In the age of social distancing, our food memories feel particularly potent. Deeply sensory, food memory—the flavors and smells of dishes we’ve enjoyed in the past—is inextricably linked to the excitement and joy of travel itself. So there is perhaps no greater gift to send to a shut-in friend or relative than a taste from a special time on the road. And thanks to a slew of online delivery options, you can send them food from all corners of the country. From New Orleans beignets to Chicago deep dish pizza to the gravlax of New York City, order and ship an edible reminder of travel this holiday season. Below, 19 of the best shippable food gifts.
All products featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission. This article was originally published in May 2020. It has been updated with new information.
New York or L.A. pastrami
For the person in your life who can’t get enough of brined and seasoned meat, order up some sandwich fillings from either coast. Pastrami, which is corned beef that’s been rubbed down with herbs and spices and then smoked and steamed, has aficionados in both New York and Los Angeles. Angelenos swear by Langer’s, the kosher-style delicatessen in L.A.’s Westlake neighborhood; New Yorkers have been lining up for Katz’s pastrami on rye since 1888.
Coffee club subscription
Tour the world via its coffee thanks to Atlas Coffee Club, which curates single-origin coffees from more than 50 countries, including Ethiopia and Colombia, and sends you a monthly package that includes a new coffee, tasting notes, and brewing recommendations.
A New York food tour—from home
A new offering in at-home dining, Destination Home offers customizable menus serving four to 10 guests. Not only will they package and ship all the ingredients for you, they work in music, scents, and settings to evoke a real experience. The NYC in Seven Stops meal includes antipasti from the Italian food purveyors of Arthur Avenue, a reuben pastrami inspired by Katz’s deli, a Peter Luger-style steak, and more. Launched by the event designers Jennifer Zabinski and Oliver Cheng, who have worked with the MET Gala, Tory Burch, and Serena Williams, they work with local purveyors and donate five percent of sales to the Food Bank for NYC.
Milk Bar treats
Christina Tosi’s wildly delightful bakery chain, Milk Bar, has been fulfilling our sweet fantasies since 2008. If you’re looking for the ideal sugar-soaked confection to send to someone far away for a birthday, Mother’s Day, or other special celebration, this New York standby, known for its Milk Bar Pie, classic birthday cake, and irresistibly soft cookies, is a solid choice. (And when the holidays roll around, the rich cake truffles make an excellent stocking stuffer.)
Spanish Iberico ham
If you’ve been to Spain, you’re no doubt still dreaming about the nutty, melt-in-your mouth Iberico ham commonly served in tapas joints. For anyone obsessed with this delicacy, the Cinco Jotas restaurant in Madrid is famous for serving perfect slices, every time. Now, their Discovery Gift Box comes with two packages of the acorn-fed ham pre-sliced, ready to set out and enjoy from home, while those plans to return to Spain are put on pause a little while longer.
Sugar Hill Creamery ice cream
For your dessert fiends, Harlem’s famous creamery has just begun shipping nationwide. All the favorites (birthday cake and salted caramel) are available, but your gift recipient may most appreciate a set of four of the best-sellers.
Nong’s Khao Man Gai sauce
This signature sauce of the Portland, Oregon, eatery is a secret family recipe, and it’s helped garner a cult following for the signature Thai dish. Now that it’s available for sale, you can gift it to someone missing this gem in the Pacific Northwest.
Chicago deep dish or New York pizza
Any way you slice it, pizza is the ultimate comfort food—and therefore, one of the best food gifts. Whether your loved one prefers it soft, thin, and hand-tossed, à la a NYC slice, or deep-crusted and layered thick with toppings, as they do in Chicago, there’s no doubt that pizza, consumed hot, bubbling, and straight out of the oven, is one of life’s most delicious pleasures. Lou Malnati’s deep dish has been satisfying Windy City appetites for half a century; Roberta’s is still considered one of the most important pizza joints in the Big Apple. You can order a pie to bake from home from either spot with just a few clicks.
