Wintertime eats often evoke a sense of nostalgia linked by the uncanny power of taste memories, which some psychologists argue are the most powerful. Because of this, we tend to put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to make these meals special – but they don’t need to be overly fussy or complicated. Sometimes, the most memorable meals aren’t derived from toiling for hours in the kitchen, but allow the host to spend extra time with guests.
From Asian charcuterie boards to stunning pies and vegetarian treats, we have curated a holiday shortlist to impress your hungry guests.
This lauded Santa Monica institution, which recently received the Michelin Guide distinction of Bib Gourmand, has its roots in expertly melding French with Southeast Asian flavors. The same level of creativity and care is put into its charcuterie platter and would stand out at any holiday party. Cassia’s board is a smorgasbord of heavenly meats, all made in-house with heritage pork. It includes candied pork that’s a riff on snacks sold by Singaporean street vendors, a smoked red sausage reminiscent to Chinese lap Cheong, Vietnamese egg meatloaf made into the chả trứng style, and lamb ham. The protein is complemented by grilled country bread procured from Milo & Olive, and accompaniments of pickled cabbage relish and fresh herbs.
Wexler’s Deli Smoked Meat By The Pound
Chef and co-owner Micah Wexler is meticulous about honoring the old-world craft of making classic Jewish deli food. His meats are cured in a special blend of salt and spices and applewood-smoked. The meats come pre-sliced, and you can request for thin or regular-sized cuts. If you want to turn your holiday party into a build-your-own sandwich event, call in to order catering. A “house-smoked meat platter” will come with pastrami, corned beef, turkey, Etchea Barkery rye bread, kaiser rolls, coleslaw, pickles, mustard, and Russian dressing. For a brunch option, you can order lox by the pound on the app as well, and that comes with cream cheese, red onion, capers, and lemon wedges.
For some, the holidays aren’t complete without Chinese food. Baohaus, celebrity chef Eddie Huang’s Taiwanese-Chinese restaurant, is all about the modern take on the bao. His L.A. outpost has options like a fried chicken brined for 24-hours and teased with Szechuan chili oil, a braised Berkshire pork belly with Taiwanese red sugar and crushed peanuts, and a vegan option of fried tofu. These little pockets of goodness can be ordered in ten-bao platters and would make for a stellar main course or appetizer.
Chicas Tacos Vegetarian Tacos
While Chicas Tacos has a wide selection of specialty tacos with fillings from peppered steak to beer-battered fish, they also cater to vegan and vegetarian diets – and we’re not talking about run-of-the-mill bean and cheese burritos. They have creative options like chorizo-spiced cauliflower and mushroom or jackfruit, both paired with an avocado cashew crema. On the app, customers can order 20-40 taco fiesta boxes, in which you can choose two types of tacos accompanied by a salsa bar and chips.
The Pie Hole’s Earl Grey Tea Pie
No holiday meal is complete without a dessert showstopper. Enter The Pie Hole’s Earl Grey Tea Pie. This special pie was originally made to celebrate the season two premiere of “Downton Abbey,” but ended up becoming a permanent fixture on the menu after it gained a cult following. The whole pie is decadently layered with a dark-chocolate ganache spread elevated with sea salt and pistachios at the base, and then filled with an earl grey tea-infused mousse. For extra panache, it’s showered with speckles of pistachio nuts.
As you plan out your winter meal of appetizers, main courses, and desserts, keep in mind that some of these restaurants require 24 hours advance notice for large orders. After all the planning is out of the way, you can sit back, relax, and do what is most important during the holidays: spending quality time with the ones you love.
Hungry for something else? Discover other delicious eats in your area, ready to be ordered.
Looking for more content? Read up on Yemen Cafe in Brooklyn & Bay Ridge
Images by Rick Poon & Patrick Manolo | Edited by Emily Neudorf & Kristen Reames