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Key West Christmas Eve spread at Herb & Sea.
Key West Christmas Eve spread at Herb & Sea.
Kimberly Motos

Where to Dine In or Get Takeout for Christmas and Christmas Eve in San Diego

Toast the holidays with a festive cocktail and splendid dishes

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Key West Christmas Eve spread at Herb & Sea.
| Kimberly Motos

Festive dining is back with traditional meals and delightful takes on holiday feasts with modern twists. Adding to the merriment are carolers, Santa appearances, and cookie decorating. Fantastic restaurants all over San Diego are here to host guests for sumptuous dinners or provide provisions for wonderful take-home feasts with easy-to-follow instructions. Here are dozens of dining options to consider.

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allmine

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This friendly Oceanside spot pairs excellent pizza and pasta with natural wine on a regular basis but for the entire holiday season, it’s offering a special take-home menu that includes party-sized lasagna bolognese, duck a l’Orange, harvest stuffing, and fresh-baked baguettes. For dessert, treat your guests to a fall cobbler filled with apples, plums, cranberries and squash. Allmine will also be open for dine-in service on Christmas Day.

Pizza and wine.
Pizza and wine.
Allmine

The Oceanside restaurant is celebrating with Christmas Eve Karaage Night, a Japanese holiday tradition. With six courses of fried chicken, featuring versions with ingredients like caviar, miso, and jalapeno, the inventive menu will topped off with strawberry shortcake. 

Holiday cocktail at Matsu.
Holiday cocktail at Matsu.
Kimberly Motos

The Plot

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For a vegan alternative to the holidays, the Plot in Oceanside is offering tasty options like wild rice and lentil roast, gluten-free cornbread stuffing, and braised Southern-style garden greens with ingredients from their garden space. Pre-order by December 22 for Christmas Eve pickup. The cost is $40 per person. 

Holiday dishes
Holiday dishes to go.
The Plot

20|Twenty

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Open for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the Carlsbad restaurant is offering prix fixe dinners between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. The three-course meal include choices like lobster bisque, barramundi, and prime rib. Adults are $125 per person and children are $75.

Holiday dish.
Holiday dish.
20|Twenty

Herb & Sea

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In Encinitas, you’ll find a Key West Christmas Eve with a four-course festive meal, including options like crab claws, tropical fruit salad, and pineapple-glazed ham, along with shared sides like Hawaiian rolls. Priced at $89 per adult and $38 per child, Hawaiian shirts are encouraged. 

Key West Christmas Eve meal at Herb & Sea.
Key West Christmas Eve meal at Herb & Sea.
Kimberly Motos

Temaki Bar Sushi

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Chef JoJo Ruiz is adding a twist to the holidays with his Merry Maki menu, showcasing sushi rolls. The Bad Santa Handy is composed of yellowfin tuna and scallops, and the Krampus with tempura shrimp and green apple pop rocks. They’re also hosting a holiday menu with three hand rolls and two drinks for $20, ideal for large get-togethers. Menus are available throughout December.

Rancho Bernardo Inn

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Throughout December, the North County resort will host a life-size gingerbread house experience, Santa champagne brunches, and 12 Days of Christmas Cocktails. Avant will be open for four-course dinners, featuring wagyu strip loin or Alaskan halibut, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. A Christmas Day buffet with live entertainment will take place in the ballroom.

Holiday cocktail.
Holiday cocktail featured in the !2 Days of Cocktails.
AVANT

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

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The Rancho Santa Fe enclave is going all out with horse-drawn carriage rides, cookie decorating, and live music. The restaurant is laying out a luxurious buffet on Christmas Day with an expansive seafood station and traditional carving tables, as well as a kid-friendly buffet. Cost is $195 per adult, $55 for kids (ages 4 to 11), and free for tots (ages 3 and under). If you must host at home, their Christmas-to-go option is customizable.

Festive cocktails
Festive cocktails.
Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

Fairmont Grand Del Mar

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The luxury resort transforms into a winter wonderland with holiday teas, ice skating, and dining options at the Amaya restaurant. Guests can choose to dine on four-course feasts, Nutcracker holiday teas, or a Christmas Day buffet in the Manchester Salon.

George's at the Cove

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Celebrate the winter feast with views overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The four-course prix fixe dinner, priced at $110 per person, features eye of ribeye, striped bass, and apple pie snickerdoodle. Lunch service will also be available from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Christmas Day. 

