Everybody wants to know where to eat out on Christmas. Unfortunately for you (but fortunately for exhausted cooks and servers) many restaurants close for the holidays, allowing employees to spend a much needed break with their families. In calling around checking on holiday hours, however, I found that many of my favorite restaurants will be serving on Christmas Eve. Here's a quick rundown of your options.
Chef Sam Etheridge and the guys at Ambrozia (108 Rio Grande NE, 242-6560) have big plans for Christmas Eve—they're celebrating the restaurant's one-year anniversary with a multi-course prix-fixe menu highlighting items from their very first menu. There's one seating—at 7 p.m.—to give guests time to linger as long as they like. The cost of $85 per person includes a half-bottle of champagne. Reservations are a must.
Ranchers Club (in the Hilton at 1901 University, 889-8071) will be open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! On December 24 the restaurant will serve lunch and dinner as usual. On the 25th, however, they'll serve only brunch from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.
In the North Valley, Terra American Bistro (1119 Alameda NW, 792-1700) will be open on Christmas Eve, serving an abbreviated version of their regular menu with the addition of a special tamarind-glazed duck breast special with ginger pilaf.
Out at the Hyatt Tamaya (1300 Tuyuna Trail, 771-6037), the Corn Maiden restaurant will serve dinner as usual. On the 25th, brunch will be served from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. in the Santa Ana Café. Brunch costs $29 per person and reservations required. The Corn Maiden will serve dinner but not lunch on Christmas Day.
Café Bodega (4243 Montgomery, 872-1710) will be serving their regular menu on Christmas Eve but they'll be closed Christmas Day.
Looking for a special meal on Tuesday night? Nob Hill's Graze (3128 Central, 268-4729) will serve a four-course, $35 prix-fixe dinner of down-home comfort food on the 23rd. The menu includes roast beef with walnut scalloped potatoes, maple roasted carrots and double crust apple pie with melted cheddar. Call for reservations at one of three seatings (starting at 4:30!). Graze will be closed December 24-25 and Restaurant Jennifer James will be closed December 23-25.
Seasons (2031 Mountain NW, 766-5100) will be closed for lunch on Christmas Eve but open for dinner both downstairs and upstairs in the rooftop bar. The dining room will serve the full usual menu plus some holiday specials and you'll be able to get lighter fare in the bar. They'll be closed on Christmas Day and for lunch on the 26th but open for dinner that night.
Prairie Star (867-3327, 288 Prairie Star Road) is planning a four-course, $39 prix fixe dinner from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The menu features caramelized onion and pheasant empanadas and goat chèvre/blue crab blintzes. Reservations are required. Prairie Star will be closed Christmas Day.
Attention vegetarians: Annapurna (Yale and Silver, 262-2424) will be serving a multi-course vegetarian dinner at 5:30 on Christmas Eve. The cost is $18.95 for grown-ups, $12.95 for kids. The menu includes mushroom pakoras carrot ginger soup, noodles in cream sauce with red peppers and pecans and a vegetable crêpe with cilantro and mango chutney. Reservations are required. Vegans should call and ask about their options.
Just in case you were planning on the traditional Christmas dinner at your favorite Chinese restaurant (hooray for Chanukah!) note that Chow's Chinese Bistro (1950 Juan Tabo NE, 298-3000) will be open on Christmas Eve and serving several specials but they'll be closed December 25-28.
Does your to-do list read like mine? Swing by Snap-E-Lube to quiet car's death rattle, drop way-too-late packages off at post office, spend three of the most boring hours of your life in driver improvement school ... Whoa! Where's “cook dinner” on this list? Sure, most of you have brought home dinner from the deli at Wild Oats or Whole Foods but those fresh foods only last a day or two in the fridge. Make one stop at one of these places where you can pick up some home-cooked frozen meals and stock up on dinner for the week ahead.
At Pastrami and Things (Juan Tabo and Montgomery, 332-8586 or 1520 Deborah in Rio Rancho, 994-4100), you'll find a selection of what they call “heat and eat dinners”. Frozen entrées like cabbage stuffed with chopped meat and rice topped with sweet and sour raisin sauce, shepherd's pie, eggplant parmigiana, stuffed peppers and meatball lasagna serve one and range in price from $5 to $8. While you're there, pick up some fresh noodle kugel, cheese blintzes, smoked fish and Dr. Brown's sodas. Dinners feed one person. Frozen. Range from $5-$8. They'll be open Christmas Eve until 2 p.m. and closed Christmas day but otherwise open throughout Chanukah.
Tully's (1425 San Mateo NE, 255-5370) is perhaps best known as an Italian deli offering a wide variety of meats, cheeses and Italian groceries but they also sell a ton of house-made frozen dinners. Fancy some Chicken piccata, chicken cacciatore eggplant parmesan, cheese manicotti, meatballs in marinara, veal and peppers or baked beef brisket? Tully's frozen entrées serve two to three and range in price from $8 to $15. While you're there pick up some pannetone, fresh gnocchi or Sicilian olive salad. Tully's will be open Christmas Eve until noon but closed Christmas Day and Friday, Dec. 26.
The Northeast Heights', Savory Fare Café ( 7400 Montgomery NE, 884-8514) probably has the city's widest selection of take-home dinners, mostly fresh but some frozen. The café offers one special take-home dinner entrée (like baked mahi mahi with walnut crust or chicken posole pot pie) every day in addition to their regular menu of at least two soups, 15-20 different salads and 40 desserts. The freezer is stocked with yesterday's dinner specials and other goodies. Savory Fare's small entrée feeds one and costs between $6.25 and $7.25. The large is double that size and cost. For the current month's menu and more information, go to www.savoryfarecafe.com. Savory Fare will be open Christmas Eve from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. and closed Christmas Day.
The folks at Clara's Catering (Juan Tabo and Montgomery 332-2059) had the brilliant idea to put their catering kitchen on double duty by selling take-out lunches Tuesday through Friday. But their most best idea was to sell last week's lunch items frozen and at 50 percent off every Monday. Head over there between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Mondays for single portions ($5.50 to $8.75) or doubles (twice the cost minus 50 cents) of dishes like green chile chicken enchiladas, pot roast, teriyaki chicken and seafood pasta. While you're there, pick up some frozen soups at about $1.50 per pint and $2.25 per quart. Clara's will be open Christmas Eve until 4 p.m. but closed for vacation from Dec. 26 until Jan. 5.
If you really love pizza but are pissed off that it's always soggy by the time it arrives then try some of Papa Murphy's Take ’n' Bake (2800 Coors NW, 839-4700; 12611 Montgomery NE 299-6200). Call ahead or just drop in to pick up your ready-to-bake pies. Pizzas cost between $6 and $13. While you're there ask about their cookie dough and bread sticks. Papa Murphy's will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.