If you want to support local restaurants by way of holiday shopping, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled a list of food-and-drink gift ideas your friends and family will actually want from NYC-based restaurants. These spots are offering things like an at-home breakfast taco brunch, homemade scotch bonnet sauce, and a Zabar’s branded wheelie shopping cart that we can only assume comes with a few Upper West Side ghosts from the 1930s hiding in the stitching. Some of these restaurants will ship their gifts anywhere in the country, and some are only offering local delivery and pick-up. However small your celebration is this year, we hope you have a happy holiday.
While we all checked Instagram incessantly this year, the owner of this iconic western Chinese restaurant wrote a cookbook. Think of buying it as a way to unlock Xi’an Famous Foods at home, especially while some of the restaurant’s locations remain closed. This book is full of recipes for dishes we love (like the spicy, hand-ripped biang-biang noodles and the famous burger) as well as in-depth stories behind each one and personal stories from the owner about Xi’an’s 15 years of making all of our lives better.
This Prospect Heights restaurant’s online store uses “ferments” as a noun - as in they offer “seasonal ferments” in their monthly subscription box. This is just to say that their pantry-share program includes everything you’d expect from a high-end farmer’s market, like natural wine, tomatoes, house-cured bacon, baked goods, and more. Oxalis sells monthly subscription boxes ranging from $32 to $108 per month, and has gift options for people who only want wine, a second option for pantry goods, and a third for a regular stock of both. If you’re gifting this, make sure the lucky person lives in or nearby Prospect Heights, since monthly subscription boxes are pick-up only.
Alibi Lounge is the first Black-owned, LGBTQIA+ bar in Harlem, and like so many queer community spaces around the city, they’re in danger of closing. As a gift this year, consider donating to their Covid GoFundMe campaign on behalf of someone you love. And, if you’re interested in supporting more of the city’s queer nightlife establishments, you can also check out the Lesbian Bar Project’s recent work as another gift idea.
As we write this guide sipping a mezcal negroni out of a plastic Mets cup, we’d like to take this moment to suggest buying someone you love some classy glasses from this Latin American restaurant in Fort Greene. The set comes with two handmade ceramic cups and the design will make any drink (preferably mezcal) automatically taste better. You can order them for local delivery in Brooklyn or for pick-up at the restaurant in Fort Greene.
Some burgers are special enough for you to tell your friends about, but few are special enough to adorn apartment walls. Nowon’s kimchi burger is one such specimen. While this East Village restaurant isn’t selling the print (it’s part of a larger collection from an Asian-American culinary-focused organization called With Warm Welcome), you can still feel good about gifting it. 50% of the artwork’s proceeds benefit Korean American Story, a non-profit documenting and preserving stories within the Korean American community, and the other 50% goes to the artist, Seohui Chi. Also, the print is gorgeous.
There’s no better way to say it, this Los Tacos No. 1 shirt is holiday gift gold. It may even make up for the fact that you’ve gotten terrible at answering texts. The back lists out the restaurant’s menu, all in a recognizable font that will probably warrant countless stares from strangers on the subway. Many New Yorkers we know would be thrilled to receive this, including us. Hit us up if you’re feeling generous.
We’re firm believers that the most memorable gifts are experiential gifts. And if you’re looking to knock out an entire family’s worth of presents in one, consider Mimi Cheng’s DIY dumpling kit. It comes with enough dumpling mix, fresh dumpling skins, scallion pancakes, and secret sauce to feed between four and six people. Plus, instructions are included so that things run smoothly during prep.
This Bushwick Ethiopian restaurant has their own marketplace where you can shop for berbere spice, bunna coffee beans, and this sun-dried black tea. Consider a pack for the person who never uses tea bags and orders from Bunna Cafe as often as they can. The bag should last a while, since you’re supposed to use just one teaspoon per cup of tea.
Harlem Hops is one of the few beer bars in the city that’s completely Black-owned. It’s also the best place in Harlem to buy hard-to-find beer, specifically from small-batch breweries and businesses owned by people of color. If you’re looking for a gift for someone who cares a lot about beer and the community of Harlem at large, get them a six pack and this stemless tumbler. All of the proceeds go to the Harlem Hopes scholarship fund, which provides financial support to local seniors attending a HBCU.
Back in the spring, four of us on staff ordered these noodle bath shirts from Di An Di in Greenpoint and they have significantly improved our quarantine wardrobes. It’s also a reminder of some of the things we like best in this life: Di An Di, martinis, sweating, hot tubs, and noodle soup. And they sell short sleeve t-shirts with the same design, in case arm freedom is important.
No, Dandelion isn’t a restaurant, but it is one of our favorite wine shops in the city and they happen to be selling an illustrated map print of Greenpoint. It will unconditionally warm the soul of anyone who lives (or lived) in Greenpoint. Dandelion Wine Shop is also selling an enticing black trucker hat that says “dandy” in big yellow lettering.
Teranga recently opened a general store in their Harlem location with home goods sourced from or made in Africa. They have a bunch of beautiful wooden serving utensils that were made by Kenyan woodcarvers from wild olive trees for $36 each. All of Teranga’s general store goods are only available for purchase in their store on 5th Avenue, and you can follow them on Instagram here for more details and updates.
