So many flavors, dishes, and comfort foods are associated with the approaching holiday season. It's high time for eggnog, gingerbread, holiday ham, latkes, and tamales. It really is the best time of year to be eating.
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(s), we’ll show you where to find whole turkeys, seasonal pies, and a solid 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 boasts a wealth of bakeries and cookie shops to fill those snowflake-adorned cookie plates. The options here are great.
Snickerdoodle is an obvious holiday flavor, and you’ll find loads of snickerdoodle cookies at Churn (plus some Spiced Molasses). For a little more flair, find the decorated iced Xmas Cookies at Barb’s Bakery. And for a little touch of Arizona during your not-so-white Christmas, try the many festive cookies from Ruze Cake House – cookies shaped as cacti, Arizona, reindeer, adobe homes, and even a Hanukkah box set.
If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, a good idea might be the Cookie Jars at Urban Cookies. Six cookies come with nine brownie bites in a jar topped with a festive ribbon and tag. Urban Cookies also offers chocolate peppermint and citrus shortbread snowflake cookies, plus tons more holiday treats.
Some things only sound appetizing once a year, and eggnog is one of those things. Laveen-based Danzeisen Dairy offers its seasonal eggnog in an iconic glass bottle, available for purchase in just about any area grocery store you can imagine. Also found in grocery stores: Arizona-based Shamrock Farms' regular and low-fat eggnog in holiday packaging.
But if you’d like to go out like an adult for your eggnog fix, find “nogtails” throughout the Valley. Hosts of eggceptional eggnog cocktails in town have included Pizzeria Bianco in the Town & Country shopping area (offering its Italian Egg Nog).
Finally, 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 Ginger 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 Bread, and the same goes for the spot's cookies. A gingerbread cupcake can be had at Sprinkles. A foolproof way to experience the storied rhizome is through a ginger liqueur that — along with sauvage gruet, fancy simple syrup, and a pink peppercorn sugared rim — powers the Winter Celebration cocktail at District American Kitchen and Wine Bar.
For those craving ginger in the early hours, think Gingerbread Pancakes–ginger-infused pancakes topped with cinnamon, powdered sugar, and whipped cream–offered by Luci’s Healthy Marketplace and Luci’s at the Orchard till December 31.
If that's not enough gingery pancakes for you, consider swinging by the Super Chunk Sweets & Treats' retail and restaurant space, New Wave Market. They have Trees Knees Gingerbread Maple Syrup (with cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and black peppercorn, from Bushwick Kitchen, which goes great with your DIY pancakes made from Hayden Flour Mill’s Purple Barley Pancake Mix).
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 hot chocolate and cocoa powder from Zaks Chocolate. And if Champurro (a chocolate-baed Mexican drink) happens to be your holiday tradition, we have the recipe you need.
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.
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 pick some up from Imperial Market & Deli in Uptown. Miracle Mile has offered 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.
Now, Chompie’s Deli has latkes for days. Find them in menu items like Lovey's Smoked Salmon Tapas, Grandma Sarah's Famous Mini Potato Pancakes, and the Potato Pancakes Sampler. You can even order Upper West “Sides” at Chompie’s like the Mini Spinach Latkes, the Mini Sweet Potato Latkes, and simply, the Large Potato Pancake.
Mint will always be a winter staple, and you can find it in tons of treats in the Valley. For instance, consider the Peppermint ice cream over Sweet Republic in Phoenix or Scottsdale (not to mention the Real Mint Chip).
Find Chocolate Peppermint cookies and the Cupcake Quartet at Urban Cookies, plus peppermint brownie bites and peppermint chocolate donuts. You can also order Mint Chocolate Macarons at Essence Bakery, or try the French Mint Gift Box from Cerreta Candy Company in Glendale – another stocking stuffer idea.
For a drinkable mint experience, the Holiday Peppermint Shake at Miracle Mile Deli has three scoops of Shamrock Farms Peppermint Stick Ice Cream, plus whole milk and, in case you weren't feeling the mint enough, more peppermint flavoring. It's pretty, too.
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, Hard Whiskey Pecan, and Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake.
Pie Snob features seasonal pies like a Pumpkin Praline Pie, Apple Crumb, and the ultra-traditional Pecan Pie for pickup, while the Mesa-based PIEfection offers seasonal pies like the Caramel Apple, Fresh Strawberry, and the Frosted Peppermint Brownie Pie.
Oh course there's no reason why we can mix and match our categories. Consider the made-to-order Gingerbread Cake Pie from Lisa’s Rum Cake in Gilbert. It's yellow cake topped with spiced Gingerbread Italian custard, frosted with Italian whipped cream, dusted with cinnamon, and topped with a Smitholator gingerbread man cookie.
The main course of your Christmas dinner requires a glistening turkey or ham, and there are several places to pick up one in the Phoenix area. The Meat Shop, a central Phoenix butcher shop, offers whole chickens, 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 Half Hog Special, Stuffed Pork Loin, and plenty of bacon for Christmas breakfast. The Pork Shop offers 18- to 20-pound whole bone-in ham, whole boneless ham up to 14 pounds, and center-sliced bone-in ham by the pound.
And if Christmas breakfast is in fact on the table, consider adding Blinks – Cinnamon Rum Applesauce Sausage Links from Proper Beast Charcuterie – to your menu. The charcuterie is usually found at a number of famers' markets around town, plus AZ Food Crafters in Chandler.
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 or two in advance.
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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.
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. For an expansive selection of holiday wine, check out Wine Store at Tarbell's, Tops Liquors in Tempe, and Sun Devil Liquors & Cellar Pub in Mesa. There's also some impressive bottles stashed at small local grocers like the French Grocery and La Grande Orange Grocery.