It’s holiday time, and thus the mad dash for the perfect present begins. Let this list take over for the food lover in your life, with items ideal for everyone from the avid home cook to the restaurant obsessive.
Find merchandise from the city’s institutions, food that is sure to be a hit at any party, stunning ceramics, and plenty of items in between. The best part is that everything is either locally made or created — and it’s all tested and approved by the Eater New York staff.
Scroll through for all the items, or simply click into the categories below that interest you most. If you’re still stumped after this list, check out Eater’s national guide for more ideas.
For fancy homeware
Inspired by oyster shells, each of these small dishes — perfect for holding spices, garnishes, sauces, or even rings — is one of a kind. Long Island City artist Nicole Pilar adheres to the philosophy of wabi-sabi, a Japanese view of embracing the imperfect, and small-scale ceramics allow her to employ it in utensils. Restaurants like Gabriel Kreuther and Blanca use her craggly serveware, which brings an organic feel into kitchens.
Mugs and cups
Red Hook-based ceramicist Helen Levi is a total Instagram darling, and her playful mugs and colorful serveware — at NYC restaurants such as Sushi Ko — make it easy to see why. Ceramics made locally and by hand won’t come cheap, but Levi’s mugs and cups make for an affordable, but still luxurious-feeling gift. The mug selection is vast, and inspiration varies from nature — as on the best-seller rock candy mountain style, left — to iconic artists, easily seen in the giant Jackson Pollack-y middle mug.
Price: $48 to $62
These deep pie plates, made in Brooklyn, look good with just about any sort of sweet placed on top. Two sizes — nine and 12 inches — and various colors ensure for understated yet deliberate last-course plating at a dinner party. Creator Wynne Noble is a leader in NYC-made ceramics, with 50 years of experience under her belt and products at restaurants such as Momofuku Ko, Fausto, and Oiji.
Price: $60 to $75
For bringing to holiday parties this season
Japanese green tea bag set
Tea lovers might dig this green tea set from Tea Dealers in Alphabet City, which sources from ninth-generation family producer Inokura in Nara, Japan. Included in the set are two teas — a sweet green sencha and a toasty houjicha — from shaded yabukita plants, the most popular for green tea in Japan. The best part is that these aren’t loose-leaf; while tea obsessives swear by making it that way, this gift allows people without specialty equipment to try this high-quality product, too.
Smiley cookey cakey
The benefits of cannabidiol — a non-psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant said to relieve anxiety and induce relaxation — are questionable at best, but walk into any holiday party with this puppy, and you will be the star of the show. There are 2.5 milligrams per serving of CBD in each cookie cake, which feeds eight to 10 and comes in a stoner-friendly pizza box. Anyone can partake, since this mischievous sweet is from fashionable vegan brand By Chloe.
Price: $55 at Sweets By Chloe or by e-mail with 48-hours notice
Brazilians already know and love this special-occasion treat, present at every birthday and holiday. Shaped like a truffle, brigadeiros are much softer and creamier, made with sweetened condensed milk, butter, and rolled in chocolate sprinkles. They’re traditionally flavored with chocolate, but Mariana Vieira at Soho’s Brigadeiro Bakery puts together various gift boxes with flavors ranging from passionfruit to pistachio, easy to hand to a host at the season’s myriad parties.
Price: $24 for 12
For the home cook who values style
Knives are a point of pride for any chef, but for dinner at home, they just need to be sharp and look good. These, from hip steakhouse Quality Eats and made by Fortessa, do the job. The restaurant’s name “quality eats” is inscribed on the stainless steel blade; handsome zebra-wood handles seal the deal.
Korean Home Cooking
With the modern Korean restaurant boom in full swing in NYC right now, it’s natural for home cooks to want to bring the cuisine into their own kitchens. Insa chef Sohui Kim is all over that, with her new cookbook Korean Home Cooking, which has approachable recipes for classic Korean home staples. Each recipe — kimchi pancakes, Korean fried chicken, pork bulgogi — is accompanied by a full-page photo and clear instructions for cooks at any level of experience with Korean cooking.