King David Tacos
There’s bound to be someone in your life who spent a few years in Austin and now whines about New York City’s absence of breakfast tacos. That person is possibly you. So either gift them or yourself an at-home holiday brunch with ten tacos, chips and queso, and mimosa or michelada mixers. King David also has an option that’s completely vegetarian, and they’re offering free delivery in Manhattan and Brooklyn (as well as delivery in other boroughs and outside of the city for additional fees).
This year we learned that the intersection of Russ & Daughters and Jake Gyllenhaal fans is about as wide as the Grand Canyon when the two collaborated on a tie dye t-shirt. It stimulated both our hearts and stomachs and it’s still available to purchase online (the shirt, not Jake).
It may come as a shock that most of the presents we give our loved ones involve eating. Birthdays at special occasion restaurants we selfishly wanted to try ourselves, anniversary blow-out meals, or care packages of incredible meat like these braised short ribs. Each galbi jjim order is cooked overnight with shiitake mushrooms, daikon, carrots, gingko nuts, and chestnuts, and comes with enough meat to feed six people. All you need to do is refrigerate and reheat following the instructions.
Mikey Likes It Ice Cream
The ice cream from Mikey Likes It in the East Village could easily work as its own gift. But in case you don’t want to deal with the logistics of melting temperatures, consider this long sleeve, Frankenstein-themed shirt instead. We love that the front logo glows in the dark, and that the combination of ice cream and gothic fiction is just strange enough to make someone ask “where’d you get that shirt?”
This Gowanus brewery has shaped what drinking beer looks like in New York City, partly because of their focus on lagers and mixed culture beer. If you’re looking for a gift for someone who loves breweries and misses New York City, this four pack will give them the full experience of trying Threes’ best lagers. It comes with some of our favorite beer Threes makes, like the Vliet pilsner and “What Might Have Been Helles,” as well a $30 gift card to their online beer store, a koozie, and a Threes stem glass. Plus, they’ll ship the gift pack to any of the following states: NY, CA, CO, CT, FL, IL, MA, NH, NJ, PA, VT, VA & DC.
Il Buco’s cookbook outlines recipes for some of the best dishes at the restaurant during its quarter-century existence, like the black kale salad, breakfast pizza, and bucatini cacio e pepe - all while telling stories about the restaurant you would only hear if you asked the owner yourself. If you know someone who loves Il Buco, making Italian food at home, or the combination of the two, they’ll be thrilled.
Sisters Carribean Cuisine
A jar of spicy pepper sauce from this iconic Caribbean restaurant in East Harlem is basically the simplest way to make your repetitive weeknight dinners taste like they love you again. The sauce is made with a ton of scotch bonnet peppers, and it’s great for any jerk dish you’re cooking at home (although, it’s hard to beat the jerk chicken and curries from Sisters).
An iconic New York City item, from an iconic New York City institution. Face it, only the most efficient New Yorkers wheel around these bad boys with grace and determination. Gift one so you can add that person to the list.
You might know at least one person who got a dog in quarantine, and the time has come for you to give that dog an adorable beer can chewing toy. This Astoria brewery sells beer can toys, leashes, and a bunch of other merch. You may as well pick up a six pack while you’re at it...that way you can match the pup.
Bed-Vyne Wine & Spirits
If you live in Bed-Stuy or Clinton Hill and drink, we hope you’re already well aware of this excellent wine shop. If not, introduce yourself by buying your friends something they actually want (alcohol). Whether you’re looking for small-batch rum, interesting whiskey, or a nice bottle of wine, Bed Vyne’s website makes it easy to filter for Black-owned producers. This is one of those gift ideas where you’ll probably end up buying a few things for yourself as well. We support your journey.
Sausage comes in many wiggly forms, all of which you’ll find illustrated on The Meat Hook’s meaty tote. Do you personally need another tote bag in your life? Absolutely not. That’s why you’re buying it for someone else you love. Every New Yorker needs at least four quirky totes on hand.
This Nigerian spot on Franklin Avenue in Crown Heights makes incredible bowls with your choice of protein, a rice or kale base, add-ons like plantains, and plenty of yaji spice on top. Now you can make your own dishes with this peanut-based dry rub at home - use it to marinate meats before grilling, or just add some to your eggs or a rice bowl. Brooklyn Suya’s spice jars are available in mild, medium, and spicy - and you should know that even the mild level will temporarily claim your mouth as its own.
Big holiday dinners out aren’t happening this year. So If you’re looking for a memorable meal with your family or social pod, you might be into this six-person dinner party from the chef of Olmsted and Maison Yaki in Prospect Heights. The gift starts with a farmer’s market walk-through with chef Greg Baxtrom and his trusty yellow lab, Spud. From there, the chef and hosts can map out a dinner party menu, based on their favorite ingredients and whatever is in season. Then, Chef Greg will prepare and deliver the full meal with step-by-step instructions on how to serve it at home. If you break up the cost into six, it’s like having a $250 per-person dinner - including two bottles of wine, a full meal, fresh bread and butter from Olmsted’s Trading Post, and an extra goodie bag for everyone.