While restaurant dining rooms were closed during the pandemic, chefs and restaurateurs were forced to get creative, developing new delivery and pickup options seemingly overnight. Now that restaurants are starting to open up a bit, there are still plenty of customers who aren’t quite comfortable dining out and are still taking advantage of the special offerings — especially the great value that’s often found in Family Meal packages. Some of Chicago’s top restaurants have also realized that many of their valued customers hail from the suburbs and have cleverly partnered with different delivery services and local businesses to bring the people the food they crave. Such a great option for a weekday night, when everyone has been Zooming all day for work or school, and you want to reconnect over a real meal together but are too exhausted to take cranky tweens (or spouses, for that matter!) out to dinner. Here are 11 family-style meals to order from Chicago and North Shore restaurants that will make dinner easy and delicious.
Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas are visionaries. Talk about a pivot! They saw the writing on the wall and shifted to a high-level comfort food, take-out format within a few days of the first pandemic shutdown last March. And now, they’ve joined forces with local partners to bring the Alinea Group to the West Suburbs (pick up at Black Horizon Brewing Company in Willowbrook), the North Shore (Chalet in Wilmette), and Roselle (Lynfred Winery). Menus might include Alinea’s Beef Wellington Dinner, or Roister’s Steak or Fried Chicken Dinners, and all are three-course meals to reheat and serve in the comfort of your own home. Price varies, dinner for two is minimum order size. Order from Tock for pickup at Alinea, Black Horizon Brewing Company, Chalet, or Lynfred Winery.
Winnetka might claim the original, but the River North outpost has been doing great business. Their family-style feast serves four and offers a choice of entrée (Chicken Souvlaki, Moussaka, Greek Chicken, Seafood Lover’s or Meat Lover’s Platter), spread (hummus, taramosalata, tzatziki, spicy feta, or roasted eggplant), two mezes (Saganaki with Peppered Figs, Cheese Filo Puffs, Tomato Fritters, and Greek Meatballs), and salad (Greek, Chickpea, or Arugula with Grilled Pears), PLUS a free gift (a bottle of house red, white, or rosé, or opt for a $10 gift certificate for next visit). Add on some Chocolate Baklava Bars ($12) if you think you can make room… or maybe save for tomorrow. $65-85 for Avli Feast. Order from Tock for pickup or delivery.
Back in the day, my kids loved everything about Lettuce Entertain You’s Ben Pao in River North. Alas, it closed a decade ago, but now Lettuce has brought it back in pandemic delivery form and of course we had to order it! We weren’t disappointed. Ben Pao Egg Rolls, their crazy delish Peanut Noodles, Sesame Chicken, Mongolian Beef, Seven Flavor Chicken, Szechuan Green Beans, and Veggie Fried Rice are all part of the Sunday Family Meal. You can also add on various items (the Toasted Coconut Cake is a winner) to round out the meal. Sundays only. $50 for 2, $88.88 for 4; price varies for add-ons. Order from Tock for pickup or delivery.
Some of your beloved Lettuce Entertain You restaurants — and a few new virtual ones — are now available for door-to-door delivery to the North Shore. The best part? You can mix and match foods from Beatrix, Bub City, Joe’s Seafood, Papagus Taverna, Ramen-San and more on the same order. So if you want to make a meal of Spicy Salmon Maki, Caesar Salad, a Meatball Parmigiana Pizza, fresh housemade Gyros, Penne with Pulled Chicken and Tomato Cream, and 14K Chocolate Cake in your own home, who’s to stop you? Price varies with order. Order from Tock for delivery to your door.
There’s something different “HAPP-ening” every night of the week at Northfield’s Happ Inn. Monday means Mexican Chicken Enchiladas with Mexican Rice, while Wednesday is Grilled Salmon Teriyaki with Quinoa Rice and Grilled Vegetables. Have a hankering for Chicken Vesuvio? That’s Friday night, and it comes with Roasted Wedge Potatoes. You might never cook at home again. $80 for 4. Order for pickup through Happ Inn website.
