Dining out for Christmas isn’t for everyone, but for some, it’s part of the tradition — particularly in New Orleans, where restaurants are like family. At this second-most festive time of the year (yes, Carnival season is first), a number of top local kitchens are preparing a special meal for New Orleanians wise enough to trust the professionals. Many of these options offer their regular everyday menu a la carte as well, so no pressure to commit to the prix-fixe. Just remember: whatever you eat it’s still Christmas, so don’t skimp on the tip.
Here’s a guide to some of the area’s best dining options for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Where to dine on Christmas Eve
2514 Bayou Road
Perhaps one of the most special restaurant Christmas Eve meals this year is at the stunning location of Addis NOLA, a Christmas Across the Continent dinner. The menu showcases specialties from various African countries, dishes like Nigerian Egusi soup (meat, seafood, kale, scotch bonnet pepper, and ground melon seeds); chicken Muamba, the national dish of Angola featuring peri-peri and peanut butter; and shrimp kitfo. Call to reserve or book online.
417 Royal Street
Brennan’s offers one of the best traditional options for Christmas Eve dinner this year, an $85, three-course holiday menu offering dishes like cavatelli with duck confit, wild mushroom ragu, and winter squash and pomegranate-braised short rib with Brussels sprouts, turnip purée, and Marcona almonds. Reserve here.
3127 Esplanade Avenue
The welcoming Cafe Degas makes for a lovely Christmas Eve setting, a New Orleans classic lit up by Christmas lights all year round. Snag a seat on the patio for the affordable five-course Reveillon menu, priced at $50 per person with an optional wine pairing for just $23 and including roasted duck breast, the restaurant’s famed frog legs, and a dessert of spice-poached pear Belle Hélène. Since Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday this year, it’s also open for brunch.
320 S. Broad Street
Marjie’s, home of the famous annual Eight Nights of Latkes, is throwing a special Christmas Eve bash in honor of Hanukkah overlapping with Christmas —a “Christmas with the Jews” dinner. The kitchen will be slow-smoking whole Backwater Farms ducks and serving them with scallion latkes and other themed goodies. Reserve here.
Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, 2 Canal Street
Big news: Both restaurants in the year-old Four Seasons are open and serving dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Miss River, Alon Shaya’s extravagant flagship restaurant on the ground floor of the towering hotel, is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 10 p.m. both days, serving its regular, special occasion-worthy menu. Reserve here.
4501 Tchoupitoulas Street
The always-surprising Mister Mao is a spirited option for Christmas Eve, where chef Sophina Uong’s regular menu is supplemented with Chinese-inspired dishes like whole roasted fish; grilled bok choy with Chinese black bean and Sichuan chili sauce; and chaufa de camarones — shrimp with Chinese-Peruvian fried rice. Specialty Christmas from Bill Greenwell’s bar program include the Mistle-Toe-Up with gin, blackberry shrub, vermouth, rosemary, and lime, and a Coquito made with rum, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut cream, and eggs. Reserve here.
Where to dine on Christmas Day
Chemin à la Mer
Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, 2 Canal Street
Donald Link’s restaurant Chemin à la Mer, French for “pathway to the sea,” offers dramatic front-row views of the Mississippi River from its perch on the fifth floor of the 34-story Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, a special setting for a holiday meal. On Christmas Day, Chemin will offer a traditional prime rib special in addition to the regular menu. It’s open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Reserve here.
550 Baronne Street
Try the latest from longtime local chef Alex Harrell at Commons Club for brunch or dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This year, the restaurant in the Virgin Hotels New Orleans offers special holiday dishes, in addition to its a la carte menu, including roasted acorn squash with local tofu, quinoa, dates, and arugula pesto; confit duck leg with black garlic, roasted cauliflower, and pomegranate; and scallops with smoked grapes, celery root puree, and caramelized carrot and root vegetables. For dessert, the black cardamom rice pudding with sour cherries is a special ending indeed. Reserve here.
535 Tchoupitoulas Street
Celebrate Christmas with a midday meal (noon to 4 p.m.) at Nina Compton’s flagship restaurant downtown, priced at $85 per person. Enjoy the likes of family-style jerk pork with sides like collards greens, black eye peas, and sweet potato gratin, finished with milk punk panna cotta. Reserve here.
The Elysian Bar
2317 Burgundy Street
The Elysian Bar, the part-French, part-Southern outpost in the Hotel Peter & Paul, will be open to serve guests and Marigny neighbors who wander into the cozy space, which feels exactly like a church of the cool bar. The regular menu is served from noon to 8 p.m. on Christmas, and from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Reserve here.
The Grill Room
Windsor Court Hotel, 300 Gravier Street
This elegant Windsor Court restaurant takes a break from its Réveillon menu to offer special menus on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The four-course menu for lunch or dinner ( $150 per person) is anything but typically — whipped foie gras with poached pear; shaved apple, carrot, and fennel salad; halibut with forbidden rice tabouleh and caviar yuzu cream; and lamb rack with carrot curry and red lentils. Choose from a dark chocolate mint tart or a an elaborate bûche de Noël with hazelnut jaconde and caramel coffee mouse. Add $100 for a very fancy wine pairing. Call to reserve.
Pontchartrain Hotel, 2031 St. Charles Avenue
Open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and serving guests of the Pontchartrain Hotel and everybody else, Jack Rose features chef Brian Landry’s focus on seasonal and Cajun flavors. The four-course prix-fixe menu ($71 to $90, depending on main course) served both days offers options like crab cannelloni, spiced root vegetable latkes, Kabocha squash casarecce, and spiced duck breast. Look forward to dessert with options like the restaurant’s famed Mile High Pie or a goat cheesecake. Reserve here.
130 Roosevelt Way
The annual Christmas Day brunch at the Roosevelt is back, featuring herb-roasted turkey breast, spice-rubbed prime rib, and Chardonnay-poached shrimp and scallops. This kid-friendly brunch is priced at $129 for adults, $49 for kids, and complimentary for kids under two. Reserve here.
429 Decatur Street
On Christmas Day, a $67 menu (served 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.) at Tujague’s is classic holiday, starting with oyster eggplant soup followed by roasted beet salad and either roasted maple leaf duck leg, pan-seared pork tournedos, Gulf fish Almandine, or grilled petite filet mignon. Dessert is sweet potato bread pudding. Tujague’s is always fun at Christmastime, a tradition dating back centuries that continues in its new location. An entirely different menu, just as enticing, is available on Christmas Eve night for $64. Reserve here.
If we’re missing a great spot open on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, let us know. For a guide to the best Réveillon dinner this month,