The Best House Made Sauces at L.A. Restaurants

Dave’s Hotts Wicked Good Peppa Spread at Dave’s Chillin N Grillin
Dave’s Hotts Wicked Good Peppa Spread at Dave’s Chillin N Grillin | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Author:

Joshua Lurie

More restaurants are selling house-made sauces for home use or to give as gifts. Bring a taste of your favorite chefs on the road without by just ordering takeout or reheating leftovers. Chefs like Roy Choi (A-Frame, Chego, and Kogi) and Ray Garcia (B.S. Taqueria and Broken Spanish) have also created sauces that are available exclusively through Williams-Sonoma. This 10-sauce guide goes well beyond salsa, though of course there must be salsa. After all, this is L.A.

AYARA THAI – THAI SAUCE LINE

Shrimp skewers with Araya Thai Chili-Lime Sauce
Shrimp skewers with Araya Thai Chili-Lime Sauce | Photo courtesy of Ayara Thai Cuisine, Facebook

The Asapahu family’s seven-sauce line-up has been the backbone of Ayara Thai Cuisine, a beloved restaurant on a Westchester side street that debuted in 2004. As Vanda Asapahu states, “As our restaurant grew, visitors came to love not only the food we prepared, but also the sauces served with them, whether they were used as dressings, dips or marinades.” Top sellers include When Tigers Cry steak sauce, a nuanced dip or marinade that’s geared toward grilled meat. This sauce balances roasted chiles with tangy tamarind, umami-rich fish flakes and fish sauce, garlic, red onions, and cane sugar. Thai Chili-Lime "seafood dipping sauce" delivers bite to cooked crab and salmon or raw oysters. This bottle blends Thai chiles, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, and cane sugar. Thai Peanut Sauce balances sweetness with umami-rich hoisin, garlic, onion, and cane sugar and works as a grilled meat dip, dressing, or sandwich spread. 8-ounce bottles of all sauces cost $9.75.

6245 W. 87th St., Los Angeles 90045

Bar Amá - Bus Driver Sauce

Bus Driver Sauce at Bar Amá
Bus Driver Sauce | Photo courtesy of Bar Amá

Prolific DTLA chef Josef Centeno features the Tex-Mex food of his San Antonio youth at Bar Amá. To complement the bold food, he developed a vinegar-based chile sauce that honors the “bus driver.” According to Josef Centeno Group Director of Operations Genevieve Hardison, “The idea behind the name was that in Mexico City it's the taxi drivers who know all the best taco spots, so his version envisioned all of the staff and guests riding in a giant flaming bus.” That vivid image lines each bottle’s label. Centeno makes the sauce with 14 different house-dried chiles, including arbol, chipotle, pasilla, poblano, and Fresno, all blended with proprietary secrets. They prescribe the sauce for breakfast tacos and bus driver wings, but any dish is fair game. 4-ounce bottles cost $10.

118 W. 4th St., Los Angeles 90013

BURRITOS LA PALMA – SALSA ESPECIAL

Salsa Especial at Burritos La Palma
Salsa Especial | Photo courtesy of Burritos La Palma

Alberto Bañuelos and his wife Lauren have turned Burritos La Palma into a sensation in El Monte, Santa Ana, Smorgasburg LA, and in their Fairfax Village collaboration with Plan Check. At their El Monte and Santa Ana locations, Burritos La Palma sells salsa especial, a zesty orange sauce designed for dipping or smothering that’s crafted with tangy tomatillo and either Hatch or Anaheim chilies for heat and flavor. Each 8-ounce bottle costs $4. Also be sure to buy an order of house-made flour tortillas for the road.

5120 Peck Rd., El Monte 91732

Dave’s Chillin N Grillin – Dave’s Hotts Wicked Good Peppa Spread

Dave’s Hotts Wicked Good Peppa Spread at Dave’s Chillin N Grillin
Dave’s Hotts Wicked Good Peppa Spread at Dave’s Chillin N Grillin | Photo by Joshua Lurie

In Highland Park, Dave’s Chillin N Grillin sandwich shop owner Dave Evans and business partner Ghaz Bazrafshan sell Dave’s Hotts Wicked Good Peppa Spread, inspired by his home city of Boston. Bazrafshan says, “This is a savory and spicy hot sauce that we started making as a spread for our sandwiches. It quickly became so popular we started selling 8-ounce jars of it in the restaurant, at a few local small shops like Organix in Eagle Rock and online on Amazon.” Dave’s Hotts incorporates multiple peppers, oil, and turmeric - but not Peppa Pig - and is designed for marinating meats (especially chicken wings) and enlivens hummus and dips. 8-ounce jars sell for $5.95.

