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Food gift to take to SF

Am staying with a hardcore foodie friend in SF and wanted to bring him something from NYC that he can't find in SF. Was thinking about cookies from Momofuku Milk bar but woul dlove to hear other ideas. Needs to be carry-able on the plane!


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  1. I'm from SF. Though I moved out here 10 years ago, I still visit often enough.

    This is a tough problem, because you need something that basically ships well, but things that ship well tend to be available there.

    I'm not the biggest bagel person, but what passes for a bagel in my hometown is typically more akin to a dinner roll with a hole in it. So that might be an idea.

    BTW, last time I visited there I tried to bring back some Mission burritos with me. Didn't work. I knew it was a longshot, but I had to try.

    2 Replies
    1. re: una mas

      bagels do seem like a natural choice.

      so funny to hear about your Mission burrito travails. I tried the same thing (from La Taqueria, my personal favorite) and found that the contents had congealed into something awful by the time I arrived back in NYC...

      1. re: HungryArthur

        La Taqueria is great. My favorite is Pancho Villa, not least because they make the best salsa verde I've ever had. The avocado chunks seal the deal.

    2. Black & white cookies...I like the other person's idea of bagels too.

      1. I know they do mail order now, but whenever I've taken a Katz's pastrami back home it has been well-received.

        1 Reply
        1. re: una mas

          Thanks for letting me know about the mail order. You may have just saved my life :)

        2. San Fran does plenty of stuff right, but one thing we have that they don't are the world's best bagels. Buy them morning-of your departure.


          1. i recently moved from the east coast to sf, and i miss real italian food.

            maybe pick up some chocolate from kee's and bring your friend some juicy twist packs! (at least hat's what i would want)

            i once froze 2 chicken fried steaks from hoovers and 2lbs of extra moist brisket from rudy's in austin, tx, wrapped several times in saran wrap and foil, then picked up 1lb of brisket from the county line at the airport to bring back to boston. my sister is a very lucky girl.

            1 Reply
            1. re: lschow

              Your sister is lucky, indeed. I'd KILL for some County Line BBQ.


            2. Another vote for bagels. When I lived in the Bay Area, I always asked my husband to bring bagels back when he went to NY. Far better, even considering the "jet lag" than what I could find out there.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mandy.21

                another vote for bagels or bialys. We just don't have anything like those NY bagels. Black & White cookies might be another good thing. Lastly, bring some pastrami and some corned beef. It is just not the same out here.

              2. Maybe cupcakes - although could be difficult to take with you. I've taken them on 4 hr bus rides to Boston and been ok. Obvious choice would be Magnolia, but I like Butter Lane and Chikalicious cupcakes.

                Maybe Mariebelle Chocolates? I know they sell online, but still.

                1 Reply
                1. re: YummyInTheCity

                  Unfortunately the cupcake craze is alive and well in SF. In fact, I think they were on that one before NYC. There was a place near pier 39 that had crazy long Magnolia-style lines like 10 years ago.

                2. What about lox, whitefish salad, etc. from Russ & Daughters? It's what I bring to my sister in Paris, since the bagels don't travel so well. Plus H&H ships to a store in Paris, anyway.

                  1. Katz's pastrami! Bascially this will be my recommendation for any food gift to anywhere in the WORLD :D If you go there you can buy pastrami by lbs, and ask them to slice and vacuum-seal them so you can bring them with you. You can freeze them until you want to consume, and just steam or boil inside the vacuum-sealed bag. AWESOME!

                    Ask for a taste first and make sure to ask for fatty pastrami. Also, I think they will not do vacuum sealing unless you buy at least 2 or 3 lbs, though last time I did I was able to get 1 lb sealed in two 1/2lb-bags.

                    I bring these back to Japan everytime I go back to visit my relatives. They can never get enough!

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: kobetobiko

                      I'd say bagels and Levain Bakery cookies.

                      1. re: kobetobiko

                        As I mentioned earlier, that used to be my default to bring home, but now that they have online ordering it isn't quite as special as it used to be. There is usually one waiting for me when I get back now! I think I have more out there than here!

                        1. re: una mas

                          Mail order isn't the same. Going there you can specify the thickness and how fatty you want, and most importantly, taste it (!) before they slice the pastrami for you.

                      2. ...along with the bagels, the flavored cream cheeses travel pretty well, and most aren't available - if you're going to russ's maybe pick up some scallion or vegetable cream cheese to go with the nova or sable.

                        For what it's worth - I travel for work and I bring an assortment of Fat Witch Brownies (from Chelsea market) to my clients. They're outstanding, and I've had clients ask "where's the Fat Witch?" before "Hi!" If you've got a chocoholic, it's a guarantee.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sebastianxx

                          Fat Witch Brownies (especially the Babies) and pastrami from Katz's are well received when I brought them back from NY. I

                        2. Macarons from La Maison du Chocolat - or cupcakes from Dessert Club Chickalicious, both are vastly better than the SF options.

                          1. Levain Cookies - whoops, second the rec...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: tpigeon

                              I live near SF (Napa) and lived for several years in NY -- awhile ago. For me, it would be bialys over bagels -- more exotic, impress your SF and transplanted NY friends with a bialy and mimosa party, and totally impossible (to my knowledge) to find in SF. So, bialys for me!