More diners are leaning on meal kits during the pandemic as an alternative to traditional takeout. This give consumers more flexibility, allowing them to enjoy a properly heated meal instead of one that cools off in frigid winter temperatures. Restaurant owners were initially apprehensive about the format for a few reasons. There’s a feeling consumers wouldn’t take to doing any kitchen work, even something as simple as zapping food in a microwave.
Instagram has alleviated that concern, showing happy customers posting jubilant photos of their plating techniques. Beyond that, meal kits provide a cost-effective way to feed a family.
The following is a list of some of the more notable meal kits available in Chicago. Be sure to act fast: Many have limited availability. This list will be periodically updated.
Know of a worthy kit to be added to the list? Email [email protected] with suggestions using the subject line “Meal Kits.”
AROUND TOWN — Filipino-American pop-up Boonie Foods has a fun pair of meal kits that come with an instructional cooking video from founder and chef Joseph Fontelera (Arami). Current options include adobo tuyo (caramelized pork belly over rice) and pinakbet (sautéed mixed vegetables with shrimp paste). Staff will delivery kits of pre-measured ingredients to buyers. Order online through the Boonie Foods website.
ANDERSONVILLE — Bongo Room is selling bake-at-home brunch kits that include a “reconstructed” biscuits and gravy pot pie, breakfast strata, and breakfast bread pudding that serve two to four. Patrons can pick up kits at the Andersonville restaurant on weekends and must place orders 24 hours in advance for the strata and bread pudding. Order online through the Bongo Room website.
EDGEWATER — Sauce and Bread Kitchen gets into the kit game with several fun options including a ramen kit for two that includes tonkotsu or vegetarian broth, fresh noodles, smoked ham, an egg (for poaching in the stock) and other toppings. There’s also a grits kit (3-Sisters Farm grits, pimiento cheese spread, hot sauce, chicken stock) and a “Foccacia-yeah” pizza kit (pre-prepared dough, ragu, Tempesta nduja, chilis, queso). Order online via Square.
FULTON MARKET — El Che Bar has launched a monthly subscription box (starting at $70 per month) for meat fans. It features a rotating selection of USDA-prime, dry-aged cuts including center-cut filets, beef ribeyes, tira de asado short ribs, and more, along with deluxe add-ons like sauces and sides. All boxes come with recipes and tips. Order online via Table22.
LINCOLN PARK — Old Pueblo Cantina features take-and-bake versions of its signature cheese crisps, with several kits that include ingredients and instructions. Customers can choose varieties like Queso (longhorn cheddar, chihuahua, cotija) and spicy chorizo (longhorn cheddar, chihuahua, chorizo, escabeche, cotija). There’s also a simple taco kit and a choice of protein (steak, chicken, ground beef, sweet potato, al pastor, or crispy rock shrimp) to go with rice, beans, esquites, guacamole, and six flour tortillas. Order via Toast.
LOGAN SQUARE — Chicagoans can try and replicate Middle Brow Bungalow’s critically acclaimed pizzas at home with a selection of a la carte kits. Customers can order dough balls (each is enough for a 12-inch pie) with an added “base kit” (two pizzas worth of semolina, 00 flour for stretching), along with 8 ounces of red sauce, and cheeses including fresh mozzarella and parmesan. Toppings are also in the mix, with options like white anchovies, uncured pepperoni, and La Quercia prosciutto. Cooking instructions and tips are available online and kit items are sold via Toast. Cooked, heated pizzas are also available.
RIVER NORTH — Osteria Via Stato has created two pasta kits along with straightforward recipes from chef David DiGregorio for diners to cook and eat at home. Patrons can try ricotta cavatelli with mushrooms and brown butter (pre-cooked ricotta cavatelli, wild mushrooms, parmesan broth, pecorino) and penne with pulled chicken (pre-cooked penne, fresh mozzarella, tomato cream sauce, basil). Order via Tock.
RIVER NORTH — New York export the Smith has expanded its collection of “heat and eat” items to the Chicago market. Menu items include a rosemary chicken dinner for two (kale and quinoa salad, spinach, potatoes, chocolate chip cookies) and braised beef short ribs for two (caesar salad, burrata, grits, Brussels sprouts, chocolate chip cookies). A la carte items like crab cakes and macaroni and cheese are also available. Order through the Smith at Home website.
WICKER PARK — Taquizo has a five different taco kits that all include corn tortillas made on-site, limes, and onion with cilantro or habanero-pickled onion packed separately. Customers can choose from barbacoa, carne asada, cochinita pibil, al pastor, and chicken with mole from chef Yanitzin Sanchez (Mas, Sabor Saveur, Mercado Cocina). Order via Toast.