5715 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles 90042

The Deli at Little Dom’s – Watermelon BBQ Sauce

Watermelon BBQ Sauce at Little Dom's
Watermelon BBQ Sauce | Photo courtesy of Little Dom's

Chef Brandon Boudet and business partner Warner Ebbink have a tiny deli and bakery next to Little Dom’s, their beloved Los Feliz Italian restaurant. They sell two types of sauces in reusable Mason jars. Boudet uses burgundy-hued Watermelon BBQ Sauce - $10 for 16 ounces - as both a marinade and for slathering on meats. The tangy, spicy, and sweet sauce incorporates house-pickled watermelon rind, smoky La Morena chipotle sauce, and brown sugar. They also sell Little Dom’s Sriracha in an 8-ounce jar for $8.

2128 Hillhurst Ave. Los Angeles 90027

Huckleberry Bakery and Café – Huck Hot Sauce

Huck Hot Sauce at Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe in Santa Monica
Huck Hot Sauce at Huckleberry Bakery and Cafe | Photo by Elise Freimuth

Zoe Nathan, husband Josh Loeb and the RC Family are still thriving in Santa Monica. Huckleberry is their breakfast and lunch destination that specializes in California-inspired comfort food and baked goods. On every table, customers will find a jar of Huck Hot Sauce - a spicy, tangy, fire red sauce crafted with Fresno chiles, coriander, white vinegar, and apple cider vinegar. Breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, and poached egg bowls with seasonal vegetables are natural pairings for this sauce, which also helps accentuate their fried chicken sandwich. 10-ounce bottles retail for $10, and are also available down Wilshire Boulevard at sister restaurant Milo & Olive.

1014 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica 90401

Kashcool Kitchen – Hot Sauce

Hot sauce at Kashcool Kitchen in Van Nuys
Hot sauce at Kashcool Kitchen | Photo by Joshua Lurie

Kashcool Kitchen is a Persian institution that’s been going strong for nearly 50 years in various locations, beginning in Mashad, Iran. Mahtab Javadian-Saraf and husband Farhad Mehrtash carry on rich family culinary traditions across from Van Nuys Courthouse West. Their grilled meats are downright scintillating, and when paired with flavored rice and house hot sauce, really satisfying. The family fills 16-ounce Mason jars to order for $10. Javadian-Saraf doesn’t give much away about her green sauce, other than “secret” herbs and spices, jalapeño, and lime juice. Use it on everything, including morning eggs.

6159 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys 91401

Poppy + Rose – Hot Sauce

Hot sauce at Poppy + Rose in DTLA
Hot sauce at Poppy + Rose | Photo by Joshua Lurie

At Poppy + Rose, the DTLA Flower District restaurant from Diana Yin and chef Michael Reed, they complement Southern-inspired comfort food with house hot sauce. The sauce changes flavor and color depending on which chiles Reed sources from the market. This tangy vinegar-based sauce pairs particularly well with Poppy + Rose’s signature fried chicken. A recent batch of green hot sauce featured jalapeños, green Anaheim and serrano chiles. Another spicier version incorporated four red chiles: Anaheim, Fresno, jalapeño, and Thai bird’s eye. No matter the batch, 5-ounce bottles sell for $6.95.

765 Wall St., Los Angeles 90014

Taste of Tehran - Hot Sauce

Tehran Plate Special for two at Taste of Tehran
Tehran Plate Special for two (boneless chicken, beef koobideh, filet mignon shish kabob) at Taste of Tehran | Instagram by @laloveaffair

Shiraz native Saghar Fanisalek opened Taste of Tehran in 2013. The airy restaurant has become a favorite in Westwood’s Persian Square for kebabs, stews and dips. Most dishes can benefit from her burnt orange hot sauce, a Persian-Mexican fusion. Roasted tomato, jalapeño, and habanero (unless it’s unavailable) join garlic, onion turmeric and cumin in a tantalizing blend. Fanisalek lets the mix cool and finishes the sauce by blending with olive oil, cilantro, and balsamic vinegar. An 8-ounce container costs $6.

1915 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles 90025

Trejo’s Tacos – The Original Trejo’s Hot Sauce

The Original Trejo's Hot Sauce at Trejo's Tacos
The Original Trejo's Hot Sauce | Photo courtesy of Trejo's Tacos

Actor Danny Trejo has a flavorful hit on his hands with the L.A. based restaurant group he co-founded with Jeff Georgino and Ash Shah. They’ve got seven locations. Trejo worked with the Trejo’s culinary team on The Original Trejo's Hot Sauce, which also tops tables at the restaurants. Five different peppers - chipotle, chile de arbol, guajillo, chile puya and California entero - are dried and blended with vinegar, serrano chiles, oregano, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, two different salts and “mixed seasonings” to form a smoky, piquant concoction. The Original Trejo's Hot Sauce costs $7 for a 5-ounce bottle.

1048 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles 90019