This year, Hanukkah begins in the evening on December 18 and ends in the evening on December 26. While not the most religiously significant holiday within Jewish culture, it is certainly one of the most fun: marked by festive games, oil-fried foods, and gift-giving.
Los Angeles, with its large diasporic Jewish community, has a number of restaurants, bakeries, and delis across the county that answer the call of the holiday’s golden-fried food traditions: from doughnut shops turning out takes on puffy, powdery, jelly-filled sufganiyot to crispy potato latkes served with fatty sour cream and applesauce. The pandemic construct of fully realized to-go dinners for individual family celebrations continues with catering menus tailored for at-home gatherings of all sizes. And if you want to observe with the reliability and comfort of a dine-in restaurant menu and experience, there are spots across the city offering Hanukkah dishes — or dishes fit for Hanukkah — that can be savored within a warm space or on a (probably heated) outdoor patio.
Make a Reservation
In 2022, some restaurants are offering special Hanukkah menus; others offer dishes that, while not marketed for the holiday, still fit the spirit of it: oil-fried and joyful. (Deli diehards can jump to the end of this piece for Hanukkah menus in the delicatessen genre.)
Los Feliz’s Kismet is doing a special “Kismetkkah” week celebration from December 18 through December 23 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; reservations are recommended. A la carte dinner items will include guava and cheese blintzes; chicken liver with challah; a fish plate featuring cured salmon, pickled herrings, whitefish spread, trout roe, a soft-boiled egg, and bagel crackers; a “mishmosh soup,” or chicken soup with matzoh balls; kreplach and egg noodles; and latkes served with apple sauce, labneh, chili crisp, and quince pickles — luxe add-ons like trout roe and caviar are available. Diners can book a table — stake a place now, since seating is limited — for this event on Resy.
Malli at Birdie G’s and Jewel
Jewish-Mexican pop-up Malli has two Hanukkah events on the horizon: First, on November 30, chefs Elizabeth Heitner and Nestor Silva will take part in Birdie G’s “8 Nights at Birdie G’s” Hanukkah dinner series, where it will be serving a la carte specials — think latkes with mole, blintz “enfrijoladas,” and guava and cheese sufganiyot — that play alongside Birdie G’s normal Jewish-American-leaning menu. Reservations can be made via Resy for dinner service from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Later, on December 19, Malli will light up the scene at Jewel in Virgil Village with a vegetarian/vegan-friendly Hanukkah menu from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Reservations are open now via Resy.
Birdie G’s, a Santa Monica restaurant with an airy indoor space, expansive outdoor patio, and stellar bar program, will fete the holiday early with its “8 Nights at Birdie G’s” dinner series featuring local and non-local chefs riffing on Hanukkah favorites, beginning November 28 with chef Sang Yoon. Reservations can be booked on Resy. The restaurant will also have a Hanukkah delivery and to-go menu available for pre-order; the menu includes its year-round matzo ball soup, tangy sauerkraut latkes served with creme fraiche and applesauce, ricotta noodle kugel, corned beef tri-tip with a smoked tomato remoulade, spiced carrots, and special-for-Hanukkah cocktails. Pre-orders can be made online; Hanukkah dishes are available from December 18 through December 23.
Avi Cue at Animal
New-school barbecue legend Avi Cue is popping up at Animal for the holiday this year, slinging its fire-roasted meats from December 18 through December 24. Dishes include wagyu arayes (a pita sandwich), wagyu shawarma sandwiches, and wagyu kebab sandwiches, as well as a wagyu shawarma plate and roasted eggplant plate served with sumac salad and roasted tomato. Sufganiyot will also be available for dessert. Reservations are available on Resy.
To-go menus became a sustaining force for both diners and restaurants during the height of the pandemic, and the new-normal tradition continues in 2022 with a robust slate of takeout dinners that are ready to heat and eat in the warmth of home.
Slab, the cool-kid barbecue joint on West Third in Fairfax from Israeli pitmaster Burt Bakman, is offering a Hanukkah to-go package from December 18 through December 20. The meal, priced at $215, serves four and includes half a brisket, latkes with applesauce and sour cream, a mixed green salad, matzo ball soup (the Easter egg of broad-swing Hanukkah menus), and roasted green beans. Pre-orders can be made 24 hours (or more) in advance on Tock.
This Santa Monica stalwart is offering its usual Hanukkah bounty, with to-go main courses like herb-roasted whole chicken and onion-braised brisket as well as sides like carrots roasted in honey date butter and herbs, potato latkes, and homemade applesauce. Desserts include cinnamon-sugar-dusted brioche donut holes and a chocolate olive oil tart. Pre-order by December 11 at 3 p.m. for pickup and delivery from December 18 through 20.
Akasha is making its annual Hanukkah dinner offerings in a to-go format for the third year in a row. Starters include faux vegan “liver” (made from blended peas, walnuts, and caramelized onions), a seedy, everything-bagel-style olive oil challah focaccia, and a winter chicory salad; entrees feature slow-cooked brisket and tangerine braised chicken. The headliners, of course, are the latkes (batched to-go vodka cocktails are not on the lineup this year): the gluten-free Yukon Gold potato latkes can be ordered by the half-dozen for $12 and pair well with homemade local applesauce. Delivery and pick-up pre-orders are live on Tock. (Those looking for Akasha’s cult-favorite Vodka and Latkes dinner service are in luck: the cocktails and a la carte service are available for on-site dining from Sunday, December 18 to Friday, December 23, 5:30 p.m. until close.)
