1. re: jounipesonen

                        heh heh, he's getting the slow roll. they haven't given him the ribs yet.

                    1. re: jrvedivici

                      Wouldn't be surprised about your food journey. I've been in retail electronics more than a few years and believe me your TVs and laptops take a beating at times. Fragile, please.

                    2. re: Perilagu Khan

                      Probably an indication of how poorly paid they are.

                2. re: greygarious

                  Aside from the fact that the staff may indulge themselves, I've had the experience where, because it's a 'doggy bag' the staff took that literally and included scraps from other plates for the dog.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    If I were that hungry as waitstaff, I'd probably take a few fries BEFORE serving it. Eating off a stranger's plate seems desperate and if they were going to do that, why not just take it off plates that weren't to be wrapped to go? Plenty of food gets thrown out in the back.

                    1. re: chowser

                      I have a feeling they don't necessarily think it through that much. Just food, sitting around.

                  2. Had dinner at a small bistro w/ this girl a few years back. She had the steak fritte and couldn't finish. Ask for a doggie bag. They took the steak away and returned w/ it wrapped in foil shaped like a small purse.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Chinon00

                      Some famous restaurant used to do a sort of foil "origami" swan of leftovers.....forget who

                      1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                        Was it at the Plaza? Or something? I remember it in an episode of the Sopranos...see how cultured I am? (slinks away)

                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                          Benihana and other Japanese Steakhouses used to do that.

                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                            I have encountered such at many restaurants.

                            Others have special bags, boxes and little foil seals.

                            It just depends.


                        2. I don't usually have food left to doggie bag, but when I do I usually request a bag and if it's early in the night somehow it seems to make it's way into my mouth before the next day.

                          1. For those that do "doggie bag" does it matter the company you're with. For example, I have a friend who will never doggie bag on a date or in other circumstances, do you have stipulations on your leftover taking?

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              I didn't in my younger, dating years, and I don't now at business dinners. When out with family and friends, we ask for the take home box with some frequency. Of course, it depends on the portion size and the food. I never see the point in taking home leftover french fries for example. Before I would do that, I would eat the fries and less of the main course if my appetite was waning.

                              1. re: John E.

                                Leftover fries make their way into potatoes and eggs sandwiches for the beach or hash for breakfast. Seasoned fries are the best for this.

                                1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                  We chop them up and sautéed with a little garlic and add to a potato cheese omelette, even better with the addition of broccoli or spinach.

                                  1. re: melpy

                                    We just toss them in the deep fryer for a minute or two. It works. And yes, they are great in hash.

                                2. re: John E.

                                  My friend told me that her dad used to whirl the leftover French fries in the blender with some onion and milk, etc, and make potato soup.

                                  1. re: kitchengardengal

                                    oh.....wow.....a GREAT idea! I'll save those fries in the freezer and when I got enough............Souptime!

                                    1. re: kitchengardengal

                                      That actually sounds interesting. The thing is, there usually aren't enough leftover fries to do something such as that.

                                      1. re: schrutefarms

                                        Ha! I don't even like fries and I can't resist eating them.

                                    2. re: fldhkybnva

                                      Back when I was dating, if it was the first few dates, I did not. Once we got to know each other I would.

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        I rarely doggie bag it because I overeat and rarely have leftovers but yes, in certain circumstances I could see someone evaluating whether or not to do it based on the tone of a meal. A business dinner or first date? I wouldn't take the leftovers home. I don't know why I feel that way.

                                        If it was a family member or long time friend that might judge me? I would take the leftovers home no matter what.

                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                          Perhaps I'm a girl of little shame, but yes, I would ask for a doggie bag even on a first date, especially if it were a bad date and I didn't like the guy, hah! I might feel a little bit more awkward about this if I really liked the guy and was trying to impress him, but I know I've still done it in the past. At the end of the night, I just say thanks for dinner and lunch the next day! :) not seriously, but you get the point.

                                        2. I don't know that I've ever been in a restaurant where a doggy bag was viewed with disdain. If there's something of value left on the plate why not take it home? I'm not taking a few random peas and a heel of bread, but if there's a decent amount of food then why not?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: ferret

                                            the heel of the bread is the most treasured part. battles ensue over who gets the heels.

                                            1. re: ferret

                                              Concur. Or, if there was disdain, I was blissfully unaware. I love leftovers for lunch so that is typically what happens with doggie bag fare.

