Where to Dine Out for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in San Diego

Indulge in a braised short rib with whipped Yukon potatoes and grilled asparagus at Chandler’s.

From festive multi-course dinners to expansive holiday buffets, here are the best places to dine for Christmas in San Diego.

Edited by Eva Scattergood. 

Dec. 24. Feast on a symphony of holiday-inspired flavors over seven courses at Southern California’s only Five-Star/Five Diamond restaurant. Chef William Bradley will create a luxurious experience including chawanmushi with peekytoe crab, ginger and wake, an interpretation of a PB&J sandwich, along with turbot au beurre sel with osetra caviar, celery root agnolotti, and colette de boeuf with potato dauphin and sauce borscht. Call for reservations. 5-8:30 p.m. $275, wine pairings $225 additional. Fairmont Grand Del Mar, 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, Del Mar, 858.314.1900. addisondelmar.com


Blue Bridge Hospitality
Dec. 24. Cross the Coronado bridge and pull up a chair at one of Blue Bridge Hospitality’s concepts open on Christmas Eve. With each restaurant offering their tried-and-true menu classics, impress out-of-towners with an Australian Wagyu Tomahawk at Stake Chophouse & Bar or turn dinner into a fiesta with grilled pork chop “Al Pastor” at the new waterfront el Roy’s Tequila Bar + Kitchen. See website for details for all locations. bluebridgehospitality.com


Dec. 24. Spend the holiday at Cape Rey Carlsbad with a three-course prix-fixe dinner. Begin with a first course of lobster bisque, little gem salad or smoked avocado tartare, followed by your choice of entree including braised short rib, mustard glazed salmon, herb roasted Jidori half chicken and smoked fettuccine alfredo. Finish off the evening with a gingerbread yule log or chocolate peppermint cheesecake. 4-9 p.m. Price based on entree selection, wine pairings $25 additional; $24 children ages 12 and under. 1 Ponto Road, Carlsbad, 760.683.5500. chandlerscarlsbad.com   


The Clubhouse Grill
Dec. 24. Enjoy holiday favorites with a bountiful buffet featuring roasted parsnip and candied chestnut soup, brown butter mashed potatoes, baked ham and an array of delicious desserts. Call for reservations. 4-8 p.m. $68 adults, $30 children ages 4-12. Fairmont Grand Del Mar, 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, Del Mar, 858.314.1996. fairmont.com


Crown Landing
Dec. 24. Executive Chef Chris Aguirre has created a “Feast of the Seven Fishes”-inspired four-course prix-fixe menu showcasing the best seafood from the restaurant’s partners at Catalina Offshore. A limited a la carte menu and kids menu will also be available. 5-10 p.m. $59 adults. Loews Coronado Bay, 4000 Coronado Bay Road, Coronado, 619.424.4000. loewshotels.com  


Dec. 24Adapting an old Italian family tradition with a modern twist, Executive Chef Ronnie Schwandt will be showcasing a menu of seven locally-sourced seafood dishes on Christmas Eve. In honor of the Feast of the Seven Fishes ritual where Italians indulge in pescatarian offerings while “fasting” from red meat until an indulgent Christmas dinner, guests can celebrate in Maretalia’s newly revamped dining space with dishes such as mussel stuffed saffron arancini and baked sea bass with tomato, capers and herbs. 5 p.m.-close. $65 per person (whole table required to order). 1300 Orange Ave., Coronado, 619.522.0946. bluebridgehospitality.com


Mustangs & Burros
Dec. 24. Celebrate Christmas Eve at Estancia’s Baja California-inspired restaurant Mustangs & Burros and enjoy a four-course chef tasting menu with optional wine pairings. 5-9 p.m. $75, wine pairings $25 additional. 9700 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla. meritagecollection.com


Cafe Sevilla
Dec. 24-25. Feel like you are spending Christmas in Spain as you indulge in Cafe Sevilla’s special three-course holiday menu. First course options include roasted butternut squash soup or croquetas de paella, followed by a choice of herb-scented turkey breast, marinated aged flat iron steak or pan-roasted Chinook salmon, ending with Tahitian vanilla bean bread pudding. Enjoy live flamenco guitar music by Oscar Aragon’s Trio from 7-10 p.m. on Christmas Eve and live Gypsy King-style music by Joef from 7-10 p.m. on Christmas Day. See website for hours. $39.50. 353 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter, 619.233.5979. cafesevilla.com


