Christmas Eve, Christmas, and Other Holiday Meals

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Fancy holiday vibes at The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. Photo via The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay.

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Two of the pastas from my family’s Cenone/Feast of Seven Fishes—our favorite anchovy and bread crumb pasta is the carb mountain in the front. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

There are so many holiday dinners, festive events, buffets, and brunches happening around town. Here are a few that caught my eye below; you can find more ideas and reservations on OpenTable (here are places open for Christmas Eve, like Octavia and Spruce), and here’s Christmas Day (The Cavalier would be cozy for dinner, 1300 on Fillmore would be fun, Campton Place is fancy, and there’s brunch at Scala’s Bistro too). Who knows what will pop up on Resy since you can’t see that far in advance… More below!

Christmas Eve

Chef-owner Kim Alter is serving a multicourse “Cratchit Meets Scrooge” dinner menu at ~NIGHTBIRD~ during the week leading up to Christmas Eve and the night of (so December 20th-24th). The festive menu includes goose with kale and applesauce, and rib roast with potato, Yorkshire pudding, and gravy; $145 tasting menu. There’s also Wassail Punch with hot apple cider, winter spices, rye, and brandy, and the Altered Eggnog with apple, brandy, and eggnog. She’s also serving a Hanukkah menu from December 27th-30th, with challah bread service, gravlax and caviar, chicken consommé with smoked egg and matzoh, latkes, brisket, babka, and more. Wow, SO GOOD. $125.

I thought the menu at ~JARDINIÈRE~ looked fantastic, with potato and leek soup with truffled hen, duck breast, and bûche de Noël. $95, $59 sommelier pairings.

In case you feel like doing something irreverent, ~NAMU GAJI~ is doing a noodle night, like foie gras wonton mein and braised oxtail shoyu ramen, plus dumplings, chicken wings, okonomiyaki, stone pot, and burger. Reservations recommended, or call 415-431-6268.  

If you have some family in town and want to show them the glory of the California coastline, you should stop by ~THE RITZ-CARLTON HALF MOON BAY~ for a variety of holiday events in the on-site restaurant, Navio, whether it’s breakfast with Santa this weekend (plus a holiday market), Christmas Eve brunch or dinner, plus some very special events on Christmas Day, too, with even more visits from Santa plus entertainment.

Feast of the Seven Fishes (also Christmas Eve)

The Gagliardi family will be preparing our annual veritable feast for Christmas Eve, although I’m never quite sure how many fish we’re doing each year. What I do know is we’re all waiting for the anchovy and bread crumb pasta—all 33 of us. Here are a few places below that are doing their version of the Cenone.

~A16~ is celebrating the Feast of Seven Fishes with a prix-fixe seven-course family-style dinner for $100 per person.

~LOCANDA~ is hosting their annual Feast of the Seven Fishes, with two seatings, check it out (prices include tax and tip). The menu includes rigatoni and Dungeness crab and a gran fritto misto di pesce, with some really fab wine pairings. (Although Italians would protest over the lardo butter on the uni toast. Delicious as that may be, you’re supposed to abstain from meat and have a meat-free menu.) Housemade panettone for dessert, impressive.

I was laughing over the dual menu at ~PALIO D’ASTI~, featuring a traditional fish menu or the option of a meaty menu, which owner Martino DiGrande said would piss off his nonna (you know she is shaking her hand at you for having that meaty menu, Martino!). And the proofreader in me wants to fix all the typos, but that octopus salad is successfully distracting me. (They are also opening on Christmas Day for dinner.)

If you want to get closer to a traditional Cenone, and maybe take a little road trip, ~VIA UNO CUCINA ITALIANA~ in Half Moon Bay is reflecting the Calabrese owners’ roots with dishes like crab croquettes with a spicy Calabrian chile sauce, baked and stuffed calamari in a cherry tomato and white wine sauce, and I love that they’re serving cannariculi (fried ridged pastry with warm honey glaze) for dessert. 2810 Cabrillo Hwy 1 North, Half Moon Bay, 650-560-8858.

Christmas

Wiped out from the night before? ~LUCE~ at the InterContinental San Francisco is hosting a 
Christmas Day brunch buffet with an omelet station, dim sum, and unlimited bubbly for $85 per person, $45 for children 4-12 years old; prices exclude tax and gratuity. 11am-2:30pm. 88 Howard St. at 5th St., 415-616-6566.

It’s pretty tough to beat the view at the ~TOP OF THE MARK AT THE INTERCONTINENTAL MARK HOPKINS~, which is where you’ll find a Christmas Day brunch (9:30am-1pm) with omelet and waffle stations and a dinner buffet (until 7pm) with whole suckling pig with apple brandy cream, plus live piano music ($135 per adult and $65 per child ages 4-12). Reservations required, call 415-616-6941; there are also holiday teas and other events too.

~MKT RESTAURANT-BAR~ at Four Seasons Hotel San Francisco has a nice view of downtown holiday lights from its floor-to-ceiling windows and will be hosting a Christmas Day feast from 11:30am-8pm. The four-course menu is $115 for adults, $57 for kids under 12. Reservations required, call 415-633-3838.

Other Festive Dinners and Holiday Events

Swing by the ~JCCSF~ for Hanukkah FRYdays all month long, offering fried pickles, lumpia, and, of course, latkes and doughnuts every Friday afternoon in December. Free and open to the public. Lineup and hours here.

~POESIA~ in the Castro is hosting a Cenone di Natale on Tuesday December 27th, with special guest chef Giulia Michetti. The menu includes granseola alla triestina (Dungeness crab salad, citrus, aioli), tortelli mantovani (butternut squash tortelli, colatura di alici, green tea, and parmigiano), housemade cotechino with lenticchie (traditional Christmas pork sausage served with “Castelluccio” lentil stew and polenta), and cartellate (Italian pastry served with vin santo and pomegranates) for dessert. Just $45 for the food, $25 wine pairing (not including tax and gratuity). For reservations, call 415-252-9325.

This Saturday December 17th, ~LE COLONIAL~ is hosting a Holiday High Tea Party to benefit Compass Family Services. Come by from 12pm-3pm guests for a pot of loose-leaf tea, tea sandwiches, fresh baked pastry served with strawberry jam and lemon curd, and an assortment of mini French pastries prepared by executive chef Jean-Paul Peluffo, plus there will be live piano musical entertainment; $30 (doesn’t include tax and gratuity). Glasses of Champagne, mimosas, and Bellinis an additional $10 each. Thirty-three percent of the afternoon’s proceeds will be donated to Compass Family Services, which ensures that families waiting for a shelter room to open up have access to health care, personal hygiene items, legal assistance, and case management. Reservations required, call 415-931-3600.

Chef-owner Trish Tracey of ~MYRIAD GASTRO PUB~ in the Mission is doing a 12 Days of Christmas menu every night until Christmas Eve, with the first one tonight (Tuesday December 13th) with Colombian-inspired pernil asado, or roasted pork shoulder, served with plantains and rice. Here is the menu for each evening. 2491 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-525-4335.

There is also a variety of holiday pop-up meals and more on Feastly, check out the array of dinners, from a Cambodian holiday hot pot to a South Indian spread!

Event Info

Tuesday Dec 13, 2016 – Saturday Dec 31, 2016