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Family-style takeout options to feed the brood

28January 2021

I don’t know about you, but as this pandemic wears on, I’m desperate for something new.

I’m also experiencing some kitchen burnout.

So when I can order big meals that feed the whole family, it feels like a win. We did a story early in the pandemic about family-style takeout meals, but since then, there are many more options.

I didn’t get a chance to check out every place that is serving meals for a small crowd, so as always, check with your favorite restaurant to see what they’re doing.

Union Hmong Kitchen

Offerings from Union Hmong Kitchen, including Hilltribe fried chicken, lower left, and crab fried rice, lower right. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

While we wait patiently for chef Yia Vang’s flagship restaurant, Vinai, to open in Northeast Minneapolis, we can get a taste of his Hmong cookery from his longtime pop-up operation, which is now operating out of a kitchen near the Minneapolis-St. Paul border.

The family-style meals, which can feature fried chicken, Hmong sausage, pork shoulder or even fried tofu. The meals include purple sticky rice and a choice of two other sides, and a meal that is more than enough to feed four is a reasonable $65. (There are also meals for two or six people.) We love the fried chicken, which comes with Vang’s mom’s famous hot sauce (which is super delicious and definitely more than Minnesota spicy), but we are eager to order again to give the sausage and pork shoulder a try.

For sides, we can’t recommend the charred cabbage highly enough.

693 Raymond Ave., St. Paul; 612-431-5285; unionkitchenmn.com

Nico’s Tacos

Taco Box from Nico’s Tacos includes house made nixtamal tortillas, Jan. 18, 20201 (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

There are a few family-style packs to choose from: tacos, tamales, fajitas and enchiladas ($40 to $50, feeds four to five) that come with a generous selection of chips, guacamole, several salsas and all the fixings. You can choose from a wide range of meat or veggie fillings to go with it. What’s more is they’re all packaged in boxes that are conveniently easy to tote, serve and clean-up.

We can vouch that the taco box, which comes with 10 tacos and your pick of two out of a dozen meat or veggie fillings to choose from, is delicious, authentic and fun to try. Especially since Nico’s Tacos recently introduced its own line of house made, labor intensive nixtamal masa, in which the owners have carefully sourced native, heirloom corn from the family’s home state in Mexico to go with dishes such as tacos, enchiladas and tamales.

The corn tortillas have a noticeably more earthy flavor and grainy texture than mainstream ones made with powdered masa. And apparently the nixtamalization process increases nutritional value, so bonus!

We’ve tried most of the varieties, and, if you’re looking for recommendations, the pork carnitas and chicken tinga are top picks.

For dessert, consider ordering mini churros ($4, two) with cinnamon cream sauce. Wash all that down with a refreshing hibiscus iced tea. Or, for adults, there’s also a margarita mix.

Two locations: Como (2260 Como Ave., St. Paul; 651-450-8848) and Uptown (2516 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-345-7688); nicostacobar.com

Revival

Fried chicken and sides from Revival. Photographed May 15, 2020. (Nancy Ngo / Pioneer Press)

While this southern-food favorite doesn’t have a special menu during the pandemic, they have become absolute experts in the takeout game, and ordering a whole bird ($30) is a great way to feed your family.

We also like that the sides are on the small side, because everyone orders what they like best — in our family, it’s mac and cheese for the kids, buttery grits and savory collards for the adults.

One of the things we like best about Revival’s takeout is how lightning fast it is. We live 15 minutes away and it’s always ready when I get there, even though I order right before I leave the house.

And we always get the whole bird, even though we don’t eat the whole thing that night. Cold, leftover fried chicken is a picnic staple for a reason: It’s delicious.

525 Selby Ave., St. Paul; 651-340-2355 or 4257 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis;  612-345-4516; revivalrestaurants.com

Urban Growler

Family-style pulled pork sandwiches from Urban Growler in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

Some of our favorite pandemic-inspired family-style takeout creations are those coming out of this brewery’s kitchen.

Really good, cheesy, meaty lasagna (they even use fresh pasta!), served with a huge salad and garlic bread was a huge hit with my kids, who also appreciated the six-pack of brownies I impulse-added to the cart when ordering.

But we adults were blown away by the smoky, juicy pulled pork sandwiches, which thoughtfully come with creamy slaw and some really great house-made pickles and pickled onions.

They also have fried chicken, mac and cheese and even vegan bowls in a family-style format. And none of the meals, which feed anywhere from four to eight people, ring in at more than $48.

Don’t forget to add some crowlers of delicious beer for the grownups! We recently enjoyed the oatmeal stout and the Tangled TinsAle Amber Ale, which was subtly spicy, piney and perfect on a cold night.

2325 Endicott St., St. Paul; 651-340-5793; urbangrowlerbrewing.com

Shish

Family-style chicken shawarma from Shish on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

Although the family meals here advertised as feeding three people, the chicken shawarma was easily enough for our family of four. We added hummus, because the stuff at Shish is ultra creamy and fluffy, just the way we like it, but we needn’t have.

Homemade chicken gyros is one of our favorite meals as a family, so this hit the comfort-food spot for us. The chicken is perfectly spiced and juicy, the saffron rice yellow-hued and floral and the yogurt sauce creamy and herbaceous. The dinner is $45, and worth every penny.

They have gyro and falafel options, too.

1668 Grand Ave., St. Paul; 651-690-2212; shishongrand.com

DeGidio’s

Family-style spaghetti and meatballs takeout from DeGidio’s on St. Paul’s West Seventh Street. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

There’s a funny family story about the first time my youngest son went to this old-school Italian restaurant: He ate so much spaghetti and meatballs that he had to walk it off.

He’s more careful about over-eating now, but was still over the moon about having a big plate of pasta, that delicious red sauce, and of course, a meatball, at home. The family meal kit, which feeds four to six, comes with spaghetti, red sauce, six sizable meatballs, garlic breadsticks, Caesar salad and cookies as big as your head.

The pasta and sauce require a quick re-heat, as do the breadsticks. You bake the cookies when you want to eat them, which was the next day for us after all that pasta.

This one is a little more than some of the other kits at $69, but it really is a ridiculous amount of food.

There are also other options to consider — tortelloni with a bolognese sauce, lasagna and mostaccioli with sausage.

425 W. 7th St., St. Paul; 651-291-7105; degidios.com

Foodsmith

Austrian chicken schnitzel family-style takeout from FoodSmith in West St. Paul. (Jess Fleming / Pioneer Press)

This newish gastro pub on Smith Avenue in West St. Paul has adapted to the pandemic by paring down its regular menu and adding a few family-style options.

And since it’s in my neighborhood, of course we had to give it a try. We went with the super-crispy and giant Austrian chicken schnitzel, served with a house-made ranch dressing, a giant amount of salad, and some really tasty fried potatoes. It was a hit with the adults and the kids. In fact, both of my kids share my dislike of leftovers, but the youngest actually requested to eat it again the next day.

Right now there’s also a butternut squash risotto that feeds four, but they change things up periodically. The chicken dinner was $54.95.

973 S. Smith Ave., West St. Paul; 651-330-0896; foodsmithpub.com

Nancy Ngo contributed to this report.

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