Somehow, some way — we’ve made it to the end of 2021! In a year that felt simultaneously lightning-fast and (at times) excruciatingly slow, we’ve arrived at another holiday gift-giving season. Despite the uncertainty of the current moment, there is still plenty of reason for joy, and the simple act of gifting your friends and family with tokens of cheer is a reliable way to keep spirits bright. But if your usual holiday shopping routine has evaded you this year, fear not — we have a last-minute Hell’s Kitchen gift guide that will help you to support neighborhood businesses while checking everyone off on your list!
Thanks to Michael Muñoz (who created our 2020 gift guide), we bring you some familiar Hell’s Kitchen favorites — a few of our “best of” year-end award winners, as well as some newcomers with gifts and experiences that are readily available for last-minute purchase. Grab your credit card and let’s get to it — and while you’re shopping, don’t forget to save a few treats for yourself. It’s been a weird year, and you deserve it. Happy shopping!
Let’s start with a simple task — you’re looking for an easy, budget-friendly, food-themed gift that is more personal than a package of ye-olde frosted grocery store cookies. Enter Schmackary’s (362 W45st Street — east of 9th Avenue), the neighborhood favorite adored by locals and visitors alike since its opening in 2012. Zachary Schmahl’s bakery is known for its inventive and often theatrically-themed flavor profiles, which expand to include a delightful variety of seasonal options.
Taste a Dirty Peppermint (deep dark cocoa, crunchy peppermint bits, smooth white chocolate and vanilla frosting) or a Cranberry Dream (an oatmeal cookie with tart cranberries and white chocolate chunks, glazed in a sweet lemon drizzle) for yourself before boxing up a dozen for your family or coworkers. And if you have any Broadway fans in your life, they’re sure to know that Schmackary’s is a frequent between-show hangout for many boldfaced name theater professionals. Who knows, you may just run into Sara Bareilles while you’re there!
Just up the block from Schmackary’s is another Hell’s Kitchen stalwart — and the winner of the 2021 W42ST reader poll for Best Coffee Shop — Amy’s Bread (672 9th Ave bw W46/47th St). Amy’s has faithfully served the Hell’s Kitchen community for nearly 30 years and has perfected their many offerings of sweet and savory baked goods. Snag a box of scones or (dependent on availability) one of Amy’s specialty pies or cakes. Or, if there isn’t a whole pie or cake left, make yourself a variety box of slices that will please everyone’s tastes and disguise the fact that you didn’t order ahead! Unless they read this guide. Shh!
Will you stop at nothing until you find a whole pie to bring to Christmas dinner? Run, don’t walk to The Little Pie Company (424 W 43st Street bw 9/10th Ave), serving up homespun desserts since 1985. Founded by actor Arnold Wilkerson, The Little Pie Company has maintained its roots as a theater community favorite for over 35 years. Delightful full-sized and miniature pies are available daily for in-store pick up, as are seasonal specialties like their hand-decorated holiday cookies (subject to in-store availability). Try the Sour Cream Apple Walnut Pie and let your life be forever changed. Then buy a pie for your friends and family, since you did come here to holiday shop.
Further west near 11th Ave is hidden gem Sullivan Street Bakery (533 W47th Street), the supplier of rolls, pizzas, and baked goods to top restaurants and coffee shops throughout the city. Their primary bakery location in Hell’s Kitchen also features a chic, Roman-style coffee and bakeshop with samples of the day’s creations. During the holidays, Sullivan Street offers an award-winning sourdough twist on panettone, an Italian sweet bread that is perfect to serve at your intimate holiday gathering, or to work through on your own as you binge-watch cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies. “Our PPP means Peak Panettone Production! These are amongst our final and largest batches for the season! I love big batches and I can not lie,” says SSB founder and baker Jim Lahey.
