After Beck immortalized the Zankou T-shirt in his song “Debra,” it was all downhill for the typical cafe swag. Why settle for a pedestrian baseball cap when the restaurants of L.A. offer artisan ceramics and graphically inspired dinner plates? Here are some items at local food and drink purveyors that go beyond the ordinary.
--Baseball season usually conjures up hotdogs, peanuts and beer. But those who prefer oysters and fine wine but still love the boys in blue can show their support with L&E Oyster Bar's T-shirt that uses the Dodgers logo to spell out the name of the always-packed Silver Lake shellfish spot. Co-owner Tyler Bell has been a Dodgers fan since he was a kid, when he saw Fernando Valenzuela throw screwballs at a Dodger-Braves game in Atlanta. $18.
--Casual salad specialist Lemonade is expanding fast across Southern California, and to celebrate the opening of its Sawtelle Avenue location, the group worked with local designer Ilan Dei to create a series of 24 neighborhood-inspired stoneware plates. "The plates are a way for us to celebrate the neighborhood, and give locals something that was made just for their community to take home and share with friends and family,” says Lemonade founder Alan Jackson. The same designer who created the bright, lemony look for the restaurants chose landmarks including Griffith Observatory, a Santa Monica beach lifeguard station and the LAX theme building. $26 each or set of two for $44.
--Silver Lake's Pine & Crane usually has a line out the door, and the modern Taiwanese cafe commemorated its successful first year with an American Apparel canvas tote bag screened with Chinese vegetables. The bag comes with a pound of organic produce grown on the owner's family farm near Bakersfield. $20.
--At the Go Get 'Em Tiger coffee shop in Windsor Square, coffee connoisseurs don’t sip from tacky plastic travel cups or ungainly mugs. Instead, L.A. ceramicist Ben Medansky's hand-thrown, handle-less mugs cradle brews from the finest beans with a milky white glaze and colorful stripe. Glass travel cups are also available. $40.
--Golf and pastrami go together like bagels and lox for Langer’s Deli owner Norm Langer, an avid golfer and supporter of charity tournaments. Golfing noshers can pick up a set of the same Titleist balls he plays with, printed with the Langer's logo. Make it a set with a Langer-emblazoned black golf towel. $15 for three.
--Cocktail napkins printed with a map of downtown Los Angeles and a stainless steel cocktail mixing set for $14.99 are a few of the items that go along with craft spirits and small-batch bitters at Greenbar Craft Distillery. Fill the 3-liter white oak aging barrel with mixed cocktails at parties, or use it to age some Slow Hand organic whiskey. $65.
--Even Roy Choi has finally gotten into merchandise. When Choi, chef Johnny Yoo and co-owner Dave Reiss gave Culver City's A-Frame a Hawaiian makeover, they added not just caps, T-shirts and beanies, but also aprons and bright blue bandannas with a modern Aloha print designed by Silver Lake artist Eric Junker. “When Roy and Johnny wanted to go full Hawaiian with the menu, I knew we had to take it all the way: full aloha, full gear for our team. It’s the fun part of creating restaurants — picking apron fabrics downtown, getting to collaborate with an artist like Eric Junker, tracking down vintage longboards, seeing the ideas come to life in a very tangible way,” said Reiss. $12-$40.