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Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
Providence (Photo credit: Lisa Cohen)
10 super legit restaurant gift certificates for the holidays
By Leila Najafi
For the sophisticated palate: Providence
This two Michelin–starred, seafood-centric restaurant tucked away on Melrose takes fine dining (and gift cards) to a whole new level. You could purchase a digital gift certificate (booor-ing), or you can send a signature letterpress gift card, handwritten with your personal greeting and—wait for it—have it mailed to your recipient! Yes, as in the post office. The recipient will not only be pleasantly surprised to receive an actual letter in their mailbox, but ecstatic that it’s a gift card to one of the most highly acclaimed restaurants in LA, which also happens to come with a hefty price tag. Exhibit A: The four-course tasting menu for lunch starts at $95 per person. What we’re really getting at is that you’re going to want to save this one for that someone extra special.
Neighborhood: Hollywood MAP
For the sweet tooth: Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
Okay, this isn’t exactly a restaurant, but who can pass up a dozen gifted cruffins? With roots in San Francisco, this bakery is getting all the buzz these days, and for good reason. Their seasonal donuts and cruffins have attracted weekend crowds that line up around the corner just to get their hands on one (or five) of these sugar-filled pastries.
Neighborhood: Highland Park MAP
For the trendster: Catch LA
For your friend who likes both the scene and to be seen, gift a visit to one of LA’s hottest rooftop restaurants, where you’re almost always guaranteed a flock of paparazzi clamoring outside. The trendy NYC hotspot finally made waves in LA with their first West Coast location, which has attracted A-list diners from the get-go. There’s a ton of eye candy floating around here, and we’re not just talking about the seafood towers. Guests can, however, feast on some of the freshest fish in the sea, prepared raw, rolled, grilled, or however they like—just as long as they’re lucky enough to score a table, that is. Sadly, gift cards don’t guarantee a reservation, though you can purchase one online (Just select “Catch,” and don’t worry: Even though it says Catch New York, the card will apply to any Catch location.)
Neighborhood: West Hollywood MAP
For the pasta lover: Forma
Who doesn’t love taking a front row seat to watch freshly made pasta being tossed inside a gargantuan wheel of cheese by an Italian man with an accent so strong you might momentarily forget what country you’re in? You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here, but the heavenly clouds of tortellini tossed with truffle oil and a light cream is what we like to call deathbed food. Needless to say, it’s a must. This tiny but bustling gem on Montana is the perfect date spot; suggest grabbing a chair at the cheese bar to sip on wine or nosh on a delightful cheese plate, and pretend you’re in some hidden alley in Italy.
Neighborhood: Santa Monica MAP
For the adventurous eater: Animal
If the way to your carnivore-loving friend’s heart is veal brains and pig ears, look no further than James Beard Award winning Animal—a Fairfax gem, and definitely not for the faint of heart. Owners Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, the same duo behind the insanely popular Jon & Vinny’s across the street, turn everything they touch into gold, and Animal is no exception. No body parts are off the table at this small, no-frills restaurant. The menu changes periodically, but a few standout dishes include the bone marrow with chimichurri and caramelized onions, the foie gras with maple sausage gravy, and the hamachi tostada.
Neighborhood: Beverly Grove MAP
Another one for the sophisticated palate: Cavatina
This West Hollywood stunner is tucked away off the Sunset Strip at the legendary Sunset Marquis Hotel. In a garden-like oasis complete with lush greenery and a waterfall, the outdoor patio adorned with string lights makes an idyllic setting for a date. Executive chef Chris Turano has crafted a new seasonal menu that highlights California’s finest produce; along with James Beard Award–winning chef Michael Schlow, Turano creates dishes that look and taste divine. With their special four-course Christmas and New Year’s Eve menus, Cavatina is a great place to celebrate the holidays, so treat your friends.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood MAP
For the one on a noodle diet: Ramen Room
With the brutal winter season ahead of us—and by brutal we mean sunny with a slight chance of clouds—ramen is the perfect gift to cozy up to. Chef Andre Guerrero (The Oinkster, Maximiliano) opened up this casual ramen eatery to showcase a diverse range of flavor profiles, like a shio ramen made with a double stock and pork belly, or a spicy miso ramen—and there’s even something for the vegetarians. These heaping bowls of noodles pack a punch, making them the perfect answer to all those “chilly” January nights.
Neighborhood: Sherman Oaks MAP
For the taco lover in all of us: Salazar
This Frogtown favorite brings Sonoran-style BBQ to the forefront of the LA culinary scene in one of the city’s most talked about openings of 2016. Mexican mesquite-grilled dishes like hanger steak and pork chops are the name of the game here—the better to complement the creative, Mexican-inspired cocktail program, which includes a boozy horchata (yes, please!). And with Salazar’s new-ish brunch offerings, shrimp quesadillas are calling your name.
Neighborhood: Frogtown MAP
For the vegan in your life: Cafe Gratitude
You’re bound to have at least one vegan friend in your life, so do yourself (and them) a favor and stock up on a few plastic cards from the restaurant that made plant-based food sexy. And Cafe Gratitude is not only a favorite among vegans—meat-eaters also flock to this trendy spot for their probiotic bowls, pressed juices, and healthy smoothies. The Arts District outpost has live music every Tuesday from 7 to 10 p.m., which pairs quite nicely with their drink special (half-off wine and beer). You can also select one of the custom images for your gift card from their website, with such positive mantras as “Happy Cleansing!”—a fitting sentiment after the binging of the holidays.
Neighborhood: DTLA Arts District MAP
Another one for the pasta lovers: Bianconi
Whisking your friends or loved ones away to the Italian coast just to enjoy an authentic Italian meal might be a stretch, but the beautiful, brick-walled Bianconi will get you close enough. Fabrizio Bianconi, the same owner behind Santa Monica’s Via Veneto, brings his love for Italian food to West Third Street with this spacious, upscale sister concept. Come for the succulent slabs of meat, like the 34-ounce Tomahawk steak served sizzling hot off the grill, or for the fresh fish platters—and stay for the libations. We’ll take a Hot Italian Lover too, please.
Neighborhood: Beverly Grove MAP