The Festival of Lights — and latkes: 8 Top spots to find your favorite Hanukkah fry-up

December 13, 2022
By Edie Jarolim

Ah, Hanukkah! ‘Tis the season when menorahs are lit in Jewish homes, and the sounds and smells of frying oil waft from the kitchen.

After a victorious rebellion and the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, so the Hanukkah story goes, only a single day’s worth of consecrated oil remained to keep the holy site’s eternal flame burning. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days, until a new supply arrived.

Photo courtesy of Claire’s Café & Art Gallery
Latkes at at Claire’s Café & Art Gallery (Photo by Edie Jarolim)

The lighting of candles alludes to the flames of the sacred lamp, while the consumption of fried food commemorates the miracle of the oil. Note: Hanukkah is not a major Jewish holiday, but its customs are in keeping with the general festivities theme: “They tried to kill us, they failed, let’s eat.”

The potato pancakes known as latkes are the most commonly served of the traditionally — if not medically — sanctioned fried treats among American Jews, with sufganiyot (jelly donuts) coming in second. The culinary history of latkes is long and complex, involving cheese and the biblical tale of Judith beheading Holofernes, but we’re talking here about the version popularized in Eastern Europe in the 19th century. Typically consisting of grated potatoes, onions, eggs, matzo meal or flour, and salt, made into a patty and fried in vegetable oil, today’s latkes are generally eaten with applesauce and/or sour cream.

Latkes (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)
Latkes (Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Some home cooks use food processors to create the latke mix, but many hand grate the potatoes and onions — and accidentally scrape their knuckles. Don’t even ask about the numerous splattering-of-hot-oil incidents.

Our Hanukkah gift to you? A list of eight places where you can enjoy potato pancakes without potential injury or lingering frying odor, one for each day or night of the holiday (December 18—26).



3719 E. Speedway Blvd.

For the first night of Hanukkah only, Feast’s chef/owner Doug Levy is offering latkes with house made applesauce and sour cream, along with other “Jewish soul food” — noodle kugel, beef brisket, and root vegetable tsimmes — for pickup after sundown of Sunday, December 18. All orders need to be put in by Friday, December 14.

For more information, call (520) 326-9363 or visit

Ermanos Bar

220 N. Fourth Ave.
Latkes and prosecco at Ermanos Craft Beer & Wine Bar (Credit: Jackie Tran)
Latkes and prosecco at Ermanos Bar (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Good news! The uber-popular latkes and prosecco special that Ermanos featured before the pandemic has returned, running nightly through the holiday (Christmas excluded). Grab a seat at a banquette table or at the chic bistro-style bar. Hanukkah has never been so romantic or so much fun for a pals’ night out.

For more information, call (520) 445-6625 or visit

Cafe at the J

3800 E. River Rd.

The small kosher cafe in the Jewish Community Center highlights dairy and fish in a variety of traditions, from Middle Eastern (felafel/hummus) and Italian (paninis) to Mexican (quesadillas). During the eight days of Hanukkah, fresh-from-the-fryer latkes bring Eastern Europe into the international culinary fold.

For more information, call (520) 299-3000 or visit

Midtown Vegan Deli & Market

5071 E. Fifth St.
Latkes (Photo courtesy of Midtown Vegan Deli & Market)
Latkes (Photo courtesy of Midtown Vegan Deli & Market)

It’s apt that the site of the former Feig’s Deli is now offering the Jewish community another way to celebrate Hanukkah, this time with vegan latkes, topped with dairy-free sour cream and leek sprouts. Applesauce will be available too. It’s a good bet that these savory pancakes will be as tasty as everything else on the menu of this bright and cheery restaurant, opened earlier this year.

For more information, call (520) 849-5553 or visit


Dante’s Fire

2526 E. Grant Rd.
Latkes at Dante's Fire (Photo courtesy of Dante's Fire)
Latkes at Dante’s Fire (Photo courtesy of Dante’s Fire)

Little known fact: In addition to its central sin-themed and Sexy Grilled Cheese & Salad menus, Dante’s offers a bill of fare highlighting typical New York deli items – including perfectly crisp potato pancakes. Devised during the pandemic, the virtual Oy Vey Cafe is still primarily patronized by the cognoscenti of the takeout and delivery crowd. Ask for the menu by name if your server doesn’t bring it out to the table.

For more information, call (520) 382-9255 or visit

Claire’s Café & Art Gallery

16140 N. Oracle Rd., Catalina
Photo courtesy of Claire’s Café & Art Gallery
Latkes at at Claire’s Café & Art Gallery (Photo by Edie Jarolim)

Up north in the town of Catalina, tucked away on a voluminous menu featuring typical diner fare, you’ll find some unlikely dishes: matzoh brei, blintzes, and latkes. Blending a recipe derived from her family traditions with one from the Love and Knishes cookbook, chef/owner Claire Johnson creates hearty potato pancakes that are a meal in themselves. Bonus: The café doubles as a gallery for local artists. You can purchase a beautiful handcrafted menorah from Claire’s small Judaica section.

Photo courtesy of Claire’s Café & Art Gallery
Handcrafted menorah at Claire’s Café & Art Gallery (Photo by Edie Jarolim)

For more information, call (520) 825-2525 or visit

5 Points Market & Restaurant

756 S. Stone Ave.
Smoked Salmon Benedict (Credit: 5 Points Market & Restaurant)
Smoked Salmon Benedict (Credit: 5 Points Market & Restaurant)

This appealing farm-to-table eatery just south of downtown does a spin on bagels and lox — latkes and lox? — with the Smoked Salmon Benedict, perching a schmear of herbed cream cheese, house-smoked salmon, and poached local eggs on an English muffin and siding it with fresh greens and a chunky potato pancake. It’s a miraculous brunch spread. Potato pancakes are also available as a side.

For more information, call (520) 623-3888 or visit

Polish Cottage

4520 E. Broadway Blvd.
Latkes at Polish Cottage (Photo courtesy of Polish Cottage)
Latkes at Polish Cottage (Photo courtesy of Polish Cottage)

Featuring the cuisine of the country that popularized the type of latke enjoyed during Hanukkah today, this homey storefront dining room can be relied upon to provide stellar potato pancakes along with other Polish specialties. Get them as an appetizer or as part of the generous vegetarian plate, which also includes a vegetable salad and choice of nonmeat pierogi: potatoes and cheese, sauerkraut and mushrooms, or sweet farmer’s cheese.

For more information, call (520) 777-5407 or visit

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Article By

Edie Jarolim has worn many hats, including a sombrero on a one-too-many-margaritas night. She earned a Ph.D. in American literature from New York University and was a guidebook editor at Fodor’s (Random House) and Frommer’s (Simon & Schuster) in New...

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