Take-out, carry-out ( in American English ) or take-away ( in British English ) is food purchased at a restaurant but eaten elsewhere. The restaurant may or may not provide table service.
Take-out food is often fast food, but not always so. Whereas fast food carries the implication of a standardized (and often inferior) product from a globalized chain or franchise, take-away outlets are often small businesses serving traditional food, which can be of high quality. Examples include the neighbourhood fish and chip shops in the UK, Australia or New Zealand; the sandwiches sold by "delis" in the US; and the wide range of sausage-based snacks (and increasingly kebabs) sold from stalls in German cities.
Food that is delivered by a restaurant to a customer (often called delivery) is also sometimes called take-out; although it might be more properly labeled bring-in, it never is. The establishment that sells take-out exclusively (not providing table service) is called a take-out restaurant, take-out joint or a take-away.
Certain types of food that are normally served in sit-down restaurants are commonly available as take-out. Pizza is one example. While certain pizzeria chains specialize in take-out (or delivery) to such an extent that they actually have no facilities for dining on-site (just a kitchen), most have tables and waitstaff. Even these establishments, however, offer the option of ordering by phone (or, increasingly, by Internet) and taking the food home (or to whatever other location is desired). In such circumstances, the food and the procedure is commonly called carry-out. Another US "classic" take-out food is Chinese food, US-style. Ordering Chinese take-out has reached near ritual status in certain segments of the US population, especially college students. In the past few decades as immigrants from more and more Asian countries emigrate to the US, more and more types of cuisine are being treated in a similar manner: Japanese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, etc.
Take-out from a sit-down restaurant may be purchased to go or may consist of leftovers from a meal eaten at table; the container used for leftovers is called a doggie bag (or doggy bag). In some countries doggie bags are uncommon, and leftovers usually go to the dump.
If it is possible to choose, the choice is between "to take out"/"to take away" and "to eat in" in the UK and Australia; or "to go" and "for here"/"to stay"/"dine in" in North America.
- The Food Place - UK take-away directory and restaurant guide (http://www.thefoodplace.co.uk/)