Isn’t fruit cocktail a funny thing? And to have a whole national food holiday dedicated to it… In everyday life, we usually think of fruit cocktail as those little diced-up pieces of fruit swimming in some nondescript syrup that came directly out of a Dole can, a dish that is wholly uninspiring and unappetizing in its pre-packaged splendor. What I didn’t know before researching this food holiday is that fruit cocktail differs from regular fruit salads because the USDA has mandated that “fruit cocktail” must have a certain proportion of its fruit pieces to be called a “cocktail.” (Funny the things the USDA spends their time on!) Fruit cocktail must include pears, peaches, grapes, cherries, and pineapple, in precise proprtions to one another, which doesn’t leaves much room for creative culinary interpretation.

But instead of throwing in the towel and heading to your pantry shelf for a can opener and can of Dole, head down to Delancey Street, to a little vegan buffet bar called Little Lad’s Basket. A delightful enclave that used to be the shining beacon of healthy, yet fast food in the Financial District, Little Lad’s has found a new life in the Lower East Side, and the neighborhood is happy to have them. The restaurant has three buffet bars where you get well-cooked dishes that are vegan for the ethically-conscious and delicious for those just looking for a cheap, good meal. One of these bars holds a famed fruit salad, where you can find far more variety in the types of fruit available than just the fruits proscribed in the USDA-approved fruit cocktail. Walk a little on the wild side and try a medley of fruit you’ve never tasted before–without taxing your wallet. The best part is that their fruit salad is made fresh every day, so you never have to resort to the canned cocktail ever again!

Little Lad’s Basket
41 Delancey St

Some reviews from

“This blew me away. The largest, prettiest, most welcoming fresh fruit display I’ve seen in a restaurant.
It’s like a maze and fun to see what’s around the next corner. We took trays, plates, plastic silverware and made our way around. I didn’t see anything I didn’t want to try. “–Marty K.

“The food here is healthy, filling, tasty, and cheap…those Seventh-Day Adventists sure can cook. I typically spend about $6 to get takeout, which includes a big meal and a separate container of fruit with their delicious fruit cream (it’s so tasty there is a one spoon per customer limit).”–Olga R.


Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!