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Christmas Eve menu with prime rib International Smoke

How to Celebrate Christmas in San Francisco in 2021

In this second pandemic holiday season, here’s the Christmas dining guide — with a mix of reservations and takeout 

In holiday seasons of yore, this is the time when Eater SF would advise diners about which restaurants will actually be open on Christmas Day. But last year San Francisco was completely locked down, so it was a takeout bonanza. And this year, though restaurants are allowed to stay open if diners do want to go out, things feels somewhat in flux with a new variant on the rise, downtown store lootings, and even some Christmas tree arson somewhat dampening the holiday spirit.

But even if you don’t know how to feel about this second pandemic-impacted holiday season, you still deserve a festive feast — and you know San Francisco restaurants are going to tie it up with a bow. So without further ado, here’s the 2022 Christmas dining guide, with a mix of reservations and takeout options.

Christmas Takeout

When it comes to roast beast, Alexander’s has got a seriously sized 7-lb prime rib roast available for pickup or delivery. It’s a take-and-bake situation, so you’ve got to roast it yourself, but it comes with mashed potatoes, green beans, jus, and horseradish — enough to food 6 people — for $395. Go wild and add on buche de Noel and Champagne, too.

Morris

Of all the restaurants offering beautiful birds in San Francisco, the Morris knows how to smoke a duck. Available for pickup only, the restaurant’s pre-smoked duck is available for pre-order, and then just needs to be slid into the oven at home. Half a duck costs $45, a whole duck costs $90, and there’s an option to add on charcuterie, root veggies, or chocolate puddin’ to make it a full feast.

Stock up on takeout tamales at Donaji, the new Oaxacan restaurant in the Mission, which already has a reputation for selling tender tamalitos at farmers markets. A dozen tamales stuffed with beef chili, pork cochinita, chicken verde, cheese and peppers, or vegan chorizo costs $50. And they’ve also got party trays loaded with tacos dorados and mole enchiladas.

Tamales at Donaji Donaji
A spread of dishes from Lazy Susan: chow mein, stir-fried broccoli, and orange chicken Joseph Weaver
Buche de Noel Maison Nico

In Chinese takeout, Lazy Susan is delivering all season. Two options: The Winter Solstice Feast runs from November 30 to December 21, featuring General Tso’s chicken, shrimp fried rice, and Fly by Jing dumplings for $52 for 2 people. And on Christmas Day, the restaurant is partnering with Kung Pao Kosher Comedy (the now virtual comedy show) on a four-course menu for $45 for 2 people.

And what is Christmas without lasagna? Preorder and pick up a luxury tray at Che Fico, featuring lasagna alla bolognese with truffles (of course), citrus salad with burrata and pistachios, roasted brussels with preserved lemons and hazelnuts, and a bottle of red for $275 for 4 people. Veggie and a la carte options are also available.

Meanwhile Maison Nico is bringing back its stunning pates and pastries, including the showstopping duck pithivier, aka fancy duck pie. But it’s also debuting a Buche de Noel for the first time this year, so preorder for pickup. This yule log is rolled with chocolate, hazelnuts, and pears, and it’s $75 for 8 to 10 servings.

Christmas Reservations

Christmas Eve menu with prime rib International Smoke

Octavia is back this season and taking reservations for Christmas Eve: A four-course, family-style, prix-fixe dinner is sure to dazzle with local Dungeness crab; guinea hen done two ways, tangled in fresh tagliatelle and seared with chestnuts and onion sauce; and buche de noel with French coffee buttercream — all for $125 per person.

International Smoke is still stoking the grill on Christmas Eve and taking reservations for a meaty family-style meal, including prime rib, oysters Rockefeller, mac and cheese bites, Parker House rolls, and smoked apple cheesecake. It’s $110 per person, $40 to add drinks, and there’s a separate kid’s menu.

If you’d like to breathe easier, the Vault Garden still boasts one of the largest outdoor dining spaces in the city, and it’s transformed once more into a Winter Wonderland, decked out with a towering Christmas tree, twinkle lights, and heat lamps. Snag a reservation to sip on festive cocktails in December, muddled with lots of bourbon, spices, and coquito. It will be open on Christmas Eve, and may be doing a full sit-down dinner, although the menu is still to be announced.

Winter decorations at Vault Garden Vault Garden

Both Reservations & Takeout

For those who love to feast on fishes, 54 Mint is open all season, including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with the holy trinity of reservations, pickup, and delivery. The Italian restaurant is laying out frittura mista, shrimp risotto, and crab cioppino, as part of a four-course dinner for $95 per person.

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