Feel Like (Sorta) Cooking? Here’s Eight Restaurant-made Meal Kits to Try Tonight
From build-your-own taco packages to virtual dumpling classes, tasty ideas for every level of effort
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What you say: “I feel like cooking tonight!” What you mean: “I’m exhausted, but want to feel like a responsible adult.” We hear you. And with that in mind, we’ve pulled together a round-up of delicious, creative meal kits from local restaurants that require varying degrees of effort to complete. If you’re all in for a make-your-own-dumplings class, we’ve got you covered. But if scooping your own lobster roll is about as pro as you go, read on—and eat up.
What you’re eating: Empanadas.
You’ve had a long day/year. What’s going to get you in a Zen place? Why, a “Self-Care Kit” from this South American-inspired operation, available every Sunday (order by Thursday) for home delivery or pick-up at Buenas’ Bow Market kiosko. Each customizable kit can contain up to two-dozen frozen, ready-to-reheat empanadas (ham and cheese or cheesy beans ‘n rice), plus half-pints of Chilean pebre and other sauces—or, opt for discs of scratch-made dough for meditative acts of folding around whatever’s left in your fridge. Add some chocolate chip cookies while you’re at it; this is self-care, after all.
1 Bow Market Way, Somerville, 617-764-6993, buenas.co.
What you’re eating: Pasta and pizza.
Remember when you were a kid, and you picked your pasta based on shape? The kits at Coppa basically let you do the same: Choose, say, rigatoni (those are tubes) packed up with pork Bolognese, sage, and parmesan—or maybe tagliatelle (ribbons!) sent out with Périgord black truffle and truffle butter. More in the mood for a margherita pizza? The South End enoteca, which is famous for its wood-fired pies, also offers its dough with enough mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, and basil to build your own creation.
253 Shawmut Ave., Boston, 617-391-0902, coppaboston.com.
East Boston Oysters
What you’re eating: Oysters, lobster, crab, and caviar.
Alexis Cervasio, the epicurean entrepreneur behind EBO, continues to come up with creative kits and experiences that keep us excited about her cheeky pop-up operation. Right now, that includes the ability to order all of the shellfish for a party with your pod: For instance, a pound of fresh lobster meat with four split-top rolls, “dime bags” of secret spices to mix in, and jars of roe to top it off. There’s a crab-roll equivalent as well, and you can also order oysters by the dozen; they come with sauce and shucking knife, plus access to an online “How the Fuck to Shuck” instructional video. (If you’re looking for an excuse to get out of the house, fair enough—note that EBO is hosting small, in-person weekend shucking demos on the harbor, too.)
Flour Bakery + Cafe
What you’re eating: A different sweet treat every week.
One year after COVID-19 arrived, it has become a very important convention of food writing to point out that many people like to bake in a pandemic. (To be clear, this is not incorrect.) So: You! Person who likes to bake! May we suggest honing your skills via weekly Flour kits from James Beard award-winning chef Joanne Chang? Chang is on her 25th installment of the series, which includes all the ingredients and instructions you need to create her latest treat. (This week: “Melting Snowman Sugar Cookies.”) Afterwards, share your results on Instagram using the hashtag #FlourLove, to peep fellow participants’ work. It’s kind of like a book club, but you know, for eating. And sugar.
Multiple locations; flourbakery.com.
What you’re eating: Dumplings and noodles.
In a year when every restaurant was finding new ways to do business, Mei Mei pulled off a particularly dramatic pivot: No longer a fast-casual restaurant, the popular Chinese-American operation now focuses on packaged, prepared foods sold via takeout, farmer’s markets, and pop-up appearances, as well as virtual cooking classes. So order up a meal kit if you want to learn how to make pork-filled dumplings or Szechuan-spicy noodles—then sign up for a 90-minute Zoom experience, and get the how-to from the best in the business.
506 Park Dr. Boston, 857-250-4959, meimeiboston.com.
What you’re eating: Japanese tapas.
Chef-owner Tracy Chang has transformed her Cambridge restaurant into a treasure trove of artisan, house-made pantry items that will leave you looking for an excuse to swab her Thai chili hot sauce, kabocha hummus, or chocolate olive oil on absolutely everything. You can also let her do (most of) the cooking, though, by ordering one of several meal kits: Suckling pig congee, seafood paella, and duck ramen, to name a few. Pagu has also been regularly appearing at a number of suburban pick-up sites to reach hungry fans outside the city.
310 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-945-9290, gopagu.com.
What you’re eating: Fine dining.
During a time when delivery-friendly comfort food reigns supreme, fine dining restaurants are figuring out what the future looks like for them. Tasting Counter, one of the Boston area’s best restaurants, has come up with a pretty compelling idea: [email protected], its new meal kit and virtual cooking experience. Inspired by Tasting Counter’s intimate expo kitchen in Somerville, where guests see haute cuisine prepared inches away, each at-home kit includes the components for three tasting courses—say, seaweed cured yellowtail or chocolate mousse cake—plus access to a Zoom link where chefs demonstrate how to prep and plate. Thirsty? Add beer, wine, or sake pairings.
14 Tyler St., Somerville, 617-299-6362, tastingcounterathome.com.
Yellow Door Taqueria
What you’re eating: Tacos.
Maybe you’re watching the Celtics with the fam. Maybe you’re blasting through Call of Duty with friends across the world. Maybe you’re playing solitaire and you’re super, super hungry. Whatever the case, Yellow Door’s “QuaranTACO Game Day Kits” teams up the meats, salsa, shells, and other accoutrements required to assemble a dozen tacos; margarita kits (alcoholic or non) can be added on, too. Now stuff your shell, shimmy your cocktail shaker, and get back to the game. Surprise! It’s an eating contest.
2297 Dorchester Ave., Boston, 857-267-4201; 354 Harrison Ave., Boston, 857-239-9276, yellowdoortaqueria.com.