                                              1. re: tcamp

                                                I've never remotely encountered any disdain. Heck, half the time the waiter will actually ask us if we'd like a "to-go box."

                                            2. Unless I'm traveling and have no way to store or reheat leftovers, yes, I will ask to have them to go if there's an appreciable amount, especially meats. The last time we had dinner out the leftovers from Mr. Tardigrade's roast chicken ended up as lunch for 2 people.

                                              I'd rather restaurants offered half-portions, though.

                                              1. When reviewing restaurants, over the last 15 years, I more often cite a restaurant for having servings that are just too large, far above citing them for having servings that are too small - actually I cannot recall the last time that I was disappointed on a serving portion.

                                                In the US, there does seem to be a certain patron, who wishes to order a meal at a restaurant, and then have enough to feed the entire neighborhood for a week. That is not what I want.

                                                Maybe it's because we travel about 200 days per year, so do not have a full kitchen to heat up leftovers, or maybe it's because we do not like leaving 5 lbs. of food on the table, when we leave, over-filled?

                                                I spend more time talking to chefs and GM's, and urging them to scale things back a bit, than ever asking that they increase the portion sizes. Having only a 12 oz. Filet is not an ideal, at least to me, unless we share that dish.

                                                Most have commented that they ARE offering reduced size portions, and especially for mains, as more, smaller plates seem to be gaining some support. Many restaurants are pushing their "Small Plate" offerings, as though that is a new concept, but the patrons do seem to be taking notice.

                                                Give me a 12-course "tasting menu," but sized in an appropriate fashion, and I am happy. Give me a "Meat & Three," that fills up the trunk of my rental car, and I am not so pleased.

                                                Just my way of thinking, and especially as my neighbors are often in Europe, or Asia, so I have few people to "gift" a ton of leftovers to.

                                                Also, my Bulldogs are on special diets, so no "people food" for them.


                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                  The cost of the larger portion is not in general a significant cost difference to the restaurant - the main part of the price is paying for rent, staff, etc. It is probably cheaper to offer large portions and get known for it - than to spend the savings on the smaller servings on advertising.

                                                  There is also thus a pricing problem. If the portion is 1/3 smaller the customer will expect a 1/3 cheaper price - that doesn't work in restaurant economics.

                                                  1. re: jounipesonen

                                                    You could certainly be correct on that. The differential between a 6 oz Beef Tenderloin, and a 12 oz Beef Tenderloin is not that much. It's just the guilt (for us).


                                                2. I am definitely a doggy bag person. Well, most of time anyway. Some foods just do not seem all that well to take home like French fries.

                                                  By the way, I don't have dogs, so I eat the doggy bag foods.

                                                  7 Replies
                                                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                    Disagree about left over French fries, although we rarely have any. Jerseygirl's suggestions above are what we do.

                                                    1. re: tcamp

                                                      Do you reheat them in a pan? I hear that works great but I've never tried it.

                                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                        Go for the toaster oven to reheat fries. It works great. Honestly, I've doggy-bagged a lot of fries just *to* reheat in the toaster oven, as I'm a crispy-fry type and a lot of otherwise tasty fries suffer a bit from not being crisp enough for me. Toaster oven to the rescue for leftovers.

                                                        1. re: cayjohan

                                                          We take a toaster oven on our roadies to San Antonio for the hotel. A stop in Lockhart and Luling for central Texas BBQ yields plenty of leftovers, plus whatever we get in the Alamo City. The hotel microwave cannot compare to a toaster oven.

                                                          1. re: cayjohan

                                                            We put them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with some red pepper flakes and bake for about ten minutes at 350, stir 1/2 way. Generally better than the first time around.

                                                          2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                            Cast iron pan, either on the stove top or under a low broiler flame.

                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                              Deep fry them. Since I discovered how awesome re-deep-fried-fries are (that was a mouthful to say), I almost look forward to leftover fries. They're even better than the first time.

                                                        2. Absolutely a DB person, I hate waste, but as I get more set in my healthy ways, I find myself wanting to indulge in not-so-good-for-you restaurant meals but don't want to indulge for the next several days. I often resent leftovers and try to give them to other family members so I won't feel compelled to eat them again :)

                                                          1. Totally okay with doggie bags. As my husband and I have 'matured', our appetities have diminished. We often have half our entrees left over.

