How Do You Prefer for Restaurants to Deal with Your Leftovers?

In Kansas City this past weekend, we ate out at a number of great restaurants, including Joe’s Kansas City BBQ, Urban Table, Blue Koi, Sushi Uni, and Minsky’s Pizza. After almost every delicious meal, we had some food leftover (some combination of us wanting to try a lot of different dishes and the serving sizes being consistently huge). Fortunately, I love leftovers!

At a few of the restaurants, the servers took the leftovers away, packed them up, and returned with them in to-go containers. At others, they brought empty to-go containers to us, and we filled them.

I’m curious: Which method do you like more?

For the first method (server packs up the food), it’s certainly more convenience for the customer. However, as a former server, I don’t like to inconvenience them when they have other tables to take care of. Also, sometimes servers pack up elements of the dish that I wouldn’t keep, like the onions I’ve pushed to the side on my plate.

I will say that one of the restaurants (Urban Table) wrote the date on the to-go containers, which was a really nice touch. I appreciate that extra effort.

For the second method (you pack up the food), I like that I can keep exactly what I want without bothering a busy server. The downside is that it isn’t always easy to do on a crowded table, and certain dishes (soups and anything slippery) don’t transfer well from plate to container. I also like the option to combine dishes into containers exactly as I wish, like if multiple people want to take a mix of food or if I want to conserve space by using 1 container instead of 3.

Overall, I think I prefer to pack up my own leftovers. What’s your preference and why?

5 thoughts on “How Do You Prefer for Restaurants to Deal with Your Leftovers?”

  1. Earlier this year at my first Michelin starred Brewpub, Band of Bohemia in Chicago, they provided a twist on the “server packs the food for you”. The leftovers were packed and then our server told us to request them from the host on our way out. Fancy!

  2. I’ve always been to places that pack it for us, I guess me spilling something creates more work for them.

  3. Admittedly, I like it when they come to the table and pack it for me. I have no reservations about them packing everything as I would have told them how I liked things prepared at the beginning of the meal. It’s a nice touch, versus them taking the plates away (will I get all of the food?) or having me do it (there’s always too little room)

  4. We eat have eaten at many restaurants that have done it both ways. I think it depends on the atmosphere. If it’s a bit fancier, I would expect them to do it for us, whereas if it is some small hole-in-the-wall place, dropping off the containers for us to do it ourselves seems more natural.

    Recently, my wife and I have solved this problem for the restaurants by bringing our own containers. No styrofoam or other unnecessary packaging, no plastic bags. Sort of like bringing your own bags to the grocery store. It works great for us provided it is not completely spontaneous, although I guess we could keep empty containers in the car or something just in case.


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