Thanksgiving might be the ultimate culinary holiday, but Christmas is a close second. After all, can pumpkin pie really measure up to hot cocoa, eggnog, candy canes, and gingerbread men? Whether you’re dreaming of pillowy gnocchi, glazed ham, or the aforementioned sweet treats, these 12 spots guarantee a worthy Christmas meal without the scary cleanup job.
Take a breather before the holiday madness begins by starting off Christmas Eve at the Nest’s Low Tea Up High. Delicate tea sandwiches—egg salad, cucumber, smoked trout, and a grown-up PF and J (peanut, foie, and jelly)—meet some not-so-delicate entertainment in the form of a naughty resident elf and an ugly holiday sweater contest. Prices a la carte; reservations not required.
Hey, even Christmas dinner compilations need a hint of Jewish tradition: Enter Tarsan i Jane’s Chinese-inspired Christmas Eve dinner, which boasts a whopping 10 courses guaranteed to leave you as full as Santa after a whole night of cookies. But this isn’t your usual Chinese dinner of Peking duck and potstickers—it’s Valencian Chinese fusion, with dishes like moo shu made from paella socarrat and then filled with Dungeness crab. Some traditions, however, are too good leave behind, like hot and sour soup and pork and eel dim sum. $150 per person, $95 optional beverage pairing; book online.
Does the thought of a traditional Christmas meal inspire a yawn? Then look to the French, or rather French brasserie RN74, which offers its entire a la carte menu as well as festive specials on Christmas Eve. To start, a salade artichaut (artichoke salad, but you knew that) with confit potatoes, shaved foie gras ribbons, and crispy chicken skins. Then make way for the star of the show—a roasted garlic and rosemary prime rib roast served with anna potatoes. Prices a la carte; call 206-456-7474 for reservations or book online.
Agrodolce counts down to the big event with an all-day Christmas Eve affair, starting with a three-course brunch of classic bites with an Italian twist. Then comes the main event: the Feast of the Fishes, available as both a five-course and seven-course dinner. James Beard-award winning chef Maria Hines and executive chef Abby Canfield will team up and dish out (no surprise here) a heck of a lot of fish, from steamed shellfish stew to squid ink spaghetti. For dessert? Sicilian cookies—leave some for Santa if you don’t polish them off on your own. $35 per person for brunch, $70 per person for five courses, $90 per person for seven courses; call 206-547-9707 for reservations or book online.
Who said breweries can’t join in on the holiday fun? Belltown Brewing keeps its doors open all day on Christmas Eve to offer up a traditional holiday meal (and some festive brews to boot). A glazed ham is joined by roasted red potatoes, honeyed brussels sprouts, and a side of cranberry-pear chutney. Dessert takes the form of rich chocolate pot au creme, the perfect accompaniment to a pint of Mexican Chocolate Stout. $25 per person; call 206-485-7233 reservations or book online.
Camp out all day at Local 360 for a Christmas Eve chock full of food—the perfect excuse to avoid your grandmother’s fruitcake. The day kicks off with the restaurant’s famous brunch, with favorites such as their veggie scramble, corned beef hash, or—the pièce de résistance—fried chicken and waffles with maple pepper jelly. Come dinnertime the cafe will roll out a three-course tasting menu: pork rillette with chicory, apples, and hazelnuts; mayocoba bean cassoulet with rabbit and duck; and a cranberry pavlova if you still have room for dessert. $49 per person for tasting menu, $16 optional wine pairing; call 206-650-2577 for reservations or book online.
Throw aside notions of homey food and go full-on indulgent for Christmas Eve thanks to chef Maria Hines and Tilth’s Joel Panlilio, who offer a four-course meal at the Wallingford restaurant. The highlights: kumamoto oysters; decadent poultry dishes like duck rillette and spice-rubbed quail; cioppino, a seafood stew packed with king crab, scallops, and arctic char; and slow-roasted lamb. $95 per person; call 206-633-0801 for reservations or book online.
Continuing the theme of not-so-traditional dinners, Lark’s annual three-course Christmas Eve feast marries appetizers like Stellar Bay oysters and foie gras pave with beef Wellington, poached black cod, or ricotta and chard cannelloni. Top it off with a Japanese cheesecake, banana coconut milkshake (if you’re channeling some Mele Kalikimaka vibes), or a gooey chocolate fudge brownie loaded with whipped peanut butter mascarpone and bourbon caramel. An added bonus: If you’re scrambling for a last-minute gift, pick up one of Lark’s three gift packages at the end of your meal and put your worries (and appetite) to bed. $75 per person, $35 optional wine pairing; call 206-323-5275 for reservations or book online.
Looking to avoid cooking on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? Lucky for us, Lost Lake Cafe is open both days and serving up a feast, from 4–10pm on December 24 and from 10–10 on the actual holiday. A very Christmas-y three-course meal meets a merry cocktail menu featuring mulled wine and a cranberry gin and tonic. As for the grub, choose between a turkey or prime rib dinner, or screw it all and order pumpkin ravioli. Nobody said pasta can’t be festive. Prices a la carte; call 206-323-5678 for reservations.
For you casual diners out there, Ray’s Cafe has you covered on the 24th and 25th with specials like surf and turf and king crab cioppino as well as a selection of restaurant’s most popular dishes. If you’re looking for a more elevated three-course menu, however, the Boathouse will be open 2–8pm both days serving seafood-focused appetizers, a jicama cucumber salad as well as prime rib, applewood grilled king salmon, and Alaskan halibut. Save room for dessert or risk major FOMO—Ray’s will have a choice of vanilla creme brulee, chocolate caramel bread pudding, or ice cream. $60 per person for three-course menu; call 206-789-3770 for reservations or book online.
If you’ve got kids in tow or an oversized family that can’t seem to pick a place, Hotel Sorrento’s Christmas Day buffet offers up a remedy. Six sides—including crowd-pleasing mashed potatoes and pesto gnocchi—meet a carving station serving up prime rib, cedar plank salmon, and ham. Don’t be surprised if certain relatives hit the dessert station twice—we all need a little more apple tart and tiramisu in our lives. $77 per adult; call 206-343-6156 for reservations or book online.
Head downtown and loosen your belt in preparation for Goldfinch Tavern’s four-course Christmas feast. Appetizers are family-style, with options like smoked mackerel, caviar deviled eggs, and grilled king crab. Then conquer the entree list, which has everything from broiled lobster to white truffle ravioli. Desserts like a ginger tangerine verrine and pistachio pain de genes embody Noël, but there’s no shame in embracing American Christmas via peppermint cheesecake. You do you. $125 per adult, $45 optional wine pairing; call 206-749-7070 for reservations.