The truth might be harder than a lump of coal — the entire Bay Area is officially locked down for the holidays. With indoor and outdoor dining canceled, the whole season is looking slightly glum this year. What are the holidays without big dinner reservations, awkward private parties, or drunk Santas roaming downtown bars, one may ask? Well, we’re about to find out.
For all those cozying up at home, restaurants are still open for takeout and delivery. And if we’re going to get through this thing, we might as well do it with prime rib roast, garlic noodles, and tamales, not to mention stollen and nog. So put up a few more twinkle lights, don your stretchiest pants, and pour out a to-go cocktail. Here’s how to celebrate Christmas in 2020 in San Francisco.
Specific Regional Lists
Important note: Much like at the beginning of the pandemic, given the sudden shutdown, restaurants have been scrambling to add options for takeout and delivery. In the days leading up to Christmas, many have launched special holiday menus, and those will sell out fast. That makes any comprehensive list impossible to manage, but a few local publications have specific lists that might help.
For San Francisco:
- 26 Bay Area restaurants celebrating Christmas with takeout meals [SF Chronicle]
- 9 Fabulous Christmas Takeout Dinners in San Francisco and Oakland [7x7]
- 20 SF Restaurants Offering Holiday Specials [The Infatuation]
- 19 SF Restaurants That Have Christmas Dinner Covered [Thrillist]
For the East Bay:
- Where to order Christmas takeout in the East Bay [Berkeleyside]
- Where to order Christmas takeout in the East Bay [Oaklandside]
For the South Bay:
- 18 Bay Area restaurant options for Christmas dinners to go [Mercury News]
- Where to get Christmas meals on the Peninsula [Palo Alto Weekly]
Eater SF Top Picks
Additionally, here are a few longstanding and reliable favorites from Eater editors and readers. And it’s worth checking in with your favorite neighborhood spots as well, who may be running smaller menus, and would really appreciate a big tip at the end of this hard year.
Trust a steakhouse to really treat a roast right, and Izzy’s is packing it up for smaller parties at home. A prime rib dinner with horseradish cream and roasted vegetables is $175 for 4 to 6 people. It is worth adding on potatoes au gratin and creamed spinach, and they’re going all in on cake, with seven different types of boozy cakes, including a grandma-style carrot cake drenched in Grand Marnier. And who doesn’t love a saucy grandma?
The boutique grocery store continues to deliver this holiday season with everything from full family meals to single trays. A heritage ham kit comes with mac and cheese, roasted cauliflower, and a kale and apple salad, ringing in at $150 for 4 to 6 people. And the turkey TV dinner rides again, making sure solo diners can celebrate in retro-fabulous style for only $16.99.
The 55-year-old seafood institution of Fisherman’s Wharf is a classic this time of year, with leather booths and twinkling boats. Thankfully, the restaurant is offering the Dungeness crab cioppino repackaged as a dinner kit that fans can crack at home, where it is admittedly less embarrassing to tie on a bib. Scoma’s is closed per usual on Christmas Eve and Day, but the kits can be picked up on the Tuesday and Wednesday before.
Little Original Joe’s
The lasagna has landed just in time for Christmas. Little Original Joe’s, the new spinoff from the wildly popular Original Joe’s, just opened in West Portal. It’s a snappy Italian-American takeout counter and retail market, which means that in addition to meat-loaded pizzas and cheese-loaded chicken parm, pasta fans can stock up on frozen pasta for the holidays, including lasagna, stuffed shells, and ravioli, as well as tubs of bolognese and creamed spinach.
Many Chinese restaurants remain open on Christmas, but one fan favorite of Eater SF readers is Chili House, the peking duck legend of the Richmond. The restaurant confirmed that they will stay open on both Christmas Eve and Day this year, serving the usual chile-laced menu. They do have a limited number of ducks per day, so it might be worth calling ahead.
PPQ Dungeness Island
Whales willing, we are currently supposed to have local Dungeness crab just in time for Christmas. And per usual, PPQ is promising to be open on Christmas Eve and Day, and the crustaceans are available for takeout and delivery. There are flexible menu options for two, four, six, or ten people, and a roasted crab dinner for two comes with imperial rolls, garlic noodles, and braised string beans for $95.
La Palma Mexicatessen
This Mission Mexicatessen is known for their fresh masa, sold by the pound, pressed into tortillas, or wrapped into tamales, which feel like a festive package this time of year. Stock up on a dozen fresh tamales for $32.99, stuffed with braised pork or sweet corn.
Star pastry chef Belinda Leong has not one, not two, but three buche de Noel flavors to celebrate stumpy cake season — a mont blanc, vanilla raspberry, and chocolate-toffee mousse. These logs will sell out fast, so preorder those whimsical woodland desserts while you still can.
So obviously everyone is obsessed with Panettone from Roy, the breathtaking $60 loaf of bread. (It is big, and it ships, and it keeps well for a month.) But do not underestimate the sourdough prowess of Manresa Bread, which also makes a triple-chocolate and orange panettone for a mere $45. Honestly, either one is a master pastry, and maybe this is the year for chocolate for breakfast.
The only dedicated German bakery in San Francisco is promising the extra crisp and spicy cookies again this year, as in vanillekipferl (powdered moons), spritzgebäck (hazelnut dipped in dark chocolate), spitzbuben (stuffed with jam), and more fun-to-pronounce treats. But also, the mini stollen is a small serving of holiday cheer, specifically sized down for Christmas in quarantine.
Andytown Coffee Roasters
The Sunset’s favorite coffee shop is keeping it minty fresh this holiday season. The minty mocha swirls in chocolate from Guittard and syrup from Oaktown, and will keep you buzzing through those last deadlines of the year like a Christmas elf.
Pacific Cocktail Haven
The Miracle pop-up bar at Pacific Cocktail Haven usually draws a rowdy crowd, but even though outdoor dining is cancelled, the festive cocktails are also available as takeout. Peruse the full list of mulled wine and nogs in novelty mugs. Because what is Christmas without a mug shaped like a t-rex wearing a Santa hat?
Iron Horse Vineyards
In bubbles, why not shop local this year and pick up some California sparkling wine. Iron Horse in Russian River is offering a special sparkling rosé that benefits the Sonoma County Resilience Fund, and wine country really deserves it after this wildfire season.
Almanac Beer Co.
The Alameda brewery has an ugly sweater–themed hazy IPA, which they describe as “tropical” and “dank,” and probably a party to sip in a hot tub. The Bunny Hill IPA, by comparison, is soft and clean, and has quite possibly the prettiest can of the season. But for those who can’t choose, there’s also a 12 beers of Christmas kind of advent calendar situation.