I’ve been thinking about comfort foods a lot. Probably because of all of the uncertainty.

When shit hits the fan I want something familiar. These foods have always been there for me for as long as I can remember – OK, so maybe Bangkok Thai Deli has been here for me for the past decade, plus, but still.

Each of these foods is something I’ve ordered at least twice during the pandemic (I think we repurchase a Top The Tater every other shopping trip). These restaurants and foods feel like old friends. Maybe they are.

Here’s my list:

Davanni’s Buffalo Chicken Hoagie

As much as I like Davanni’s pizza, I might like the hoagies even better.

They’ve remained a special treat since I was a child. I’m not sure what makes them so special – I think it’s the right amount of each component from the garlic butter spread to the shaved onion and Italian dressing. The melted cheese always covers the bread just right. I still return to my old favorite the turkey hoagie from time to time.

My latest order is the Buffalo Chicken Hoagie with extra buffalo sauce. The same toasted bread and garlic butter is topped with deli chicken, blue cheese, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, shaved onion + blue cheese and buffalo sauce. Nothing revolutionary but I keep going back.

Taco Bell Nachos BellGrande

There’s nothing remarkable about Nachos BellGrande but, at the same time, there is.

Nachos BellGrande are cheap and they’re always there.

Taco Bell’s chips are actually better than you’d expect. Topped with bland baked beans, taco meat, sour cream, goopy orange cheese sauce and a handful of chopped tomatoes kind of strewn across the top, the sum of its parts equals so much more than the components.

Top The Tater

My Top the Tater song sounds a lot like The Wiggles’s “Hot Potato.”

We can remember finding Top The Tater in our fridges for as long as we can remember. It’s a Minnesota staple. There are other flavors of Top The Tater, but we always buy the original.

My favorites chips to dip into Top The Tater sour cream and onion ripples or tangy dill pickle chips. Sometimes I wonder if they’ll ever release a flavor called “chip residue” that tastes like the flavor of a multitude of chips dipped into it. I’d buy it.

During the pandemic, I’ve observed a Minnesota-nice code with Top The Tater – even when the supply is limited or there’s a BOGO, we always leave one on the shelf for someone who may need it more.

Spicy Coconut Curry from Bangkok Thai Deli

We love Bangkok Thai Deli’s red and green coconut curries.

Ordering it “Spicy” or a 7-8 can range from providing a good sweat to feeling lethal. If it doesn’t mess me up for a few days it’s not spicy enough. I like that the curry here is not very sweet. Literally every drop of soup is enjoyed somehow, even if the remaining spoonfuls are poured over ramen or heated with cabbage or scrambled egg.

The remedy to the heat is lots of cream cheese wontons.

Cafe Latte Salad Sampler

The Cafe Latte salad sampler is something I’ve returned in adulthood, even more frequently during the pandemic.

For $9.50, Cafe Latte will pack a container full of three deli salads.

One of the salads is set as chicken caesar pasta salad + a few other choices including fruit salad. Sometimes they are vegetarian and sometimes they are not. Sometimes, the choices are pasta salads and other times, they may contain grains like farro, quinoa or wild rice.

There are less salad choices now, but they still vary each day and taste really fresh.

The container is packed to the top with salads and comes with your choice or bread. For the price it’s a great value. Even when the salads have a creamier dressing, they’re never gloppy or heavy.

You can still order their mainstays like cakes, pizzas, and soups. Grand Avenue is typically really busy but curbside pick up is easy. They reserve parking spots around their corner of the block that employees monitor.