                                                            Our waistlines thank us and our doggie thanks us. He's a little guy, so he just gets a small snack.

                                                            Weekends are often hectic, so having that nosh leftover in the fridge becomes a second meal. No shame in doggie baggin' it!

                                                            1. I have no problem requesting boxes for perfectly good food if I can use it, and doing so is appropriate. I never request leftovers on early dates or in business situations. But there is a Chinese place my friend and I go to, and we order 4x the food we actually want in one sitting just for the leftovers. I have, somewhat surprisingly, not finished a steak in a few fancy steakhouses, and the leftovers have always made great steak sandwiches.

                                                              1. I will if it's something I think I'll actually eat and that will reheat well. Pretty much all the regular italian type restaurants give way too much food, and it reheats well. This past weekend I had a family dinner at Maggiano's, and all of my companions were staying at a hotel, so I ended up with many of the leftovers. I left behind the stuff like fried calimari as I knew it wouldn't reheat well. But, the SO ate the lasagna for lunch on Sunday, and I had the chicken piccata and aglio e olio for lunch at work yesterday. Still have some gnocchi but that probably won't get eaten.

                                                                But, if it's a "nicer" place, or if it's food that won't reheat well, then I don't bother.

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                                  Julie - just a quick note, but I surprised myself by finding out that fried calamari actually reheats pretty well in the toaster oven. Not quite as good as fresh, but definitely very eatable.

                                                                  1. re: ludmilasdaughter

                                                                    Good to know. I don't have a toaster oven so I never think of using one of those.

                                                                    Also, I hate to say, that fried calimari is not a favorite to begin with :)

                                                                2. In my family, we take home everything. Leftover rolls included. And if someone says they don't want it wrapped, we volunteer to take it home for them.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                    "Ma'am. Ma'am. Please don't pack up that pepper mill!!"

                                                                  2. When my father asked for a doggy bag, I would always say 'gee dad, are we going to get a dog?'

                                                                    1. The only thing I have is a question. Doggy bag? I haven't heard that term since the early 80's.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: JMF

                                                                        The term does seem to have fallen out of fashion.

                                                                        1. re: JMF

                                                                          I was thinking the same thing. I can't remember the last time I heard it called a doggy bag. I just ask for it to go.I wonder if young servers get a kick out of "doggy bag."

                                                                        2. Sure, but I don't have such great luck when I'm in China.

                                                                          Either the food is placed in incredibly flimsy containers (similar to the average cup used for water coolers in China), the chopsticks melt in the plastic "pockets" they come in or the plastic bag your take-out is placed in gets incredibly hot, not to mention who knows what effect the materials have on the food. That latter point can be said about anywhere, but nothing is terribly comforting in the mainland...


                                                                          1. i try to always take food home with me if i am going straight home and have access to a fridge.
                                                                            i live in philly so usually i am headed out with friends after a meal, in those cases, most of my group has become accustomed to having our leftovers wrapped to give to the homeless on the streets. some may disagree with that but some people truly do appreciate it and you learn who really is hungry and who just wants your dollar.
                                                                            if i am going home, i usually don't like meat once reheated but usually someone at the table is willing to make it their next meal but as others have said, i also hate wasting food.
                                                                            pasta, asian and mexican make the best leftover meals!

                                                                            1. Doggy bags are extremely uncommon in my culture.

                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                I seem to recall a thread about that sometime ago.

                                                                                Do you think it's because portion sizes seem to be smaller in Europe? Or is it considered 'low class' to take leftover food home?

                                                                                Many years ago were at a small restaurant/bar (in a tiny, rural town of about 300) known for their steaks. The wife of our dining companions forgot her doggy bag (back then, it really was a paper bag lined with aluminum foil) on the table. When her husband went back in to retrieve it, a few of the locals sitting at the bar barked at him.

                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                  But if the place went to the expense of keeping those aluminum lined bags in stock (not cheap) it couldn't have been that unusual.

                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                    Doggy bags, or the styrofoam boxes in use today, are available in pretty much all restaurants of which I am aware.

                                                                                    I was just commenting on the 'barking' done by the regulars. It would not make sense anymore since doggy bags are not used anymore (I can't remember the last time I saw one.)

                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                      Oh they're still out there. With a picture of the dog and all. Just a lot more expensive than Styrofoam, so not every place's first choice.

