So many flavors, dishes, and comfort foods are associated with the approaching holiday season, including eggnog, gingerbread, holiday ham, latkes, and tamales.
Outside of the selection of private dining rooms in Phoenix offering cozy tables and expansive setups for holiday dinners and parties, you may just want to curl up with a cup of cocoa, find some delicious stocking stuffers, and keep a steady supply of holiday cookies around the house. As for your holiday dinner, we’ll show you where to find whole turkeys, seasonal pies, and a good selection of wine.
Happy holidays, Phoenix. Here's your field guide to finding holiday staples across the Valley this December.
The holidays are filled with platter after platter of seasonal-style cookies, and no one is complaining about that. It’s a good thing metro Phoenix offers plenty of bakeries and cookie shops to fill those snowflake-adorned cookie plates.
Snickerdoodle is an obvious holiday flavor, and you’ll find loads of snickerdoodle cookies at Churn. For a little more flair, find the decorated iced Xmas Cookies at Barb’s Bakery and the holiday cutouts at A Bakeshop (also offering holiday macarons). And for a little touch of Arizona during your not-so-white Christmas, try the Cacti Cane Cookies from Ruze Cake House – sugar cookies adorned in a candy-cane pattern (also available in gingerbread).
If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, a good idea might be the Shortbread Cookie Jars at Urban Cookies. Fifteen cookies come stacked in a tall, narrow jar topped with a festive ribbon and tag. Urban Cookies also offers Citrus Shortbread and Almond Shortbread Snowball cookies, plus tons more holiday treats.
Some things only sound appetizing once a year, and eggnog is one of those things – and there are a few options in the Phoenix area. The Laveen-based Danzeisen Dairy offers its eggnog in the iconic glass bottle at places like AJ's Fine Foods, Sprouts, Whole Foods, and many more area grocery stores. Also in grocery stores, the Arizona-based Shamrock Farms offers regular and low-fat eggnog.
But if you’d like to go out like an adult for your eggnog fix, find “nogtails” throughout the Valley, including Italian Egg Nog at Pizzeria Bianco in the Town & Country shopping area. Other hosts of eggceptional eggnog cocktails in town have included J&G Steakhouse and District American Kitchen and Wine Bar – this year presenting their popular Hog Nog.
You can also approach eggnog with a DIY attitude and make it yourself.
A staple of the holiday flavor scene, ginger finds its way into many a Yuletide treat across the Valley, including cookies, coffee, and, of course, gingerbread.
Find Gingerbread People Cookies at Grano Bakery and the Matcha Ginger Latte at Peixoto Coffee. You’ll also find a slew of ginger-infused indulgences at Urban Cookies, including Ginger Molasses Loaves and Cookies and Gingerbread Man Cookies. Plus, the aforementioned Cacti Cane Cookies from Ruze Cake House also come in gingerbread. A gingerbread cupcake is available at Sprinkles, and the Cave Creek-based It’s a Divine Bakery offers some authentic Old World Lebkuchen – also known as gingerbread – at holiday events like Christkindle.
One of the better ways to celebrate the holiday season is to treat yourself with yummy hot beverages, by which we mostly mean hot chocolate. If a cup on the couch is your thing, take home the Dick Taylor Peppermint Drinking Chocolate from Super Chunk Sweets & Treats or the hot chocolate and cocoa powder from Zaks Chocolate. And if Champurro happens to be your holiday tradition, we have a recipe for that.
If you’d rather sip in public, there are several options at coffee shops all over town, including the hot chocolate at Lola Coffee, the Nutella Hot Chocolate at 32 Shea, the Ghirardelli hot chocolate at Lux Central, and cocoa at Fair Trade Café. They even have hot chocolate cupcakes at A Bakeshop.
Hanukkah needs latkes and so do you, and there are a couple of places to find them. The family-owned Goldman’s Deli offers traditional Jewish cuisine, including the three potato latkes breakfast plate, while Scott’s Generations also offers Logan’s Latkes – both dishes served with applesauce or sour cream. You can also order the Potato Pancakes appetizers from Haus Murphy’s in Glendale. Additionally, you can pick some up from Imperial Market & Deli in Uptown. Miracle Mile is also offering a Hanukkah meal, which happens to be a brisket plate served with a latke (with applesauce or sour cream, of course) and a cup of Matzo Ball soup.