This Ukrainian Village hotspot deals in comfort food (and caviar), and their family meals include a main dish, house-made bread, side dishes, and ice cream. Heat them up at home when you’re ready to eat. Roasted Squash and Ricotta Lasagna, Garlic Bread, Garbage Salad, Giardiniera, Olives, and a pint of Butter Pecan Ice Cream sounds like just the ticket… unless you want to go with Guy’s Fried Chicken, Mac & Cheese with Truffle Cream, Cheddar Biscuits and Pimento Cheese, Cucumber Salad, and a pint of Salted Chocolate Ice Cream. Really, there are no bad choices here. $40 for 2, $75 for 4. Order on Tock for pickup or delivery.
This friendly Irish-style pub is all about hospitality; friendly staff, house-brewed beer, and convivial atmosphere. They extend their reach into your home with incredibly reasonable family meals, like Saturday’s Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons, Braised Short Rib with Mashed Potatoes, and your choice of house-made desserts (Sticky Toffee Pudding is always the right answer). Saturday and Sunday Brunch are also available, and include Salad, Fruit, Bagels with Lox and fixings, Garlic Roasted Potatoes, Irish Bacon and Sausage, and Debbie’s terrific homemade Scones with Strawberries and Jam. Thursday – Sunday only. $50 for 4. Order on their website for curbside pickup or home delivery.
Opened just before the pandemic, this Lettuce Entertain You newcomer has a chic and expensive feel to it, and the cuisine to match. But you can enjoy the glamour at home as well. Their family meal starts with the scrumptious Cheese-Baked Focaccia, Shrimp Cocktail, and Greek Tomato Salad. Then it’s on to the Grilled Ora King Salmon, Amalfi Lemon Linguine, and tiny Haricots Verts. RPM’s signature Cheesecake provides a sweet ending to a special meal.
$140 for 4. Order on Tock for pickup or delivery.
I miss travel, don’t you? But food has a way of transporting us, and this Avondale Sicilian resto takes you straight to Italy. Try their Sicilian Culinary Tour for Two. The meal includes salad (Insalata Norma, or Arugula and Parmesan), succulent Arancini (Classico, Porcini, or Wild Garlic), one of their signature Scaccia, Cannoli, and a Cocktail Base (Pomegranate Mint Refresher or Saffron Sour) to create your own drink at home. Buon Appetito! $45 for 2. Order on their website for pickup.
James Beard Award-winner Alpana Singh has endeared her restaurant to the Evanston community with its exceedingly affordable meal package guaranteed to take the stress out of dinner. The menu changes weekly, but a recent one included Housemade Focaccia, Caesar Salad, Herb-Marinated Chicken Breasts, Broccoli Alfredo Pasta, and Tiramisu. Add a bottle of wine for only $14. $55 for 4. Order on their website for carryout only.
This pizza palace has long been our neighborhood go to, and now that they’ve added this fabulous family meal deal, everyone wants in on the joint. Choose your family-sized salad (Three-Seed Kale, Sicilian Chopped, or Classic Caesar) and entrée (Chicken & Dumplings, Braised Short Rib Pappardelle, Eggplant Parmesan, Herb-Roasted Chicken, or Veal & Ricotta Meatballs over Soft Polenta); all meals include Blistered Green Beans and crusty bread. If you’re like my family, you won’t pass up the opportunity to tack on one of their wood-fired, crisp-crusted pizzas. $45-48 for 4. Order on their website for pickup.
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Julie Chernoff, Better’s dining editor since its inception in 2007, graduated from Yale University with a degree in English — which she speaks fluently — and added a professional chef’s degree from the California Culinary Academy. She has worked for Boz Scaggs, Rick Bayless, and Wolfgang Puck (not all at the same time); and counts Northlight Theatre and Les Dames d’Escoffier International as two of her favorite nonprofits. She currently serves on the national board of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, an advocacy group addressing hunger issues in the U.S. and Israel for the nearly 46 million people — veterans, children, seniors, tribal nations, and more — who go to bed hungry every night.