Let us help you find plans this holiday season.
As we end another topsy-turvy year, LAist is here for you. Rest your weary head on our shoulder. Have a public sobfest. We won't judge. If you plan to engage in some retail therapy and want to shop local, we salute you. Los Angeles is the best and we love seeing local merchants prosper. So here's a list of mostly local, mostly affordable food and drink-related gifts. It's a sprinkle of Southern California gift-giving inspiration for your holiday shopping list. Plus, it's little more creative than a gift card. (Although you can’t go wrong with cards to your favorite local restaurants.)
Need more ideas? Check out our...
- local hot sauce list
- best L.A. coffee subscriptions
- updated list of essential L.A. cookbooks
- foodie holiday gift guide from last year
- hyperlocal chocolate guide
The Red Boat Holiday Gift Box
The fermented anchovy sauce was created when Cuong Pham couldn’t find the flavors of his childhood in Saigon. Red Boat enjoys a healthy following because of its taste and its commitment to avoiding flavor enhancers and additives. The Holiday Gift Box ($47.99) includes a 250ml Fish Sauce 40°N, Kho Sauce, Nước Chấm, seven recipe booklet and a Vietnamese Kitchen Friends Tote Bag. Keep your eye out for The Red Boat Fish Sauce Cookbook: Beloved Recipes from the Family Behind the Purest Fish Sauce, which comes out Dec. 28 and is now available for pre-order.
Chile Kut Hot Sauce by Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza, a restaurant located inside Mercado la Paloma near USC, sells its habanero hot sauces in gift packs. Ben Mesirow, who wrote the LAist hot sauce roundup, highly recommends the Chile Kut, which “introduces literal fire to the equation — the habaneros and garlic in it are charred... It has a powerful heat, the kind that envelopes every bite in a warm, smoky glow." The Chile Kut is available in a six pack for $35.95.
Drip Hot Sauce
Tony Nguyen, executive chef at Crustacean Restaurant, created Drip, a line of spicy chili sauces made with a mix of Calabrian and Southeast Asian chili peppers. The sauces are inspired by his love of both Italian and Asian flavors. In addition to the original Drip, flavors include Extra Fire and Sweet Pineapple Chili. The sauces cost $16 - $20 with gift packs available.
Bludso’s Barbecue Sauce
The small takeout BBQ stand born in Compton has grown into an empire. If you have a grill master on your shopping list, check out Bludso’s Original Barbeque Sauce or Dry Rubs ($10 each). Better yet, buy the Sauce & Rub 4-pack gift set ($38) that includes the hot and mild BBQ sauces as well as the brisket and pork rubs.
El Chilito Hot Sauce
This hot sauce company was founded during COVID-19 by three sisters who wanted to bring their father’s dream of sharing his family’s hot sauce recipe with the world. The ingredient list for El Chilito’s 10 oz. bottles ($10) include “love, chile de arbol, sesame seed, piloncillo, garlic, pepper, vinegar, oregano & salt.”
Guelaguetza’s Mole and Chocolate Bundle
Guelaguetza and the Lopez family have shaped Oaxacan food and culture in L.A. The restaurant is famous for its moles, complex sauces made from dried chilis, nuts, fruits and dozens of spices, which they make from scratch, often with ingredients imported from Oaxaca. Guelaguetza's online store sells a Holiday Mole Bundle ($40) that includes Black, Red and Coloradito mole starters. The Mole + Chocolate Bundle ($40) includes the Mole Negro starter, 500 grams of Oaxacan chocolate and a wooden artisan molinillo to make hot chocolatito.
Miry's List Spice Kit
We know this isn't a sauce but spice rubs are close enough, right? Local nonprofit organization Miry's List, which assists refugee families, has teamed with restaurant Little Spread to create a spice kit, perfect for home cooks. It includes four Middle Eastern spice varieties (shawarma, za'atar, Aleppo pepper and sumac) that come in 1.75 oz. jars. Available for pre-order now for $39.95, 100% of net proceeds will go to Miry's List.
Cake Girl’s Sweets
Located inside of St. Louis Drug Co. in Boyle Heights, Cake Girl is a cake shop and bakery for those with food allergies and special diets. Everything is egg-free, dairy-free, vegan, soy-free, gluten-free, wheat-free and nut-free. They offer custom cakes, baked donuts, brownies and cookies. Their cupcakes — with flavors like matcha strawberry, strawberry churro and chocolate coconut — make a great gift at $48 per dozen.
