There’s never been a more important time to support LA restaurants - many of which are facing uncertain futures in the wake of immobilizing shelter-in-place orders, shifting regulations and requirements, strict health code guidelines, and whatever else Eric Garcetti decides to do today. Oh, and on a completely different note, it’s also the holidays, and you’re probably going to be buying something for someone.
Enter: The Ultimate Infatuation LA Gift Guide. From rare coffee subscriptions and super-special cookbooks to fruit-shaped weed pipes and the kinkiest wine box in the city, this collection features 60 great gift ideas, curated by The Infatuation for everyone - and we mean everyone - on your list. Happy shopping.
For the at-Home Chef
Before she started serving breakfast sandwiches via bucket-and-pulley, Calabama’s Cara Haltiwanger was perfecting her hot sauce. The end result is a flavorful (but still plenty spicy) mix of peppers and garlic. Sufficed to say, she nailed it.
We once again risk running afoul of the Arby’s legal team by saying this, but Destroyer has the meats. This incredible box has everything one could need for a BBQ, including boneless angus striplion, organic brisket, dry herb rub, fleur de sel, and homemade BBQ sauce.
Whether your friend is an expert in ramen-making or just a mega connoisseur, buying them this gift set from Gjusta should be a no-brainer. This selection comes with two deep Charcoal ramen bowls, two wooden spoons, ten pairs of chopsticks, and two beautiful, waffle napkins - the perfect bundle for everything from ramen making at-home to transferring Daikokuya from a takeout container.
Bless your loved ones with a rare festival of moles, made by the experts at Guelaguetza. Each bundle includes three different flavors - black, red, and Coloradito - but what your at-home chef uses it for, is completely up to them. The answer should probably be “everything,” though.
If you’re looking for a gift that’s a little more hands-on, check out this virtual cooking class, taught by chef Eunjo Park. Over the course of two hours, you will learn everything you need to know to make your own kimbap at home, including basic cooking, rice seasoning, omelet-making, and spicy pork recipes, plus a Q+A and tasting at the end. Two sessions are available for this class, one on 12/16 and the other on 1/13. Also if you want to gift this to an Infatuation LA staff writer, you can… just to let you know.
Community-based -publisher Somekind has partnered with six of our favorite LA restaurants to create a collection of super-special cookbooks, including A Pickle for Every Season by Porridge + Puffs, The Road Less Traveled by Sonoratown, and Hop Woo’s Recipes & Stories From a Chinatown Legend. Preorders are available now. Each title must meet a minimum of 100 copies to be made, printing and shipping starts in May 2021.
For the Most Fun Person You Know
No offense to your real mother, but when you’re in LA, Jazz is your mom. Each shirt comes with a fun, illustrated drawing of the famed Jitlada chef, and is available for both nationwide shipping as well as pick-up in store. So go ahead, throw in an extra order of crispy catfish salad for you. Two birds with one, delicious stone, or whatever.
LOL, do we even need to explain this one? Didn’t think so.
Make your friend or loved one feel like absolute LA royalty with this solid gold tiki mug from Lono Hollywood. Is it a complete novelty purchase, especially when they sell other, similar-looking mugs that cost much less? Absolutely. But trust us, the most fun person you know will appreciate the extra effort.
Jaws hit the floor when Marisco Jalisco dropped a mini model of their iconic Boyle Heights taco truck. Or ours did, at least. Just look at it! The tiny, little wheels! The to-scale logo decal! Now if only each truck came with a few tacos de camaron… DM Marisco Jalisco’s Instagram to place an order.
For Your Coworker Who’s, Like, Really Into Coffee
Good Boy Bob Coffee
If you really feel like giving, check out this rare coffee subscription from Good Boy Bob - each month, the Santa Monica coffee shop ships out a beautiful, custom-made wooden box filled with 6 oz. jars of coffee. Some past examples include Guatemala Cup of Excellence “Las Macadamias Natural Pacamara,” as well as roasts from Colombia, Honduras, and Brazil. Subscriptions ship on the first Tuesday of every month.