                                                                                      Guess I should assume that some amount of alcohol was involved in the razzing?

                                                                                      1. re: coll

                                                                                        There probably was some alcohol involved, but there didn't need to be. This bar was in a tiny farm town where the only thing left was the bar, the elevator, and the post office.

                                                                                        I was optimistic about the population, it is now down to 12 (I looked it up) the post office is closed, the elevator is closed, but the bar and supper club is open and they've added a meat market.

                                                                                  2. re: John E.

                                                                                    Couldnt say for sure, John.

                                                                                    It's just not something that's generally in the tradition of any of the Europeans countries where I live or visit. Portion size will come into it. But I think there's just something cultural about it - certainly in the UK, going to a restaurant traditionally has something of the "occasion" to it - a date, a celebration, or similar - where it might not feel "right".

                                                                                    You do see doggy bags from time to time. There's a pub near me which only serve cheese and pate at lunchtimes. Enormous portions and they leave bags for folk to take away leftovers. And, oddly, it seems to be common in local Sichuan restaurants (but not other Chinese ones).

                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                      Agreed it's just very rarely done here. I have to say it's not something I'd ever consider asking for although we don't seem to suffer from the same gargantuan portions as the US.

                                                                                    2. re: John E.

                                                                                      I am not Harters, but I find the portion sizes in both the UK and Europe, to be about right - I might find some restaurants, that are more like the US with giant portions, but have not found them yet.

                                                                                      As for the "feeling" on "doggie bags" in the UK, I am but a visitor, albeit a frequent one, so I must let Harters address that.


                                                                                    3. re: Harters

                                                                                      Things may be changing in the UK -- "Doggy bags are so tomorrow" http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/d...

                                                                                    4. I rarely take leftover food home because restaurant food never seems to taste good reheated. I think there's a reason why it's called a "doggy bag".

                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: noodlepoodle

                                                                                        We went to a Korean cafeteria type restaurant a few weeks ago. The dumplings and spicy pork were really good the next day.

                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                          Some things make great leftovers - others, not so much. I love leftover curries.

                                                                                          Above comment made, just to stay on topic so I could tell you how much I adore your Red Owl avatar!

                                                                                        2. re: noodlepoodle

                                                                                          I've found that restaurant Indian food reheats rather well.

                                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                            In the few instances, where we had leftover curries, I did like them reheated. The flavors did a "meld thing," sort of like cooking gumbo, then letting it sit in the 'fridge overnight - things just come together.


                                                                                          2. re: noodlepoodle

                                                                                            Oh gosh. I think it tastes just fine. Must be all that salt.

                                                                                          3. In San Francisco we replate for somebody else if we don't take the food home for ourselves.

                                                                                            v. (re•plate): To place unwanted leftovers, typically in a doggie bag, on top of the nearest trash can so they don't go to waste.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                              Thank you for this, Melanie - love that there's a word for this practice of ours.

                                                                                              1. re: ElsieDee

                                                                                                Some have wondered why the bag is placed on top of a trash can rather than handed in person to someone in need. The reason is to preserve the dignity of the intended who may not want to accept charity or is shy about personal interaction. I know of at least two incidents where an attempted personal hand-off did not go well. It was quite clear that the homeless person was embarrassed to be singled out and the giver felt as bad about causing this. Something to remember.

                                                                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                  I have been sensitive to this, and your method is nicer, in retrospect I've only directly offered when 'spare changed' then and only then "hey how about a dinner instead!"

                                                                                                  dignity IS important. I never approach someone without their initial connection. and I don't say 'left-over' whatever, I say I have 'some' of whatever if they'd like.

                                                                                            2. I paid for it!.....it's mine! Whenever I want to eat it all!

                                                                                              We often do trips to the islands via Miami. There is a restaurant there (outside security in the hotel). Very nice and very quiet until 11:50 AM. Then much of the staff at the airport descends for lunch, often in big groups of 8-10. The waiters all know and doggie "bags" are brought at the end of the meal as a matter of course!................BTW.at 1:15PM it goes back to being peaceful and nice

                                                                                              1. I generally order the amount of food that I feel like eating at that meal---often appetizers instead of a main because I'd rather eat three small/different dishes than one large of the same thing. The only reason there would be something leftover would be because it wasn't very good--and that I'm not taking home. (I do not eat at restaurants known for large portions, it just doesn't appeal to me.)

