When it's too difficult to wrap up an entire restaurant or chef in a bow and give it to someone, there are plenty of grab-and-go gift ideas from local superstars like Roy Choi and Bruce Kalman and LA hot spots like Akasha and Gjelina this year. Here are 14 delicious ideas for the food lover on your holiday gift list, whether it's for the hostess, cook or Instagram-obsessed. The best part: you can pick up most of them at the restaurants themselves, so you can treat yourself to a snack too.
LA Sundae Kit at Salt & Straw
Head ice cream maker Tyler Malek curated a selection of locally made toppings for this sundae kit, and they're all things you'll find either on or in the ice creams at the Larchmont shop. Think: Pecan Love Nuts from Compartés and Himalayan salted caramel corn from Rose Avenue Sweets. Order online ($40 plus shipping) here.
240 N. Larchmont Blvd.; 323-466-0485
While there are some significantly good eggnogs on LA restaurant menus for the holiday season, you can buy bottles of Big Dave's mix at The Hungry Cat in Santa Monica and Hollywood, and you'll find barman Christiaan Rollich's famous eggnog blend at the Larder at Burton Way and at Tavern. All you need to add is the booze.
Cookbooks from LA Chefs
New cookbook releases this year include the gorgeous Gjelina cookbook, perfect for anyone who doesn't want to wait in the long lines for Travis Lett's food at Gjelina, Gjelina Take Away and Gjusta. Fans who miss Ricardo Zarate's Peruvian cuisine at Mo-Chica and Picca will appreciate The Fire of Peru. Laurent Halasz now has a cookbook for Fig & Olive, for those who love olive oil in everything. And Crossroads' Tal Ronnen released a cookbook for all things vegan cuisine. The restaurants undoubtedly have copies, but they're all also available online.
Tea Bento Box from American Tea Room
Going to the Arts District tea shop is such a joy, especially when you have time to linger and sip and soak up all the Zen. Try to gift that experience with the cool bento boxes that feature different tea-growing regions and a variety of flavors. One includes Long Jing green tea, Silver Needles white tea and Ceylon Single Estate black tea, alongside a strainer ($150). Others are grouped by green, black, red or classic tea flavors ($60). Pick them up at the Downtown shop, the new location in Newport Beach or order online.
909 S. Santa Fe Ave.; 213-239-9100
Granola and More From Homegirl Cafe
There's nothing more delicious than buying gifts that support the greater good. Get the Love Package from Homegirl Cafe, filled with housemade orange-cranberry granola, mixed berry preserves, orange-peel cinnamon coffee, assorted cookies and vegan (!) whoopie pies, and proceeds go to Homeboy Industries, the highly successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program. The tote is $49.95, available at the cafe and online.
130 Bruno St.; 213-617-0380
Jams, Preserves and Chutneys
Akasha Richmond's wonderful jams, preserves and chutneys (think peach cardamom, red pepper jelly and blackberry-hibiscus) that she uses at both Akasha and her new Indian restaurant Sambar are available at the Culver City restaurant and online.
Valerie Confections has a slew of delicious seasonal jams, like the Christmas jam made with plum, cranberry, apple, dried orange, cinnamon and clove, at all three locations, including the Echo Park cafe and the Grand Central Market counter.
At Jessica Koslow's Sqirl in Los Feliz (or via the website), there are always the insanely good jams, preserves and more, like Gravestein apple butter, Santa Rosa plum and thyme jam, and Black Mission fig and red wine jam.
And don't forget Karen Klemens' Mothercluck Jams, which are available at the Mother Moo ice cream shop in Sierra Madre.
The Keep Cup at Go Get Em Tiger
For the person who can't get enough of the expertly crafted coffee and lattes at Go Get Em Tiger on Larchmont and the G&B counter at the Grand Central Market, the GGET reusable glass travel mug is just the ticket. Not only does it have the cool astronaut emblazoned on the front, but it has cork around the top to keep your hand from being scalded. And every time the giftee uses it at one of the coffee bars, they'll get 25 cents off.
230 N. Larchmont Blvd.; 323-380-5359
Som Drinking Vinegars at Pok Pok LA
Now that LA has welcomed Andy Ricker and his two Thai restaurants with open, uh, mouths, we can sort of claim him as our own. The Som drinking vinegars are used both for nonalcoholic and boozy cocktails at both Chinatown restaurants, and they add a clean-tasting, fruity, tangy bit of acid to any sipper. The vinegars are made in Portland, but you can get them easily off the shelf at both Pok Pok and Pok Pok Phat Thai, the little noodle shop a few blocks from the larger, newer restaurant. Of course, you can always buy them online too.
978 N. Broadway; 213-613-1831
Philippe the Original's Hot Mustard
The nasal-clearing hot mustard sits in pots on all of the tables at the iconic French dip spot in Chinatown because everyone uses it on the lamb and beef sandwiches. They wouldn't be the same without it. The burns-so-good condiment is based on a family recipe and made in batches weekly. Get a bottle of it for only $5 to take home because you can't stuff a double-dipped beef sandwich in a stocking. This is the next best thing.
1001 N. Alameda St.; 213-628-3781
XO Sauce at Newport Seafood
People talk about two things at this local chain: the garlicky, wok-fried lobster and the housemade XO sauce. The spicy, pungent sauce is so popular at all three Newport Seafood locations, including the newer Beverly Hills outpost, that the owners jar the stuff. Made with a combination of dried scallops, shrimps, chiles and other secret ingredients, it's fantastic in stir-fries, with vegetables or just on plain rice. The jars ($20 for eight ounces) are only available at the San Gabriel location.
518 W. Las Tunas Dr.; 626-289-5998
Roy Choi's Locol T-Shirts
Be the first to throw your support for Roy Choi and Daniel Patterson's forthcoming fast-food chain, the first of which will open in Watts next year. There are only a few hundred tees up for grabs now — in solid black that "makes for a very forgiving background to the inevitable awesome sauce stains" ($20) — with proceeds going back into the communities that the new chef-driven concept will serve.
Pickled Green Tomatoes and More at Little Dom's Deli
Pickled green tomatoes are so good on so many things — putting them on sandwiches, on burgers or in Bloody Marys are just a few ideas. The house-pickled green tomatoes at Little Dom's are delicious and already jarred to take away, along with pickled Fresno chiles and sweet peppers (all are $11). You can also get jars of that addictive red sauce ($8) and meat sauce ($11) Brandon Boudet serves at the restaurant next door.
2128 Hillhurst Ave.; 323-661-0088
Chef-Made Spice Rubs
You might not be a pitmaster like Neil Strawder, whose Bigmistas BBQ and new Bigmista's Morning Wood breakfast spot are packing in hungry barbecue fans, but you can come close with his spice rubs. Stop by either Long Beach restaurant for bottles of Bitchin' Beef, Chicken Scratch and Perfect Pork rubs (or get online). Bruce Kalman also has spice rubs available at Union Restaurant in Pasadena, including one he uses on that dynamite porchetta, and will have them at the Knead Pasta Bar when it opens at the Grand Central Market.
RC Family Basket at Esters Wine Shop & Bar
This is one gift that combines tastes of all the Rustic Canyon Family Restaurants, including chocolate chip cookie mix and pickled peppers from Huckleberry; RC Family whole bean coffee from Caffe Luxxe; Jeremy Fox's lavender almonds, which are served at Esters; and Milo & Olive granola. The whole shebang is $95. Order and pick up at Esters.
1314 Seventh St.; 310-899-6900