Barbecue is one of those foods that is best consumed as soon as it is served. It simply doesn't travel well. Why? Good barbecue is juicy, tender, and smoky. The problem is barbecue begins to die as soon as it hits the plate/bun/tray. Glistening fat begins to congeal. Moisture begins to evaporate. Smoky aroma begins to fade. How to hold barbecue for service is an issue that separates the good restaurants from the bad very quickly. My personal belief developed from years of working with several of the best pitmasters in Atlanta is that smoked meats have to be protected from the negative effects of air and temperature beginning the minute they leave the smoker. Without digging too deep into exactly how the best restaurants hold their barbecue (we will be digging deeply into this subject very soon) - I want to offer a quick and dirty photo shortcut to help you order barbecue like a pro and hold it as long as you want. Yep. You can order BBQ to go at lunch and serve it hot for dinner with absolutely no loss in quality - absolutely as good as if you were eating at the restaurant.
Order your takeout in bulk, keep it as whole as possible, and have them wrap it for you in plastic wrap. Here I have a half pound chunk of brisket and a pound of pulled chicken. It so happens that this takeout came from a BBQ restaurant that holds its meat for service in the exact same way. All meats are wrapped in plastic wrap and held around 150-160 degrees in a hot box. Each ticket is filled to order. The wrapped meat is cut open, sliced to order, rewrapped, and placed back in the hot box. That's exactly what we are doing here, just on a much smaller scale.