Yes, Christmas is about tradition and an idyllic fantasy of merry family members nestled around the soft glow of a roaring fireplace while the smell of a hearty, home-cooked meal wafts from the kitchen, but let's be real.
Cooking enormous feasts for dozens of people is extraordinarily stressful and a tremendous amount of work. It can take weeks of planning. (Some experts suggest ordering your roast from a butcher an entire month in advance — you ordered yours three weeks ago, right??) If you think the holidays are stressful enough as it is, there are plenty of lovely Los Angeles establishments open to host your family on Dec. 25. This way you can relax, sip on egg nog (or a martini) and actually enjoy yourself.
Even if you already had your family fun times on Christmas Eve — or hell, don't even celebrate the holiday at all — you’ll likely have a strong urge to get out of the house on the 25th (how much time can you really spend sitting around a fire, anyway?). But what's going to be open (besides most of the Chinese restaurants in the San Gabriel Valley) on this national holiday?
Thankfully, there are a lot, and we combed through them to select some of the best L.A. restaurants to visit on Christmas Day, most of which aren’t serving what you would expect to eat around the holidays (think: delicious Korean barbecue, chicken mole, fresh-caught oysters). So relax this year, and allow yourself to enjoy any of these welcome departures from your annual Christmas routine.
10. Park’s Barbecue
Korean barbecue might not be what comes to mind when contemplating Christmas dinner. But Park's Barbecue, one of the city’s most beloved Korean joints, has everything the family needs for a holiday feast: fire, meat and beer. You won’t have to sacrifice any of that cozy communal time, as you’ll all be gathered around flames once again. Only this time it will be for the sake of watching seasoned strips of beef bulgogi and piles of prime beef short rib gal-bi grill to perfection. The smell will be almost torturously mouth-watering, but thankfully there is plenty of kimchi to nibble, and beer, wine and sake to sip. And like the other 364 days of the year, Park’s leaves its doors open on Christmas, too. 955 S. Vermont Ave., Koreatown; (213) 380-1717, parksbbq.com.
In Los Angeles, a traditional Oaxacan Christmas dinner is never far from reach. For a city whose food culture is most commonly defined by its abundance of Mexican restaurants and taco trucks, dining on enormous plates of the city’s best mole and tamales is an excellent option. For this, the best place is Koreatown’s Oaxacan gem, Guelaguetza. They won't be taking reservations for Dec. 25 but will be open for regular business hours, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. 3014 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown; (213) 427-0608, ilovemole.com.
Tanzy in Westwood has really thought it through. Alongside some of its à la carte options, the artisanal Italian restaurant is offering a special $35, generously portioned, three-course Christmas menu of parsnip and apple soup, endive and arugula salad, Salmon Creek Farms ham steak with spiced maple glaze, and zuppa Inglese. In addition to this festive menu, Tanzy encourages diners to head next door to iPic movie theaters, where they can order hot buttered salted truffled rum cocktails to be delivered right to their seats and enjoyed while watching one of several films opening on Christmas Day. 10840 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; (310) 307-7004, tanzyrestaurant.com/westwood.
7. Trés by José Andrés
Chef José Andrés' Trés at the SLS Hotel is the kind of place reserved for special occasions. Thankfully, Christmas qualifies, and it will be open for brunch and dinner, serving a special Christmas brunch in addition to the à la carte menu, followed by the regular dinner menu. The $65-per-person brunch is a bargain, since — along with the New York strip steak and lamb loin carving stations — it includes an entire caviar and salmon display serving American paddlefish caviar, salmon roe and Russ & Daughters' “Diamond Selection.” 465 S. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Hills. To make a reservation, click here.
6. The Polo Lounge
The legendary dining room at the Beverly Hills Hotel has fun in store for the whole family. It is open for brunch and dinner serving four-course prix fixe menus. Brunch, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., is $115 per person. Dinner, from 5 to 10 p.m., is $140 per person. Children 12 and under can enjoy a special menu all day for $55. 9641 Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills; (310) 887-2777.
5. Delphine Eatery + Bar
The W Hollywood's restaurant will prepare a holiday-inspired menu for $67 on Christmas Day. The three-course menu will offer a variety of festive dishes with seasonal ingredients. Among the items worth getting excited about are apple and fennel soup with black truffle, and crab beignets and steamed organic egg custard with white soy, uni, ikura, whipped chive crème fraiche and brioche. There also will be a specialty dessert course. 6250 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; (323) 798-1355.
The Montage Beverly Hills' Italian restaurant will be open all day on Christmas, serving an impressive Christmas buffet. Some of its many offerings include West Coast oysters, snow crab legs, prime rib, porcetta and leg of lamb. $105 per adult, $45 per child. 225 N. Cañon Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 860-7970; to make a reservation, click here.
Everything about Culina — the sleek, modern Italian restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills — is grown up. But that doesn’t mean it's for adults only. The kid-friendly restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Christmas serving brunch. And children under 4 years old eat for free. For adults, the price is $98; for children 5 to 12 it's $49. 300 S. Doheny Drive; Beverly Hills; (310) 860-4000, culinarestaurant.com.
2. L.A. Chapter
If you’ve ever felt a little claustrophobic on Christmas afternoon and dreamed of sneaking out for some fresh air and maybe a cocktail (or three), the Ace Hotel downtown is for you. Live out your escapist fantasy at one of L.A.'s hippest hotels, which will be serving breakfast, brunch and dinner on Christmas. Hitting the rooftop bar for a few sips before dinner pretty much seems like the best Christmas activity ever. 927 S. Broadway, dwntwn.; (213)-235-9660. To make a reservation, click here.
What could possibly be more fun than eating a delicious dinner in a rooftop greenhouse? Chef Roy Choi’s newest project at the uber-hip Line Hotel in Koreatown will be open on Christmas Day. And not only will you be able to avoid cooking that Christmas feast, you won’t really even have to think about ordering, because the menu consists of drawings of food and a note from the chef himself, which reads: “Trust the pictures. and choose your own adventure. This is the experience. Point and build. And have a great time. -Chef Roy.” 3515 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown; (213) 368-3030, eatatpot.com.