A food city with as stacked of a restaurant scene as New York deserves the star treatment when it comes to a gift guide. From a sweatshirt paying homage to a decades-old diner to condiments from one of Manhattan’s most-talked-about pop-ups, there’s something for every type of Eater New York fan, with a range of price points and purposes. Though we could go on, and on, about merch, we got together to narrow it all down to the 10 holiday gift ideas from across the New York City Area food and drink scene that you should have on your radar — whether you’re gifting for others or yourself. Everyone could use a little sweet and salty holiday cheer right now, no? Feel free to refer to our 2021 gift guide for more ideas.
Mirrors made out of bread
After baker Carla Finley was furloughed in March 2020, she launched Apt. 2 Bread, a pop-up that became known for weekly drops of bread loaves, focaccia, and cinnamon buns for pick-up at her Brooklyn apartment, at a time when one of the few calming things to talk about was sourdough starters. Rather than feeling bad about a neglected loaf getting moldy, display one of these fossilized, lacquered bread mirrors that come in a variety of sizes. Just don’t try and take a bite. Prices start at $85 and up.
Pants printed with favorite food products
For the person who has just about every restaurant’s merch in their closet, get them something wearable that no one else has. New York Artist Adrianne Paerels will design white painter pants, hand-drawn with their favorite food products from the Italian deli, bagelry, or bodega; from tomato sauce cans, to chip bags and sodas. Custom pants are $275, but Paerels also sells already-made ones for less.
‘Bodega sauce’ from a viral burrito shop
Forsyth Fire Escape is one of the most buzzed-about food pop-ups of the year, a scallion pancake burrito business that once dispensed its food from a fire escape on Manhattan’s Forsyth Street. The business has since found refuge at Don Juan Grocery and Deli, a bodega in Chinatown that’s now home to this hot sauce. “Every day after service, we would give the guys the leftover burritos, and we would see them adding this sauce to it,” says owner Isabel Lee. The all-purpose condiment is made from garlic, tomato, adobo seasoning, and annatto — perfect for burritos, and just about anything else. $12 at Olly Olly Market, where the team recently opened an outpost or online.
Merch inspired by Chinatown rice rolls
Welcome to Chinatown, a local neighborhood activist group that also designs and sells merch for small businesses, created a line of t-shirts and mugs for Chinatown rice roll spot Tonii’s Fresh Rice Noodle. Fans of the daytime cafe will immediately recognize the shirt’s font, which pays homage to the massive chalkboard menu that spans one wall of the restaurant. The shirt lists the names of a few of the most popular items — rice rolls with roast pork, duck, and mixed vegetables — alongside Tonii’s smiling sponge cake mascot.
A panettone candle that doubles as a sculpture
Laila Gohar, the New York City chef known for her dinners that double as edible art installations, launched her own line of home goods that can only be described as items for people with a lot of money in their bank account (think paper shoes for your rotisserie chicken, doilies for your glasses, and $90 bean plates) or anyone looking to inject a little lavish whimsy around the dinner table. Gohar World stocks several food candles (panettone, flan, pastries) that double as sculptures to trick your guests (or pets).
Pineapple soy sauce to season rice bowls
Brooklyn-based Taiwanese general store Yun Hai offers some truly high-quality pantry items including this 180-day, naturally fermented Taiwan pineapple soy sauce made with black soybeans, pineapple, and salt. The result is a bright and highly savory condiment that will become the delicious all-purpose soy sauce that you won’t be able to go without.
Cookie sweets for when the holidays get salty
These homemade cookies are like a gift from the Italian grandma we wish we had. The dolci box from Greenpoint cookbook store and cafe Archestratus includes rainbow cookies (pistachio, raspberries, lemon zest, apricot jam, and almond paste); vegan butter balls (walnuts and almond flour); pistachio lace (pistachio, chocolate and baking spices); casa cookies (pine nuts plus chocolate chips), and jasmine buranelli (an -S-shaped cookie made for dipping) among them. Order well in advance so it arrives in time for the holidays.
Streetwear to rep a decades-old diner
The West Village may have changed over the decades, but La Bonbonierre has been a constant. Streetwear shop Neighborhood Spot tapped the Cevallos Brothers, a signmaker duo for restaurants in New York City (and decades-old legends in their own right), to make custom sweatshirts for the West Village luncheonette. We’ll take fries with that!
A Zabar’s cookbook filled with family history
There’s no substitute for a trip to Zabar’s, the Upper West Side grocer that occupies one-half of a city block, but this family history of the Jewish market can tide you over until your next visit. In this new book, Lori Zabar, granddaughter of founder Louis Zabar, tells the story of the Manhattan shop’s unlikely rise, beginning with her grandfather’s escape from Ukraine in 1921, to the opening of Zabar’s on West 80th Street and Broadway in 1934, and his passing of the torch to the next generation after his death in 1950. The book includes a handful of recipes for matzoh ball soup, cheese blintzes, sweet noodle kugel, and other Zabar’s staples.
Iranian beer, brewed in New York
Looking for a beer in a cute can, and then some? Check out Back Home. This woman-owned Iranian beer company started as a small home-brewing operation before graduating into more spacious premises in Staten Island. The business is still young — there are just a few types of beer so far — but Back Home already has a sizable following, featured on menus at restaurants like Bushwick’s Iranian Eyval. The sumac gose brewed with tart cherries and blue salt pours like a colorful natural wine, while the Persian lager offers something more classic.