Is there an alternative to Goldbelly?

Goldbelly is an online marketplace that allows you to order foods from famous restaurants and bakeries across America and have them shipped directly to your door. The service has grown tremendously in popularity over the past few years, with people using it to get their hands on iconic regional dishes like New York bagels, Chicago deep dish pizza, and Texas brisket without having to travel.

However, as convenient as Goldbelly is, it also comes with some downsides. The specialty foods on Goldbelly don’t come cheap, with some items costing upwards of $100 when you factor in the price of the food itself plus Goldbelly’s shipping fees. And depending on where you live, it can take several days for your order to actually arrive after you place it.

So is there a viable alternative to Goldbelly that provides a similar service but at a more affordable price point and with faster shipping times? Let’s take a look at some of the options.

Local Specialty Food Stores

One alternative is to see if you can find any specialty food stores local to your area that stock hard-to-find foods from other regions. Large metro areas like New York City and Los Angeles often have food shops that specialize in certain cuisines and will ship nationwide. For example, Zabar’s in New York is famous for its bagels, smoked fish, and cheeses while Canter’s Deli in LA ships their legendary pastrami sandwiches anywhere in the country. The advantage here is cutting down on shipping costs and transit times. The downside is that the selection is often more limited compared to Goldbelly.

Specialty Food Subscription Boxes

Over the past decade there has been an explosion of specialty food subscription boxes that deliver gourmet foods from different culinary regions across America. Some popular options include:

– Gobble Box – Specializes in iconic creations from famous restaurants around the country. Their themed boxes have included items like Nashville hot chicken, pastrami from Katz’s Deli, and barbecue from South Carolina. Boxes start at $59.

– Locale Box – Focuses exclusively on artisanal and hard-to-find foods made by small businesses in specific cities or states. They offer boxes like “The Chicago Box” and “The Maine Box” for $49 and up.

– Carnivore Club – For meat lovers, they offer boxes that feature cured meats, sausage, and premium cuts from top producers, farms, and butcher shops around the U.S. Boxes start at $99.

The variety is smaller than Goldbelly but the convenience and price point of subscription boxes give them an advantage. The catches are that selections are set rather than being fully customizable and you have less input on timing/frequency of deliveries.

Online Gourmet Food Retailers

There are a number of online retailers that specialize in selling and shipping gourmet and artisanal foods from across America:

– Goldbelly – In addition to their marketplace of regional eateries, Goldbelly has their own line of products like cheesecakes, deli meats, and bagels that they make and sell for more affordable prices. These are a great way to get iconic Goldbelly foods for less.

– FoodyDirect – They feature many of the same iconic dishes and foods as Goldbelly but at 10-20% cheaper prices. Shipping fees are also slightly lower. The tradeoff is having a smaller selection.

– Igourmet – Offers over 2,500 gourmet food products including regional specialties like Charleston benne wafers, Kansas City barbecue sauces, and Wisconsin cheeses. Prices are competitive with Goldbelly.

– Zingerman’s – This popular gourmet food emporium based in Ann Arbor, Michigan ships baked goods, deli items, cheeses, and more nationwide. Great for iconic Michigan/Midwest foods.

– Harry & David – Known for gift baskets, they also sell individual specialty foods like Oregon berry jams and fruit crumbles, Seattle chocolates, and smoked salmon.

These retailers give you lower costs while maintaining a broad selection of iconic regional foods from across America. The tradeoff versus Goldbelly is having less input about which iconic eateries your items ultimately come from.

DIY Options

If you have a favorite iconic eatery from another part of the country that you want to enjoy at home, there are some DIY ways to recreate their dishes without paying for a full Goldbelly order:


Many famous restaurants like Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and House of Prime Rib in San Francisco have published cookbooks that share recipes for their most iconic menu items. You can buy the cookbooks and reproduce their signature dishes yourself. While it requires more effort, it’s also more affordable.

Recipe Kits

Some restaurants sell “recipe kits” online that provide the proprietary ingredients for you to assemble their dishes at home. For example, you can buy kits for Chicago deep dish pizza or Cincinnati chili that come with their signature dough, sauce, and spices. These are cheaper than fully prepared and shipped meals.

Duplicate Ingredients

Research the iconic dishes you want to recreate and buy the same brand name ingredients that the restaurants use. For instance, Katz’s pastrami sandwich can be approximated by buying Boar’s Head pastrami. While it takes some sleuthing, you can oftentimes replicate flavors for a fraction of the price.

The DIY route takes more effort but can save you significant money, especially if you want foods from one particular eatery rather than a variety.