Stylish (and delicious) gin
Paul Feig is known for his taste, from the way he directs films to his much-lauded sartorial choices. Now, he’s bringing that style to his new line of gin, Artingstall’s, made from 11 botanicals and served in a crystal decanter-style bottle. Not only does it look good on a bar cart—it’s a delight of a liquor to enjoy in your favorite cocktail. Meanwhile, cult favorite Monkey 47 has just released a Distiller’s Cut in time for the holidays. The limited batch is aged in rare Japanese Mizunara Barrels—this is the bottle you buy for the passionate gin drinker in your life.
New Orleans beignets
Doughy, deep-fried, and dusted with sugar, there is no breakfast more symbolic of New Orleans than the beignet. A French-inspired, square-shaped spin on the doughnut, beignets are best when consumed hot and fresh and washed down with a creamy cafe au lait. And with a gift basket from Café Du Monde , the unofficial baron of NOLA beignets, you can send a mix for home baking, plus a heaping can of the Big Easy’s favorite chicory coffee blend.
Northern California oysters
One day again soon, we’ll be able to sit together at picnic tables overlooking Tomales Bay in Northern California, shucking our own oysters and washing them down with a crisp Chablis. Until that day comes, send someone you love a batch of Hog Island’s beloved sweet oysters, and if you really want to be a pearl, throw in a glove and shucking knife, too.
If a trip to Ireland couldn’t happen this year, consider bringing one of its best exports to your loved ones. The Dublin Liberties Whiskey Collection makes small batch, single-malt Irish whiskey straight from The Liberties neighborhood of Dublin. There are four whiskeys available, ranging from a five-year-old blend to 10-, 13-, and 16-year single malts.
New York City’s ever-popular ACME Smoked Fish company has launched a new online store, where you can send fan favorites like smoked salmon and herring all over the country. We’re partial to the Brooklyn Bling set, which features all the hits: five types of smoked salmon, including a pastrami and BBQ style; herring in wine and herring in cream sauce; and smoked whitefish salad.
Eat 2 Explore World Holiday Treats box
This family cooking kit blends a cultural lesson with a cooking exercise, while also providing harder-to-find ingredients and sauces that define the meal. The subscription service allows you to explore a country, a continent, or the world, and each box comes with three recipe cards, ingredients, essential sauces, a shopping list, an activity sheet, and a collectible, like a cooking tool or flag pin.
Philadelphia loves few things as much as it loves its cheesesteaks: paper-thin slices of saucy ribeye and melted cheese, served up hot and dripping with mushrooms and onions on a long and toasted roll. But for decades, the City of Brotherly Love has been divided by a fierce rivalry over who prepares the best of these messy, melted sandwiches, with Pat’s King of Steaks, Jim’s Steaks, and Campo’s among the joints staking their claim as the superlative purveyor of Philadelphia’s favorite sandwich. As for us, we’re content ordering up one of each and holding a taste-testing tournament at home.
For anyone yearning for their favorite Balkan dishes, Balkan Bites makes homemade burek—the flaky, stuffed phyllo pie found in the Balkans, Middle East, and Western Asia. This business hand-stretches the dough and makes their burek according to beloved family recipes. Choose from mushroom and goat cheese, beef and onion, spinach and cheese, and more, and have them shipped frozen to your friend missing their favorite treats.
Maine lobster roll
For foodies, the main event of any trip to Maine is biting into the quintessential Maine lobster roll. Served on a fluffy toasted and buttered hot dog bun and packed with fresh lobster chunks, this purist’s delight is hard to match—but easy to source and ship. You may not be able to send anyone to Spruce Head Island for a while, but you can send Spruce Head Island to them, thanks to the goods available on Goldbelly.
Simmering with cinnamon, allspice, cumin, and nutmeg, Cincinnati chili is a knock-out punch to your senses. It’s a sloppy, sweet-and-spicy spin on spaghetti, served up with layers of pasta and cheese (if this doesn’t sound like chili to you, the people of Cincinnati would like a word). Skyline is Cincinnati’s most beloved purveyor of the good stuff.
Vermont maple syrup
Being homebound with a craving for real-deal Vermont maple syrup is certainly no fun. If you have a friend or relative pining for the good stuff, there’s an easy way to help them out of that sticky situation. Vermont Maple Direct and Goldbelly both ship pure maple syrup and maple products nationwide, so the sweet tooth in your life doesn’t have to settle for supermarket brands.