OK, this one is a slight shameless plug - our new online marketplace, Outpost, has teamed with New York City restaurant Kopitiam to create an in-home kopi-tarik kit, a popular drink found all around Southeast Asia. Each kit comes with all of the necessary components to recreate this delicious beverage at home, including a 16 oz. bag of coffee beans, two pulling pitches, a straining sock, one can of condensed milk, and one can of evaporated milk, plus a video tutorial on how to make it.
La Colombe Coffee Roaster
If your coworker owns their own espresso machine, then this is the gift for them. It’s coffee roaster La Colombe’s custom-made cup and saucer set that’s been with the company since the company’s beginning. Dishwasher safe!
Sip & Sonder isn’t just giving the gift of caffeine - they’re also making sure you feel damn cozy while drinking it. Each coffee gift set comes with two bags of coffee as well as a pair of their fuzzy “Be You With Us” socks.
For the Cutest Person in Your Contacts
Oooh, look at these cute little fruit pipes! They’re made in Eugene, Oregon by glass artist Michael Sorenson and come in your choice of banana, orange, strawberry, or grape - a big upgrade from that recycled apple core you used to use in high school.
LA’s favorite sando shop (and expert chocolate croissant pâtisserie) is now selling sweet little egg socks. 100% of the profits will be donated to the Equal Justice Initiative - a nonprofit organization committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States. So maybe buy a couple?
Yes, $110 might seem like a lot for a dessert, but at Nunchi, cakes aren’t just cakes - they’re works of art. Just think of this as investing in a Rothko or Jackson Pollock… except it probably won’t last as long.
Hand-painted and made by a husband and wife team in Jingdezhen (the ceramics capital of China), this bright, colorful set is perfect for breakfast, after-dinner, and you know, just general tea-sipping.
For Your Friend Who Buys All of Their Produce From Farmers Markets
A little too on-the-nose? Perhaps. But now that we’re all hanging out at home a lot more, your farmers market-obsessed friend might be visiting their favorite spots a lot less often. Ease that shelter-at-home transition with this fantastic bundle, courtesy of Broome St. General Store which includes 12 weekly rotating fruits, veggies and herbs sourced from family-owned California farms.
Bub and Grandma's Bread
Practically the fairy godmother of all LA farmers markets and restaurants (or would “breadwinner” be a better term?), Bub & Grandma’s has released a super-fun graphic tee with illustrations by Patricia Goff and a custom typeface by Nick Sherman. Available for pick-up only.
Speaking of bread, if your friend is buying/making a lot of it, ensure that they’re doing it in an eco-friendly way. Yes, we’re looking at you, @breadkeating. Handmade in Los Angeles by Suay Sew Shop, this 100% USA-grown organic cotton bag is treated with food-grade beeswax from local farms and organic jojoba oil to keep your loaves fresh.
Not only can you purchase ingredients like an LA chef, but now, you can cook like one, too - written by award-winning cookbook author Amelia Saltsman, this cookbook contains simple, excellent recipes, advice on how to select and store produce, stories about farmers and chefs, and much more.
For Someone Cool Who You Are Desperate to Impress
Courage Bagels in Virgil Village might just be the coolest spot in Los Angeles right now, and they’ve got the merch to match - our favorite, being the “Eating Sardines in Sardina” tee, which comes with retro-style lettering and probably goes well with discussions on Foucault and, like, why living in Paris is their spiritual calling. Lol.
What could be more fitting for your artsy friend (bonus points if they attended the University of Michigan or do something like “graphic design”) than Esther Choi’s one-of-a-kind cookbook, where home cooking meets high-brow art? Probably nothing.
For the Family Member Who Bleeds Dodger Blue
Celebrate the Dodgers’ historic win with this super-soft champions hoodie from Cofax Coffee Shop. Bonus points if you also send one to a few Rays fans, too.
One of the best burger pop-ups of the year, Goldburger has created a special Dodgers-centric shirt - which either makes us feel either super-proud, or very hungry. Maybe both? We honestly can’t tell.