Dining space with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Dining space with floor-to-ceiling windows.
George’s at the Cove

NINE-TEN Restaurant & Bar

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The La Jolla gem is offering a Christmas Eve three-course dinner for $105 between 5 and 9 p.m. The festive dinner includes amuse bouche and mini desserts and reservations are required. While the dining room will be closed for dinner on Christmas Day, a la carte brunch items, such as scones and French toast, will be available from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Paradisaea

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This Bird Rock restaurant will open its doors on Christmas Eve between 4 and 8 p.m. for a three-course dinner. Options include burrata with pears, prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, and sticky toffee pudding. Cost is $95 for adults and $45 for children.

Ribeye entree at Paradisea.
Ribeye entree at Paradisea.
John Dole

Kanpai BBQ & Shabu

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The all-you-can-eat shabu and barbecue spot on Convoy Street will be running holiday specials from December 25 to 29. The Joyful Group Feast gifts one free meal for parties of six or more while Santa’s Early Bird Special, running from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., prices the meal at $34.99, discounted from the regular price of $39.95.

All-you-can-eat barbecue and shabu.
All-you-can-eat barbecue and shabu.
Kanpai BBQ & Shabu

The Fishery

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The Pacific Beach restaurant is hosting its annual Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, this time helmed by chef Jon Bautista. Seven creatures of the sea will be showcased with a chilled seafood appetizer, pasta dish, seafood entree, and dessert, for $75 per person along with an optional wine pairing. Their regular dinner menu will also be available.

Salt Springs mussels in a green curry with Chino Farms basil and cilantro
Salt Springs mussels in a green curry with Chino Farms basil and cilantro.
The Fishery

Oceana Coastal Kitchen

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The waterfront restaurant at Catamaran Resort Hotel will be hosting a Christmas Day Champagne Brunch. Cost is $110 for adults and $55 for kids (ages 5-12), and free for under-fives. Traditional and Polynesian carolers, cookie decorating, and Santa appearance will enhance the festivities. For an $45 add-on, board the Jingle Belle Cruise for a jaunt around Mission Bay with carolers, balloon artists, and hot cocoa.

Morena Provisions

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Operated by Urban Kitchen Group (Cucina Urbana, Gold Finch), this dynamic space is a dine-in cafe, takeout hub, and wine shop offering all the elements for the ultimate at-home feast. Christmas menu options include seven-layer salmon dip and beef Wellington with roasted shallot jus as well as seasonal desserts such as buche de noel and a collection of Santa’s cookies. Orders must be placed online for pickup and delivery on Sunday, December 24.

Assorted Christmas cookies.
Assorted Christmas cookies.
Morena Provisions

Located at the Town and Country Hotel in Mission Valley, the restaurant is hosting a Christmas Eve dinner for $80 per person with options like chestnut stuffed chicken and their signature s’mores cheesecake. There’ll be live music as a backdrop to the Christmas Day buffet, priced at $85 for adults, $35 for kids (6-12 years old), and kids under five are free. Tillamook Bay oysters, prime rib, and Ovaltine budino are a few of the buffet choices. 

Dishes and drinks.
Dishes and drinks.
ARLO

Fort Oak

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Fort Oak, usually open for dinner only, throws its doors open for the holiday lunch tradition with favorite dishes paired with holiday cocktails. There will be six daytime holiday lunches available for booking between December 14 through 23. 

Holiday decor in the dining area.
Holiday decor in the dining area.
Fort Oak

Truffle San Diego

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If you like truffles, the University Avenue specialist will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day for two-course meals for $36 per person. Choose from truffle filet mignon or truffle paccheri, ending with a traditional panettone. They also have take-home Christmas packages for $60 for two people or $100 for four people.

Barrio Star

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Christmas tamales are spotlighted at the modern Mexican soul food restaurant in Bankers Hill. Try the tamal de maiz, the vegetarian sweet corn classic, or the tamal de carnitas; both pair nicely with the blood orange margaritas.

Tamale de pollo.
Tamale de pollo.
Barrio Star

Garibaldi

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For the first time, this waterfront restaurant is celebrating with a Feast of the Seven Fishes buffet dinner on Christmas Eve. The Italian seafood dinner will feature tuna tartare with caviar, shellfish minestrone, swordfish, and a dessert bar with panna cotta. Every pair of guests will take gifts of housemade pasta as well as a bottle of “Samas” wine from a Sardinian winemaker. The cost is $105 per person.

