2021 has been a wild ride, but the year is almost over, and thankfully, the holiday season is different from last year. However, that means it’s time to start buying thoughtful presents for the wonderful people in our lives. To help out, Eater Austin put together this handy annual guide to help people find the best food- and drink-related gifts available or made in the city, because supporting local restaurants, bars, farmers market stands, and businesses is always a good thing.
This year’s guide includes gorgeous decorative fake cakes, butter tortilla candles, vegan cheeses, fun food stickers and prints, and monthly fresh pasta deliveries.
For additional ideas, browse through Eater Austin’s suggestions for shipped goods and the local restaurant cookbook collection. Then there are our previous guides since certain items are still available (2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020). There’s also Eater National’s gift guide and guides from other cities.
Fake Decorative Cakes from Pretty Shitty Cakes
Austin artist Jasmine Archie understands the true beauty of cakes so much so that she immortalizes the decadent sweets with her gorgeous fake creations. The cake sculptures (as she describes ‘em) feature all sorts of icings and garnishes in varying shapes, colors, and layers. What makes it even better is that it lasts forever. Prices range from $90 to $200. While, yes, the current selection is sold out and custom cake orders are closed, the site will open for orders on Friday, November 26, and Friday, December 3. She will also sell her wares at South First shop Passport Vintage’s backyard market on Sunday, November 28.
Vegan Cheeses from Rebel Cheese
Vegan cheeses are delightful, and the selection at the Mueller deli by co-owners Kirsten Maitland and Fred Zwar is amazing. The chevre (made with cashews and coconut milk) is tangy and creamy; the cave-aged brief (also made with cashews and coconuts) is both soft and sturdy. There are two ways to go about gifting the stellar non-dairy cheeses: buy a by-the-ounce assortment ranging from $2.25 to $3.25, or opt for the Cheese Club for monthly deliveries of seasonal cheeses, with levels costing $70 to $105 (with shipping included).
Food Prints, Stickers, Magnets, & Cards from Kathy Phantastic
Austin artist Kathy Phan captures the delightfulness of food through her online shop. Her watercolor illustrations range from floating kittens holding boba to heart-shaped pepperoni pizzas to a well-structured bowl of tonkatsu ramen in the form of prints, $5 magnets, $4 stickers, and $5 cards. She is also participating in two markets, the Renegade Craft on Saturday and Sunday, November 27 to 28, and the Austin Holiday Mini Market on Sunday, December 5.
A Mushroom Growing Kit from Hi-Fi Mycology
Mushrooms are having a moment again, and the local urban farm by co-founders Sean Francis Henry and Cory Neillisen makes it easy for people to grow their own edible funguses at home through this handy kit. Granted, it’s not the prettiest present: a plastic bag of a dirt block, but as soon as everything is set up, mushroom magic happens. The $21 kits are available at the farm’s various farmers market stands.
Texas Wines Forever
Did you know that Texas wines are awesome? Did you know there are many wonderful wineries in the Hill Country that sell their bottles on-site or online? Did you know that wine makes a nice present for people who enjoy alcoholic beverages? Now you do.
Chocolate Truffles from Intero
Austin chef Krystal Craig continues to make her exquisite chocolate truffles as part of her East Austin Italian restaurant. This holiday season includes themed truffle boxes. The classics set includes crunchy peanut butter with honey; the winter set with the subtly herbaceous garden rosemary, and there is a vegan collection as well. There are three box options: the 15-piece for $34.50, the eight-piece for $19.50, and the four-piece for $11. For something larger, there are also chocolate barks with chic designs, such as the vegan peppermint and cacao nib.
Menu Card Set from Hestia
The downtown live-fire restaurant turned its menu illustrations by Austin artist Lisa Alley into a cute stationery card set. The $30 blank cards feature colorful oil painting reproductions of halibut, scallop dishes, and bread with butter.
Bottled Chai from Kimbala
Chai is great, and this Austin-based beverage company’s Madhu Sharoff decided to bottle the refreshing South Asian drinks. The Chai Assamica is sweet and the Coffee a la Jaggery smooth. The already-mixed-drinks, available in orders of 10- or 15-bottles ranging from $60 to $99, can be served either hot or cold, and each item features pairing suggestions.
Regional Italian Pasta Club from L’Oca d’Oro
The Mueller Italian restaurant is very good at making all sorts of pasta, and through restaurant subscription service Table22, L’Oca chef Fiore Tedesco highlights various regional specialties as part of its monthly pasta kit pickups. The $90 kit includes two types of pasta, two handmade sauces, plus additional condiments and cheeses. Instructions on how to prep the dishes are included.
Flan from Algo Dulce
The Austin company focuses on a single item — flan — because co-founders Jesse Mondragon, Michael Mondragon, and Robert Silva know that it’s one of the best desserts in the world. Made using a Mexican-American recipe, the $5 traditional vanilla flan is rich and tasty. The desserts have a long shelf-life too, up to 38 days refrigerated, making them perfect for gifting purposes. The desserts are available at local retail shops, restaurants, and farmers' markets; there are also deliveries available through GoPuff and Farmhouse Delivery.
Salsas from Qué Sazón
The food pop-up is known for its delicious chilaquiles, but did you know that it sells great appropriately spicy jarred salsas as well? The adobada is a thicker paste of a red salsa with a smoky flavor, and the tatemada is a chunkier green salsa that is bright and tangy. The $8 jars are available at the Texas Farmers Market at Mueller on Sundays, as well as its restaurant location at Wingman Kitchens. There are deliveries too.
Butter Tortilla Candle from H-E-B
The smell of H-E-B’s popular-for-good-reason butter tortillas is a welcomed and sought-after one, and the Texas supermarket chain smartly decided to distill the aroma in a candle.