Go Blue! Send your favorite Dodgers fan a Monty’s-style baseball cap, complete with a high-profile crown, flat bill under the visor, and snapback closure. Mookie Betts signature not included.
For the Wannabe Sommelier
Maybe your secret santa has enough wines, spirits, and grape juice to last them a lifetime. No problem - all-day Silver Lake spot Botanica is now selling a collection of “super-limited run, hard-to-find” natural wine zines. Their latest issue includes focuses on Loire Valley winemaker François Saint-Lô; the Burgenland’s Claus Preisinger; an in-depth story on cult French winemaker Daniel Sage, and more.
Get your friend or loved one the ultimate gift - supreme style. This Chinatown wine shop and flower studio has created the coolest wine tote in town, a work of hand-painted art by Jesus Romero that can comfortably hold 3-4 bottles at a time.
Lolo Wine Bar
Stock your friend’s wine cellar (or mini-fridge) with half a case, courtesy of Lolo’s Wine Bar in East Hollywood. Although their team is happy to mix-and-match based on your personal preferences, this will mostly be a dealer’s choice situation.
If you’re looking for something a tad more ~exclusive~, Tilda’s Supernatural Wine Club might be the right choice - each month, the Echo Park shop releases either two, four, or six natural hand-picked wines and accompanied tasting notes. The club often features exclusive or limited-run wines, usually with a focus on bottles from California. Club members also (!!) get first access to newly released wines as well as a 10% discount whenever you visit. This is, as they call it in “The Biz,” a steal.
For the "Samantha" of the Group
OK, don’t tell the other items on this list, but this might just be our favorite shirt. Created by Downtown LA (and now East Hollywood) sandwich shop, E Stretto, this “Good Subs Only” tee (get it? Get it??) is perfect for anyone with a sense of humor… and maybe an interest in kink play?
This sturdy and warm sweatshirt made by the historic rock n roll gay bar, Precinct, is sure to keep you - and a loved one - warm during the colder winter months. It comes in a pre-shrunk, classic fit, is made with an air-jet spun yarn for a softer feel, and its image is raised a little for “the whores who will take scissors to it.” Oops.
Silver Lake wine and goods shop Vinovore has a ton of custom wine boxes, but this one is definitely the most… sensual. It includes all sorts of goods for anyone interested in a little exploration, like silicone handcuffs, a sexy truth or dare card game, natural lubricant, a sexual astrology book, and of course, a bottle of wine. And they say the perfect gift box doesn’t exist…
For Someone in Gen Z (Who Says They're Over Christmas)
It’s a bucket hat with cool rainbow lettering. If your Gen Z cousin listens to any mix of Tyler, the Creator, Rex Orange County, or Kali Uchis, they will like this hat.
Go Get Em Tiger
Look at this long sleeve shirt. Tell us that you wouldn’t be the coolest person in the tenth grade if you had been wearing it (and in our case, didn’t have severe acne and braces). You just can’t.
This sticker set from Heaven’s Market is sure to impress the youngster in your family (just make sure you don’t refer to them as “the youngster”). Created by Chinatown wine shop and flower studio Heaven’s Market, each pack comes in a 3.5x4.5 inch pouch and filled with cute dog stickers, hand-drawn flowers, and their signature butterfly logo.
The Reverse Orangutan
One of the sickest tees available on the market, Glendora coffee shop The Reverse Orangutan has released a “Kill Your Masters” shirt, which is now available for preorder. An amazing ’80s font, a super-cool mint green color, and a slightly menacing, completely mysterious all-seeing eye hovering above it all? It actually doesn’t even matter what generation this gift is for, it’s just that cool.
For Your Radicalized Coworker Who "Doesn't Want Anything for Secret Santa"
The God of Cookery
Can Chinese food be a form of resistance? Clarence Kwan, also known as The God of Cookery on Instagram has created Chinese Protest Recipes, a zine that covers everything from “Talking to your Asian families about anti-Black behavior and attitudes” to “shrimps in lobster sauce” recipes. Chinese Protest Recipes can either be downloaded as a PDF free of charge, or bought as a soon-to-be physical copy - check their Instagram for updates.
