If you’re like AFAR’s food-obsessed editors, you’ve likely planned entire itineraries around eating or perhaps even booked a plane ticket to make a pilgrimage to a specific restaurant. But what are food lovers with a bad case of wanderlust to do when they can’t just hop on the next flight?
Intrepid cooks and bakers may be able to recreate some recipes at home, but if you have a hankering for NYC pizza or a half-smoke from Ben’s Chili Bowl in D.C., there’s a way to get your favorite meals delivered straight to your door while also supporting local restaurants and other small food businesses at the same time.
Founded in 2013, Goldbelly is an online storefront that ships iconic American regional foods using UPS or FedEx overnight services within the United States. Goldbelly’s website is loaded with hundreds of options from ice cream to bagels to barbecue all organized by region. To help narrow your options, here are a few favorites that AFAR editors have ordered to recreate their favorite travel memories at home and support small businesses at the same time.
Buy Now: Famous Cuban Sandwich Kit for 4, $79, goldbelly.com
By the time my husband and I have hit the tarmac in Miami, my father-in-law is circling the airport; once we exit the air-conditioned sanctuary into the Miami mugginess, we are practically, immediately scooped up. His expediency is not because he’s in a hurry to get us, but because we’re in a hurry to get food—Cuban food. Without fail, from the airport we zoom to one of two spots for our fix: La Carreta or Versailles. Because of the pandemic, though, my husband and I haven’t traveled south to see family in more than a year. (On top of missing family, he, a Cuban American, was feeling serious food withdrawals.) So when a thoughtful friend sent us a box of Cuban sandwiches from Versailles via Goldbelly, we unpacked them with glee and had them for lunch and dinner two days in a row. Though all of the ingredients come separate and we don’t have a sandwich press à la Versailles—which smashes the sandwiches to the height of just three inches—we managed all the same: The bread was soft, the pork plentiful, the ham juicy, the pickles crisp, the mustard tangy, and the cheese just the right amount of gooey. It’s not quite Miami, but it’ll more than do. —Katherine LaGrave, Digital features editor
Buy Now: Ribs and Pulled Pork Dinner for 4, $79, goldbelly.com
Back in the “Before COVID” days, I ate my way around Memphis over a long weekend and never forgot the city’s esteemed barbecue. You could argue all afternoon over the best place for it—at the time I was firmly in Rendezvous’s corner, for its charbroiled ribs and brisket, but since ordering Central BBQ’s dinner via Goldbelly, there’s been a new contender. Central’s pork is dry rubbed with a paprika, salt, and brown sugar spice blend and marinated for 24 hours before it’s smoked and charred to perfection. You don’t really need anything else on it, but it also supplies a 16-ounce bottle of rich sauce (choose among mild, hot, mustard, or vinegar) along with extra rub. We’re still using them in an enthusiastic but ultimately doomed effort to recreate the magic ourselves. —Tim Chester, Deputy editor
Buy Now: Half Dozen Bagels, Cream Cheese, and Nova Scotia Salmon, $69, goldbelly.com
Whether it’s Father’s Day or just any old Sunday, you can always enjoy brunch in true New York fashion: With bagels, cream cheese, and lox from one of Manhattan’s most beloved bagel spots, H&H. Choosing the best NYC bagel is like picking a favorite child—virtually impossible—but H&H is a city institution that has been referenced time and time again in pop culture (Dwight Schrute uses a tray of them to bribe his coworkers on The Office, and even Cosmo Kramer worked there in Seinfeld). Around since 1972, H&H is still baking with its original recipe that produces a bagel with just the right amount of bite and chewiness. —Lyndsey Matthews, Senior commerce editor
Buy Now: Pastrami Queen Sandwich Kit for 4, $89, goldbelly.com
Where to find the best pastrami is a classic New York City debate, at least in my house. For me, it’s no contest: Pastrami Queen on the Upper East Side. Why? The pastrami is evenly marbled with fat, well-brined, and has a stronger pepper flavor, which results in a meat so tender you can nudge it apart with the tap of your finger. Details matter, too: The seeded rye is always soft, the mustard not too sharp, and the pickles snappy and crisp. One of my favorite afternoon agendas is to visit the Met or the Met Breuer, then walk east to Pastrami Queen for dinner. (The late Anthony Bourdain had his own Pastrami Queen routine and called the sandwich “if not the best, among the very best.”) —K.L.