This saucy dutch oven is the hottest gift of 2018. Created by former New York magazine editor Sierra Tishgart and Warby Parker alum Maddy Moelis, startup Great Jones is trying to millennialize cookware with bronze accents and attention-grabbing colors like bright blue and mustard. The interior is made of a gray enameled cast iron, which reduces staining while allowing to see changes in food like butter browning. It’s a significantly cheaper alternative to a Le Creuset, with just as much cultural cachet — Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan, David Chang is an investor — to proudly display on a stove.
For those who crave experiences over products
Butchering and wine-tasting classes
Couples just love gifting each other experiences, so partners take note. Top options in NYC include pig butchering and sausage-making classes at esteemed meat shop the Meat Hook in Williamsburg from Eater video hosts Ben Turley and Brent Young, as well as a wine bootcamp at Little Italy bar La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels. While many classes around NYC can be overpriced, both of these offer real value: sessions at the Meat Hook come with lessons, snacks, and two Threes Brewing beers, while La Compagnie offers education alongside several blind tastings centered around topics such as orange or Portuguese wines. Both are for meat and wine lovers of all levels, and classes are kept intimate.
For the craft boozer
Babka and beer are not the most likely of matches, but if there’s anyone who can make it work, it’s Brooklyn brewer Grimm. The East Williamsburg taproom uses Mekelburg’s chocolate babka as inspiration for a beer that is definitely for those with a sweet tooth. The imperial milk stout is brewed with vanilla, cacao, and salt for an ultra-thick, syrupy, and dark result. The sumi babka stout has 12-percent ABV and comes in 16-ounce stylized cans or takeaway growlers. It’s a novelty better for sharing and likely to delight New Yorkers well-versed in Jewish traditions.
Price: $8 to $39 at Mekelburg’s in Williamsburg
This ultra-local amaro blends together 36 different tree barks and roots, seeds and berries, and leaves and flowers before getting sweetened by raw honey from Ithaca. Forthave has been making spirits in Bed-Stuy for a few years, but the amaro is a standout. It’s served at restaurants like Frenchette, Contra, and Gramercy Tavern and best enjoyed neat or over ice, which allows the complex earthy and bitter, yet sweet flavor profile to shine. Bust it out at a holiday party, since after-dinner drinks are the ideal dessert.
Price: $30 at Chambers Street Wines, Astor Wines and Spirits, Uva Wines, and Thirst Wine Merchants
Sake and sake cups
This tandem gift will thrill a sake drinker, as well as those keen on becoming one. Industry City’s Brooklyn Kura produces a line of unpasteurized sakes made from American rice, NYC water, yeast, and koji and served at restaurants such as Simon & the Whale and Ivan Ramen. They’re fruity and fresh, ideal for a sake beginner. Serve them chilled in a set from Felicitas, an up-and-coming Brooklyn ceramic serveware company that only sells on Instagram.
I’m Just Here for the Drinks
Big-name bartender Sother Teague’s (Amor y Amargo, Blue Quarter, Windmill) new drink recipe book will make a cocktail expert out of anyone. I’m Just Here for the Drinks is split up by liquor, with each section full of patient spirit explanations and foolproof instructions. There’s even guides on the proper way to mix drinks, measure ingredients, and choose ice — so much so that the hijinks of your local suspender-wearing bartender will soon be illuminated.
For quirky wearables
“I Am Still Hungry” pouch
Carry this sassy pouch, and heads will turn. That’s because everyone can relate to the cheeky siren call of “I am still hungry,” stamped on this handy pouch made by NYC designer Pamela Barsky. She’s been making bags for 10 years, and this particular one came to be after her and her husband feasted at a restaurant and agreed they were still hungry enough for dessert.
Anti noodle noodle club t-shirt
Only those in the know will know that this too-cool-for-school shirt reps East Village Vietnamese restaurant Madame Vo. It’s a play on streetwear brand Anti Social Social Club and was originally only made for staffers before customers jealously started requesting their own. Now anyone can join this very inclusive club, preferably while eating chef Jimmy Ly’s deeply flavorful pho.
Special thanks to James Park
Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.