                                                                                                1. I do doggie bag if I have nice leftovers that I can't finish. Like lots of chowhounds, I even share them with my actual doggie. He's quite the little soulful-eyed moochie.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                    A year, or so ago, we had some leftovers of a couple of great beef filets, at an Omaha restaurant. Though we were staying in a Hilton room, with no reheating capabilities, my wife chose the "doggie bag" route. There was room in the mini-bar 'fridge. The next day, I sampled that filet, and was surprised at how good it was cold. It got me through packing!

                                                                                                    Still, not our normal procedure.


                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                      We almost always have a cocktail (or two!) in our room before going out. Having a little snack to go with that is nice.

                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        With the correct food items, or a kitchenette, I would agree. With most "travel" leftovers, well, not so much. It just depends.


                                                                                                  2. I paid for it, it's coming home with me. I only take a doggie bag if there are a lot of leftovers, enough for a full meal or more. If my friend buys lunch I give my leftovers to him and he appreciates it. He says if he won't eat it his kids will. I can't see wasting a bunch of food. Makes no sense.

                                                                                                    1. I doggie bag for many of the same reasons that have already been mentioned. I hate to waste. I'll pretty much take anything with me as long as its of a substantial portion size and don't give much thought as to how well that particular food reheats. I've found in the past that when I'm stuffed after a meal and can't even imagine ever wanting to eat again, I've left my left overs only to wish I had them the next day when surprise, it turns out I did want to eat again! If I'm traveling and don't have anyway of reheating the leftovers, I will take them with me anyways and try to find a homeless person to give them to on the walk back to my hotel.

                                                                                                      1. Honestly, it depends on the weather and what I'm doing next. If it's winter here in MN, box that baby up it will keep just fine. Now in our current 95 degree heat wave (half considering trying to sous vide in my daughter's kiddie pool) unless we are going straight home, no.

                                                                                                        Sometimes I order for the extras, our favorite pizza and hoagie place is an easy next day your co-workers will be jealous lunch doggie bag.

                                                                                                        Now my MIL will get a doggie bag no matter what, then try to leave her half eaten food with whomever she's visiting. Sorry, I only eat my half eaten food, maybe Mr Autumn's but not yours.

                                                                                                        1. as a rule,
                                                                                                          i do my best not to waste food.
                                                                                                          i've read that over 40% of the food produced in the US is WASTED.
                                                                                                          if i can put the food to good use by taking the left overs with me, you bet i will do that.

                                                                                                          1. Yes! I always eat my leftovers. Except things that don't keep well, like dressed salads and French fries. One time I brought home at least half of a $50 petit filet, having filled up on the baked potato and bread. I was so excited to have it with eggs in the morning. Well...I forgot to put in in the fridge, so it stayed out all night. I'm sure it was just fine, but I wouldn't eat it, so I chopped it up, fried it in the skillet until there was no more pink, and the dogs got a lovely breakfast that cost more than a month of kibble :)

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: schrutefarms

                                                                                                              You are selling yourself short on those leftover fries. Try them with eggs or in hash the next morning.

                                                                                                            2. The practice of doggy bagging was a grey area here in Australia about a decade ago, when the health authorities outlawed it.
                                                                                                              Apparently, a diner got his shrimp dish packed up in a DB and went on his merry way.
                                                                                                              Four days later, discovered the bag on the backseat of his car and ate the old food, got sick and successfully sued the restaurant.

                                                                                                              Things have relaxed a bit since that debacle, but we are required to provide a health warning sticker on any doggy bagged food nowadays, and many restaurants (including mine) will provide you with a container, but will not put the food into it - that's up to you.

                                                                                                              21 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: cronker

                                                                                                                I'm surprised that the guy was successful at suing. The same thing could have happened with take-out food. Are your take-aways also required to label the packages?

                                                                                                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                                  Strangely, no. There is a caveat emptor clause in the food safety laws surrounding takeaway meals, and it was this that eventually helped us to once again allow doggy bags.
                                                                                                                  As I mentioned, most places now will give you a container but insist that you package it yourself. This is another get out of jail free card to ensure that we can't get sued.
                                                                                                                  Our rules are always changing down here, and you need to be on top of current laws all the time.
                                                                                                                  Recently, we became permitted to allow guests to take away any leftover wine if they purchase a bottle and don't want to drink it all, even if we don't have a take out license. But only if we keep the cap/cork. We now have a box of caps and corks behind the bar for this purpose...