WICKER PARK — Tortello offers a number of pasta kits for two perfectly suited to an easy meal. Options include a “handmade with love” tortelli meal kit (Puglian burrata, sage, toasted hazelnuts, balsamic, aged parmigiano), a ragout meal kit (one pound of pasta, Slagel Farms beef ragu, parmigiano), and more. Order via Tock.
FULTON MARKET — What’s more romantic than a TV dinner? Marvin’s Fuel & Food is leaning into nostalgia with a set of three heat and serve dinners inspired by the meals found in a supermarket’s frozen section. They’ve got meatloaf, enchiladas, and lasagna. This fun idea is available for pickup.
GOLD COAST — Somerset, the glitzy restaurant inside the Viceroy Hotel Chicago helmed by chef Stephen Gillanders (S.K.Y.), aims to give Valentine’s Day diners an approachable DIY meal with a selection of a la carte kits for two. Items include a version of Gillanders’ famed lobster dumplings with kosho butter sauce and tobiko soft herbs; a risotto kit with wild mushroom mix, herb tea, and grated cheese; and braised short rib with crispy potatoes. Each kit comes with a handy recipe card. Order via Tock.
LINCOLN PARK — Diners looking for a unique option for the heart-themed holiday can impress with an at-home Valentine’s Weekend Home Fondue Experience from Geja’s Cafe. Patrons can choose from 16 protein packages like Prince Geja’s Combination (beef tenderloin, chicken, white shrimp, scallops, lobster tail), while the restaurant provides the necessary fondue equipment. Kits also come with Swiss gruyere fondue; breads, fruits, and vegetables for dipping; and a dark Belgium chocolate fondue for dessert. Meals are individually portioned.
LINCOLN PARK — Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ sister spots Summer House Santa Monica and Stella Barra Pizzeria are offering a do-it-yourself date night kit for two ($65.95). It includes a Summer House salad with 11 topping options, a build-your-own pizza kit (dough, mozzarella, marinara, flour, pepperoni, shaved mushrooms), and two sugar cookies with sprinkles and pre-prepped piping bags of royal icing.
LOGAN SQUARE — Flat & Point offers its four-course Valentine’s Day menu for couples ($100-$145) two ways: as a cold kit or a hot meal. Those who opt for the kit will get simple cooking instructions along with everything needed for dishes including beet and bacon salad, goat cheese mezzaluna with winter pesto, and smoked pork shank cassoulet. Order via Tock.
LOGAN SQUARE — The team at Table, Donkey, and Stick know love may be best expressed through gooey cheese, and is thus featuring a Valentine’s Day Raclette Feast for two ($85). Kits include a cheese and charcuterie plate, marinated beets and chocolate (honey, juniper, elderflower), and traditional Raclette melting cheese with instructions for proper melting and the usual fixings of fingerling potato, pearl onion, and gherkins.
NORTH CENTER — Italian restaurant Tuscan Hen aims to provide some at-home V-Day fun with a live virtual cooking class scheduled for 5 p.m. on Sunday. The class comes with a meal kit for two ($65) that includes bruschetta with goat cheese and slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, ricotta gnocchi with pesto and shrimp, and mini chocolate raspberry cake wiht Chambord whipped cream. Order via Square.
RIVER NORTH — GT Prime Steakhouse embraces V-Day tradition with a meal for two ($135). Patrons can expect a pair of 6-ounce filets mignons with red wine bordelaise, creamed spinach, “French-style” mashed potatoes, focaccia, and a dark chocolate hazelnut tart. Kits include cooking and reheating instructions. Order via Tock.
WEST LOOP — Downtown sushi palace Momotaro proffers a pair of Valentine’s Day kits for two that both come with reheating instructions. The Cupid’s Plate ($140) includes hamachi crudo, citrus-sancho glazed chicken wings with gyoza filling, and wasabi-crusted Kakuni beef short ribs (kabocha puree, maitake). The Fishing for Love dinner ($95) features 12 pieces of nigiri, a Momomaki roll (spicy octopus, big eye tuna), and a negi hamachi roll (yellowtail, Tokyo scallion). Order via Tock.
WEST TOWN — Kitchfix, the company that offers meal kits for a variety of diets like Whole 30, vegan, and gluten free, is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a six-course dinner for two inspired by iconic mob flick Goodfellas. The package ($165) includes red wine-braised beef, veal, and pork “Sunday gravy” with meatballs over ziti; grilled Maine lobster tail; and a 16-ounce Ribeye with roasted garlic. Order via Tock.
ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — Scratchboard Kitchen is going all-out in the suburbs with a live Valentine’s Day virtual cooking class with executive chef Grace Goudie at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Attendees will get a five-course surf ‘n turf kit for two ($110) that includes a New York striploin (caramelized shallot butter), seared scallops (blood orange, fennel, pistachio), and black truffle risotto.
SCHAUMBURG — Suburban LEYE spot Tokio Pub offers a belly-warming Valentine’s Day Build Your Own Ramen Kit for two ($35). Diners can choose a protein (pork belly, potstickers, dumplings, or shrimp tempura), toppings (shiitake mushrooms, kimchi, bok choy, menma, wakame and radish, soy-marinated egg, and more). The kit also comes with edamame and triple-layer chocolate cake.
AROUND TOWN — Tasting India continues to offer rarely seen menus of regional Indian cuisine. They’re also serving up Indo-Chinese food and other specialties. The menu changes every week, so check out Instagram for the weekend drop. Hurry — the food sells out fast.
LINCOLN SQUARE — Due Lire celebrates one of the greatest cinematic odes to restaurants with a collection of Big Night-themed pasta kits inspired by the 1996 indie film starring Stanley Tucci. Kits include 32-ounces of sauce, a box of pasta from Pastificio Di Martino in Gragnano, Italy, with options including veal meatballs with tortiglioni, wild boar ragout with gemelli, bolognese with fusilli, and braised duck ragout with rigatoni. All kits also come with prep instructions. Order via Tock.
LINCOLN SQUARE — Galit proffers a creative shakshukah kit that includes the base sauce — tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, wood-roasted sweet potatoes, and Jerusalem artichokes — as well as four whole raw eggs, zhoug, four pitas, a ton of herbs, and cooking instructions. Order via Toast.
PILSEN — Diners can dip their toes in the meal kit pond without wholly committing to cooking a full meal with Haisous’ monthly dinner series. Buyers get access to a 30-minute prerecorded video cooking class with chef Thai Dang and cook one dish along with him, before assembling pre-prepared dishes with guidance from Dang. February’s patrons will cook sautéed shrimp with sweet onions and Vietnamese coriander and assemble a papaya salad, do-it-yourself grilled Hanoi sausage winter rolls, and sticky rice with young coconut mousseline.
RIVER NORTH — Shaw’s Crab House gives patrons a playful option with a build-your-own lobster roll kit for two. It comes with Maine lobster, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, celery, and top-split brioche rolls, along with fun accoutrement like coleslaw, kettle chips, and chocolate layer cake.
RIVER WEST — Piccolo Sogno, one of the Chicago’s best-known Italian restaurants, is offering two meal kits: a pasta kit includes a pound of dry pasta and a quart of one sauce (marinara, bolognese, Tony’s “Sunday” neck bone gravy, or wild boar ragout. More ambitious home cooks, however, may want to try the risotto kit. It comes with aged organic aged organic carnaroli rice, onion, white wine, dry porcini (for broth), mixed mushrooms, and more. Order via Tock.
WEST LOOP — Michelin-starred Yugen features a handful of meal kits including an Asian take on carbonara (udon, uni butter, fried tempura crumbs, kizami nori), tonkotsu ramen (braised pork shoulder, soy egg, hon shimeji mushrooms, nori). Menu items vary based on the day of the week and orders must be placed 24 hours in advance by phone at (312)265-1008 or email.
WEST TOWN — Temporis puts a fine dining spin on game day with its A5 Waygu Burger Kit. Customers can expect five 8-ounce patties, five brioche buns, black truffle aioli, pickled shallots, and cheddar, lettuce, and tomato. Order via Tock.
AROUND TOWN — One of Chicago’s most popular Italian beef sandwiches is now available in meal kit form, as Buona Beef has launched a handful of “family packs.” There’s no cooking or reheating involved, but those who order the Buona Beef Five-Pack can construct their own Italian beef with hot giardiniera and/or sweet peppers, and manage their desired degree of sogginess. The pack also includes a choice of side like caesar or potato salad.
AROUND TOWN — Local caterer the Entertaining Company touts a rotating weekly selection of family-style meal kits suited to groups of five or more. Current menu options include peppercorn-crusted beef tenderloin (whipped potatoes, winter ratatouille, chopped salad) and blood orange-seared salmon (orzo and rice pilaf, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, arugula salad).
FULTON MARKET — Swift & Sons steakhouse aims to bring a touch of luxury to eating in with its bake-at-home beef wellington dinner kit. The “experience” comes with detailed instructions, a wellington (10-ounce filet, foie gras, mushroom duxcelle, bordelaise), wedge salad, mashed potatoes, and enough chocolate chip cookie dough for six (or fewer, no judgement here).