La Cañada Bakery House
Open in La Cañada Flintridge since 2007, La Cañada Bakery House is a Korean bakery that specializes in bread, donuts and cookies. Any selection of pastries will make a tasty gift. We hear great things about their red bean rolls, red bean donuts, sesame balls, castella (honey cake) and cinnamon yam manju pastry.
All Day Baby’s Cinnamon Rolls and Cookie Boxes
The popular Silver Lake restaurant, bakery and cocktail offers its cinnamon rolls with labneh frosting (half-dozen, $37; dozen, $74) and cookie boxes as gifts for the sweet tooth. Popular cookies and bars include the PBJ Fluffer Nutter cookie sandwich (6 for $26), brown butter chocolate chip cookies (12 for $37) and chocolate walnut halvah cookies, 12 for $37. Order at least 48 hours in advance for pickups from Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Menstrual Macarons or Lemon Labia Loves from Period Pastries
Dani Brooks, a comedian and podcaster, is also the founder and owner of Period Pastries, which creates sweets to satisfy period cravings while raising awareness about and normalizing menstruation. A percentage of proceeds go to The Period Project. If you want to buy gifts for a cause, try the Menstrual Macarons ($22.50, half-dozen; $45, dozen), Labia Loaves ($35) or any of their cakes, cookies, pies and bars, all with clever names.
Le Bon Garçon Caramels
Justin Chao has been combining the traditions and techniques of French caramel-making with modern and seasonal flavors since 2010. Le Bon Garçon’s 5.5 oz gift box (18-20 pieces) starts at $15 with flavors such as honey lavender, tiramisu, lemon pear, spiced gingerbread, holiday mint and classic sea salt. Gift subscriptions are also available.
Letterpress Chocolate Gift Sets
This bean-to-bar chocolate is handcrafted and molded by David and Corey Menkes in their South Robertson location. They visually stunning gift sets include the Silver Dark Chocolate Bar Gift Set ($40) includes dark chocolate bars sourced from Belize, Tanzania, Ghana and Costa Rica. The Ultimate Chocolate Box Set features chocolate bars from Peru, Jamaica, Bolivia and São Tomé as well as two Chocolate Cacao Candles. Open to the public from Fridays to Sundays (and by appointment the rest of the week), the popular tour ($15) also makes a great outing.
Huckleberry's Gingerbread House Kits
Aside from baking up eggnog bread pudding, strawberry cranberry trifle and Christmas cookies for the holiday season, Huckleberry pastry chef Laurel Almerinda has created a Holiday Cookie Decorating and Gingerbread House Kit. It's available Dec. 1-24 via Tock.
Laura Ann's Jams
These rock’n’roll jams were born when a Chicago drummer with culinary training moved to L.A. and was awed by the West Coast’s fruits and herbs. Laura Ann Masura’s jams showcase inventive flavors — blackberry bay leaf, blueberry basil, bourbon blood orange marmalade, etc. — and have grown by word-of-mouth. Gift baskets are available, including a four-pack, 5 oz. sampler ($25) and a Breakfast of Jampions set ($60).
The aforementioned Breakfast of Jampions basket from Laura Ann’s includes granola from Bearclaw Kitchen, founded by pastry chef Sarah Lange. The company offers five flavors of granola (Honey Run, Maple Run, Coconut Grove Grain-Free, Hazel & Spice Spice, Cardamom Hill) granola bars and a trail mix. Gifts include The Bearclaw & Friends Big Breakfast Box ($100), a pancake breakfast kit ($50) and a subscription service.
Gucci Osteria Panettone
Gucci Osteria, the fancy restaurant inside the fancy Gucci store in fancy Beverly Hills, is offering panettone in two flavors during the holiday season. There's the more traditional candied orange and raisin as well as the orange and gianduja, which has a creamy chocolate and hazelnut. Yes, they come in a fancy Gucci tin. You can order them online. They cost $150 each + $20 shipping or you can pick them up from the Osteria.
Experience the holidays at South Coast Plaza. Enjoy the majestic trees — there are three throughout the center. There is beautiful holiday décor, music and more while you shop for everyone on your list. Make some time for holiday food and cheer at one of the restaurants. Discover curated gift guides at southcoastplaza.com for more information and great gift ideas for everyone on your list.
