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Eat Feature

TV Dinners

Mediterranean Palace · Sushi Café · Iola Café · Al Pacino Café · Ledo Pizza · Tamber's Nifty Fifties Dining · Banjara/Singh Express · Chokchai

Posted 2/25/1998

So you just dragged your raggedy self home from a long, miserable day, and the only thing you want in life is to lie on the couch with the remote in hand--if you can manage that much. The only thing missing from this Bad Day Recovery System scenario is a cordless phone, so that you can call in a life-saving order for dinner to be delivered right to your front door (or, at the very least, waiting for you at the eatery when you zip there to get it and zip right back to the couch). Unfortunately, however, you'll still need to feed yourself.

Carry-outs thrive on a compromise--the customer willingly gives up something in culinary quality for the convenience of eating at home and not having to cook. But there's no compromise necessary with Mediterranean Palace (5926 York Road, [410] 532-6677), which dishes up baba ghanouj and falafel that are as good as what you would get at a sit-down Middle Eastern restaurant and a smoky concoction called mujudurrah (lentils and rice with fried onions) that might just be better.

Sushi Café (1640 Thames St., [410] 732-3570) is a fun Fells Point eatery where a mythical monster called Sushizilla rules the sushi bar. But the whimsical surroundings, even the the sushi clock, are eclipsed by the skilled offerings of the Sushi Café's chefs, whose handiwork can be delivered right to your door. The creative house rolls, such as the fiery jalapeño-laden Ultraman roll, are especially good.

For either gourmet brick-oven pizzas or Middle Eastern treats, it's hard to beat the Iola Café (1019 Light St., [410] 752-232378; 3501 St. Paul St., [410] 662-0552) and the many Al Pacino Café locations throughout the metro area. Most Als and Iolas offer free delivery, bringing baba ghanouj right to your door. (Just make sure they get your order right; the carry-out service can be dicey.) When it's time to pick up the phone and order a pizza, the delicious, creatively-topped pies (consider the Cleopatra, with grilled eggplant, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and black olives) from Iola/Pacino make a mighty fine TV dinner.

There are also quite a few Ledo Pizza locations around (in Baltimore City, 1020 West 41st St., [410] 243-4222), and that's a good thing. These simple, low-key restaurants serve fresh dough pizzas and traditional Italian dishes that are a far cry from the usual spaghetti-shack fare. Intelligently seasoned marinara sauce is an important key to zesty calzones and pizza pies, and simple but excellent ingredients simply prepared make dishes such as the Ledo lasagna or sausage with peppers a truly pleasurable nosh, whether you eat it there or take it home.

"Indian!" "Diner food!" "Indian!" "Diner food!" Finally, there's a restaurant/carry-out that solves this age-old dinnertime dilemma. With Tamber's Nifty Fifties Dining (3327 St. Paul St., [410] 243-0383), you can order up lamb vindaloo or channa masala even when your companion wants meat loaf or a hot-turkey platter, and get it all brought to your door. Tamber's does both genres tolerably well, and makes good milk shakes to boot.

Operating under the same roof, Banjara and Singh Express (1017 S. Charles St., [410] 752-1895) are a unique duo. Banjara is a table-service Indian restaurant, while next door Singh Express delivers dishes from Banjara's venerable Indian menu along with a selection of Greek, Italian, and American specialties. Home delivery doesn't get any better than this--where else can one phone call net channa masala (curried chick peas), souvlaki, eggplant Parmesan, and French fries with gravy?

Looking for Thai food uptown? Consider NorEBo's Chokchai (6620 Harford Rd., [410] 426-3244) an island of exotica in a sea of pizza 'n' sub outlets. Seasonings such as lemon grass and cilantro, ingredients such as duck and squid, curry sauces both hot and mild--such are the staples skillfully wielded and united in this mom-and-pop storefront carry-out. Even if this isn't your 'hood, Thai treats this fresh (and cheap) are worth the schlep.

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