There are very few more powerful ways to show love than by sharing a meal together. Whether cooking four courses for your best friend, roasting a chicken for your family, crafting a soufflé for your roommate, grilling a cheese sandwich for your partner or making a special cocktail (or mocktail) for yourself, dining is a treat—no matter how decadent. For anyone less inclined to cook a big meal from scratch and individuals who look forward to a break from the kitchen, we’ve made a list of some of our favorite sampler box and meal delivery options—with varying levels of time and skill needed to prepare. No matter who you’re dining with, these lovely feasts will make any day feel like Valentine’s Day.
New York Nostalgia
Start the day with a breakfast from NYC’s beloved Russ & Daughters. One of their many offerings, New York Nostalgia ($205) is full of New York classics: Gaspé Nova smoked salmon, smoked sable, house-cured pickled herring fillets in cream sauce with pickled onions, scallion cream cheese, a dozen bagels, rugelach and old-fashioned marble halvah. Each kit (or the slightly smaller New York Brunch gift set) is meant to serve six to eight, but can certainly work for one or two people over the course of a week.
Yuzu Shio Ramen Kit
One of our all-time favorites, Afuri Izakaya, opened its first location outside Japan in Portland five years ago. Available for delivery across US, their Yuzu Shio Ramen Kit ($89) contains all the ingredients needed to make our favorite dish at the restaurant, which imparts a beautifully balanced texture and flavor, thanks to the acid from the yuzu and the fat in the broth. While this kit comes almost entirely complete (they even include chopsticks), we recommend adding a soft-boiled egg and scallions.
10 Year Birthday Kit
From Stephanie Izard’s Chicago restaurant, Girl & The Goat, comes a feast for four ($149) which includes a couple of their signature dishes—including the beloved wood-oven-roasted Pig Face. Along with empanadas to start, green beans (with Kewpie mayo, shallots and cashews) and sauce, there’s plenty included. But dessert also comes in the box, in the form of classic chocolate chip cookie dough. All cooking instructions are available online.
Hummus + Salatim Spread
From Philadelphia’s beloved Zahav, the expansive Hummus + Salatim Spread ($79) can serve as a starter for several people, or a full meal for a couple. Fully vegan, the kit includes two pints of the restaurant’s famous, zesty and creamy hummus along with beets with tehina, pickled cabbage, Moroccan carrots, matbucha, spicy fennel, schug, harissa and 12 pitas. Simply heat the bread (though more detailed instructions are online) and serve.
LA-based counter service spot Nonna’s Empanadas offers ready-to-bake 12-packs ($66) of their flavor-filled pastries for delivery throughout the US. They’re shipped frozen and stamped with a simple descriptor of what’s inside. Choose your own assortment from their 15 signature flavors, which range from vegan samosa veggie to carnitas, mushroom and Philly cheesesteak, as well as sweet varieties like banana and dulce de leche.
Lobster Roll Kit
With lobster rolls and blueberry bread pudding, McLoons Lobster Shack’s meal kit ($134) serves up dishes once only available at the family-owned eatery on Spruce Head Island, Maine. With an instruction card for assembly, the lobster roll kit (intended for four people) comes with everything needed: lobster meat, rolls, mayonnaise and Casco Bay sea salt butter. For dessert, the pudding is made using fresh Maine blueberries and comes with homemade vanilla custard.
For some time, the furthest NYC’s beloved Shake Shack (which started as a cart in Madison Square Park) was available was at LaGuardia Airport in Queens. Now the burgers, potato rolls, cheese and famous ShackSauce can be delivered all over the country in the Shake Shack Burger Kit for Eight ($49). Customers will need to purchase lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles or any other accoutrements they want separately, but the foundation for the perfect Shack Burger exists within this kit.
Gluten-Free Gift Box
This Gluten-Free Gift Box ($99) of sweet treats from LA’s retro-inspired Cake Monkey could be for one, two or several people—depending on your inclination to share. The Fairfax-located spot strives to make healthier baked goods, and the 12 treats included in the box use brown and white rice flour and almond meal instead of traditional wheat mixes. Enjoy two Summer Camp chocolate chip cookies, two Wale Monkey pecan sandwich cookies, two mini banana chocolate bread loaves, three vanilla cake sandwiches and three mint chocolate chip “cakewiches” in every order.
Alimentari Big Game Package
From downtown Manhattan’s enclave of artisanal Italian products, il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, comes a Big Game Package ($125) with enough delicacies to serve four to six people. Featuring six smoked pork sausages—in spicy chili, cotechino sweet garlic and green chorizo varieties—as well as a chopped salad and freshly baked focaccia fino “buns,” the meal kit also includes one Margherita and one kale/anchovy pizza, from chef Justin Smillie’s forthcoming menu concept. As expected, all of the ingredients are fresh and the food delights.
PRIDE Giant Rainbow Heart-Shaped Brookie Cake
Serving up to 12 people, Baked in Color’s nine-inch PRIDE Giant Rainbow Heart-Shaped Brookie Cake ($84) celebrates love and comes ready to feast upon (but can be frozen for up to three months). This tri-level dessert includes one fudge brownie bottom, an Oreo cookie middle and a rainbow-colored chocolate chip cookie top. The latter layer is the invention of NYC-based Julie Waxman, founder of Baked in Color.
Hero image courtesy of Girl & The Goat