Seafood plate at Garibaldi.
Seafood plate at Garibaldi.
Victoria Perez Photo

Indulge in an Asian-inspired twist on Christmas Eve dinner in the gorgeous downtown dining room. Chef Tara Monsod’s menu features dishes like chicken congee, filet, and chocolate cremeux with miso sesame foam. The cost is $110 per adult and $42 per child.

Hoiiday feast
Hoiiday feast at Animae.
James Tran

Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine

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Only on Christmas Day, the Gaslamp restaurant features a holiday large cast iron dinner with duck a l’Orange, moo shu wraps, duck fried rice, and pickled vegetables. The restaurant, anchoring the Pendry Hotel, also offers other seafood items like fish entrees and sushi rolls.

Dining area
Dining area at the Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine.
Christian Horan

Water Grill San Diego

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Check out the Gaslamp restaurant for a seafood-focused Christmas Eve dinner. Highlights include first-of-season California spiny lobster, iced shellfish platters, and wild Ross Sea Chilean sea bass. 

Chilean sea bass.
Chilean sea bass.
Water Grill

Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina

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With views of the San Diego Bay, the Marina Kitchen will host a prix fixe Christmas Eve dinner with Kurobuta ham or dry-aged prime steaks, along with eggnog gelato. The cost is $70 per person.

Loews Coronado Bay Resort

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From noon to 9 p.m., the Christmas buffet will feature steak, seafood, and a pho noodle buffet. The resort will also have other festive offerings like movies with cocoa and warm cookies and the Silent Night Duffy Cruise light-seeing experience in Loew’s Marina. 

Dining room.
Dining room.
Loews Coronado Bay Resort

allmine

This friendly Oceanside spot pairs excellent pizza and pasta with natural wine on a regular basis but for the entire holiday season, it’s offering a special take-home menu that includes party-sized lasagna bolognese, duck a l’Orange, harvest stuffing, and fresh-baked baguettes. For dessert, treat your guests to a fall cobbler filled with apples, plums, cranberries and squash. Allmine will also be open for dine-in service on Christmas Day.

Pizza and wine.
Pizza and wine.
Allmine

Matsu

The Oceanside restaurant is celebrating with Christmas Eve Karaage Night, a Japanese holiday tradition. With six courses of fried chicken, featuring versions with ingredients like caviar, miso, and jalapeno, the inventive menu will topped off with strawberry shortcake. 

Holiday cocktail at Matsu.
Holiday cocktail at Matsu.
Kimberly Motos

The Plot

For a vegan alternative to the holidays, the Plot in Oceanside is offering tasty options like wild rice and lentil roast, gluten-free cornbread stuffing, and braised Southern-style garden greens with ingredients from their garden space. Pre-order by December 22 for Christmas Eve pickup. The cost is $40 per person. 

Holiday dishes
Holiday dishes to go.
The Plot

20|Twenty

Open for both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the Carlsbad restaurant is offering prix fixe dinners between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. The three-course meal include choices like lobster bisque, barramundi, and prime rib. Adults are $125 per person and children are $75.

Holiday dish.
Holiday dish.
20|Twenty

Herb & Sea

In Encinitas, you’ll find a Key West Christmas Eve with a four-course festive meal, including options like crab claws, tropical fruit salad, and pineapple-glazed ham, along with shared sides like Hawaiian rolls. Priced at $89 per adult and $38 per child, Hawaiian shirts are encouraged. 

Key West Christmas Eve meal at Herb & Sea.
Key West Christmas Eve meal at Herb & Sea.
Kimberly Motos

Temaki Bar Sushi

Chef JoJo Ruiz is adding a twist to the holidays with his Merry Maki menu, showcasing sushi rolls. The Bad Santa Handy is composed of yellowfin tuna and scallops, and the Krampus with tempura shrimp and green apple pop rocks. They’re also hosting a holiday menu with three hand rolls and two drinks for $20, ideal for large get-togethers. Menus are available throughout December.

Rancho Bernardo Inn

Throughout December, the North County resort will host a life-size gingerbread house experience, Santa champagne brunches, and 12 Days of Christmas Cocktails. Avant will be open for four-course dinners, featuring wagyu strip loin or Alaskan halibut, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. A Christmas Day buffet with live entertainment will take place in the ballroom.

