You’ve decked the halls, found presents at San Francisco’s best shops and holiday markets and learned that Christmas songs don’t have to suck. Next on the agenda: planning the holiday feast. By which we mean making reservations at one of these restaurants open on Christmas Day and Eve. From an upscale Feast of the Seven Fishes to Nochebuena dinner at a tapas den, there’s a meal for every type of celebration.
RECOMMENDED: Christmas in San Francisco guide
Christmas Eve Dinners
Both the San Francisco and Oakland locations of the Bay Area’s longtime Cal-Ital favorite serve an elaborate, upscale take on the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes. Start with antipasti, like charred octopus with ceci beans, then settle into a three-course menu of dishes like squid ink pasta with Dungeness crab. A cheese plate, cookie plate and citrus pate de fruit round out the meal. Wine pairings are always a special experience here, so indulge in either the classic ($55), red only ($65) or unique and rare ($75) option. 415-771-2216. 5–10pm.
At this high-ceilinged, Olle Lundberg-designed stunner on Yerba Buena Lane, chef Francis Hogan will whip up holiday specials featuring premium ingredients, like Dungeness crab and prime rib. Save room for the pastry chef’s holiday stocking: each table gets one brimming with truffles, house made candies and other Christmas-appropriate treats. 415-547-1111. 11am–11pm.
Price: Around $75/person
Noe Valley’s latest spot for New American comfort food will be filling out its rotisserie with stuffed lamb saddle and porchetta for the holiday. Other additions to the regular menu include crab chowder, sweet potato gnocchi and chestnut spaetzle. The restaurant’s usual barrage of sides, like brussels sprouts and pan-fried panisse, will make the table feel extra festive. 415-374-7479. 5:30–9:30pm.
Price: Around $50/person
Martin Yan’s boisterous Chinese destination in the Westfield Centre will take its Christmas Eve menu to the next level with the addition of six different authentic regional preparations of Dungeness crab. Try Shanghai’s claypot of wok-tossed crustacean, edamame and rice cakes, or Guangdong’s garlic-steamed rendition with rice vermicelli. Fill out your celebration with wild boar scissor cut noodles and the Big Trouble in M.Y. China, a shot of rare Chinese baijiu with a Tsingtao beer chaser. The kitchen’s deceptively light sugar egg puffs with chocolate fondue are waiting for you, come meal’s end. 415-580-3001. 11am–8pm.
Price: Around $60/person
In true Spanish style, this Castro tapas den offers a Nochebuena Dinner: a set price menu, complete with buttery crab bisque, lamb with honey and cinnamon doughnuts with custard for dessert. The restaurant’s rich red tones and fine sherry selection amp up the holiday cheer. 415-552-3000. 5:30–11pm.
Other Christmas Eve dinners to try:
Perbacco (Financial District), holiday specials in addition to the regular menu, around $65/person, 11:30am–10pm, 230 California St (415-955-0663, perbaccosf.com).
Cafe Claude (Union Square), holiday specials in addition to the regular menu, around $60/person, 5:30–10:30pm , 7 Claude Ln (415–392-3505, cafeclaude.com).
Green Chile Kitchen (Marin), holiday specials in addition to the regular menu, around $35/person, 11:30am–10pm, 1335 4th St, San Rafael (415-521-5691, greenchilekitchen.com).
Hopscotch (Oakland), hot cocktails and Dungeness crab for two in addition to the regular menu, around $75/person, 5–11pm, 1915 San Pablo Ave, Oakland (510-788-6217, hopscotchoakland.com).
Copita (Marin), three-course “Navidad en Copita” menu, $45/person, 11:30am–10pm, 739 Bridgeway, Sausalito (415-331-7400, copitarestaurant.com).
Christmas Day Dinners
Modern style meets Michelin stars at the SoMa fine dining oasis. And for Christmas, chef Daniel Cory puts together a four-course celebratory meal with all manner of indulgences to choose from. Burrata, sweetbreads, black truffles, Dungeness crab and duck breast all make appearances. Desserts include pear cake with roasted white chocolate mousse and chocolate pound cake with ginger custard. Reservations are required. 415-616-6566. 5:30–10pm.
Price: $90/adult ($130 with wine pairing), $45/child
The stylish, UK-inspired bistro from the owners of Marlowe offers a three-course, fixed-price meal. Chef Jennifer Puccio is whipping up specials like kabocha squash soup, roasted beef rib eye and truffled breast of chicken with watercress and mustard jus. Guests can share sides like buttered english peas with speck and crispy shallots, roasted broccoli romanesco with lobster mushroom confit and potato and celery root gratin with bone marrow and buttered crumbs. Just save room for the black treacle gingerbread with apples and clotted cream. 415-321-6000. 11:30am–8pm.
Price: $75 (plus $50 for wine pairings)
What could be more elegant than Christmas dinner at the classic Nob Hill establishment? Here, chef Nenand Stefanovic serves a four-course feast, highlighting seasonal ingredients using old-school techniques. Think lobster bisque with tempura chives and beef tenderloin with duchesse potato—all capped off with pink peppercorn pot de creme for dessert. 415-616-6916. 2:30–9pm.
Price: $79/adult ($109/with wine pairing), $49/child
Nestle by the fire (and the Silicon Valley bigwigs) for an extravagant holiday meal cooked by chef Peter Rudolf. The three-course meal includes options like Douglas Fir soup with coffee crumble, black truffle farotto with pecorino and kale, and a brownie ice cream sundae lapped in whipped peppermint. 650-561-1540. 5:30–10pm.
From omelets and waffles to grilled lamb chops, lobster bisque and piles of holiday cakes and pies, this iconic brunch and dinner buffet will send you into a glorious Christmas food coma. Thank goodness there’s live piano music and a panoramic view of the city to make it all feel civilized. Hot tip: Reservations are required. 415-616-6941. 10am–7pm.
Price: $119/adult, $59/child
Other Christmas Day dinners to try:
1300 on Fillmore (Fillmore), three-course fixed price, $69/adult and $35/child, 2, 4 & 6pm, 1300 Fillmore St (415-771-7100, 1300fillmore.com).
Fior d’Italia (Fisherman’s Wharf), regular menu with holiday specials, approx. $45/adult, 11:30am–10pm, 2237 Mason St (415–986-1886, fior.com).
Bobo’s (Marina), regular menu with holiday specials, approx. $90/person, 5–9pm, 1450 Lombard St (415-441-8880, boboquivaris.com).
Bartlett Hall (Union Square), regular menu with holiday specials, approx. $40/person, 11 am–midnight, 242 O’Farrell St (415-433-4332, bartletthallsf.com).
Chou Chou Bistro (Forest Hill), regular menu with holiday specials, approx. $50/person, 5–9pm, 400 Dewey Blvd (415-242-0960, chouchoubistro.com).