                                                                                                                  1. re: cronker

                                                                                                                    Cronker, correct me if wrong, I'm hearing that you have to keep the original cork, and you just give a substitute? What's the rationale for that law? Sounds crazy. :)

                                                                                                                    1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                      Its all a bit silly really.
                                                                                                                      Most of our wines are now under Stelvin caps rather than cork anyway, but the "intent" of the law says we have to keep the original cap/cork should a patron wish to take their bottle home with them.

                                                                                                                      The reality of the law is that as long as we provide a cap/cork, the intent of the law is upheld.
                                                                                                                      The thing that puzzles me is what happens if you take a half empty bottle home with you and get pulled over by the police with a half empty bottle on your front passenger seat? You clearly may not be over the limit, but it is certainly going to raise suspicion by the authorities, no?

                                                                                                                      1. re: cronker

                                                                                                                        I'm always told to put the wine in the trunk by the staff, and if the weather is hot I'll bring an ice chest.

                                                                                                                        1. re: cronker

                                                                                                                          Ah, got it, thank you.

                                                                                                                          In TX, some restaurants have a clear plastic bag that slips over the bottle and seals with a bit of tape. The bottle should be placed in the trunk or the far back of the SUV (where you can't reach it for a quick swig lol).

                                                                                                                          1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                            I thought it was legal to drive with an open bottle in Texas. Or did the law get changed?

                                                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                              That law got changed, but virtually every convenience store has a big cooler of iced down singles up front. I often grab a Modelo Especial after work for the drive home. I'm not drunk, been doing it for years. before the haters come out, single beers will not stop people from getting drunk, when twelve packs are readily available.

                                                                                                                              1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                That low got changed back in the mid-to-late eighties, I bleeve.

                                                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                  Well, Texans could always go to New Orleans, where you can buy a 5 gal. Daiquiris, with six long straws - one for each occupant in the vehicle - well, almost: http://www.insideedition.com/investig...


                                                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                    I was in New Orleans on a gambling junket a couple of years ago but did not notice the Daiquiris Drive-thrus. That could have been because we didn't have a car however.

                                                                                                                                    I grew up in a small rural town that was founded in the 1870s as a 'Temperence town' and even in the 60s and 70s it was against the law to sell a drink on Sundays. So when I went to NOLA and saw people drinking Hurricanes while walking down the sidewalk, I was rather amazed. Of course it was a Sunday afternoon and the Saints were playing at home. (62 - 7 over the Colts.)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                      In our town, you can finally buy a drink at a restaurant on Sunday, since the law was changed about two years ago. Still no Sunday sales at the liquor store or in the beer and wine dept at the supermarket.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                                                                                                        They changed the law in my hometown many years ago that you can get an alcoholic beverage in a restaurant on Sundays, but the regular bars are closed. Minnesota still does not sell alcohol in grocery stores (except for 3.2 beer).

                                                                                                                                        I remember when I was young and we went to the local steakhouse for dinner and my father would bring a bottle of wine from home because the restaurant was not allowed to sell alcohol on Sundays.

                                                                                                                                      2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                        John E.,

                                                                                                                                        Going "the other way" can be a bit unsettling, as well.

                                                                                                                                        Having grown up in the shadow of New Orleans, I rather, and foolishly thought, the rest of the US was similar.

                                                                                                                                        Then, I walked out of a bar on Hyman St. in Aspen, CO, with a beer in my hand (no glass), and ran afoul of two of Pitkin County's finest. They were lenient, but informed me that not one drop could leave the bar/restaurant. I learned something that night.

                                                                                                                                        It's like entering into a game of 8-ball, in a strange pool hall - one must get all the rules, ahead of time.


                                                                                                                        2. re: cronker

                                                                                                                          And I thought America was the home of lunatic lawsuits. What a crock.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                            PK - I was about to post the same!

                                                                                                                            DN - re wine - some states/cities have loose open container laws. some don't. I thought TX was one of the looser ones. imagine my shock visiting STL, MO a few years ago (used to be very uptight) only to be offered a 'go' cup and wondering "what is this, New Orleans?"

                                                                                                                            1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                              I lived in Georgia back in the mid-'90's and the county next door was dry. But my county was so wet you could legally drink beer while driving.

