Christmas Eve is a night where everybody’s kind of doing their own thing. Maybe you’re frantically trying to cook something edible for Christmas Day, or babysitting your sugar-saturated nieces and nephews, or scrambling to find an open restaurant that will appease everyone. So if you’re reading this guide anytime before 12/24, consider yourself already a step ahead. Whether you’re looking for a steakhouse with a fancy pre-fixe menu or a modern Vietnamese spot by the ocean, we’re here to help you find the perfect place for you and everyone else you’re celebrating (or dealing) with. Here are eight of the restaurants we think are best for a Christmas Eve dinner in Los Angeles.
Odys and Penelope is definitely a successful restaurant, but maybe due to its close proximity to Republique, it feels underrated. This La Brea temple of grilled meats is one of the most reliable dinner spots in Mid-Wilshire, with a space ideal for Christmas Eve. It may be 68 degrees outside, but inside Odys and Penelope, the open fire and a two-story stack of chopped wood will make you feel like you’re eating dinner in a renovated barn in Montana. Also, all we want from Santa this year are the cheese puffs.
There are very few restaurants that do Christmas spirit like Rao’s. Come holiday time, the Hollywood location of the classic NYC Italian spot is decked out with every wreath and clump of tinsel they could find. Is it overkill? Sure. Is it exactly what you want on Christmas Eve? Yep. The menu has every crowd-pleasing, red-sauce classic you and your family could want, but if you leave without getting the meatballs, Christmas is canceled.
Church & State is one the original destination restaurants in the Arts District, but even as newer and more exciting spots have moved into the neighborhood, this traditional French restaurant has remained quietly great. When we say traditional, we don’t mean stuffy - this is a laid-back place that looks more like one of those trendy furniture stores on La Brea than a place where you eat a fantastic fish stew. On Christmas Eve, they’ll be doing a three-course pre-fixe menu for $65.
Just because it’s Christmas Eve doesn’t mean dinner has to be you and your family in some steakhouse sawing through an overcooked piece of meat. Tower Bar is a Hollywood classic, and though you might not see as many A-listers roaming around on Christmas Eve as you would normally, you can still expect an entertaining night of the best people watching in town. The food is stuff everyone will like - tuna tartares, burgers, and most importantly, a build-your-own sundae bar. Also, cocktails by the pool in late December is your god-given LA right.
From the outside and inside, Melisse looks like one giant white linen napkin. But despite the monochromatic design scheme, waiters in fancy suits, and dramatic at-table dish reveals, this Santa Monica staple is still a shockingly fun experience. If you’re looking to blow it out and treat Christmas Eve like the once-a-year occasion that it is, their $175 pre-fixe menu with everything from foie gras terrine to black truffle risotto will not let you down.
We live in LA, which means it can be wintertime and we can still enjoy the ocean. On Christmas Eve, take full advantage of that and head to Geoffrey’s. The seafood-heavy menu is good enough, but you’re really at this 35-year-old Malibu landmark for the beautiful space, the endlessly-entertaining Malibu crowd, and yes, the incredible ocean views.
You agreed to do Christmas Day at your significant other’s house this year, and your whole family is pissed that you’re missing the Asian takeout food tradition. Make it up to them by planning a dinner at Little Sister on Christmas Eve. This modern Vietnamese restaurant feels completely out of place amongst the more touristy, family-friendly spots in Manhattan Beach, and that’s a good thing. The atmosphere is casual and cool, with an excellent menu that includes everything from chicken banh mi to dumplings to steak tartare. The shaky shaky beef is a must-order.
You know your family, and you know that come Christmas Eve, they’re all going to want a fancy steak to put in their mouth. Put on your Sunday (or in this case, Friday) best, and head to The Royce in Pasadena’s Langdam Hotel. This place just makes you feel important - or at the very least, like you banked more money than you actually did this year. If you’re looking for that kind of experience, the traditional American menu is worth its price tag. They’re doing a $135 three-course, pre-fixe menu on Christmas Eve.