Chompie’s Deli has latkes for days. Find them in menu items like Lovey's Smoked Salmon Tapas, Grandma Sarah's Famous Potato Pancakes, Dave's Deli Benedict, and the Potato Pancakes Sampler. You can even order Upper West “Sides” at Chompie’s like the Mini Spinach Latkes and Mini Sweet Potato Latkes.
Mint will always be a winter staple, and you can find it in tons of treats in the Valley. Breakfast can include the Peppermint Chocolate Pancakes at Luci's Healthy Marketplace, and your coffee, tea, or hot cocoa could use some Peppermint Sugar Cubes from Ruze Cake House and Teaspressa Tea, which come topped with an edible gold leaf.
You can also find Chocolate Peppermint Brownies at Urban Cookies and Mint Chocolate Parisian Macarons at Essence Bakery. Another stocking stuffer idea: Try the French mint gift box from Cerreta Candy Company in Glendale.
Holiday pies are as big a deal as the main course, and there are more than enough fantastic places to pick one up. Mamma Toledo's features a special holiday pie menu for December, with flavors including French Silk, pecan, and Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake.
Pie Snob features seasonal pies like a Pumpkin Praline Pie and the ultra-traditional Pecan Pie for pickup, while the Mesa-based Pies-N-More offers a Pumpkin Cheesecake and December’s flavors-of-the-month pies. PIEfection, also in Mesa, offers seasonal pies like Pecan Pumpkin Pie, Pumpkin Cheesecake, and Caramel Apple.
And if you're more of a cake person, consider the Buche De Noel – otherwise known as the Yule Log – made from scratch at the Tempe-based the Crepe Club.
The main course of your Christmas dinner requires a glistening turkey or ham, and there are several places to pick up one of those in the Phoenix area. The Meat Shop, a central Phoenix butcher shop, offers whole turkeys, local lamb, and roaster pigs – fresh from a connected farm in Palo Verde, Arizona.
A Queen Creek-based butcher shop, the Pork Shop features the Holiday Ham, turkeys, and Stuffed Pork Loin Roasts. The Pork Shop offers 12- to 20-pound smoked turkeys and Holiday Ham options including 20 pounds of whole bone-in ham, whole boneless ham up to 14 pounds, and center-sliced bone-in ham. And if Christmas breakfast is also on the table, consider adding Blinks – Cinnamon Rum Applesauce Sausage Links from the Proper Beast Charcuterie – to your menu. The charcuterie is also a vendor at Phoestivus at the Phoenix Public Market.
What’s a holiday food field guide without mention of tamales? With so many great places to enjoy and take home authentic tamales, it’s pretty easy to find the Mesoamerican dish in metro Phoenix. You can order tamales throughout the Valley by the dozen, and oftentimes the half-dozen, and by placing your order normally about a day in advance.
Place your order at multiple locations of Someburros or Los Dos Molinos, plus Los Sombreros in Scottsdale, Molly's Tamales in Glendale, Old El Paso Tamales in Mesa, Carolina's Mexican Food, Barrio Queen, and many more spots around town. And if you have a favorite location of AJ's, Sprouts, or Whole Foods, keep an eye out for the Arizona-based Tucson Tamale Company.
And, of course, you can always make your own.
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You might find occasion to bring a bottle of wine to a holiday party or dinner this season. With a plethora of wine shops around the Valley, it’s pretty easy to pick up a bottle – just maybe don’t wear a Gore-Tex coat when going to the store.
For an expansive selection of holiday wine, check out the Wine Store at Tarbell's, Tops Liquors in Tempe, and Sun Devil Liquors & Cellar Pub in Mesa. There are also a few bottles at Duck & Decanter and small local grocers like the French Grocery and La Grande Orange Grocery.