Buy During Trips

If your travels take you to a city famous for certain foods, plan ahead and leave room in your luggage to bring local specialties back home. A quick stop at DeLuca’s Deli to load up on some Muffuletta sandwiches can save you having to pay huge shipping fees later on. This option requires advance planning but makes enjoying iconic regional foods more affordable.

Local High-End Restaurants

Upscale restaurants in your own city may serve their own versions of famous dishes from other parts of the country. While it’s not exactly the “authentic” experience, you can still enjoy specialties like Maine lobster rolls, Nashville hot chicken, or a $@ pastrami sandwich prepared by accomplished local chefs, often for less than Goldbelly prices. The tradeoff is missing out on that legit regional touch.

Restaurant Copycat Recipes

There are many blogs and websites devoted to posting “copycat recipes” that aim to clone foods from famous eateries. While results vary widely, some reputable sites like Top Secret Recipes and CopyKat post recipes that come extremely close to replicating the taste of regional specialties for a fraction of the cost. If you’re a decent cook, copycat recipes can be an affordable alternative. Just manage expectations versus the real thing.

Crowdsourced Proxy Purchasing

On foodie forums, Reddit groups, and Facebook pages, fans from different cities will sometimes offer to purchase and ship regional foods for each other. A fan in Philly might offer to buy real cheesesteaks for people in other states in exchange for reciprocity. While risky without knowing the people, crowdsourced proxy purchasing like this can be a creative way to obtain authentic foods.

Regional Supermarkets

If you live near state borders, check supermarkets across state lines. Stores in south Jersey may stock Taylor Ham and New York bagels while markets in Kansas border towns could carry Oklahoma beef. You can sometimes find iconic foods from neighboring states without paying high shipping costs. Selection is hit or miss based on proximity and distribution.

Specialty Importers and Distributors

There are some specialty importers and food distributors that focus exclusively on iconic regional American foods. For example, companies like Red Hook Lobster Pound ship fresh Maine lobster worldwide. The Maine Lobster Box and Lobster Gram are similar. While pricier than buying direct, importers that specialize in a specific food can be an option versus paying the broader fees of a marketplace like Goldbelly.

Regional Food Tours

If you take a gourmet food tour in a city like Charleston, New Orleans, or San Francisco, operators will give you a crash course in the area’s iconic dishes and where to buy the ingredients and products to recreate them at home. You get intel and access to authentic local specialty foods at their source. This option requires traveling to the destination but yields helpful insight on recreating favorites.

Ethnic Grocery Stores

Ethnic grocery stores in your area can be sources of regional Americana you may not expect. For instance, Amish stores often carry Pennsylvania Dutch foods, Russian markets sell Texas kolache, Jewish delis stock New York bagels and pastrami, and Scandinavian shops may sell Wisconsin cheeses. Poking around ethnic markets can reveal hidden gems of regional foods from other states.

Online Farmer’s Markets

Upscale online farmer’s markets like FreshDirect and Peapod offer artisanal products that are local to their warehouses’ geographic regions. So FreshDirect can be a good source for iconic New York and New Jersey foods, while Peapod delivers many Chicago area specialties. Farmers markets let you shop digital aisles bursting with regional finds.

Reverse Engineer Recipes

Some devoted home cooks have mastered reproducing the signature flavors of iconic dishes through painstaking trial and error. There are blogs, cookbooks, and online tutorials dedicated to cracking the codes of everything from pastrami to po’ boys to pepperoni rolls. Attempting to reverse engineer the recipes yourself requires patience and persistence but yields satisfying (and inexpensive) results.

Third Party Delivery

Apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, or Grubhub could potentially deliver foods from a famous local eatery outside of areas they officially service. Customers have reported success “hacking” delivery boundaries by entering an eligible address then redirecting the order. This carries risks of cancellations and cold food but in some cases can work for accessing iconic grub beyond normal delivery zones.

Order Supplies Wholesale

Some legendary restaurants are willing to sell you wholesale quantities of their proprietary ingredients that get shipped to your door. For example, you can buy gallons of real NYC halal cart white sauce, 10-pound bags of Shake Shack burger blend, or cases of Girl Scout cookies direct from their bakers. Purchasing wholesale supplies lets you DIY mass quantities of famous foods at a discount.

Replica Recipes from Former Staff

Tracking down a former employee of a restaurant and getting them to part with secret recipes is another tactic people use to DIY iconic foods at home. Some ex-staffers share their old workplace recipes online while others can be found and negotiated with. The results can rival true originals when coming from authentic sources.

Private Chefs/Caterers

Hiring a private chef or caterer skilled at recreating regional cuisines can be an “insider” way of getting dishes from legendary eateries catered in your own home. Experienced culinarians may have worked at or studied under chefs from the famous establishments. While pricier than DIY, private chefs can nail flavors of hard-to-get specialties.

