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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

On a stakeout for the area's best takeout

Our restaurant carryout crusade continues ... and we have the scoop on Joey's "Slim Joey" ham sandwich

Chicken Adobo bowl from Barkada's restaurant
Chicken Adobo bowl from Barkada's restaurant

With some local restaurants reducing takeout hours and others succumbing to temporary closure, it’s starting to get a tad more difficult knowing when and where you can grab good grub to go.

Bao buns from Barkada's restaurant
Bao buns from Barkada's restaurant

Still, we’re doing our part to help community businesses through this Corona-crisis and I pray others are doing the same. After enjoying a variety of carryout dishes from Noah’s Restaurant & Lounge during the first week of quarantine, we added a few more places to our rotation this past week.

One day we picked up a delicious take-home lunch from Barkada’s, the hot new Filipino-inspired bistro at the foot of Fort Hill that had opened just a few weeks before restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms.

I had previously tried (and loved!) the restaurant’s signature lumpia spring rolls with sweet chili-lime sauce; glazed pork belly and chicken karage bao buns with scallion-peanut slaw; wedge salad with crispy wontons and grilled Spam; and the most incredibly flavorful Hernshaw Farms mushroom bowl with toasted garlic, sweet soy and sesame over pancit noodles.

Fili Cheesesteak from Barkada's restaurant
Fili Cheesesteak from Barkada's restaurant

So this time around we dug into Fili Cheesesteaks stuffed with Korean-braised beef, roasted peppers and onions, and house-made cheese whiz on toasted Kristi Ann hoagies; a chicken karage bowl with pickled veggies, sweet chili-lime sauce and scallion-peanut slaw over jasmine rice; and a sesame-seared Ahi tuna noodle bowl with sesame-cucumber relish and Napa cabbage slaw.

I really loved being inside the new restaurant’s cool modern dining room, but getting a taste of Barkada’s at home was the next best thing.

A few days later, we snagged dinner at Sarah’s Bakery at the top of Bridge Road. In addition to the baked treats and sweets you know and love, Sarah’s also offers a rotating menu of dinner options to go, including signature pot pies, soups, pastas and an occasional savory Rueben pie that is slap-your-momma good.

Filipino Wedge Salad from Barkada's restaurant
Filipino Wedge Salad from Barkada's restaurant

We had pre-ordered a family tray of zingy Cajun chicken pasta that we simply took home, doctored up with tomatoes and scallions, and popped in the oven to heat. Both easy and delicious.

For dessert, we indulged on Sarah’s insanely good Mac Daddy cookies, a magical marriage of macadamia nuts, coconut, chocolate and J.Q. Dickinson salt that mere words cannot do justice. You must. Go try. Them now.

But as good as they were, my favorite part of supporting Sarah’s Bakery came when I asked if I could add a tip to my pickup. That’s when she told me she’s giving all tips collected back to her staff members who are unable to work during this extended shutdown. Love that.

• • •

Denise Giardina is one of many readers who are also doing their part by ordering frequent takeout meals from local restaurants and then promoting those offerings on social media.

“I have been ordering takeout several days since last week, and taking a picture before I eat, and then posting it on Facebook,” she wrote. “I look at this as a form of advertising to urge people to get takeout from these very important restaurants. So far I have promoted Olive Tree Café, Mi Cocina (before it closed), Leonoro’s, Graziano’s and Karubees Jamaican Restaurant. All are taking appropriate precautions and I felt safe eating their food. I hope others will support local restaurants and promote them on social media.”

On a related note, Denise reminded me that Leonoro’s was only three years old when the flu pandemic of 1918 hit our area.

“They survived and here they are 105 years later,” she added. “I hope they survive COVID-19.”

• • •

If only this drama were just a bad April Fool’s joke.

But it’s most definitely not, which has many of us looking ahead to what happens after this whole mess is over?

One idea I’ve heard from several readers and restaurant owners is coordinating another “Charleston Restaurant Week” type of promotion to jump-start these businesses getting back on their feet.

I know there’s a lot a work involved in making something like that happen – and restaurants have enough to deal with as it is – but it’s not a bad thought.

Outside of an official campaign, I also like reader George Douglas’ idea for putting his own hit-list together.

“At this time, I’m even hesitant to do carryout or drive-through, but I have decided to have my own personal restaurant week(s) once this is over, concentrating on the locally owned places first,” he told me. “I’m already compiling a mental list to get me through, I just hope they’ll still be there.”

• • •

Remember the reader who was looking for a recipe for the original Slim Joey ham sandwich and fried cheese balls he used to love at Joey’s Bar & Grill downtown before it closed years ago?

Menu from Joey's Bar & Grill
Menu from Joey's Bar & Grill

Joey’s sister, Karen Samples, came to the rescue with a description and copy of the menu.

A Slim Joey, noted on the menu as one of the restaurant’s favorite offerings, featured shaved ham on a grilled hoagie bun with Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and “special sauce,” which Karen divulged was “a homemade version of Thousand Island with a little kick.”

It went on to say the Slim Joey was also great with banana peppers, although that addition would cost you an extra 75 cents.

Those glorious cheese balls, she said, were simply a special order from Sysco. No magic there, but tasty nonetheless.

“I’m happy to provide this information to your readers,” she added. “It’s nice to be remembered and I’ve shared all of this with Joey.”

• • •

Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at

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