                                                                                                                          2. re: cronker

                                                                                                                            How come you know about the 4 day delay in eating - and the restaurant's lawyer didn't? :-)

                                                                                                                            1. re: jounipesonen

                                                                                                                              The lawyer was well aware of the four day thing. The restaurant was successfully sued for not providing "best before" information on the doggie bag.
                                                                                                                              Now, we have stickers that warn patrons about the safe consumption and storage of leftover food taken from the restaurant.

                                                                                                                              1. re: cronker

                                                                                                                                Yikes - end result good but what a path.

                                                                                                                            2. I'll get leftover food boxed up if:

                                                                                                                              a.) It's something I'll actually want to eat the next day. Leftover meatballs? Sure. Leftover fish? No thanks.

                                                                                                                              b.) I'm going straight home and the container is easy to transport. I don't necessarily want to carry a chinese takeout box of curry on the subway, especially if I don't have a bag.

                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                I don't have any choice - I had stomach surgery which has forced me to eat much less - so when eating out, I always ask for a box/container, even before the food is served. Even most apps are too much for me. I have never felt judged, even in the most expensive places.

                                                                                                                                1. re: dberg1313

                                                                                                                                  I keep an assortment of sturdy, reusable storage containers in the trunk of the car and bring a couple of them in a tote bag into restaurants to take leftovers home. Cuts down on unnecessary trash of throwing away one-time use containers, and these are more secure and leak-proof.

                                                                                                                                2. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                                                  LL - that's why I ask for a soup container - hate that clamshell molded foam slopfest enabling device. and I know I'm going to mix it all up anyway (well with most sauced Asian dishes anyway, yes rice and all thx).

                                                                                                                                3. I love a take home container. Even when traveling on business if the hotel room has a fridge I will take back my leftovers. I was one the object of jealousy when at a conference I took the nice roll the "turkey" sandwich came on and substituted my leftover steak from the night before. I had people asking me where I got my sandwich.

                                                                                                                                  There is one place my parents like to dine at -- the portions are so large (and many entrees come with a side of pasta) that I can get two meals out of the leftovers.

                                                                                                                                  1. yes, i am a DB person. i was raised not to waste food, because my mom lived in a poor farming area with a large family during the depression, and learned some tough lessons. i hate to see people leave good food on their plates to go into the bin. i am a depression-era-child-by-proxy.

                                                                                                                                    as to those shrimp and scallops, i'd have taken their doggie bags from them, LOL, telling them i know i CAN use this (then i would've crisped them up in a hot skillet, put them on a crusty roll with remoulade and shredded lettuce, and been a happy camper!)(i'm assuming your relatives didn't slobber all over the shrimp and scallops so as to impart their cooties, right?).

                                                                                                                                    the only time i don't take a doggie bag is if i'm at a business luncheon, or out to dinner where we will be going on to some other event. those times, i try not to over-order, so that there is no leftover food.

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                                                      or depending on the city get the bag and give it fresh off the plate to a homeless person. never been turned down. funniest reaction once was something like "Gai Gao Prao! spicy right? hell yeah!"

                                                                                                                                    2. I really try to not over order, or ask if there is a lunch portion or try to share with someone if I know the entrees are massive. I will doggie bag if I am going home immediately after and there is enough to take.

                                                                                                                                      After a business dinner at a steakhouse, our host had all the leftovers on the table boxed up and he gave it to a homeless person, I thought this was a little bizarre. He clearly thought it was an act of kindness.

                                                                                                                                      20 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                                                                                                                        how is that bizarre? I'd say it's compassionate. (unless of course the guests weren't given the option of keeping their take-away or were 'guilted' into sharing)

                                                                                                                                        1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                          Well its sort of thoughtful but the more I thought about it, the more disgusting it seemed. Just because someone is homeless do they want a cold Porterhouse that two strangers ate from either end of? But I suppose, yes, some would.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                                                                                                                            We're in Rio right now and a man down on his luck asked the couple next to us if he could have their leftovers and they happily gave it to him. This was a sidewalk cafe btw.

                                                                                                                                            On a related topic, we're finding on this trip to Rio that they've started charging under a dollar for the takeaway container. But they're quite nice containers :)

                                                                                                                                            1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                                                                                                                              yes WEY it is sad, but when I've pondered what my life would be like on the street (and I have come close a few times), I think I'd lose my pride rather fast. money for food, cooking facility - all difficult to source. in my book if I had an issue I could just cut off the 'touched' edges. better than it getting tossed into the dumpster and inevitably fished out later there and with less muss.

