Take It Away proves that you can take more than sandwiches away from lunch: you can take a good overall lunch experience as well.
The restaurant, which opened its doors seven years ago, offers classy sandwiches, homemade salads and a wide array of desserts. And even though you can take your meal away, the café-style seating, with its high chairs and outdoor arrangements as well, can offer a laid-back lunch stop.
Inside the restaurant, diners can choose from a wide selection of beer and wines, including a unique selection of Virginia wines. Opposite the counter, diners can pick their favorite bag of chips to go along with their lunch. While staff members take orders by name, they are laid-back and friendly, and willing to offer advice on what toppings would best suit your sandwich.
Take It Away offers sandwiches from the ordinary (roast beef, turkey, tuna salad) to the more exotic (German salami, pastrami-spiced turkey, red pepper hummus). Sandwiches are $3 to $3.50, but the cheese, sprouts, cucumbers and house dressing all add to the price. Yet the extra toppings are exactly what make the restaurant's sandwiches leave others in the trail of their breadcrumbs.
I sampled the feature of the day, turkey and havarti on sourdough bread ($3.50), along with white bean soup ($2). You can easily skip the soup--despite the spinach and plentiful white beans, it needed salt or pepper to spice it up. That said, probably one of the best meals in town could be a tub from Revolutionary Soup (Second Street NW) and a sandwich from Take It Away--too bad they are across town from each other.
The restaurant also has specialty salads, like honey mustard potato salad and tabouli (price varies), all homemade. But dessert looks even more tempting: With names like Fudge-A-Roon and New York Crumb Cake, customers cannot go wrong at the sweets counter.
Once you choose your meal, you can sit and enjoy jazz music and photos of jazz musicians sprinkled on the walls. The décor reflects the tastes of owner Tom Bowe, who majored in music and jazz at James Madison University.
Bowe said his store evolved from solely sandwiches to other homemade items and specialty drinks.
"We've added ... things you don't find just anywhere," he said.
Take It Away is not part of the Corner Meal Plan, but it does deliver for some large orders. Bowe said he often delivers business lunches to the hospital. Also, every Tuesday, a hospital ID card can get you a 10 percent discount off any sandwich.
With or without a discount, at Take It Away you can always take away a full stomach.