Is there someone in your life who requires a steady dose of caffeine for all human interaction? Stay on their good side by visiting one of the neighborhood’s plethora of first-rate coffee shops. A few highlights include the aforementioned Amy’s, 2020 Muñoz-pick St Kilda’s (328 W44th Street bw 8/9th Ave), Kahve (403 W51st Street — west of 9th Ave), and The Jolly Goat Coffee Bar (515 W47th Street bw 10/11th Ave). In addition to their multi-roast flavors of coffee to go, St. Kilda’s offers gift cards and merchandise (including some chic, street-style approved T-shirts!). Kahve sells bags of their Turkish and Cuban coffee blends along with branded mugs, perfect for the frequent customer. Grab a bag of Urban Rooster Coffee, a proprietary cold brew growler, and a branded T-shirt at The Jolly Goat and consider yourself Caffeine Santa. For a full list of the neighborhood’s best coffee shops, be sure to check out the W42ST app.
If you need a break from the sweets-overload of the holiday season, check out the fare at PS Kitchen (246 W48th Street — east of 8th Ave), a plant-based restaurant that creates jobs for marginalized populations and donates 100% of its profits to charitable partners. Grab a bag of P.S. Kitchen’s seasonal coffee, a tote bag, gift card, and other luxe wellness goodies in their “Good Gifts” set for your favorite locavore who wants to eat well and give back to the community.
WELCOME TO MY HOME
Domus (413 W44th Street bw 9/10th Ave) has long been known to locals as a Hell’s Kitchen landmark for artisan gifts and homewares, landing a spot on last year’s best-of awards for Best Store. Opened in 2002, Domus functions under the philosophy that home decor should “combine form and function: useful yet pleasing to the eye and the touch.” Hand-woven linen tablecloths and clutch bags, mouth-blown glassware for entertaining, and delicate amethyst earrings are just some of the treasures to behold at Domus, open every day this week through Christmas Eve. Head over to secure a last-minute gift for the discerning aunt who appreciates truly one-of-a-kind craftsmanship.
Another must-visit is Delphinium Home (353 W47th Street — east of 9th Ave), this year’s winner for Best Store in our reader poll. Delphinium is known for its top-notch selection of witty greeting cards and New York-specific gifts (there are even Hell’s Kitchen-specific wares, like this sassy tote bag). Grab one to hold your copy of “A is For Audra”, a hardcover encyclopedia of Broadway’s leading ladies!
And while you’re browsing the shelves of Delphinium Home, don’t forget to pick up a copy of Walking Manhattan Sideways and The Art of Walking Manhattan Sideways — two stunning photo books detailing the journey of Manhattan author and citizen journalist Betsy Bober Polivy’s quest to document life on the side streets of New York from 1st to 155th Streets. Signed copies are also available for delivery (subject to availability) at the Manhattan Sideways website. Several Hell’s Kitchen businesses are featured throughout the pages, including Chez Josephine, Steve’s Editing Barber Shop, Patsy’s Italian Restaurant, Hecht Sewing Machine & Motor, Barbetta, Gallagher’s Steakhouse, Frankie & Johnnie’s, and Blatt Billiards, as detailed in our November 2020 profile. Snag a copy for your favorite local, or one for yourself to witness the neighborhood immortalized through evocative photographs.
On a photography kick? Check out New York Celestial, a book by Gary Hershorn — a friend to W42ST (check out his favorite photos of 2021 in our retrospective here) and notable New York-based photographer. New York Celestial celebrates the city with striking shots of iconic landmarks in concert with the sun, moon, and various weather events. Buy a signed version of this book for the friend who keeps sending you blurry iPhone photos of Manhattanhenge.
Maybe you’re searching for a way to make your apartment smell like Christmas without the hassle of baking (or dragging fir trees up the stairs of your 5th-story walkup). Preston Konrad Home (461 W49th St — west of 10th Ave), a smart and stylish candle shop and brand headquarters designed to look like founder Preston Konrad’s own apartment is the place to find the scent of the holiday season. Konrad releases seasonal collections with location-influenced scents like Upstate (notes of fireside smoke, black pepper, roasting wood, white ember, smoldering cedar, amber, and musk) and Montmartre (Parisian fig, blackcurrant, eucalyptus, orange flower plum, cedarwood, and amber) that are perfect for year-round use but especially evocative in winter.
