While Manhattan continues to become more expensive, more gentrified, and even more white, one institution frequented by skateboarders and anyone else in search of $5 and under meals has remained for the past 25 years.
The place: Punjabi Deli.
The deal: Actually delicious, healthy, 100% vegetarian food, served 24 hours a day.
Located semi-underground at the corner of Houston St and Avenue A (just a few blocks south of Tompkins), Punjabi has been a neighborhood fixture for almost three decades.
It started off as one of the first legit late night spots in Manhattan, became a staple for taxi drivers because the food was affordable, fast, and the bathrooms were free, and has become an invaluable pitstop for skaters looking to refuel during or after a long session skating in circles. Plus, anyone who’s been lucky enough to find themselves there after a late night of drinking knows a nice bowl of curried vegetables, saag paneer, or fried samosas are also way better drunk-foods than 99¢ pizza.
Punjabi has been treating New York skateboarders so well all these years, that we wanted to do something to celebrate the storied restaurant. We love Punjabi Deli, so why not wear our curry-coated heart on our sleeve for all the world to see?
To honor our relationship, we’re launching a line of officially unofficial merch, which we’re selling to help keep Punjabi around for another three decades, at least. We worked with our friend Jay Chary, who tapped the designer Isha Dipika Walia & Oomung Varma to nail down the designs and translation.
We were just about to roll them out when, boom, the coronavirus closed down the city and caused our beloved Punjabi to temporarily shut down. With no one quite sure of when the city will be back up and running again, times are especially precarious for Punjabi, which is why we figured now is a better time than ever to get these pieces out there.
While, for the time being, you can’t rush out and get one of their amazing combo meals, you can cop one of these clothing items, whose proceeds will go straight to Punjabi.
A note on the design: The hoodies and hats match the storefront’s iconic green awning, while the classic white pocket tee is great for holding whatever bullshit you don’t want weighing down your already sagging pants. Both the hoodie and the tee also have the Gurmukhi script translation of ‘Jenkem’ for that extra bit of “legit” flavor.