Cowgirl Creamery Cheese
Buy Now: Classic Cowgirl Cheese Collection, $70, goldbelly.com
In fall 2019, I went home to the San Francisco Bay Area and spent a weekend with my mom in Marin County puttering around Stinson Beach and Bolinas. Before I flew back to New York, we stopped at Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station, and I smuggled back a small package of its creamy Mt. Tam cheese. You can find this iconic dairy’s cheeses in upscale grocery stores in Manhattan, but not in the Queens neighborhood in which I spent most of 2020 lockdown. I ordered this three-pack, which comes with Mt. Tam plus two seasonal cheeses, not only because I missed good cheese but also because I missed my home and my mom. —L.M.
Eventide Oyster Co.
Buy Now: Brown Butter Lobster Roll Kit for 2, $59, goldbelly.com
In spring 2020, I self-isolated at my dad’s house in northern Maine, where I normally come each summer for lake time and lobster rolls. But during lockdown, the lake was frozen solid and my favorite lobster roll spot was closed indefinitely, so I ordered the brown butter lobster roll kit from Eventide Oyster Co. instead. These are far from traditional—the lobster is doused in brown butter and piled on top of a steamed bun—but I tried them a few years ago when my brother got married in Portland and I haven’t stopped thinking about them since. They tricked me into thinking it was summer and (almost) made life feel like normal. —Natalie Beauregard, AFAR contributing writer
Edwards Virginia Smokehouse
Buy Now: Petite Virginia Ham, $69, goldbelly.com
Six months after we’d moved to Virginia and were invited to holiday parties at neighbors’ houses, my snide teenage self noticed one consistent thing on the buffet tables in every home: No matter how elaborate or basic the rest of the family’s offerings were, there would always be a tray of ham biscuits. I’m not talking lofty just-baked biscuits piled with thick slices of moist ham. These were/are little flat, squared-off supermarket-bakery-made biscuits, with a light dusting of flour on top and inside a modest smear of unsalted butter and a few skimpy shavings of crimson-red dry ham. My teen self smirked but, of course, tried one. And unseen angels burst into song, praising pork and all its goodness. Virginia ham is famous for a reason. It’s smoky and strong and you only need a few meager shards to create a flavor explosion of salt and fat and something altogether holy in your mouth. Unless you’ve got a grandaddy with a smokehouse, Edwards Virginia Smokehouse is the way to go. Use this to make ham biscuits, frittatas, sandwiches, and hors d’oeuvres or look for recipes that use pancetta or jamon and substitute a taste of Virginia instead. —Ann Shields, AFAR contributing writer
Callie’s Charleston Biscuits
Buy Now: Baker’s Mix ’n Match, $40, goldbelly.com
Before my first trip to Charleston, friends who had visited the southern city kept saying I absolutely had to go to Callie’s. I thought, They’re just biscuits, right? Hoo boy. These impossibly buttery, flaky, doughy morsels add a side of comfort to whatever’s on your plate and can be stretched as far as your self-control (which, admittedly, might diminish after you’ve tried them). Bacon and eggs for breakfast? Pop a cheese and chive biscuit in the oven. Grilled cheese for lunch? Perfect accompaniment to the country ham version. Or top off literally any dinner with the cinnamon biscuit (my favorite). —Nicole Antonio, Former AFAR managing editor
Buy Now: Tiny Pie Gift Box, $55, goldbelly.com
I’m the kind of person who convinces everyone at the table to order a different sweet treat at the end of the meal so I—er, and the rest of the party—can try a bite of everything on the dessert menu. Enter the Tiny Pies gift box, the chronic sampler’s dream. The four pack of “single serve” pies—shipped straight from the Austin, Texas, bakery—grants a few bites each of the crunchy pecan with flaky crust (sugary but not overly so); the dangerously dense Texas two step, a hybrid brownie-pecan pie; the bright and tart cherry pie; and the classic apple pie with a hint of cinnamon. —N.A.
This article was originally published on April 14, 2020; it was updated on June 7, 2021, with new information.
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Lyndsey Matthews Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.