Last Friday night, we went out to eat, though not exactly.


We did what has become another new normal for so many over these last several months: we placed an order online, picked it up, and brought it home for a date-night dinner in.


Though perhaps not newsworthy, for my wife and me, this was an event as it marked only the lucky thirteenth time that we ate out by proxy since March, strange but true for a guy who writes a weekly dining column.


Throughout the pandemic’s spell and all of the subsequent iterations of isolation, we have simply chosen to stay at home, partly because I love to cook and partly because we have not wanted to be around the masked or unmasked masses.


I am thrilled for all of the local restaurants that have stayed open or have reopened, and I have nothing but admiration and gratitude for the proprietors and restaurateurs who have dutifully added sound safety measures to their already chockablock daily regimens.


Nevertheless, we just have not been ready to get back out there, other than an early evening meal at Tacos+Tequila so that I could cover its recent opening: well worth it, indeed.


Everything else in its own time.


On the relatively few occasions when I have taken a night off in my own kitchen, my wife and I have turned to a spreadsheet of every Savannah restaurant where we have eaten since we moved to town. Honestly, because we miss dining out at this special city’s best and tastiest places, those choices have been easy.


We have not yet felt like going all out, but we have enjoyed terrific takeaway from a half-dozen places that will not break your bank and will surely satisfy.


GENEVA’S FAMOUS CHICKEN AND CORNBREAD CO.


This past Friday, we ordered tenders and sides from what is, dollar for dollar and pound for pound, the best restaurant in town, and I do not type that lightly. Geneva and Kenny Wade have become family to us. We love them, their kids, their employees, and their quaint and cozy comfort-food eatery, and no other place have we missed going to more since our self-imposed semi-shut-in began.


This was the second time we had ordered from Geneva’s and picked it up ourselves, though it is on DoorDash, but having it delivered would have denied us a chance to catch up with the Wades from behind our masks and at a distance before we carried out our food: tender dinners with sides of potato logs, green beans, and squash casserole plus the gratis cornbread.


Whether fried chicken pieces or fried shrimp, hand-cut yams or broccoli apple slaw, you cannot go one bite wrong. Make sure you ask for double dippings of their homemade BBQ sauce.


SQUIRREL’S PIZZA


Our first foray back into the dining wilds was a savory surprise: all the way from Rochester, NY, my niece and sister-in-law ordered me a birthday meal from Chris Dickerson’s super-hip pizza-and-more brasserie. It took the two of us three glorious days to polish off every delicious dollop of the mammoth lemon ricotta lasagna. Not two weeks later, we did the deed ourselves, reprising the Family Meal order and subsequent three-day feast.


One June night, craving a professional pizza, we ordered a Benny Blanco and two sliders, one lamb and one beef, and then in early August, we picked up a pepperoni pie, a Benny Blanco veggie, a beef slider, and a local greens salad.


Again, it hurt not to be sitting in a booth on Bull Street under the lovely lights, but it still tasted so right served on our kitchen counter.


GREEN TRUCK NEIGHBORHOOD PUB


Sure, anyone can grill up a burger at home, regardless of the global crisis of the moment, but recreating the tableau of Green Truck’s grass-fed beef topped with pimento cheese beside a pile of flawless fries is a food fool’s errand. That is why we have picked up dinner there three times in the last few months.


We were so glad when Josh Yates and his team reopened during the third week of July for to-go orders, available Thursday through Sunday. As of Aug. 5, Green Truck was back open on Wednesdays from 4:30 to 9 p.m., and Aug. 9 saw Savannah’s best burger joint’s first-ever Sunday brunch takeaway service (11:30-2:30), which remains an order-out option.


Few foods make me feel more like the world is going to be okay than a cheeseburger, and Green Truck is the cure for what ails any of us.


NOM NOM POKÉ SHOP


Ashley Mumbray and Harold Schroeter are beyond ‘good people’. They are outstanding people, and in almost exactly a year’s time, the husband-and-wife proprietors of Nom Nom Poké Shop have cemented their spot in the Bull Street Great Eats Corridor. Their surftastic corner eatery celebrates its one-year anniversary this week, and my wife and I are not alone in saying that we could eat their fusion food every day.


One night, we needed poké bowls - the blushing seared beef for me and the pink pearlescent ahi tuna for my wife, both topped with crispy shallots and other assorted edible accoutrements. We made it even better with a side of wonton chips.


I cannot imagine how SCAD’s COVID-curtailed spring semester hurt Nom Nom’s walk-in student business, especially as it led into an even slower summer season. Still, Mumbray and Schroeter are every bit the dedicated owners-chefs-cashiers-servers, and in their sweet smiles and kind words, you will see that they value your patronage even more than you adore their fabulous food.


787 BY CHAZITO’S


Having not eaten any Latin cuisine for months, I went cliché and ordered a Cuban sandwich. Sue me.


Chaz Ortiz and his culinary crew make a mean one, and I wanted it with yuca fries and Chazito sauce. My wife and I split an order of queso empanadas, and she had the pollo pincho: perfect.


After a closure lasting nearly four months, Chaz Ortiz’s Bull Street brick-and-mortar reopened on July 23 as a restaurant, offering its full menu for dine-in or takeout, and a newly conceptualized bodega, providing fresh-baked breads, prepped meals, and international pantry items.


If you have seen the recently posted photos of 787’s Pan de Mallorca and chocolate bread pudding, you will probably be there to grab-and-go this weekend.


CULVER’S (FOR CUSTARD)


A summer without ice cream is a gastronomic nuclear winter. We have gone without Leopold’s since March, but we have driven down to Judy and Terry Smith’s Culver’s on West Montgomery Cross Road twice for drive-through frozen custard.


My wife and I are such food nerds that we plot out our Culver’s quests by way of their emailed monthly calendar of Flavors of the Day. Our going there when butter pecan was on tap was no accident.


Even when we have ventured out to order in, we have stayed close to home. We have not spent much. We have relished every mouthful.


At least once a day, one of us says, "I can’t wait to go back to…"


For now, we are waiting. When the time comes to re-release ourselves for a proper sit-down meal at any of our favorite Savannah restaurants, we will undoubtedly appreciate the experience all the more.