Restaurants and food businesses are working overtime this year, churning out merch, sauces, kitchen implements, and scores of other gift-able items for holiday shoppers. We picked the ones we thought you’d like the most for our 2020 gift guide, but as we did that, we couldn’t help thinking about what we’d love to be given this holiday season.
For food editor Luke Tsai, that’s mainly sauces: “hot sauces are my favorite food gifts to receive,” he says. Eater.com staff writer Elazar Sontag’s wish list is a little more abstract, as all he wants are “little gifts that remind me of the outside world.” Reporter Becky Duffett’s eye is on butter and bubbles. And editor Eve Batey, who rarely prepares her own food but does manage to dress herself at least once a day, is focused on cozy and comfortable restaurant merch.
Feel free to lift some gift ideas from this list of what Eater editors hope to find under the tree, for as of publication, each one of these items is still available for purchase either online or in person.
Elazar wants coffee, condiments, and glassware
I’m really into these super cute little cocktail and wine glasses from Friends and Family bar. I can see myself sipping a fun orange wine or a tiny gin and tonic from one of these lil’ glasses, pretending I’m in a bar where the cocktails are better than the ones I make at home.
I’ll be seriously pleased if my stocking is weighed down with a jar of Hot Pepper Chowchow — a pepper and onion condiment good on more or less everything — from Bay Area native Wanda Blake. I wouldn’t say no to the holiday pack either, featuring chowchow of varying heat levels, as well as some of Blake’s most excellent Creole seasoning.
I restock my Red Bay Coffee supply with near-religious consistency, making sure I never have less than one extra bag of beans on hand. Coffee is a great gift for a loved one (if you’re reading this and you love me, please buy me coffee) because it’s guaranteed to actually be used and enjoyed. If you aren’t sure which coffee to try, you might want to go with the Motherland Holiday Gift Box, though it doesn’t include my very favorite bag of beans — East Fourteenth. And while you’re shopping for the coffee-lover in your life, add one of the roasters extremely stylish and comfy crewnecks to your cart.
Eve wants a scarf and slides
Matt Horn’s Oakland barbecue opened this fall after months of bureaucratic delays, and its merch shop swiftly followed, packed with spices, tallow soaps, and cozy sweatshirts. But it’s the shower slides that caught my eye — as it seems like I rarely have reason to wear full-on shoes anymore, I’m always in the market for an easy-on, easy-off sandal for trips to the co-op or outside with the dogs. With Horn’s midcentury-font logo and a sharp black-and-white profile, these are just what I need to look chic that one day a week I actually leave my apartment.
Buy: Horn Shop ($22.97)
Señor Sisig, that food truck empire turned brick-and-mortar (with a new vegan arm) celebrated ten years in the business this summer, an event that was overshadowed by just about everything else that went down in 2020. I’d love to celebrate their tin anniversary with a two-pack of their bandanas, which come in black and white and are emblazoned with a colorfully hypnotic pattern of burritos, bridges and more. Even before the pandemic, I used bandanas for everything from a way to keep my tote bags closed on Muni to a spare napkin when I forgot to gran extras at Roxie’s. These days, they’re my drape-over go-to when I’m headed somewhere I feel the need to double-mask, but when this whole things end I’ll be happy to keep using Señor Sisig’s sweet squares.
Buy: Senor Sisig ($15)
Becky wants butter and bubbles
What I really want for Christmas is definitely not the nut basket that my sister has apparently already shipped me from nuts.com. (Public service announcement: We live in California, and have amazing local farms, like Old Dog Ranch.)
Call me extra, but I basically live on butter and bubbles this time of year. There are a lot of ways to satisfy those needs, between all of our outstanding bakeries and wine shops, but one cool new spot that covers both cravings is the new Maison Nico. I would happily accept Nico’s beautiful brioche feuilletee and a biscuity bottle of cremant to go with it. Please and thank you.
Full disclosure, I have already purchased for myself not one but two of the pretty face masks from Bon Bon Bandeaux, the sister brand to Le Dix Sept bakery in the Mission. I have the pink one with cherries, and the black one with wild botanicals, and there’s a zero percent chance that we make it out of the pandemic before I get that salt-and-pepper pattern.
Luke wants all of the sauces
There are few food gifts I cherish more than a bottle of some interesting hot sauce, especially if it’s made by a well-loved local restaurant. This year, I’m hoping my stocking gets filled with a jar or two of Chef Ann’s fiery, habanero-base Trinidadian pepper sauce, which is available for purchase in person at Annabelle Goodridge’s East Oakland restaurant, Coco Breeze (with online purchase options coming soon) — and comes in festively-decorated mason jars that’ll make you smile every time you open the fridge.
Buy: Coco Breeze ($12)
If someone in your life is — like me — still mourning the closure of La Casita, maker of the best damn menudo and pozole in the Bay, here’s a little something to help tide them over: Even with the restaurant currently closed, chef Nolberto Martinez Jr. has now started a side business selling batches of his outrageously delicious orange hot sauce — the same smoky, sneaky-hot stuff that made eating even just a bowl of chips or a plain tortilla at the restaurant a near-religious experience. Place your order for either the hot or mild version via Instagram DM or email email@example.com to arrange for pickup (in Fruitvale) or local delivery.
Buy: La Casita ($12 for for a 32-ounce tub)
For a really extravagant treat (that also shouldn’t break anyone’s budget), I’d love it if someone gifted me a jar of La Oaxaqueña’s red mole sauce, with its complex, chile-laced sweetness. You can pre-order as many jars of the mole as you’d like via Instagram DM or at firstname.lastname@example.org — for pickup at one of the Berkeley farmers markets. Meanwhile, I’ll start thinking of delicious uses for it.