Cheese Addiction’s Collections and Platters
With two locations in Long Beach (Belmont Shore and Bixby Knolls), Cheese Addiction offers a broad selection of artisan cheese. Their gift boxes, platters and collections make excellent gifts. The Top Seller ($65) features cheeses, dried fruit and a sliced baguette, and it serves 6-8 people. For the blue cheese fan, the Barnyard Blues collection ($25) offers a few cheeses from different countries and with different textures, totaling one pound.
Todo Verde Ingredient Bundles
The plant-based Todo Verde (currently at Smorgasburg LA and the Ford Amphitheatre) now offers ingredient bundles so you can make chef Jocelyn Ramirez's recipes at home. The al pastor bundle includes jackfruit, masa harina and Todo Verde's Al Pastor Seasoning so you can cook jackfruit al pastor tacos with handmade tortillas. Other options include the carnitas and tinga bundles, which cost $37 each.
Guerrilla Tacos: BYO Tamale Kits
Back by popular demand, the BYO tamale kit is a shared cooking activity with friends and family. Together, you'll prepare and assemble approximately 30 tamales with your choice of meat and/or veggie fillings. These kits ($70-$85), which allow you to focus on assembling then steaming the tamales, must be ordered online and picked up Dec. 6 - 24. Don’t panic. They come with preparation and cooking instructions.
Galco’s Soda Pop Stop
Choose from more than 500 sodas at the old timey Highland Park shop. Create a gift pack with a worldwide array of soft drinks, brewed from Brazil to Jamaica, from Germany to Japan. Or go for classics such as Frosty Root Beer and Moxie Original Elixir, which use 1950s, '60s and '70s recipes that rely on cane sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. Most sodas start at $3.25 per can or bottle.
Chitchat's Matcha Kit
Sawtelle cafe Chitchat is offering a Matcha Starter Kit ($58) with everything you need to make smooth, creamy matcha lattes at home — a cute ceramic bowl (chawan), a bamboo whisk (chasen), a whisk holder (kusenaoshi), a matcha scoop (chashaku) and a tin of Chitchat's organic, ceremonial grade matcha. It's a good fit for newbie matcha fans or matcha lovers who want to up their game.
Soft Spirits’ Nonalcoholic Bottles
The non-alcoholic bottle shop opened in Echo Park in October, giving drinkers and non-drinkers new options for alcohol-free spirits, wines and beers that go beyond a club soda with a twist or an O’Douls. Soft Spirits recently held a tasting of Amass Botanicals’ Riverine. They also carry an Alpine Digestif (inspired by Italian amaros) and Acid League’s Proxies, which are blends of juices, teas, spices and bitters (think wine, but not).
Aquarela’s Sample Coffee Pack
The small coffee shop near Chinatown specializes in rare beans from independent Brazilian farmers, with owners Alex Eliscu Kipling and Otávio Shih focusing on new processing and fermentation techniques. Aquarela’s Sample Coffee Pack - Roaster's Choice ($35) features three bags from the shop’s current lineup, picked by Kipling. Choose between whole beans or select the grind depending on how your recipient brews their coffee. Subscriptions are also available.
Silk & Jade’s Fundamentals of Tea Workshop
The boutique tea house in Eagle Rock is known for its oolong tea, ginger elixir, Formosa Matcha and other goods from Taiwan. But we spied an awesome experience that would make a great gift. The Fundamentals of Tea ($185) is a 90-minute online Zoom workshop where co-owner and tea master Joe Chou walks you through the history, origins and varieties of Chinese teas as well as the devices, benefits and preparation techniques. The package includes a tabletop tea tray, a glass teapot, a glass pitcher, two porcelain square teacups and an oolong tea mini-pack.
Silverback Coffee of Rwanda Subscriptions
Located in Echo Park, this coffee shop donates part of its profits to the rebuilding of Rwanda and its wildlife, also giving back to those affected in the 1994 genocide. Subscriptions of Rwanda's 100% Bourbon Arabica are available for three ($59), six ($109) and 12 months ($199) in light, medium and dark roasts. Espresso and decaf are also available.
Beer, Wine and Spirits
Good Luck Wine Shop’s Wine Club
The Pasadena natural wine and gift shop shares the same building as the Vin de California Winery, both of which are owned and operated by Kate and Adam Vourvoulis. Join VDC's wine club and receive either two or four bottles each month ($55 or $120), available for pick up at the beginning of every month. In addition to the monthly wines, club membership gets you 10% off in-store and online purchases, access to events and a yearly gift.
