Restaurant News

Innovative Ways to Buy Fresh Produce and Groceries in Boston Right Now

Stay away from the supermarket with these farm-sourced apps, groceries at wholesale prices, and make-at-home meal kits.


Gone are the days (for now) when we could leisurely stroll aisle after aisle in the grocery store, eyeing stocked shelves and getting inspired to cook dinner. During the coronavirus pandemic, grocery store trips need to be efficient and purposeful—and as infrequent as possible. That’s why the popularity of delivery groceries is soaring so much that it’s hard to secure an Instacart delivery these days. While some small, locally owned shops remain open for curbside pickup and delivery via Mercato, there are even more new ways to get groceries in Boston right now. From apps that connect you with farmers and chefs, to grocery deliveries from leading local food distributors, to pop-up provisions shops at local restaurants, here are some out-of-the-cart ideas on how to stock up on produce, eggs, pantry staples, and more.

Photo by Anthony Adamick for Market 2day

Digital Apps

Market 2day

Tech executive Insa Elliot launched this fresh-food delivery app with the local economy at the core of her business plan. “Amazon will never be able to deliver a beautiful, locally grown tomato from the farmer that you know and trust,” she previously told Boston magazine’s City/Studio. That’s what Market 2day does: Connect farmers and their fresh produce with home cooks on the South Shore and in Greater Boston. Make an account with your email address and zip code to browse local markets and check out vendors, place your order, and have it delivered.

market2dayapp.com.

WhatsGood

Former chef Matt Tortora and his business partners created this online marketplace full of local sources for everything from farm-grown produce, to seafood, coffee beans, specialty products, and more. The platform is available for home delivery and limited local pickups in the Boston area, as well as around Rhode Island, Virginia, and Chicago.

sourcewhatsgood.com.

Sous Cheft

Use this website to enlist a chef to help you create the ultimate pantry meal with all the cans and long-lasting vegetables stocking your kitchen right now. Sous Cheft is the all-virtual offshoot of the web platform Cheft, which introduces travelers to independent, private chefs around the country. Online, use the service to connect on Zoom with a talented private chef—like Brookline’s Mike Betts, Sekali pop-up creator Derrick Teh, and former Oak + Rowan chef Justin Shoults—to create a gourmet meal based on what you have on hand ($65-$100).

cheft.co.

Photo courtesy of Shy Bird

Groceries at Restaurants

Bow Market: Safe Supply

The vendors that make up Somerville’s Bow Market—including In Season Food Shop, Rebel Rebel Wine Bar, Buenas Latin Foods, Remnant Brewery, and more—are teaming up on weekly outdoor, touchless shopping experiences, called Safe Supply. Make a half-hour appointment via Eventbrite to shop for local fish, eggs, produce, pantry staples, wine, and specialty products like English muffins, macarons, and pierogi. Vendors will handle and bag all of the products.

1 Bow Market Way, Somerville, bowmarketsomerville.com.

Forage

Along with prepared-for-takeout menus, chef Eric Cooper is also working with partner-purveyors to offer local product boxes ($50-$62) full of items like lettuce from Corner Stalk Farm, cream and milk from Wright’s Dairy Farm in Rhode Island, and mushrooms from Mycoterra Farm in the Berkshires. Order online for prescheduled pickup.

5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, 617-576-5444, foragecambridge.com.

Forge Baking Company

Now in addition to coffee drinks, sandwiches, pastries, ice cream, and loaves of bread available for takeout and delivery, this Somerville Avenue café is selling a wide variety of grocery essentials for social distanced-pickup and local delivery.

626 Somerville Ave, Somerville, forgebakingco.com.

Cafe Landwer

The Cleveland Circle location of this café chain is making use of distribution channels to sell a selection of groceries ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables, to dairy, to homemade tahini and sauces. Besides the grocery packages ($25-$65), Landwer is also packaging sweet and savory flatbread meal kits, with dough and sauces to cook up at home.

383 Chestnut Hill Ave, Boston, 617-383-5786, landwercafe.com.

Photo courtesy of the Juice Box

The Juice Box

Pick up fresh produce on Wednesdays and Fridays at this South Boston juice shop. The Juice Box is selling $30, 15-20 lb. produce shares, in partnership with local distributors and growers. Email or call Tony Durso at 857-930-4510 to order what’s in season.

