11 Great Restaurants Open On Christmas Eve & Christmas Day
photo credit: Hockeystick Media
Ah, the holidays. As soon as you recover from the mess that was an extra-extra-extended family Thanksgiving, here comes Christmas. But don’t worry, there are a few spots in the city where you can ditch the over-cooked honey-glazed ham frenzy and have an expertly cooked meal that will grow the heart of even the biggest Grinch in the family. A good amount of these spots require a reservation, so we’ve included a link to make planning easier.
One of 2023’s best new restaurants is offering a special Christmas Eve menu and that’s huge news, especially because this Laurel Heights Thai spot has been fully booked since September. For Christmas Eve, they're serving a three-course set menu for $85 per person—a vegetarian set menu is available as well. You’ll receive a few starters (like the scallops and lemongrass or the coconut meat with crispy jasmine rice), some shareable main courses (like the halibut gor lae curry and the tom ka mushroom soup), and the legendary smoked young coconut ice cream for dessert. Reservations for this dinner are a bit hidden away, but don’t worry, we have the secret link—reserve here for seatings at 5pm or 7pm.
It’s easy to find snooze-worthy pastas and crudos across the city, but Itria, a Californian-Italian spot in the Mission, is the rare place where the rotating pastas and raw fish actually inspire us (just like our Duboce Triangle yoga instructor). And this year for Christmas Eve, Itria will be offering their excellent a la carte dishes alongside a special Feast of Seven Fishes tasting menu. The $110-per-person, five-course extravaganza includes a medley of seafood like caviar and crab. The exact details remain a secret, but fantastic seafood and bowls of carbohydrates aside, the minimalist, wood-filled space is a great setting for a laid-back Christmas Eve. Reservations here.
Known as the sister restaurant of Flour + Water, Penny Roma is a Mission spot whose Italian dishes very much stand on their own. For Christmas Eve, they’re serving a $135 per person, seven-course Feast of the Seven Fishes tasting menu. Some highlights from the seafood-focused menu include crudi, antipasti, handmade pasta courtesy of the Flour + Water Pasta Shop, and dessert. Reservations are available from 5-8pm on Christmas Eve.
The food at Ernest is hard to categorize, unless we created a category called “Everything Is Phenomenal.” And for Christmas Eve, this Mission restaurant is offering a $155 per person, four-course family-style dinner (details to come). We hope to see their buttery Parker House Rolls and creamy vanilla soft serve on the menu, but whatever they make will likely be excellent. Make a reservation (between 4:30pm and 8:30pm) to find out.
The gorgeous Mediterranean spot in the Presidio is a festive backdrop for a holiday meal. The good news is that they’re offering a $130 per person set menu on Christmas Eve that features a mix of family-style dishes and individually portioned plates. Dalida describes the tasting menu as “opulent” (they have yet to release more details), but we can only imagine that their seasonal dishes like the crispy California tahdig and fall-apart ibérico pork souvlaki will be on offer. Reservations are available from 4-8pm.
Altovino is a Nob Hill Italian spot that we like for rustic, Californian-influenced pastas and an intimate vibe that makes it easy to hold a conversation with the person across from you. Their $135, four-course Christmas Eve prix fixe menu gives at least three choices per course. Some of the dishes you’ll find include marinated bay scallop crudo, pappardelle with 10-hour bolognese, grilled mondfish with brassicas, and a crostata al limone for dessert. Check out the full menu and make reservations here.
Brenda’s is a soul food spot in the Tenderloin with beignets we love. You can get those crispy beignets alongside bananas foster french toast and biscuits and gravy on Christmas Day from 9am-2pm. And just for Christmas, you’ll also find menu specials like a Dungeness crab croque monsieur and a holiday ham plate with glazed yams and a cream biscuit. Make a reservation here.
This Calabrian restaurant in the Castro looks like the living room of an artsy aunt with eclectic taste—think wax candles on the table, wavy mirrors on the wall, an old lamp with a blue light, and a random bust of a rooster in the corner. It's a warm, cozy setting that’s perfect for a holiday dinner. While the details of their Christmas Day multi-course set menu are sparse (including price), you’ll likely get things like perfectly al dente tagliatelle alongside slow-cooked entrées, like the tender rack of lamb. Reserve here.
Bar Sprezzatura in FiDi is a swanky, over-the-top Italian bar and lounge that feels like you’re on a vacation where the spritzes and negronis never stop flowing. They’ve got blue velvet couches, high-rise views, and big standing lamps. If you’re looking to impress this Christmas, you know where to go. On Christmas Eve, they’ll feature à la carte selections inspired by Feast of the Seven Fishes, and picks from their regular menu (details to come). But you can probably expect things like uni with ‘ndjua and caviar, crab tortellini, and whole roasted dorade. Reservations here.
Walking into the dining room at Che Fico is like making a red carpet debut. Skylights give the space a sense of openness and the wooden ceiling beams with hanging chandeliers and dried flowers evoke warm feelings that will put anyone in a holiday mood. Their $145 per person set menu for Feast of the Seven Fishes is offered on the 23rd. The meal will feature four courses: a crudo, cioppino, wood oven-roasted rockfish, and olive oil cake. If your whole table is not feeling up for the set menu, just order à la carte from the regular menu. Reserve here.
If you’re looking for a Roman pizza-filled Christmas, Montesacro is where it’s at. This SoMa pizza shop is offering both an à la carte and prix fixe menu for Christmas Eve. The prix fixe menu is $50 and features a choice of antipasti (like the carpaccio di manzo), a choice of a pinse (like the Tuscolana with ‘nduja and smoked mozzarella), and a choice of dolci (like the budino al cioccolato). Meanwhile, the à la carte menu is an abbreviated version of their usual antipasti and pinse, including the classic margherita or the Montesacro with lamb sausage and potato.