“Christmas Eve dining is like the 4th of July in Laguna,” said Chef Rainer Schwarz of Driftwood Kitchen. “Most of us here in town don’t want to miss Christmas Eve, but it’s always great to take that break on Christmas Day.”
Indeed, many of Laguna Beach’s restaurants are open on Christmas Eve, but the vast majority of our restaurants close on Christmas Day. If you’re planning to take the family out, get rolling on those reservations now! (For the record, Harvest at The Ranch Laguna Beach and Splashes at the Surf & Sand Resort are fully committed and not taking any more reservations.)
Remember, too, there are many Christmas Dinner take-out options, which I’ll note below.
Let’s get started with the most wonderful time of the year’s dining options. This article is divided into the following:
– Pre Christmas Eve options (party! Buy wine!)
– Christmas Eve & Day Menus for Take Out
– Christmas Eve Dining & Outdoor Dining (this is divided into Christmas Eve prix fixe, “closing early” and “regular hours”)
– Christmas Day Dining & Outdoor Dining
– All Christmas Day Closures (some are noted with additional closure days, too)
Early Christmas brunch to get you in the mood – Dec. 19th
Selanne Steak Tavern starts the season in the best of ways with its Holiday Brunch on Sunday, Dec. 19th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Specialty items include Kevin’s Banana Fosters French Toast, Chicken & Waffles, Selanne’s Benedict, egg dishes, salads, raw/chilled seafood dishes and, of course, Gingerbread Spice Sticky Buns.
Getting the party started
Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill is leading the Christmas Party Parade with a Thursday, Dec. 23rd DJ party. This time, it’s Alaskafornia Misster (sic) Earthwave & Hot Jamale + Square. The party starts at 8 p.m.
Chef Maro shutters the RoHi on the 24th and 25th, so if you’re looking to order those amazing empanadas for crowd hunger control, place those orders soon.
Stock up on fabulous wines
As a reminder, too, Chris Olsen’s Wine Gallery is offering a cornucopia of bottled wine options for your holiday tables. They too, are closed on the 24th and 25th, so be sure to trot in for your locally purchased wine selections in the week ahead.
Christmas Eve & Day – Take Out Feasts
Last year I relied on my Laguna chef friends to provide sides and desserts, and I’m never going to cook an entire Christmas Day meal again! Here are two great options:
Brussels Bistro – Order by Wednesday, Dec. 22nd Pick up on Christmas Eve (Friday) between 10 am and noon at Laguna Beach or San Clemente locations. Choose a la carte options that include 24-count oysters, Norwegian Smoked Salmon and three options of entrées that include Christmas Lobster, Beef Wellington and Christmas turkey with all the trimmings.
If that doesn’t suit you, scroll through their many, many a la carte options for your own Christmas feast.
Order Take Out: BrusselsBistro.com (scroll down for their Christmas package)
Nirvana Grille – Build your own feast with Chef Lindsay Smith’s Mix & Match for Christmas. Order by Wednesday, Dec. 22nd at noon. Pick up Christmas Eve (Friday), between 3:30 pm and 5 pm (designate your pickup window when ordering). Choose from two pages of Christmas a la carte options at her website. Shop till you drop, and don’t forget the house-crafted desserts.
Order Take Out: NirvanaGrille.com
Christmas Eve: Dining Room & Outdoor Dining
Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve been able to collect so far. Reports are still rolling in from our Laguna chefs, so be sure to check my short list of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day closures at my website or call first before driving around in circles.
(Please note: Tax and gratuity are in addition to any posted pricing. Please tip these people well. They are, after all, working the Christmas holiday.)
Three Christmas Eve prix fixe menus
To date, just three restaurants have reported specialty menus, but they’re all quite memorable:
C’est La Vie – Christmas 4-Course Prix Fixe Menu, noon – 9 pm. $69 per guest, $16 for kids under the age of 12.
Chef Antonio starts the meal with an amuse bouche of wild mushroom cappuccino and fennel pollen foam. From there, it’s salad options and four entrée options that include Barramundi, Scallops & Shrimp Pappardelle, Grilled Ribeye and Duck Leg Confit with a Pan-Seared Breast.
Larsen at Hotel Laguna – Chef Craig Strong is offering both A La Carte items and a Christmas 4-course Prix Fixe Menu, which is $150 per person, $25 for kids under 10 years of age. (This same menu is served on Christmas Day, too.)
A la carte items include items such as chilled oysters, Grilled Spanish Octopus, his famed Short Rib Cigars and the Hotel Laguna Burger.
The Prix Fixe menu includes salad, Butternut Ravioli, and entrée choices of Sautéed Salmon, Roasted Prime Rib or Oven Dried Tomato & Eggplant Terrine. Dessert options include Craig’s Spice Cake, Lemon Tart and more.
Reserve: Go directly through OpenTable for LARSEN
The Loft, Montage Laguna Beach – From 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., guest can enjoy a 4-Course Tasting Menu. Pricing is $160 for adults with a children’s menu offered a la carte. (This menu is also served on Christmas Day.) Choose from salads, Shrimp Bisque or Butternut Squash and Bay Scallop Risotto for starters. Entrée options include Roasted Duck Breast, filet mignon or Branzino. Don’t miss the Milk Chocolate Yule Log or Gingerbread Semifreddo for dessert.
