25 NYC Gift Ideas for Food Lovers

11/28/10 - By Lia

Giving gifts to New Yorkers can be  tricky. With many people living in small spaces, no one wants  more stuff -- especially families with young children. If you have a holiday party coming up and are wondering what to buy the hosts and their kids, give them something they'll really appreciate: good food. Buying local is all the rage these days, and New York City is full of top-notch artisanal treats. Adults will thank you for not showing up with yet another toy, and little ones will love digging into homemade doughnuts, hand-twisted pretzels, or a few bars of dark chocolate. Many of the foods below can be shipped around the country, so you can bring a bit of the Big Apple to Grandma in Wisconsin, too.


Brownies: New Yorkers love their sweets and Fat Witch in Chelsea Market makes a mean brownie. A box of their original -- a deep, dark, rich treat, or some snow witches made with all white chocolate would make a perfect holiday present. For kids, there are Fat Witch babies, bite-size versions that come in three flavors. 

Cupcakes: Magnolia Bakery turned cupcakes into the quintessential New York City treat. Baked by Melissa bakes adorable mini ones in a bunch of fun flavors including tie-dye, chocolate chip cookie dough, and peanut butter and jelly. Butter Lane in the East Village makes what it calls cupcakes for adults, but kids love them, too. Theirs are made with two types of frosting (French has egg whites, granulated sugar and butter and American comes with confectioners sugar and butter) and they ship to 48 states.

Chocolate: Studies say dark chocolate has health benefits and with less sugar than other types, it won't make children bounce of the walls (as much, at least). Two of New York's best places for handmade chocolate are in Brooklyn -- they're also family affairs. At Nunu In Boerum Hill, a husband and wife team make ganaches, caramels, and best of all, chocolate covered graham crackers. In Williamsburg, Rick and Michael Mast are the siblings behind Mast Brothers. Wrapped in imported paper from Italy, their bars of dark chocolate are intense, delicious, and a very pretty present.

Candy: All of the candy bars, jellies, lollipops and other sweets from Liddabit are made in small batches daily using local and organic ingredients. If you want to place a holiday order, make sure to do it early.

Pizza: It wouldn't be polite to arrive at a holiday party with a pie of pizza. Instead, give the hosts a gift certificate so they can buy their own another night. In Brooklyn, Franny's and Lucali (575 Henry Street, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, 718-858-4086) are both beloved and for good reason: their pizzas rock. In Manhattan, try Artichoke or Co.

Beer: It's good to drink local, too. Look for beer from Brooklyn Brewery or Sixpoint when you're picking up drinks to bring to a party.

Doughnuts: New Yorkers love their doughnuts and there's certainly no shortage of them in all five boroughs. But don't waste your money on mass-produced ones -- many places make them in small batches and they taste much better. Some of my favorites include the bomboloni with vanilla cream from Caffe Falai, the tres leches from Doughnut Plant and the jelly ones from Trois Pommes (weekends only).

Pretzels: The organic, hand-rolled pretzels at Sigmund Pretzelshop in the East Village are far superior to the stale, salty ones found on city corners. For those who prefer hard pretzels, Martin's are hand-rolled and twisted and stone hearth baked. Look for them at the Union Square Greenmarket or order online. But best of all is City Bakery's pretzel croissant, a to die for treat that's good at any time of day.

Honey: On rooftops throughout the city, people are raising bees and making honey. A good gift that can be found at many Greenmarkets, local honey might even have health benefits. Bees use pollen from local plants; it ends up in the honey and could help with seasonal allergies.

Hot Dogs: The high-end hot dogs from Bark took home New York Magazine's Best Hot Dogs award this year. Give a gift certificate to a family of foodies. Even if they don't live in Brooklyn, tell them it's worth the trip.

Prime Meats:  New York is full of top-notch butchers. Lobel's in Manhattan and Ottomanelli's Prime Meats in Queens ship their premium meat, poultry and game all over the country, and Staubitz in Brooklyn has a big following. Stock a family's freezer for the winter, or if you're looking for something really unique, send some bison steaks. With less cholesterol than chicken breast, pasture raised bison tastes almost the same as beef, and is better for the environment. High Plains Bison is the place to grab a bit of bison.


For more holiday fun, check out our Holiday Guide. And find more gift ideas in our NYC Shopping Local Gift Guide.

And now that we've made gift shopping easy, use your extra time to check out one of the cool events we cover here:  Only in NY: Offbeat and Multicultural Holiday Events.