Takeout, also known as take-away in Britain and carry-out in some parts of the US, is food ordered to eat somewhere else, outside of the restaurant's premises. Restaurants that offer it may or may not have table service.
Traditionally, takeout consisted of fast food such as burgers and pizza, with companies such as McDonald's and Dominoes' Pizza leading the way. Later on, Chinese restaurants became the leaders in the business, especially in the US, with Mexican and Japanese restaurants following close behind. In the UK, were the Indian population is large, one of the most popular types of takeout is Indian food.
Despite the fact that the word takeout brings to mind the accelerated life of the 21st century, the truth is that people have been buying food to take away since the time of the Roman Empire. It was actually extremely popular in the 12th century, when food vendors set up shop in the main square of the city to offer ready-to-eat foods. The idea of sitting somewhere other than your home to eat is a newer concept by at least 200 years.
Many shops that sell food "to-go" did not set out directly to work as takeout places, although that is exactly what they do. Fresh deli sandwiches and salad bars are classic examples. Most people who shop there are making a quick stop to grab something during lunch break; many of them will actually return to their desks and eat there. In the UK, fish and chip shops are usually take-away only, as are kebab and sausage snack bars in Germany.
Aside from fast food restaurants, more and more traditional eateries are now offering takeout options to customers who prefer to eat somewhere else. Orders can be placed in person, over the phone, and, in some cases, over the Internet. Food that is delivered to the customer's home is sometimes called takeout, although this is technically a "delivery."