359 West Broadway, South Boston, 857-930-4510, juiceboxboston.com.

Shy Bird

This new Kendall Square rotisserie has spread its wings during the shutdown with its new “Cooped Up General Store.” It’s a huge range of products, from paper towels and hand soap, to meats and dairy, to cereal bars and condiments. Keep an eye out on social media for collaborative specials, as well. Everything available in the provisions shop is listed online and can be picked up on-site, or delivered for free within a certain radius.

390 Third St., Cambridge, 617-714-4200, shybird.com.

Solid Ground Café

While this Mission Hill coffee shop is closed through April 19 for drink service, it’s open online for ordering and limited pickup and local delivery of “cafe shares.” For $30, they are packed with provisions like Taylor Ham, eggs, bagels and cream cheese containers, cold brew coffee, and more. Instagram DM or email to order.

742 Huntington Ave., Boston, solidgroundcafe.com.

Photo courtesy of East Boston Oysters

Seafood and Meat

Dole & Bailey

Take your fridge to another level with a home delivery from this deep-rooted Boston-area restaurant distribution company. Choose from curated packages of chef-quality products ($50-$195), including frozen packaged meats, pounds of dry pasta, cheeses, and more. Shipping around New England is included in the box price. Call weekdays between 9 a.m.-4 p.m. to order.

781-935-1234, doleandbailey.com.

East Boston Oysters

The whimsical party creators of East Boston Oysters are used to bringing caviar to unusual places—and now that includes your home. By Wednesday ahead of your desired weekend delivery, order “snack packs” of jars of prime Osetra caviar, six Glidden Point oysters, and fun snacks to pair (hello, potato chips), for delivery around Boston and just beyond ($60-$100). There are also “how the f*ck to shuck” packs ($39-$63), which include two dozen oysters, a shucking knife and access to an exclusive video about how to use it, and a jar of Buenas Pebre—an ideal oyster accompaniment—and which can be shipped beyond EBO’s delivery radius.

eastbostonoysters.com.

Walden Local Meat

This Massachusetts-based butchery is best-known for direct-to-consumer delivery of meats sourced from sustainable farms around the Northeast. Browse the options—which include just ground meats; ground meats, plus sausages and a whole chicken; and other customizable packages ($75-$319)—and you can also sign up for a recurring, monthly or bi-monthly “meat CSA” share delivery.

waldenlocalmeat.com.

Sandwich and soup kits getting ready to be sent to nearby breweries for Brato’s “meal kit collabs.” / Photo courtesy of Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen

Meal Kits

Brato Brewhouse + Kitchen

Lots of restaurants that are open for takeout right now have also created ready-to-cook meal kits that families can put together at home. One especially innovative meal-kit lineup comes from chef Jonathan Gilman: He’s packing up sandwich kits, growlers of beer, jars of pickles, and more not only for pickup and limited delivery from his Brighton brewpub—but also from other local breweries. These “meal kit collabs” with the likes of Idle Hands Craft Ales, Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company, and other local essential businesses harken back to Brato’s pop-up roots, says Gilman, and also offer “some creative problem solving” in that customers can pick up different beers and food all in one trip. Additionally: Stay tuned for future installments of Brato’s at-home beer dinner collaboration series, too.

Mei Mei

Besides necessary rations like quarts of tofu curry, bottles of wine, and trays of freshly folded dumplings to reheat at home, this restaurant is also offering make-at-home dumpling kits with wrappers, cooked fillings, and folding instructions included. Mei Mei’s web store is also selling provisions like toilet paper. You’ll schedule a time to safely pick up on-site.

506 Park Drive, Boston, 857-250-4959, meimeiboston.com.

Paul W. Marks Distributors

Plan ahead for contact-free, curbside pickup of ready-to-cook meal kits from this Everett-based specialty food distributor. (The warehouse is conveniently located near the Chelsea Market Basket, in case you’re already planning to head out.) Each box ($22.50-$62.50) is packed with the ingredients for multiple meals—think family-friendly dishes like cheese pizza, pesto gnocchi, quesadillas, and a breakfast spread with eggs and bagels. Pickup happens Wednesday and Fridays, with preorders accepted throughout the week. Total bonus: $5 from every order is donated to the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.

8 Commercial St., Everett, MA 800-462-0025, paulwmarks.com.