Membership Discounts

Some direct-to-consumer food brands like Porter Road Butcher offer discounts on specialty products when you become a member. This can be a smart way to save on artisanal offerings that may be hard to find locally. Memberships provide exclusive savings on authentic regional foods shipped to your door.

Buy on Road Trips

When driving through areas known for culinary specialties, look up iconic establishments along your route and call ahead to see if you can place a to-go order for local favorites. Picking up Texas brisket, Kansas City barbecue, or a genuine French dip sandwich at the source sidesteps shipping costs. This requires planning your itinerary around specific stops.

Specialty Food Stores’ Websites

Well-known specialty food stores from other states often have online ordering and nationwide shipping. Zingerman’s in Michigan, DeLuca’s Deli in Louisiana, and McCluskey’s in Buffalo let you order their regional bestsellers through their websites. This provides access to legit local fare at reasonable rates minus a marketplace middleman.

Youtube Tutorials

Some talented home cooks have filmed instructional videos teaching how to make nearly identical versions of restaurant classics ranging from Chicago dogs to pastrami. Often they order hard-to-find ingredients from the eateries themselves to examine and reverse engineer. For a DIY challenge, Youtube tutorials can help master the classics.

Buy Custom Kits from Eateries

To make side income during the pandemic, some restaurants began selling custom ingredient kits for their specialties through TasteIt, Ready to DIY, and other sites. You get the signature components of dishes from famous eateries shipped to assemble at home. This allows you to cook authentic favorites from across America for less.

Replicate Brand Name Ingredients

Ordering all of the exact same name brand ingredients that legendary restaurants use according to published recipes or interviews with chefs. While not guaranteed, meticulously sourcing the precise brands of their butter, proteins, sauces, etc. can help replicate flavors more precisely at home.

DIY Restaurant Supplier Accounts

Some home cooks have discovered you can create accounts at restaurant supply companies to purchase many of the wholesale ingredients famous eateries use. Access to commercial brands of chocolates, cheeses, vinegars, and more lets you source from authentically stocked pantries at a discount.

Friends Mule Specialty Items

Leveraging friends who live in other states to mule back edible souvenirs on return trips to share. Compensating pals with your own locally iconic foods that they then deliver to fellow fans. Great way to swap specialty regional delicacies on the cheap through grassroots foodie teamwork!

Cottage Laws Vendors

Many states have “cottage laws” allowing small producers to sell certain home-produced food items direct to consumers. Search platforms like Etsy to find talented home cooks and bakers nearby who make small batches of authentic regional delights for order. Support local craftspeople preserving cherished food traditions.

Barter Sites

Sites like facilitate trading homemade or locally sourced foods between cooks and foodies in different parts of the country. A Chicago user offers Italian beef sandwiches in exchange for Key lime pie from someone in Florida. Direct food bartering can yield regional specialties.

Contact Regional Producers

Going straight to the food producers that legendary eateries source from can reveal shortcuts to obtaining authentic ingredients. Acclaimed pizzerias order oven-ready ingredients from regional producers who also sell retail. Calling specialty meat purveyors, dairy farms, mills, and more can unlock quality components.

Pop-Up Restaurants/Suppers

Pop-up restaurants and dining events in your area may feature visiting chefs preparing their region’s iconic fare for a limited time. These temporary eateries and one-off dining experiences allow you to sample specialties from other parts of the country. Follow pop-up food accounts to stay informed.

Buy on Return from Relatives’ Visits

When family members take trips to destinations with famous foods, ask them pick up any non-perishable specialties like barbecue sauces, seasoned salts, candies, etc. Tagging along on the return with their luggage real estate can score small hauls of beloved regional eats on the cheap.

Restaurant Surplus Auctions

When dining establishments close, their equipment and ingredients sometimes get auctioned off. Avid foodies can source rare large-quantity supplies of exclusive products to recreate dishes. Just manage expectations – auctioned goods may be past peak freshness or have branded labels removed. But great finds hiding at restaurant surplus auctions!


While Goldbelly’s business model provides unparalleled selection and convenience when it comes to enjoying America’s regional food specialties from afar, more affordable and accessible options do exist. With a combination of local sourcing, online shopping, DIY spirit, and creative thinking, you can assemble your own lineup of iconic eats from across the U.S. for a fraction of typical Goldbelly costs and shipping times. It may require more effort and compromise, but the hunt to find and recreate renowned dishes yourself can be hugely rewarding (and delicious!). The range of alternatives covered here provides a blueprint to enjoy the flavors you love – wherever you may live.

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