Holiday cocktail.
Holiday cocktail featured in the !2 Days of Cocktails.
AVANT

Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

The Rancho Santa Fe enclave is going all out with horse-drawn carriage rides, cookie decorating, and live music. The restaurant is laying out a luxurious buffet on Christmas Day with an expansive seafood station and traditional carving tables, as well as a kid-friendly buffet. Cost is $195 per adult, $55 for kids (ages 4 to 11), and free for tots (ages 3 and under). If you must host at home, their Christmas-to-go option is customizable.

Festive cocktails
Festive cocktails.
Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa

Fairmont Grand Del Mar

The luxury resort transforms into a winter wonderland with holiday teas, ice skating, and dining options at the Amaya restaurant. Guests can choose to dine on four-course feasts, Nutcracker holiday teas, or a Christmas Day buffet in the Manchester Salon.

George's at the Cove

Celebrate the winter feast with views overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The four-course prix fixe dinner, priced at $110 per person, features eye of ribeye, striped bass, and apple pie snickerdoodle. Lunch service will also be available from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Christmas Day. 

Dining space with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Dining space with floor-to-ceiling windows.
George’s at the Cove

NINE-TEN Restaurant & Bar

The La Jolla gem is offering a Christmas Eve three-course dinner for $105 between 5 and 9 p.m. The festive dinner includes amuse bouche and mini desserts and reservations are required. While the dining room will be closed for dinner on Christmas Day, a la carte brunch items, such as scones and French toast, will be available from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Paradisaea

This Bird Rock restaurant will open its doors on Christmas Eve between 4 and 8 p.m. for a three-course dinner. Options include burrata with pears, prime rib with Yorkshire pudding, and sticky toffee pudding. Cost is $95 for adults and $45 for children.

Ribeye entree at Paradisea.
Ribeye entree at Paradisea.
John Dole

Kanpai BBQ & Shabu

The all-you-can-eat shabu and barbecue spot on Convoy Street will be running holiday specials from December 25 to 29. The Joyful Group Feast gifts one free meal for parties of six or more while Santa’s Early Bird Special, running from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., prices the meal at $34.99, discounted from the regular price of $39.95.

All-you-can-eat barbecue and shabu.
All-you-can-eat barbecue and shabu.
Kanpai BBQ & Shabu

The Fishery

The Pacific Beach restaurant is hosting its annual Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, this time helmed by chef Jon Bautista. Seven creatures of the sea will be showcased with a chilled seafood appetizer, pasta dish, seafood entree, and dessert, for $75 per person along with an optional wine pairing. Their regular dinner menu will also be available.

Salt Springs mussels in a green curry with Chino Farms basil and cilantro
Salt Springs mussels in a green curry with Chino Farms basil and cilantro.
The Fishery

Oceana Coastal Kitchen

The waterfront restaurant at Catamaran Resort Hotel will be hosting a Christmas Day Champagne Brunch. Cost is $110 for adults and $55 for kids (ages 5-12), and free for under-fives. Traditional and Polynesian carolers, cookie decorating, and Santa appearance will enhance the festivities. For an $45 add-on, board the Jingle Belle Cruise for a jaunt around Mission Bay with carolers, balloon artists, and hot cocoa.

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Morena Provisions

Operated by Urban Kitchen Group (Cucina Urbana, Gold Finch), this dynamic space is a dine-in cafe, takeout hub, and wine shop offering all the elements for the ultimate at-home feast. Christmas menu options include seven-layer salmon dip and beef Wellington with roasted shallot jus as well as seasonal desserts such as buche de noel and a collection of Santa’s cookies. Orders must be placed online for pickup and delivery on Sunday, December 24.

Assorted Christmas cookies.
Assorted Christmas cookies.
Morena Provisions

Arlo

Located at the Town and Country Hotel in Mission Valley, the restaurant is hosting a Christmas Eve dinner for $80 per person with options like chestnut stuffed chicken and their signature s’mores cheesecake. There’ll be live music as a backdrop to the Christmas Day buffet, priced at $85 for adults, $35 for kids (6-12 years old), and kids under five are free. Tillamook Bay oysters, prime rib, and Ovaltine budino are a few of the buffet choices.