Angeleno Wine Company Wines
Angeleno Wine Co. aims to revive L.A. County's winemaking tradition by working with small, family-owned vineyards that practice sustainable and organic viticulture. All of their wines — including the DeRose Old Vine Viognier ($30), Swayze Vineyard Alicante Bouschet ($35) and the Alonso Family Vineyard Syrah ($35) — are naturally made and 100% vegan.
Burbank beer, wine and spirits shop Fancy Free is offering more than 30 cocktail kits, each of which yields approximately 12 drinks and costs $60 - $95. Pick your poison, they'll probably have something to tantalize. We're partial to the Rosemary Bennett kit, which comes with a 740 ml. bottle of vodka or gin (you choose from among four options), a 32 oz. bottle of Rosemary Bennett mix, dehydrated lime slices and Kold Draft Ice. The Zombie Punch kit includes all the fixings plus a parrot tiki mug.
R6 Distillery’s Mini Gift Set
The seven-year old El Segundo distillery is home to L.A.’s first bourbon although it’s also crafting single-malt whiskies, ryes and vodka. While individual bottles or cocktail kits are great ($60 - $90), the R6 Mini Gift Set ($55) includes five, 2 oz. spirits (vodka, Carmela whiskey, bourbon, rye and single malt) in a gift box.
Ventura Spirits’ Persimmon Brandy and Kits
One of Ventura Spirits' most popular brandies returns after three years. Aged in French oak barrels and a former bourbon cask, the Persimmon Brandy is available by itself or bundled with Apple Cider Caramel Chocolates from Ex Voto Chocolates, an Old-Fashioned kit or both ($30 - $60).
Brewery Draconum: ABVaf
There are so many breweries in Southern California you have a wealth of options for the hop heads on your list. So we’ll give a shout-out to one of our current faves. Brewery Draconum is a true brewpub — with an on-site brewery and restaurant — located in the Newhall neighborhood of Santa Clarita. Currently on tap is their ABVaf, a Belgian Golden Strong Ale at 11.3% ABV (compare that to Budweiser at 5%). It can be included in Draconum’s Mix & Match 4-pack To Go (prices vary).
History Is Delicious
Joshua Lurie’s illustrated hardcover book for kids explores the history of various dishes and cultural traditions. The L.A. food journalist and founder of FoodGPS.com features sections on Dumplings of the World, History of European Cuisine, Table Settings Around the World and includes a few recipes.
Made In California: The California-Born Diners, Burger Joints, Restaurants & Fast Food that Changed America
This is another history book that’s worth devouring. George Geary shares the stories about restaurants and food entrepreneurs with roots in California, including Swensen’s Ice Cream, A&W Root Beer, Foster’s Freeze, Van de Kamp’s, See’s Candy, Jack in the Box, In-N-Out and Pioneer Chicken. Made in California features both contemporary and historic images, taking the reader down memory lane or illuminating food history.
Foodstory Cooking Classes
Foodstory offers small, in-person Japanese home cooking classes in downtown L.A. Hands-on workshops run about three hours and cost $125 - $150. Choose from classes including Ramen Run Down: Tonkotsu, Seafood Market Tour, Simple Tasty Health @Home Sushi, Yakitori & Izakaya and Edo Mae Style: Nigiri Sushi.
Kitchen Items & Cookware
BlueCut Aprons: The SJ Apron
Karam Kim, co-founder of the L.A.-based BlueCut Aprons, designed the SJ apron ($75) as a tribute to her mother Soo Ja Choo. The hand-embroidered carnations are symbolic of love and affection for parents in South Korea (Parents’ Day is celebrated on May 8). 20% of sales from the SJ apron will go to The Abundance Setting, chef Beverly Kim's nonprofit that works to assist and advance working mothers in the restaurant and hospitality industry. The apron is handcrafted in California and machine-washable.
Carla's Fresh Market Holiday Boxes
Ariell Ilunga honed her at various local farmers markets, including serving on the management team of the Hollywood Farmers Market. Bringing together food makers and growers, the first Carla’s Fresh Market is scheduled to open next year. In the meantime, Ilunga and team are offering a variety of curated market pantry boxes for the holidays. They include products such as Hebel & Co’s vanilla halva, Deux Cranes dark chocolate bars, Brightland's single origin “Awake” olive oil, Ramp Up's black garlic vinegar and Fly By Jing's Sichuan chili crisp.