Whether you’re ready or not, Christmas is almost here. For many of us, that will mean scrambling to figure out who’s bringing the mashed potatoes or worrying whether the prime rib is too rare for a roomful of picky eaters. Or you could just skip that part.
Here are nine compelling reasons to eat out, either on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (be sure to call ahead for reservations). We’ve even ranked them by price to fit your budget. If only determining what to get your cubicle mate for White Elephant was this easy.
All-You-Can-Eat Chinese Food & Movie on Christmas Eve at the Church Key | $39
As Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan will tell you, nothing goes together better than Chinese food and Christmas. Sunset Strip’s Church Key is taking that pairing to the extreme with a Christmas Eve buffet featuring Chinese-American classics like crab rangoon, Peking duck, skirt steak and broccoli, orange chicken, Santa Barbara salt-and-pepper prawns and house-made fortune cookies. Bonus: Holiday movies like Elf and Home Alone will be screened during dinnertime. 8730 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (424) 249-3700, thechurchkeyla.com.
British Christmas Day Feast at the Pikey | $40
Have you ever tried to cook a raw chestnut? It’s tricky. Fortunately, Hollywood’s Brit gastropub is serving a traditional English Christmas Day dinner at a fair price. On the menu: ham or goose breast with chestnut bread sauce, sausage-stuffed onions, roast potatoes, chestnuts and stuffed cabbage. And also ale. Lots of ale. 7617 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 850-5400, thepikeyla.com.
Christmas Day Dinner at Tanzy | $48
Culinary director Sherry Yard and her kitchen team are dropping a three-course Christmas special at this Westwood restaurant. Feast on winter squash soup with spiced crème fraîche, herb-crusted prime rib and flourless chocolate cake — then go catch the new Star Wars next door at iPic Theaters. 10840 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; (310) 307-7004, tanzyrestaurant.com.
Feast of the Seven Fishes at Maré | $50
From Dec. 21 to Dec. 27, Eric Greenspan’s Maré will be serving its take on what the Italians call La Vigilia di Natale or “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” a traditional seafood dinner eaten on Christmas Eve. The semi-hidden, patio-only restaurant is an odd but lovely place to spend the holiday, and with dishes like crab and uni risotto, whole snapper with blood orange-caper puttanesca and clams with saffron, grapes and radicchio, the place will be even more festive. 7465 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 592-3226, maremelrose.com.
A Christmas Story Dinner at Viviane | $58
It’s our undisputable opinion that A Christmas Story is the best holiday movie ever, and apparently Viviane chef Michael Hung thinks so, too. For Christmas Day dinner, he’s cheekily playing tribute to the Chop Suey Palace scene by serving Chinese-inspired dishes such as roasted duck leg with confit kumquats and mustard greens, and five-spice–scented beignets. 9400 W. Olympic Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 407-7791, vivianerestaurant.com.
Christmas Eve Dinner at Redbird | $85
Neal Fraser’s dapper downtown restaurant is offering a three-course special menu on Dec. 24 that looks impressive. The menu includes poached salmon with white carrot puree, heritage roast pork with polenta, Swiss chard and crabapple, and a decadent take on bûche de Noël for dessert. 114 E. Second St., downtown; (213) 788-1191, redbird.la.
Christmas Day Buffet at Scarpetta | $108
Imagine the type of overflowing Christmas buffet Tiny Tim would dream about, add bottomless mimosas and bloody Marys, and you’ll end up with the spread at Beverly Hills’ Scarpetta. Everything from prime rib to snow crab legs to baked rigatoni will be served, along with many other trimmings. Don’t miss the selection of house-cured salumi. 225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 860-7970, montagehotels.com.
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Feast of the Seven Fishes at Union | $125
Chef Bruce Kalman of Pasadena’s Union is planning to unleash a seven-course barrage of seafood dishes on Christmas Eve, with help from ocean-to-table suppliers Wild Local Seafood and Sea 2 Table. Feel good about supporting local fisherman while you indulge in smoked uni with soft-scrambled duck egg and white truffles; olive oil–poached spot prawns with compressed persimmon; squid ink bucatini with octopus Bolognese; black cod crudo with Passmore Ranch caviar; and more. 37 E. Union St., Pasadena; (626) 795-5841, unionpasadena.com.
Feast of the Seven Fishes at Providence | $140
Michael Cimarusti’s celebrated seafood restaurant also is offering a take on the traditional Italian Christmas Eve feast — and also using locally sourced, sustainable seafood. What’s on deck for the eight-course meal? Crispy polenta and caviar Bolognese, grilled Maine lobster with smoked chestnuts, sea scallop with black truffle vinaigrette and grilled striped bass with roasted winter squash. 5955 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; (323) 460-4170, providencela.com.