GOOSE ISLAND — Azul Mariscos proffers a host of seafood-focused meal kits, including salmon a la plancha, pasta de crema chipoltle, diabla shrimp. All come with rice, garlic bread, and chile guajillo flan, along with how-to videos from executive chef Michael Hernandez.
HUMBOLDT PARK — Lola’s Coney Island takes a fun and inventive approach with three regional hot dog kits: New York (all-beef sausages), Detroit (coney sausages), and Chicago (Vienna beef jumbo sausages). Each kit comes with 10 dogs, along with all the appropriate fixings and prep instructions. Order via Tock.
LOGAN SQUARE — Gretel is stocking at-home oyster shucking kits, complete with a shucking knife, and a half- or full-dozen oysters to crack open and slurp down from the comfort of home. Kits also comes with sauces made on-site. Order via ChowNow.
WEST LOOP — Vietnamese restaurant Saigon Sisters has teamed up with Indian restaurant Klay Oven Kitchen and Ethiopian restaurant Demera for a unique monthly pantry club featuring a rotating selection of products, pantry goods, and meal kits. Offerings include soup kits (pho, bun bo hue), curry kits (green curry, Vietnamese yellow curry, laksa), banh mi and bao kits, hard-to-find spices and sauces, and much more. Every box comes with recipes and suggested preparations.
WICKER PARK — Pasta maker and farmers market regular Empoli features pasta kits for two that include a 12-ounce eco-friendly glass jar of sauce, 1.5 ounces of locally produced Romano or Parmigiano, a pack of herbs, and step-by-step instructions for at-home preparation. Sauce options include smoked pomodoro, spicy arrabiata, mushroom ragout, and more. Patrons can also add extras like appetizers and antipasto for good measure.
AROUND TOWN— One Off Hospitality Group has launched a series of meal kits that ship every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday featuring food from a variety of the company’s restaurants. Items include paella from Avec, a foie burger from Publican Quality Meats, and a Publican kit with roasted chicken and more of chef Paul Kahan’s greatest hits.
AROUND TOWN— Stephanie Izard is offering a variety of kits, including selections from Duck Duck Goat. Deliveries are Wednesday, Thursday, and Fridays.
BRIDGEPORT— Aspiring Ramen_Lords take note: Mom’s, a destination for Japanese snacks and homestyle dishes inside Marz Community Brewing, is selling two ramen kits with straightforward cooking instructions. Customers can choose between a pork belly ramen kit or vegan miso garlic ramen kit, complete with fresh noodles, bamboo shoots, and more. Each kit serves two. Order via Square.
LINCOLN SQUARE— Bistro Campagne does local Francophiles a service by cutting out hours spent puzzling over Mastering the Art of French Cooking and offering meal kit versions of classic favorites like coq au vin, cassoulet de porc, and bœuf bourguignon. Each comes with a first and main course, along with heating instructions. Order via Tock.
PILSEN— Pleasant House Pub offers a selection of its savory pies as take and bakes. If diners don’t live near the restaurant, this is a solid option to ensure the freshest pies.
WEST LOOP— Smyth has pulled out the stops for one of the best take-home meals in Chicago with its “On The Line” meal kit where customers can pretend to work at the Michelin-starred restaurant, plating a five-course tasting menu. This is not for novices — this is an advanced kit the combines a little cooking and plating. But it’s a satisfying experience cooking short ribs, enjoying lobster tail, and making sure dessert looks pretty. Order via Tock.
WEST TOWN— Flour Power, a family-owned pasta restaurant, specializes in meal kits from a former Schwa chef. The restaurant provides noodles and sauce, and encourages customers to pair their meal with the proteins at home. Order via Tock.
WEST TOWN— Kitchfix offers simple meal kits for folks on a variety of diets from Whole 30, vegan, to gluten free. The company specializes in meal plans, and they can be ordered in multiples for pickup or delivery. This is perfect for lunch and for folks who have serious food restrictions — diabetics, for example.
WEST TOWN— Split-Rail, a popular neighborhood restaurant with a reputation for great fried chicken, is offering a meal kit program called Off the Table that comes with recipe cards and a live, interactive Zoom class with chef and co-owner Zoe Schor. Buyers can choose to order a box of ingredients to pick up at the restaurant or choose a “digital adventure,” which provides a detailed list of everything needed for the dish. Kits are designed to help boost the confidence of home chefs and provide some much-needed social interaction during the pandemic. Order via Resy.
WICKER PARK— Bar and restaurant the Delta is offering its popular Mississippi Red Hot (brisket or vegan) and Gym Shoe tamales by the dozen in kits that feed six to eight. They’re a tasty and convenient option for busy customers, whose are only called upon to reheat and serve. Order via Tock.