When one of my best friends told me a new grab ‘n go café was coming to Chicago that had vegetarian and vegan options with fresh juices, my heart may have skipped a beat. I’ve heard of healthy fast food services before in the city such as Chefmade and Kitchfix but had never heard of Texas-based Snap Kitchen until last month. Naturally, I followed the company on Instagram and had to find out what they were all about. After searching through their various breakfast, lunch and dinner items available on their site, I knew this place would be my future post-work staple.
Snap Kitchen popped onto the scene down south in 2010, starting in Texas. This month they finally branched out to the mid-west, hitting a few Chicago locations including one in the Loop, Lakeview and Lincoln Park. The company focuses each and every one of its meals and snacks on their customers’ health, not beating around the bush. Unlike most pre-packaged meal companies, they do not focus solely on “low-cal” or “fat-free” options (yahoo). Rather they give you the ingredients, the full nutrition facts and whether a meal is sodium conscious, vegetarian, dairy-free, paleo, etc.
I was fortunate enough to pop into the Lakeview location (621 W Diversey Parkway) two weekends ago and speak with two of the managers, Kerry and Danielle. For a good half hour I asked them all of the questions I had piled up in my head. Where does the meat come from? Where is everything sourced from? What are the most popular options and where will Snap Kitchen be popping up next?
During my short visit, I learned that the menus include locally sourced ingredients from Illinois, Michigan and Missouri. When I consume meat, I want to know where it’s coming from, if it is all-natural, grass-fed, etc. Thankfully, their beef is grass-fed and their steelhead trout in their newest menu item – Pan-Roasted Steelhead Trout with Sunchokes – features a hormone, antibiotic and mercury-free fish. Now that’s food you can trust!
Among the many goodies that Kerry and Danielle packed up for me, there were four juices that will be sold in all Snap Kitchen locations. My favorites were the Energy Boost and Green Monkey Smoothie. Starting with the bad and ending with the good: I was not a fan of how much apple the 3 out of the 4 juices had. When restaurants add apple I feel as though they are trying to hide the other healthy ingredients such as the kale, carrot or turmeric root. I also have never been a fan of apple juice growing up as a kid so I wasn’t too keen on these bad boys. However, the Green Monkey was very similar to something I would blend together in my own kitchen and who doesn’t love a good watermelon juice? Those two were win-wins.
The Energy Boost was my new favorite take on coconut water. Refreshing, hydrating and definitely energizing.
One juice Snap Kitchen offers that I’m dying to try is their Super Greens. They refer to it as a “salad in a bottle” and that it is. Kale, romaine, parsley, cucumber, lemon. Why eat your greens when you can drink them in cold-pressed form?
Note to self: Never go into a café pre-opening with a hungry stomach because once you’re handed two boxes of delicious almond-crusted chicken bites and sweet potato fries, you won’t ever look back.
I was given quite a few meals along with my juices including the banana pancakes, grass-fed beef sausage and eggs, the house made chicken sausage & egg stack, siam lentil bowl, sichuan beef, naked chicken, caveman clusters, snappy bites chicken strips, the house made strawberry applesauce, the gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and the gluten-free brownie (I came back a week later and tried the crispy scottish salmon).
As I’m slowly getting back into the meat-eating scene, I was a bit turned off by the sichuan beef and grass-fed beef sausage and eggs. It might have been the soy sauce that threw me off but I’m not one for beef in general and microwaving it made me a bit uneasy. Same goes for the sausage. Despite not being the right fit for me, I know that it would be a wonderful choice for someone else who is a lover of Chinese food or a meatball fan in general. Maybe if they were turkey meatballs I’d be all over it 🙂
On the other hand, since I eat chicken on a weekly basis now, the naked chicken entree, snappy bites and chicken sausage had me at HELLO. The roasted cauliflower that came with the naked chicken entree dipped in some hummus… now that was a good time.
Another added factor about Snap Kitchen that I love is that their meals come in different sizes and along with that, different prices. The banana pancakes for instance come in sizes small and medium, fitting the portion that is right for you. If you’re in need of more calories or portions, say if you are an overly active person, you might aim for the medium sized meals.
Other items, like the Housemade Chicken Sausage & Egg Stack come in one size only. At $6.50 this meal was a total steal. Two chicken patties acted as the bread for a small rounded rounded frittata stuffed with mushrooms, spinach and red peppers. The sweet potatoes reminded me of those squishy McDonalds fries I used to get as a kid. They were better than any restaurant fried sweet potatoes I’ve ever tasted or any baked ones I’ve made in my own oven. Impressive.
As if I couldn’t eat any more chicken in one sitting, I feasted on these chicken strips encrusted with almond flour and almonds, paired with a homemade organic dijon mustard sauce right after digging into my chicken sausages. You could say this was a healthier, more organic and wholesome take on Chick Fil A’s chicken nuggets. The idea to encrust the chicken in sliced almonds was not only creative but added the most simple and unique flavoring to an otherwise bland meat product.
Last but not least, my favorite meal by far at Snap Kitchen is their crispy scottish salmon. Oh. My. Lanta. If you like salmon at all, this needs to be the first meal you face plant into at Snap Kitchen.
I had my eye on this for days and when I finally went in my second time around and took it off the shelf, I was so pleased. It ended up being my dinner post-most intense yoga class of my life. The salmon, like the previously pictured chicken bites, is encrusted in almond slices and placed on top of roasted zucchini and carrots. At first glance and bite, I almost thought the carrots were sweet potatoes. They were extremely moist but not overly sautéed in the grape seed oil. It only took a minute (if that) to heat up and within moments I had a gourmet meal in a BPA-free container on my kitchen counter!
If you live in the Chicago area, whether it be up north or down south, I strongly recommend checking out one of Snap Kitchen‘s many locations opening up throughout the summer. Meals are made daily and always have a “best by” date stamped on them that is at most a few days.When I received the numerous meals to sample from Kerry and Danielle, they mentioned most of the meals were only good for about 48 hours. That’s how fresh these items are, people!
Now whenever I’m in a rush for a healthy, reasonably priced and sustainable meal, I can rely on Snap Kitchen to deliver me nutritious and convenient food at any time of the day.
Next up on my list of meals to try? The chicken and broccoli hash with a side of devily eggs (deviled eggs made with jalapeño egg whites instead of pureed egg). Yum!
Thanks again to Snap Kitchen for having me in and compensating me with goodies. All opinions are my own.