Calling All Clean Eaters: Food Startup Delivers Vegan, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Meals

'Munchery' also claims it's more reliable than Seamless

A typical Munchery meal. (Photo: Munchery)

A typical Munchery meal. (Photo: Munchery)

It’s only been three weeks since Munchery, the food delivery service, launched in New York, but already the company is serving thousands of meals per day.

Founded in San Francisco around four years ago by software engineer Tri Tran, Munchery is basically a farm-to-table restaurant staffed by accomplished chefs, except instead of making food for in-house diners, their sole mission is meal delivery.

Customers can log into the app, peruse the daily menu items being prepared by Munchery’s team of chefs—some hailing from acclaimed restaurants like Daniel and Tavern on the Green—and request meals they’d like to be delivered that night, or on another night in the future. Once the food is prepared in Munchery’s kitchen, it’s chilled and packaged for delivery. Once it arrives, diners can heat it up in the oven or the microwave, and enjoy.

Munchery made its NYC debut on March 2, moving into a commercial kitchen facility in the West Village. They currently deliver in Manhattan, but are planning to expand to Brooklyn in the coming weeks.

In a city where Seamless is so popular it’s become a veritable verb, it may seem surprising that another meal delivery service could possibly find success—especially one like Munchery, which only offers meals from its own, single kitchen. Why use that over Seamless, where you can browse meals from thousands of different restaurants across the city?

We noticed one major advantage: Munchery is great about catering to the restrictive diets popular amongst New Yorkers—be they for medical reasons or otherwise. As you browse the daily menu, you’re able to apply filters like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. CrossFit enthusiasts should note that paleo meals are coming soon, too; according to Mr. Tran, they’re “testing items internally.”

“Our culinary team is local,” he said, “so they understand what demand is like.”

These filters are great for New York's insane dieters. (Photo: Munchery.com)

These filters are great for New York’s insane dieters. (Photo: Munchery.com)

And the food actually looks and sounds really good. There’s gluten-free crispy pork belly with cabbage, vegan and dairy-free stuffed Spanish onions and gluten-free, dairy-free Thai yellow curry chicken. (“It’s fantastic,” Mr. Tran said of the third dish.) The price points are great, too; the aforementioned meals are $11.95, $8.95 and $10.95, respectively.

The diet-friendly meals are so affordable, Mr. Tran said, because Munchery doesn’t have the same expenses as a typical restaurant; they don’t have to pay, for instance, for pricey real estate, front-of-house servers, or fancy table settings. All those savings are passed on to the customers.

“It’s almost unbelievable—how can a piece of steak be $12?” Mr. Tran said. “You go to a restaurant, and it’s at least twice that.”

Mr. Tran offered up other reasons why Munchery beats Seamless—like the fact that on Munchery, you can see your food’s expected delivery time before you place your order. And once your food is ready, you can track your delivery person’s voyage to your home on a map in real time.

Munchery’s founder compared the company to Uber. An Uber car completes the same task as a yellow cab, but the process of hailing one is far more predictable.

“Sometimes you can wave a cab down in a minute, [but] sometimes you stand there for 15 minutes—that unpredictability is horrible,” Mr. Tran said. “We eliminate that.”

“On top of that,” Mr. Tran said, “we’ve got quality chefs and quality products.”

Calling All Clean Eaters: Food Startup Delivers Vegan, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Meals