After months of preparation, the Kentucky Derby is nearly here! You’ve found the perfect Derby hat, dress and even comfortable shoes, and we’ve given you the inside scoop to Derby like a local. But there’s just one final detail. How will you sustain yourself through all the betting and mint juleps? Well, never fear! We’ve rounded up a few places where you can find the best Derby boxed lunches that are Churchill Downs-compliant … and don’t worry, these aren’t your mama’s sack lunches.

These gourmet boxed lunches are put together with you in mind – with options like a sophisticated beef tenderloin sandwich or a simple yet satisfying turkey and cheese. Whatever tickles your taste buds, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy!

There are a lot of rules for attending the track, but just so we can all enjoy a pleasant day, we’ve listed the most updated rules below straight from the official Kentucky Derby website.

  • Food items in clear plastic bags (maximum size 18” x 18” – no trash bags; limit of 2 bags per person)
  • “Box” lunches in clear plastic bags or containers (maximum size 18″ x 18″ – no trash bags)
  • Water and soft drinks – plastic bottles only (sealed, clear and unopened)
  • Purses, but none larger than 12” in any direction (subject to search)

(SB TIP: We suggestion you review the entire Kentucky Derby website to be sure there aren’t any last-minute snafus with prohibited items!)

Here is our latest roundup of local joints for Derby-compliant boxed lunches.

Where to Find the Best Derby Boxed Lunches

The Cheddar Box

The Cheddar Box is a St. Matthews neighborhood staple. During its tenure, it’s seen quite a few Derby celebrations and, quite possibly, has one of the best menus to feed your starving belly at the track or your guests at the party you’re hosting!

Here are their offerings for Derby 2018:

  • Box A: This box includes your choice of a roast beef with Henry Bain sandwich, turkey with chutney mayonnaise sandwich, country ham sandwich or grilled chicken with caper gorgonzola mayonnaise sandwich. Each sandwich comes with bow tie salad with asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese, a fresh fruit cup and a chocolate mint brownie. This costs $20.
  • Box B: This vegetarian option includes bow tie pasta with asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese, a mixed greens salad with pecans and balsamic vinaigrette, a fresh fruit cup and a chocolate mint brownie. This costs $17.50.
  • Box C: This box includes grilled chicken on mixed greens sprinkled with spicy pecans and parmesan cheese with balsamic vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil, and a wild rice salad with sun-dried cherries and almonds and a chocolate mint brownie. This costs $24.
  • Box D: This snack box serves two with cheese wafers, vegetables with spinach dip, herb cheese, country ham spread, crackers and two chocolate mint brownies. This costs $22.

Here is the form to fill out your order. Be sure to check out their website for a menu of lunches for Oaks day, as well as catering-style options like a snack tray with a variety of tortes, dips and small finger sandwiches, or a pan of quiche, chicken Tetrazzini or Hot Brown casserole to feed a crowd at your home!

A classic turkey sandwich with fresh fruit and pasta salad from The Cheddar Box is ideal for a hot day at Derby.

RELATED: The Derby Logistics All Louisvillians Know (or Need)

Atlantic No. 5

Atlantic No. 5 is a great local downtown eatery with delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Derby lunches certainly follow suit. This local spot offers six different boxed lunches, each priced at $15.95. Choose from a beef and bleu sandwich, ham and Swiss sandwich, chickpea salad, chicken salad, chicken salad bowl or a powerhouse salad. All options are served with a choice of side and dessert.

One great addition to their menu is the Snack Pack for $10.95 – your favorite snack dip or spread, served with bagel chips and fruit. Pick between pimento cheese, benedictine or hummus for mid-day Derby fuel!

Atlantic No. 5 requests 48 hours in advance for orders. Order by calling (502) 883-3398 or order online at

boxed derby lunches

Satisfying and savory, the beef and bleu sandwich from Atlantic No. 5 is served with wheatberry salad and a cranberry date bar.

boxed derby lunches

You know you’ll need a snack at some point! Atlantic No. 5‘s Pimento Cheese Snack Pack with grapes and bagel chips is a delicious option.

Juleps Catering and The Bakery at Sullivan University

If you feel like nibbling on a little something more upscale than your usual turkey and cheese, look no further than Juleps Catering. Prepared at Juleps, these delectable selections are sold at The Bakery at Sullivan University. Each lunch includes a sandwich, side, dessert and drink.

Juleps Catering has a unique take on their boxed lunches. The sandwich and lunch options are sectioned off into three separate tiers:

  • Level One includes your choice between a BLT, turkey and bacon sandwich or grilled vegetable gyro with fruit or house chips, a cookie and a bottled water. This costs $11.
  • Level Two includes your choice of a club, chicken caesar or beef and cheddar sandwich with house chips, one side, a brownie or cookie and bottled water or iced tea. This costs $13.
  • Level Three includes your choice of an Italian hoagie, Jamaican jerk chicken salad, tuna salad or ham and cheese sandwich with house chips, one side, a premium dessert, bottled water, iced tea or a Pepsi product. This costs $15.

Juleps Catering also provides vegetarian options. Pre-order by calling (502) 452-1210. A select few will be available for walk-in orders. Visit their Facebook for additional menu options, including deli platters.

boxed derby lunches

A chicken caesar wrap with grilled chicken, Neuske’s applewood bacon, romaine, cucumber, tomato, red onion and crispy tortilla strips is served with house chips and a lemon bar. Image: Juleps Catering

boxed derby lunches

A ham and cheese sandwich made with pimento cheese, Nueske’s applewood bacon, crispy prosciutto and tomato pepper relish on multigrain bread is served with house chips and couscous pesto salad. Image: Juleps Catering

RELATED: The Hat Girls’ Derby Style + Hat Tips: A What to Wear SPECIAL

Bristol Catering

Bristol Catering is a legendary Louisville mainstay. With locations throughout the city, it’s no wonder that Bristol doles out a killer Derby boxed lunch.

Bristol offers two selections for Derby boxed lunches: the sandwich box and the vegetarian box, both with plenty of food to fuel all of your winnings at the track.

Derby Day Boxed Lunch, $16.95

  • Beef tenderloin on yeast rolls (2 sandwiches per boxed lunch with a side of Henry Bain BBQ sauce)
  • Asian pasta salad: crisp red pepper and green onion slivers with snow peas and sesame ginger dressing
  • Fresh fruit and cheese skewer: Gouda, Swiss and cheddar with apples, strawberries and grapes
  • Raspberry brownies
  • Spudz Chips – locally made, choice of original or BBQ

Vegetarian Boxed Lunch, $16.95

  • Spicy sun-dried tomato hummus served with blanched vegetables
  • Quinoa salad with figs, cranberries and almonds in a sherry vinaigrette
  • Fresh fruit cup
  • Pineapple with spicy sugar dip, served in an individual container

All orders must be submitted by Tuesday, May 1 to guarantee availability. To order, call (502) 584-3663.

boxed derby lunches

Beef tenderloin on a yeast roll | Image: Jaimie Schapker

From all of us at StyleBlueprint, we hope you enjoy the upcoming Kentucky Derby … and have a delicious boxed lunch, too! Good luck!


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