This year, Hanukkah begins in the evening on December 7 and ends in the evening on December 15. While not the most religiously significant holiday within Jewish culture, it is one of the most fun: marked by festive games, oil-fried foods, and gift-giving.
Los Angeles, with its large diasporic Jewish community, has several 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. Fully realized to-go dinners for individual family celebrations are available, but if you want to observe with the reliability and comfort of a dine-in experience, there are spots across the city offering Hanukkah dishes — or dishes fit for Hanukkah — that can be savored at a restaurant.
Make a Reservation
In 2023, 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 favorite Kismet is hosting another “Kismetkkah” celebration December 7 through December 14 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; reservations are recommended. A la carte dinner items will include strawberry cheese blintzes; chicken liver with passionfruit spread and toasted challah; a fish plate heaped with cured salmon, pickled herring, and smoked fish dip with pickles and crispy bread; matzoh ball soup; various wintery salads and vegetable sides like pastrami-seasoned mushrooms; and latkes served with apple sauce, labneh, chili crisp — 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.
Birdie G’s will fete the holiday with its annual “8 Nights at Birdie G’s” dinner series featuring local and non-local chefs riffing on Hanukkah favorites, beginning December 4 with Sean Brock of Nashville’s Audrey. (Reservations have been booked out, but interested parties can add themselves to the notify list on Resy.) The restaurant will also have a December delivery and to-go menu available for pre-order in partnership with Moveable Feast. Diners only need add latkes: the menu includes its year-round matzo ball soup, corned tri-tip with smoked tomato gravy, koji-creamed greens, and apple and sunchoke cake, among other dishes. Pre-orders can be made online at Moveable Feast’s website.
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 2023 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 from pitmaster Burt Bakman, is offering a Hanukkah to-go package from December 7 through December 15 at its West Third and Pasadena locations. The meal, priced at $230, can serve a group of four to six and includes brisket, latkes with applesauce and sour cream, a mixed green salad, mac and cheese, matzo ball soup, and roasted green beans. Chocolate rugelach rounds out the menu. Pre-orders can be made 24 hours (or more) in advance on its website beginning next week.
This Santa Monica stalwart is offering its usual Hanukkah bounty, with to-go main courses like brisket braised in red wine and tomato sauce as well as sides like kale salad with persimmons, toasted pecans, and honey dates, carrots served with an herby chimichurri, potato latkes, and homemade applesauce. Desserts include cinnamon-sugar-dusted brioche donut holes and a chocolate olive oil tart. Pre-order by November 30 at 3 p.m. for pickup and delivery from December 7 through 9.
Akasha is making its annual Hanukkah dinner offerings in a to-go format again. Starters include faux vegan “liver” (made from blended peas, walnuts, and caramelized onions) and a seedy pletzel challah flatbread; 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. Delivery and pick-up pre-orders will be available on Tock after Thanksgiving. 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 dinner at the restaurant from Thursday, December 7 to Thursday, December 14, 5:30 p.m. until close.
The Milky Way
The kosher restaurant, owned by the Spielberg family (yes, those Spielbergs), will offer its sleekly packaged latke kits for $42. Each kit comes with 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 its website, or by calling the restaurant at (310) 859-0004, starting November 27. This year, the restaurant will also host a celebration meal on the first night of Hanukkah, December 7, that begins with a candle lighting and includes dishes like apple-challah bread pudding, sufganiyot, and flaky potato latkes. Reservations can be made via Resy or by visiting milkywayla.com.
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 counterpart to savory oil-fried latkes. While many mom-and-pop doughnut shops around Los Angeles serve up some form of jelly doughnut (raspberry or strawberry jelly-filled 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 classic Los Angeles 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 will be available for pick-up in-store or for pre-order on Primo’s website in limited quantities starting December 1, with expanded quantities to order starting December 7.
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, warm spices, and citrus — throughout December; online ordering is available.
Genghis Cohen x McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams
Fairfax icon Genghis Cohen has debuted its latest Hanukkah ice cream collaboration, this year partnering with Santa Barbara-based McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams. The Chinese American restaurant, owned by Marc Rose and Med Abrous, will offer a limited-edition (and extremely punny) “Babka Streisand” pint for the holiday; it plays on the flavors of Barbra’s beloved Brazilian coffee ice cream with fudge swirls and chocolate hazelnut babka chunks from Cake Monkey Bakery. Scoops will be available for diners at Genghis Cohen for $7 a pop or for $14 per pint to order on-site or on ChowNow, as well as at McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams locations starting Friday, December 1.
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 glazed doughnuts. Orders can be placed online for delivery; items can also be picked up in-store.
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 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.
Mort & Betty’s
This irreverent vegan deli pop-up is serving up gluten-free latkes by the dozen: come for classic scallion and dill pickle varieties served alongside cashew sour cream, apple sauce, and cashew Russian dressing (for the dill pickle latkes); marinated tofu schnitzel; and its fun challah menorah. All dishes are available to order through Monday, November 27 for pick-up at Crafted Kitchen in the Arts District (December 8 and 15) and at Atwater Village Farmers’ Market (December 10); delivery pre-orders are also available via Avocado Toast. The deli has two on-site events to look forward to: a pop-up at LA Homefarm in Glassell Park on Saturday, December 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. that will feature latke egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches and baked goods, and a pop-up at Jewel in Virgil Village on Monday, December 11, with Jewish cuisine staples like latkes, schnitzel, matzo ball soup, and more.
Nate ‘n Al’s
The delightfully old-school Beverly Hills institution will offer large-format catering options for Hanukkah celebrations at home, including platters of crispy fried latkes, traditional roast brisket, powdery sufganiyot, and festive “blue and white” cookies.
The 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 homemade 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 Wexler’s Santa Monica location December 7 through December 15 for $325 before tax and gratuity.