                                                                                                                                              of course if I were a homeless guy with a dog (and I have noticed this in many cities) their dogs always eat first.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                And also on this, isn't there a group who identify themselves as Freegans?
                                                                                                                                                They scour dumpsters for packaged and/or fresh produce that is thrown away at closing time for shops?

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cronker

                                                                                                                                                  I saw something on TV about Freegans. I think San Francisco has a large Freegan community.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                    "I think San Francisco has a large Freegan community."

                                                                                                                                                    Go figure.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                                                      A lot of 'way out there' things that are now commonplace likely started in SF. Here's some info:


                                                                                                                                                    2. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                      Interesting, as San Francisco has the one of the largest "safety nets," for disadvantaged, of any city in the US. Washington, DC, is right up there with them. Each seems to have an extremely large population, living on the streets, and panhandling. With the various municipal, state and Federal programs, it would seem odd, that one could fall through all of the cracks, but so very many seem to have done just that.

                                                                                                                                                      Now, if one is getting, say Food Stamps, but they choose to use them in other ways, and they choose to not go to one of the various missions, I suppose that they might also choose to dumpster dive for a meal.

                                                                                                                                                      I am just glad to not be faced with such, and also glad that I can contribute to many charities - mostly medical charities, but still I wonder what is going wrong in the USA.

                                                                                                                                                      OTOH, I think that some folk just love to "live on the streets," sort of like survivalists, who enjoy spending a month in the wilderness, with no food, little water, and almost no shelter. It's like a snowboarder, who creates an avalanche and then jumps into it, to see if they will survive. Just not MY thing.


                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                        The Freegan's I saw on the television show were not homeless. They were more like the 'green' people who saw waste they thought should not be haplening. It seemed like a game or a challenge to them to see who coild find the best food in a Dumpster.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                                                                                          Right. A Freegan is making a social/political statement.

                                                                                                                                                    3. re: cronker

                                                                                                                                                      There's a great episode of Portlandia about Freegans :)

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                                                                                                                                    Let them eat cake? If you had to choose between cold leftovers and being starving, which would you choose? There was a thread about how servers will eat off people's plates which is why some restaurants have them box in front of the customers (although I'm thinking it would be to stop customers from claiming they had more food to begin with).

                                                                                                                                                    You could do what a friend of mine does which is ask the person what he/she wants and order a fresh meal to go. That would be kindest.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                      Been in the game for over 20 years and have never seen a waiter/busser eat off a returned plate. It is considered vile and dirty over here. Maybe I just lucked out with where I have worked, because I likewise have never seen a chef spit etc in anyone's meal.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cronker

                                                                                                                                                        While I certainly do not know every restaurant in the US (cannot speak for the rest of the world), many servers are fed either before service*, or after. While there might be strange situations, I cannot imagine a server chowing down on a patron's leftovers, but probably happens somewhere.


                                                                                                                                                        * The "before" can be very useful, to educate the servers regarding the dishes of the night, and maybe even the wines, that the sommelier/wine steward is recommending. Real benefits to all, with that plan.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                          I've seen on a Ramsey and a Bourdain episode where cooks, not chefs cook up a pre-service meal. On the Boudain Les Halles episode it was a Mexican dish served up by Mexican cooks in a New York French style bistro.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                            I'll bet you'd get some good food at those meals. I'd pay to join in!

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                              a friend of mine's husband is a cook at a sit-down casual italian place and the kitchen is mostly mexican (as is he).
                                                                                                                                                              i look forward to nights i am at their house and he comes home from work cause he always brings back some of the "kitchen dinner", they cook it after the rush is over.
                                                                                                                                                              it is always some fantastic, yet simple mexican food.
                                                                                                                                                              last time i was there, he brought back some incredibly delicious and spicy salsa and guacamole that we just devoured with chips. he mentioned they also made some simple chorizo tacos (someone brings it in) with just meat, onions, lime on tortillas.
                                                                                                                                                              just proof, the best stuff sometimes is just simply prepared.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: James Cristinian

                                                                                                                                                                Every restaurant I have worked with has a "family" or staff meal for staff before they open. I also have never seen any staff eat from leftovers on a plate.