Last Call: What menu item sends you into fits of excitement?

Restaurant basket of Garlic Knots
Photo: Ariana van den Akker/Portland Press Herald (Getty Images)

One of the joys of returning to restaurant dining is the act of leisurely paging through the menu, seeing what’s on offer. In a pandemic era limited to takeout and delivery, this perusal has been entirely action-oriented; you have to make a firm decision and commit to it as soon as you call the restaurant rather than asking the server what’s good or tacking on the ol’ “You know what? I’ll have a side of fries, too,” after everyone at the table has placed their orders. Reading over menus (even if they’re all in PDF form now) is a treat I never knew I’d miss. And with menu-scanning comes what I call the “Ooh!” foods.


The “Ooh!” foods are the ones that you can’t help but get excited about when you see them pop up on a menu. They might not even be particularly exciting/ complicated/fancy dishes; I’m much more likely to emit an excited “Ooh!” when I see garlic knots on a menu than when I see bacon-wrapped scallops. (Who in this universe has ever messed up seasoned butter?) Another big “Ooh!” food is, I am prepared to admit, pulled pork nachos. As soon as I see them under any menu’s appetizers section, I know they will soon be under my nose. Which menu items are you uniquely (and yes, maybe even weirdly) excited about when you encounter them?

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.


E=MC Hammered

I don’t know if it is from growing up on the West Coast or the fact that we never really went out to eat much when I was growing up, but I had never even heard of hushpuppies until I moved to DC after college and went out to eat at a crab place in Maryland. Manna from heaven...

Also, I suppose this counts: anytime I eat at a lunch place for the first time, I order a reuben. When done well, the reuben is the One True Sandwich, and if you can make a good reuben, I trust you can make any other sandwich.