Take-out (in North American English), carry-out (in U.S. and Scottish English),, take-away (in Australian English, England English, and Irish English) , parcel (in Indian English), or tapau (in Malaysian English and Singlish), , is food purchased at a restaurant but eaten elsewhere. The restaurant may or may not provide table service. In the United States and Canada, food ordered this way (especially in fast food) is ordered to go, and in the United Kingdom it is sometimes ordered to eat out, as opposed to eating in.
In some cases there are facilities for customers to order food by telephone, fax, or over the Internet, to be collected or delivered. This trend is thought to be on the rise as many small businesses take to the web to promote their take-outs.
Take-out food is often fast food, but not always so. Whereas fast food carries the connotation of a standardized product from a globalized chain or franchise, take-away outlets are often small businesses serving traditional food, which is sometimes but by no means always of high quality. Examples include neighbourhood fish and chip shops in the UK, Australia and New Zealand; sandwiches sold by delis in the U.S.; kebabs sold in many countries; and the wide range of sausage-based snacks 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. Establishments that sell take-out exclusively without providing table service are called take-out restaurants or take-aways.
There is no clear line between street food and take-out. Crêpe stands in France, for example, may be as permanently situated as a kiosk or newsstand, and some take-out windows (coffee, pizza, and ice cream for example) clearly expect that the food will be eaten out of its package on the street. Take-out proper may need to be unpacked and laid out, rather than eaten directly from its package.
Certain types of food that are normally served in sit-down restaurants are commonly available as take-out. Pizza is one example: some pizzerias and chains have no tables, and supply for take-out and delivery only. Another classic take-out food is Western-styled Chinese food. In the past few decades as immigrants from more and more Asian countries emigrate to the west, more and more types of cuisine are available: Japanese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, etc. In the UK, Indian food is also a popular form of take-away as well as kebabs from the Middle East.
Some businesses have taken a cue from the ever increasing popularity in take-out, and have created franchises to deliver food from restaurants which do not themselves deliver.
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 the USA. Most of these terms are used interchangeably in Canada.