The Milky Way
The kosher restaurant, owned by the Spielberg family (yes, those Spielbergs), will offer sleekly packaged latke kits for $36 that feature a dozen latkes, apple compote, sour cream, and instructions for reheating to their intended crispiness. Orders can be made for pickup (at its Pico-Robertson location) and delivery via Doordash, or by calling the restaurant at (310) 859-0004.
Blink or you’ll miss it: New York icon Katz’s Deli will have delivery available in Los Angeles for Hanukkah this year through home dining service Montilla Meals; orders for the $350 package — which include pastrami and brisket as well as latkes, knishes, matzoh ball soup, noodle kugel, and seedless rye bread — must be placed by December 11 for arrival by December 18. (Happily, there are still Hanukkah items to order through Montilla Meals for those who missed the Katz’s deadline.)
Save Room for Something Sweet
Sufganiyot, jelly-filled doughnuts that have North African and Eastern European origins, have become an iconic Hanukkah dessert — a sweet oil-fried counterpart to savory oil-fried latkes. While many mom-and-pop doughnut shops around Los Angeles usually serve up some form of jelly doughnut (raspberry or strawberry jelly filling are ubiquitous), some restaurants go to the next level for the holiday, offering sufganiyot with artisanal ingredients and even yeasted sprinkle doughnuts shaped like the Star of David.
The Sawtelle Japantown doughnut shop will offer three renditions to mark Hanukkah: traditional jelly-filled sufganiyot, mini sufganiyot, and yeast-raised “Star of David” sprinkle doughnuts. The doughnuts are available from for pick-up in store or pre-order on Primo’s website.
This artisanal doughnut favorite with locations across the Southland, including in Santa Monica, Fairfax, Torrance, and Manhattan Beach, serves up sufganiyot with a twist each year. While in previous years, Sidecar’s sufganiyot have been available for pre-order, this year it will be serving its “holiday jam malasadas” — a Portuguese take on traditional sufganiyot with a mixed berry jam, warms spices, and citrus — on Mondays and every day during Hanukkah; online ordering available.
This Los Angeles institution, which has operated for more than 75 years, offers sufganiyot through Hanukkah at its Fairfax location. Large-sized sufganiyot can be ordered for $27.50 a dozen; small-sized orders run for $15 per dozen. Orders can be made over the phone, by email, and in-person; supply is limited, so visit the website for more information.
For those who keep kosher, Schwartz Bakery offers pastries and desserts, including sufganiyot for Hanukkah, prepared under rabbinical supervision. Offerings on the website include traditional sufganiyot filled with vanilla custard, chocolate custard, caramel, or jelly, and decidedly non-traditional dishes like maple doughnuts pocked with “candied facon” and a monster fried chicken breast sandwiched between two (ostensibly dairy-free) glazed doughnuts. Orders over $100 can be placed online for delivery; items can also be picked up in-store.
Genghis Cohen x Konbi
Fairfax icon Genghis Cohen introduced its third-consecutive ice cream collaboration for Hanukkah a little later (but not too late) this year. The Chinese American restaurant is partnering with Japanese sando shop Konbi on a limited-edition Hanukkah pint called “Thuggish Ruggish Cohen.” The ice cream plays on the flavors of rugelach with milk bread ice cream, chocolate fudge ripples, and toasted, salted cracked almonds; pints are available for $17 each for pick-up on ChowNow while supplies last.
When in Doubt, Trust a Deli
The option for those who don’t want to think too hard about where to ring in Hanukkah is clear: one of Los Angeles’s many Jewish American delis, which usually feature family gathering–appropriate spreads throughout the year, although sometimes without the specificity of the holiday and an Ashkenazi-centric lens. Still, the deli is an icon of Jewish culture in America, a place of comfort whose survival usually speaks to stories of family resilience.
Northridge favorite Brent’s has Hanukkah catering that can serve a party of eight or more with chopped liver, a choice of brisket with au jus or roasted chicken, string bean almondine, potato latkes served with cherry applesauce and sour cream, chicken soup with matzoh balls, and bread. The deli also serves sufganiyot during the holiday.
Wise Sons Jewish Deli
For Hanukkah, Culver City-located Wise Sons offers a broad catering menu with much to savor: a roasted brisket or whole chicken dinner (the latter a sous vide bird bathed in a sweet pomegranate glaze) served with challah, winter vegetables, and latkes; gluten-free latkes that can be ordered a la carte by the half-dozen; and desserts — although its sufganiyot (powdered and with berry preserves) are only available in the Bay Area. (Next year in Los Angeles, hopefully.) Orders can be made ahead of time on its website.
This Los Angeles deli mainstay is putting together its standard slate of offerings for the holiday, including tender holiday brisket; potato latkes with creme fraiche and housemade applesauce; roasted heirloom carrots with honey and rosemary; matzoh ball soup; a winter farmers market salad; and six individual chocolate babka rolls. The packaged meal is available for pickup and delivery from December 18 through December 26 for $325 before tax and gratuity.