Konrad’s hit holiday candle is Winterwatch — a woodsy combination of scotch pine, cool camphor, sage leaf, cinnamon stick, winter woods, and pine cone. Pick one up to keep the spirit (and scent) of Christmas in your home all winter long!
Looking for even more apartment ambiance? Try aromatherapy with Home’edged’s Reed Diffusers. Hell’s Kitchen local Michael William G‘s luxury candle, fragrance, and diffuser brand is known for providing the scents at TMPL gym and frequently selling out at their Nolita Market stand. Pick up a FOCUS diffuser (composed of bergamot, melon, and oakmoss) to set the tone for your home in the new year ahead. This diffuser would make a great gift for the friend who loves candles but forgets to blow them out.
We’d be remiss not to throw in a quick plug for our own W42ST mugs, featuring exclusive cover artwork from our print days! Rep your favorite neighborhood magazine on your next Zoom meeting with a W42ST mug of coffee to get you through.
‘FIT TO A T
Everyone knows that the only shoe for the dancer in your life is a LaDuca (517 W45th Street). The famed footwear store (and supplier of theatrical shoes to dozens of Broadway shows) has been a Hell’s Kitchen fixture for years, now settled in its new flagship location at West 45th Street between 10th and 11th Ave. Snag a gift certificate to allow your favorite dancer to choose their preferred style and be fit by LaDuca’s seasoned staff — throw in a water bottle or protective shoe bag to complete the experience!
Looking at a long winter indoors? Make the days fly by listening to the In Yo Mouth podcast, telling stories of the queer community through a food lens with the “Andy Cohen of Food”, host Michael Muñoz! Pledge your devotion to your newfound favorite audio show with a signature T-shirt or tote bag to boot!
Fine and Dandy (445 W49st Street bw 9/10th) is the neighborhood go-to for all of your bespoke menswear needs — head here for everything from vintage neckties, cummerbunds, and hats to suspenders and handkerchiefs. After weathering a challenging pandemic year, Fine and Dandy not only managed to survive but were able to open an adjacent shop at Fine and Dandy Throwback, Matt Fox and Enrique Crame III’s newest project devoted to rare T-shirts and other vintage clothing from the 70s-90s. After you’ve shopped for your nattiest uncle at Fine and Dandy, head next door to pick up a vintage concert T-shirt or one-of-a-kind university sweatshirt for yourself at Fine and Dandy Throwback.
It’s December 24th. You still haven’t finished your shopping and the hours are ticking away. Don’t give in and resort to a Target gift card! Check out the wide assortment of gift cards available from local businesses highlighted on our app. Give the gift of an evening at Ardesia Wine Bar, pizza at Nizza, or brunch at The Marshal, and show the person you love that you actually know what they like to eat!
Have a friend who spends more time in the gym than their own apartment? Gift them a personal training session (either virtual or in-person) at Manhattan Plaza Health Club (482 W43th Street bw 9/10th Ave), winner of this year’s reader poll for Best Place to Work Out. If they’re interested in joining more permanently, Manhattan Plaza Health Club offers state-of-the-art rock climbing, tennis, and swimming facilities!
The Times Square Alliance also offers a neighborhood gift card, good for a variety of much-loved local joints, including Pure Ktchn and Tito Murphy’s. Buy a gift card for your out-of-town relative to take you out to dinner when they’re in town. Everybody wins!
And finally — if you are at a total loss (or have run out the clock), you can always give your family an IOU for a VIP tour of Hell’s Kitchen. They’ll have so much fun here that they’ll forget you didn’t buy them a Christmas gift! Merry merry, y’all!
* All pictures are from the business’s social media feed or website unless otherwise stated.