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I’ve had an XXL tie-dye T-shirt from Joe’s Crab Shack for about two decades. It wasn’t cute to begin with and it’s basically a rag now, so it rarely sees the light of day. Until recently, that shirt was the single piece of “restaurant merch” I owned, unless you count a small collection of pint glasses a friend with sticky fingers swiped from a local pub when we were in our early 20s.
Restaurant merch isn’t anything new (just take a look in the T-shirt section of any thrift store ever), but now more than ever, big chains and independent restaurants are getting their apparel right. I’ve seen everything from dad hats to jackets that are honestly as cool-looking or cooler than the stuff being put out by actual fashion brands, and the normcore logo T-shirts are heads above the corny graphic tees you could pick up somewhere like Urban Outfitters.
I’ve started to make it a point to pick up the dope gear I see while I’m dining out, especially if I’m traveling far from home (inevitably, some of the coolest logos belong to some of the most low key brands, and can’t be bought online).
I feel like a dork asking my waitress for a T-shirt every time, but it’s been worth it for the budding collection of memorabilia I’ve amassed, and for the chance to wear my favorite restaurants (who definitely have my heart) on my sleeve.
Check out some of of the best stuff that is available online below, from spots I love across the country. If you don’t see your favorites on the list, please share them in the comments!
- Sqirl LA dad hat ($30) and tote ($30); Los Angeles, CA
- Leonard’s Bakery malasadas T-shirt, front view ($21.99)
- Leonard’s Bakery malasadas T-shirt, back view ($21.99)
- Roberta’s long-sleeved T-shirt ($35); Brooklyn, NY
- Franklin Barbecue T-shirt ($20); Austin, TX
- Four Barrel Coffee bandanas ($10); San Francisco, CA
- The Good Stuff Cookie Co Jacket, back view ($65); San Diego, CA
- The Good Stuff Cookie Co Jacket, front view ($65); San Diego, CA
- Hominy Grill “Grits are good for you” tote ($20); Charleston, SC
- Roberta’s pizza wizard sweatshirt ($45); Brooklyn, NY
- Momofuku peach tote ($20); New York, NY
- Café du Monde T-shirt ($9.95); New Orleans, LA
- Federal Donuts knit ski cap ($16); Philadelphia, PA
- Dreamland Bar-B-Que Ribs T-shirt ($20); Tuscaloosa, AL
- Diner whale sweatshirt ($45); Brooklyn, NY
- Nom Wah Tea Parlor T-shirt ($20); New York, NY
- In-N-Out “California Dreaming” tee ($12); California
- Marlow & Daughters tote ($25); Brooklyn, NY
- Skyline Chili T-shirt ($12.99); Cincinnati, OH
- Momofuku beanie ($20); New York, NY
- Mikkeller Beer illustrated T-shirts ($30); San Diego, CA
- Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream sweatshirt ($50); Ohio