There are a lot of reasons to order a meal kit. Maybe you’re bored and feel like quasi-cooking, maybe you’re tired of takeout, or maybe you just want to smell fresh cinnamon rolls baking in your own damn oven. Thankfully, some of our favorite restaurants in Chicago are offering DIY kits. They’re doing everything from pasta and elaborate tasting menus, to take-and-bake tamales and chicken pot pie with interactive demonstrations. So whether you’re someone who sets water on fire or the kind of home baker who makes their own sprinkles from scratch, this list has something for you
A long time ago, we tried to get the nice folks from Galit to give us the recipe for their iconic hummus. They politely (and understandably) refused. We’ve since accepted this, especially since they started selling a kit for their sweet potato shakshuka, which is equally iconic. It comes with the tomato base, raw eggs, zhoug, fresh herbs, pita, and happens to be one of our favorite things to eat in the entire city. Well, except for the hummus.
The best Italian restaurant in Chicago has meal-kit versions of some of our favorite things to order here. This means dishes like the gnocchetti (comes with fresh pasta, ricotta, sauce, pine nuts, and pecorino) or the ragu alla Napoletana, which includes their housemade fusilli rustico, cacciatore sausage, soppressata meatball, tomato-braised pork shank, and broccoli rapini. Each kit serves two and comes with detailed instructions. Meanwhile, we’ll be over here cradling the pork shank in our arms.
From donating food to those in need to helping restaurants navigate the crisis to pivoting to takeout and delivery, HaiSous’ food and dedication to their community have really impressed us over the past year. They recently started a virtual dinner series that comes with a pre-recorded cooking demo. Each month is something different, and January is Saigonese braised chicken and ginger and comes with a ready-made papaya salad, octopus salad, lotus with cucumber and dried squid, and sticky rice. If you don’t want to commit to an entire meal, they also offer meal kits so you can prepare stand-alone dishes, like their chicken pho.
This is another spot offering an interactive cook-along experience. Split Rail’s “Off The Table” series comes with recipe cards and a live, interactive Zoom class with the chef. The class is held on Sunday and each week has a different option - like wild boar bolognese, chicken pot pie, or mushroom risotto.
Consider this entry a four-for-one, because you’ll find an assortment of meal kits to make dishes from several of the “goat” restaurants - whether it’s dumplings, the pig face, pancakes, or green beans. The “Dinner In Under 40” kits feed two and (as you might have deduced) take less than 40 minutes to prepare. There are also larger meals like the smoked goat neck that feeds four to six and comes with pita, pickled vegetables and tzatziki, and two pounds of meat.
This is another example of multiple restaurants from the same team offering meal kits and take-and-bake options. Avec, the Publican, and PQM all have signature dishes that you can purchase and cook yourself, including a selection of meat from the deli counter at PQM. And we feel obligated to mention that we made Avec’s cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning, and they were fantastic. So the sooner you can bring them into your home, the better.
We talk about Flour Power a lot - their pastas (which rotate daily) are consistently excellent and overall it’s one of our favorite new restaurants that opened during the pandemic. The handmade pastas are available pre-made or as meal kits, so you’ll be able to prepare things like mafalde bolognese, creste di gallo with bechamel, or paccheri arrabbiata at home. And while those dishes change, one thing that’s always on the menu is the excellent family-size, take-and-bake lasagna, which also includes a salad and garlic bread. Basically, it isn’t so much a “kit” as it is a way of life.
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious or just want to role play that Gordon Ramsay is yelling at you in your kitchen, consider getting the “On The Line” meal kit from Smyth. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a kit designed to mimic the experience of cooking (and plating) like you work at this fancy West Loop tasting menu restaurant. It costs $125 dollars per person and comes with an interactive menu with detailed instructions for preparing a six-course meal. You’ll make dishes like chilled lobster claw, short rib, rice porridge, and the incredible beef fat fried brioche donut.
Bistro Campagne in Lincoln Square is one of our favorite destinations for date night. This neighborhood French restaurant has great food and a charming courtyard filled with trees and twinkle lights. And while the patio is out of commission right now, the food isn’t. They’re offering meal-kit versions of their classic dishes, like coq au vin, cassoulet de porc, and boeuf bourguignon. They serve two and come with two courses. So, you’ll have to provide your own string lights.
The specialty at this Southern restaurant is Delta-style red hot tamales. So, guess what kind of meal kit they have? That’s right, tamales. Each kit comes with a dozen, and you can choose from brisket or the mushroom-filled vegan version - both of which come with saltines, cush, and hot sauce - or the “gym shoe,” which is filled with lamb and beef, and topped with housemade pastrami, giardiniera, provolone, d.a.f. sauce, and lettuce, tomato, and onion.