In the spirit of giving, how gifting a donation to Polo’s Pantry, a mobile food pantry dedicated to serving the unhoused and marginalized communities of Los Angeles? They work with food businesses, nonprofits, and volunteer groups to distribute meals to people without regular food access to food across LA. Donations can be made via Venmo, @polos-pantry.
Skid Row Coffee
Another great option for donations is Skid Row Coffee, a community-based cafe located in the L.A. Central Library on W. 5th Street. They offer a variety of services, including culinary training and job development for people in the neighborhood, drinks priced on a sliding scale, and a safe space for people in the community to gather.
For the Friend Who, Like, Got Really Into Wellness This Year
The Butcher's Daughter
So, we weren’t allowed to recommend the kind of mushrooms your friend really wants, but this herbal supplement from Butcher’s Daughter isn’t such a bad second choice.- Grown in Washington, this plant-based superfood contains both fruiting body and mycelium (they’ll know what this means) and is known for boosting life expectancy, immunity, mood, mental clarity, and much more.
Congratulate your friend on their journey to wellness with a bottle of essential oils from Gjusta. Their signature oil comes in an invigorating Frankincense and Fir scent, perfect for a diffuser, topical use, or to wear while explaining why they spent two months’ rent on transcendental meditation training.
Yup, it’s just what it sounds like - matches made for burning incense. Perfect to keep in a bag or a bathroom, it comes in scents like coconut, hollyberry musk, Oriental blossom, patchouli, and Goddess of Egypt.
For Your One Friend Who Has a Kid, Randomly
It’s no secret, Clark Street has some of the best merch in the game. And although your friend’s kid will probably have no memory of looking this freaking cool so early in their lifetime, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t receive this classic Royal blue sweater. Don’t worry, it comes in an adult size, too.
Dedicated to the next generation of young bakers, this kids-only cookbook includes more than 85 fun and inventive recipes, including apple pie waffles, PB&J cereal treats, and choco-crunch cookies. Do they have a follow-up book called “Clean-Up: Kids Only”? We’ll have to report back.
Not only is this tiny T-shirt very cute, but it’s also a clever little homonym - the Lil’ Stinker is one of our favorite pizzas at this restaurant. Also, you’re welcome for reminding you of the word ‘homonym.’ Maybe that can be our Christmas gift to you?
For Your Coworker Who Cannot Stop Tie-Dying
From Baby Boomers to Millennials, tie dye has become the one great unifier - a message that’s only enforced by this fantastic sweater made by Long Beach pizza pop-up Little Coyote. It comes in a few color variations, but our favorite is the golden hour, a beautiful, sunny mix of hot pink, orange, and gold, and is hand-dyed right here in Los Angeles, California. Available for pre-order.
Our favorite NPR-focused sandwich shop (which, admittedly, is a pretty exclusive list), Wax Paper is now selling a limited-edition blue, green, and orange tee, sure to please any tie dye-obsessed friends or loved ones. All proceeds go to the ACLU. Available for pre-order.
For Your S/O Who Has Too Many Reusable Totes (But Still Wants More)
Alfred Coffee & Kitchen
A hot-pink tote bag for your spiciest friends.
A limited edition drawing of their Echo Park location, courtesy of former employee - and gifted artist - Kyle Nelson.
Drawn by Selina Pena, edited by Cognoscenti Coffee, and emphatically endorsed by The Infatuation.
Minimalism never looked so good.
An all-purpose, everyday bag. Especially good for carrying fresh produce and being the trendiest person at the farmers market.
Take a shot every time we say “market tote” in this section. 🤦 What can we say? They’re just mega-stylish and convenient.
Ooh, a black bag, just to switch things up. Designed by the good folks at Chinatown Market.
At just $6, this is an incredible deal. Plus you can pretend like you’re strolling through the Italian countryside while carrying it (instead of the Silver Lake 365 we know you’re at).
Cute! Bubble letters! Alien on the back! Holds all your food!