We’ve all done it – invited a big group over to eat and then realized we have neither the time nor the inclination to put on a big spread. Fortunately, there are plenty of purveyors of tasty takeout food that can feed a crowd on relatively short notice and for relatively little cost. Here are five of the best.
Co-op Midtown Market Sushi
It may come as a surprise that the Calgary Co-op Midtown Market offers takeout sushi for larger groups. It may come as even more of a surprise that it’s really good sushi. The takeout platters range in size from 26 pieces to 70 pieces and feature traditional rolls like California and fancy rolls like crunchy dragon and spicy mango. Some trays also include nigiri sushi, and trays range in size from 26 pieces to 70 pieces and cost about $1 per piece. The artfully arranged and beautifully coloured trays are made fresh to order – the sushi chefs can make the platters on short notice but prefer that you order 24 hours in advance.
(1130 11 Ave. S.W., 403-299-4257, calgarycoop.com)
Costa Vida Mexican
This little Mexican joint on Macleod Trail S.W. is actually an American chain restaurant (there’s one in Airdire and one in the northwest, too). It certainly doesn’t have the feel of a chain, though, and if you’re looking to serve fresh, authentic Mexican food to a crowd and not spend a lot, this place will surely satisfy. The takeout taco bar includes handmade tortillas, meat of your choice (sweet pork, shredded beef, grilled chicken, etc.), cilantro lime rice, black or pinto beans, shredded cheese, fresh greens and pico de gallo. The minimum order is for 20 people, it requires minimum 30 minutes notice to prepare and you can expect to pay around $200.
(1900, 705 Main St. S., Airdrie, 403-948-0345; 2118 – 8650 112 Ave. N.W., 403-460-7914; 9737 Mcleod Tr. S.W., 587-352-0706; costavida.net)
Who doesn’t love some barbecue at a backyard gathering? Holy Smoke BBQ’s Southern-style feasts include your choice of brisket, ribs, pulled pork or smoked chicken, plus traditional side items like coleslaw, beans and corn bread. This set-up is great for everyone since the vast selection of sauces allows people to tailor their eats to their preferences, from no sauce at all to searingly spicy and everything in between. Given that the meats are slow-roasted, Holy Smoke needs about 24 hours notice to feed about 20 people and up to three days’ notice for crowds of 100 or more. Cost to feed is around $150 for 20 people.
(4, 4640 Manhattan Rd. S.E., 403-605-9365; 420 16 Ave. N.E., 403-263-4659; holysmokebbq.ca)
It’s best known for its sausages but Spolumbos is no slouch when it comes to catering, especially for hearty appetites. You can order cold sandwich trays, but what really sets this service apart are the hot items like cutlets parmegiana on a crusty bun with cheese and tomato sauce or meatballs in tomato sauce. It can also do meat, cheese and veggie trays and salads like Italian tomato, pasta and potato salad. Prices are per person and run about $9 for hot entrees, $5 for trays and $4 for salads. It asks for minimum 48 hours notice for orders.
(1308 9 Ave. S.E., 403-264-6452, spolumbos.com)
Tazza Deli and Grill Middle Eastern
This family-run restaurant in Bridgeland puts a fresh spin on Middle Eastern cuisine and is a great choice for a group that wants to branch out from the usual pizza and sandwiches. You can choose from appies like vine leaves and falafel, and dips like hummus, baba gannoush and tzatziki with homemade pita bread. There’s also pita sandwiches with falafel, chichen shish taouk and beef shawarma, and salads including tabouli, Greek, fava bean and fatoush. If you have a sweet tooth, the baklava dessert platter is the perfect finish to this meal. Tazza needs minimum 24 hours notice for orders.
(1105 1 Ave. N.E., 403-263-5922, tazzafresh.com)