Reserve: Call Montage Dining at (949) 715-6420
Christmas Eve restaurant options- Closing early
The following restaurants will be serving their regular menus and CLOSING EARLY. Reservations are recommended at all wait service restaurants.
230 Forest – open until 8 p.m.
Avila’s El Ranchito – kitchen closes at 4 p.m., bar closes between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Domino’s – open 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
G.G.’s Bistro – open 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Laguna Beach Beer Company – open until 4 p.m.
Gina’s Pizza & Pastaria – open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Mandarin King – available for take-out only until 7 p.m.
McClain Cellars – open until 3 p.m.
Oak Laguna Beach – open until 7:30 p.m.
Papa’s Tacos – 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Poké Tiki – open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Rasta Taco – open 11 am – 3 p.m.
Rebel Omakase – one seating at 6 p.m.
Ristorante Rumari – open until 8 p.m.
Ruby’s – open until 3 p.m.
Nirvana Grille – open 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Salerno by Chef Pirozzi – open 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Selanne Steak Tavern – open 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Sergio’s Empanadas – open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Slice Pizza & Beer – open until 7 p.m.
Starbucks – open 5:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Taco Loco – open to 9 p.m.
Thai Bros – open 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Cliff Laguna Beach – open until 4 p.m.
The Deck Laguna Beach – open 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The Stand – open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Suenos – open 9 a.m. for brunch through 4 p.m.
The Wharf – open noon to 5 p.m.
Urth Caffé – open until 6 p.m.
Wild Taco – open until 4 p.m.
Z Pizza – open 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Zeytoon Café – open until 4 p.m.
Zinc Café – open 7 a.m. to noon
Christmas Eve restaurant options – regular operating hours
Alessa by Pirozzi
Comedor at La Casa del Camino
Mosaic Bar & Grill at Montage
Nick’s Laguna Beach
O Fine Japanese Cuisine
South of Nick’s
The Deck Laguna Beach
The Drake Laguna Beach and
The Rooftop at La Casa del Camino
Wahoo’s Fish Tacos
Christmas Day Dining Options
Christmas Day brunch
Most surprising was my discovery that theshuttered Studio, Montage Laguna Beach will be enjoying a Christmas miracle of its own when it opens for Christmas Day Brunch.
From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., it’s $175 per adult and $55 per child. The brunch buffet offers a selection of appetizers, salads, cheese, charcuterie, raw bar, breakfast items, carving station, desserts and a festive Bellini and Bloody Mary bar.
Reserve: Call Montage dining at (949) 715-6420
Christmas Day dining room & outdoor dining options (and pizza, too!)
Other welcoming restaurants on Christmas Day include:
C’est la Vie – The regular menu is available throughout the day, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Domino’s – open 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
GG’s Bistro –Enjoy the full menu fare from 11:30 am to an early close at 7:30 p.m.
Greeter’s Corner – Holding down the south corner of Main Beach Park, Greeter’s is offering its regular menu, regular hours, 8:15 am to 9 pm.
Larsen at Hotel Laguna – Chef Craig is offering both A La Carte and a Christmas Prix Fixe menu, see details above for Christmas Eve.
Reserve: Go directly through OpenTable for LARSEN
Las Brisas – Christmas Brunch is available at 11 a.m. with dinner options available thereafter.
The Loft, Montage Laguna Beach – This Christmas 4-Course Prix Fixe Menu is also offered on Christmas Eve. See the menu details above.
Reserve: Call Montage dining at (949) 715-6420.
Lost Pier – Certainly good news for beach goers, our crafty beach hut at Aliso Creek is open regular hours, 8 am to 6 pm.
Mosaic Bar & Grill – Enjoy the usual a la carte menu from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for lunch, and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner.
South Swell Donuts – SoLag’s go-to for the best donuts in town is open Christmas Day until they sell out. The owners will be doubling up on favorites that day and are open from 6 am to 2 pm (or closing earlier if sold out).
Thai Bros – our award-winning Thai Restaurant, open 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The Wharf – open noon to midnight with live music.
Z Pizza – open noon to 9 p.m.
Confirmed Christmas Eve & Day Restaurant Closures
Adolfo’s Mexican Food – closed from Dec. 24th through Jan. 2nd
Alessa by Chef Pirozzi
Another Kind Café
Asada Taco + Beer
Avila El Ranchito
Broadway by Amar Santana
Brussels Bistro – closed on 24th, too
(The) Cliff Restaurant
Coyote Grill – closed on 24th, too
Dizz’s As Is – closed on 24th, too
Harley Laguna Beach – closed 24th too
Henessey’s Laguna Beach
Jan’s Health Bar – closed 24th, too
Kitchen in the Canyon
Laguna Thai by the Sea
La Sirena (both locations)
Maro Wood Grill – closed 24th,25th and 26th
Mozambique Steakhouse – closed 24th too
Natraj Indian Cuisine
O Fine Japanese Sushi
Oak Laguna Beach
Pearl St. General Store & Seahorse Lounge
Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill – closed 24th, too
Ruby’s Auto Diner
Salerno by Chef Pirozzi
San Shi Go
Sapphire.Cellar.Craft.Cook – closed 24th, too
Selanne Steak Tavern
Slice Pizza & Beer
South of Nick’s
Sushi Laguna – closed 24th, too
2 Sushi Fusion
The Deck on Laguna Beach
Tippy’s Laguna Beach
Wahoo’s Fish Taco
Wine Gallery – closed 24th, too