Cohn Restaurant Group
Dec. 24-25. Experience a variety of jolly dining experiences with prix-fixe menus as you indulge in savory entrees like a center cut filet mignon from Island Prime or an herb-crusted Atlantic salmon at Blue Point and enjoy delectable sweets such as the Prado’s Mexican chocolate cake or BO-beau’s crème brûlée. Buffet options include Sea 180º and Coasterra, where diners can fill up on stations sporting fare from chili rubbed prime rib to brown sugar baked ham. See website for menus and details for all locations. cohnrestaurants.com


Grant Grill
Dec. 24-25. Enjoy a festive multi-course dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day complete with dishes including seared ahi tuna, sauteed Chilean sea bass, mangalitsa porchetta and duck cassoulet. Reservations are required. 5:30-10 p.m. $97, wine pairings $43 additional. 326 Broadway, downtown, 619.744.2077. grantgrill.com 


Hornblower Cruises
Dec. 24-25. Climb aboard a Hornblower cruise for a Christmas celebration to remember. You’ll be greeted by holiday carolers on Christmas Eve and by Santa on Christmas Day. Enjoy a traditional holiday buffet along with the beautiful scenery of the San Diego Bay. See website for boarding and cruising times. Brunch $69+ adults, dinner $99+ adults, discounts available for seniors, children and military. Hornblower Landing at Pier 1, 1800 N. Harbor Dr., Embarcadero, 619.686.8715. hornblower.com


Choose from a variety of entrees including butternut squash gnocchi at KITCHEN 1540.

Dec. 24-25. Executive Chef Nathan Lingle will be serving an elegant and inventive three-course Christmas dinner. The meal begins with a choice of winter chicories, Tuscan white bean soup, red snapper crudo or mussels in a smoked tomato broth. Then enjoy a winter warming entree of short rib genovese, butternut squash gnocchi, salmon or seared scallops. Dessert choices include a pine nut tart, dark chocolate pecan pie or vanilla Swiss roll cake. A special three-course children’s menu will also be offered. Christmas Eve 3-9 p.m., Christmas Day 3-7 p.m. $89 adults, $25 children ages 12 and under. L’Auberge Del Mar, 1540 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, 858.793.6460. destinationhotels.com


Dec. 24-25. Whether you’re dreaming of tasty Christmas favorites or feeling thankful for fine and flavorful dishes, Osetra has created holiday three-course and four-course dinner menus with entrees including Chilean sea bass, lobster ravioli, New York strip, cioppino, and Surf & Turf—a filet with three jumbo shrimp in a truffle bordelaise sauce. Enhance your evening with add-on Ossetra caviar and a bottle of Moët & Chandon. 4-11 p.m. Three-course $54, four-course $69. 904 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter, 619.239.1800. osetraseafoodandsteaks.com


Dec. 24-25. Cozy up at Pendry San Diego with two special holiday dinner menus. Christmas Eve menu highlights include herb-crusted pork loin, mushroom gnocchi and eight-ounce prime rib, while the menu on Christmas Day features entrees such as winter risotto, California seafood stew and pecan baked brie. 4 p.m.-close. $80 adults, $25 children ages 3-12. 425 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter, 619.738.7300. pendryhotels.com


Route 29
Dec. 24-25. Sink your fork into a three-course special menu including an appetizer, entree and dessert with selections such as a burrata caprese jar, surf & turf lobster with prime filet, crispy halibut, pan-seared scallops, ratatouille and more. Finish off with your choice of limoncello cake or chocolate mousse. 4-10:30 p.m. Price based on entree selection. 644 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter, 619.235.8144. route29restaurant.com


Dec. 24-25. Enjoy a four-course tasting menu crafted by Chef de Cuisine Richard Powers at Park Hyatt Aviara. Begin with a lobster and octopus terrine, followed by braised short rib agnolotti and wood-fire roasted pheasant, finishing with a dark chocolate mousse complete with hazelnut ganache and vanilla shortbread. 5-9:30 p.m. $80. 7100 Aviara Resort Dr., Carlsbad, 760.603.3773. hyatt.com


Dec. 24-25. Celebrate the holiday oceanfront with special menu items including Christmas roast prepared with horseradish cream, homemade gravy, herb-roasted marble potatoes and glazed carrots, and a crescent roll served with glazed yams or try the vegetarian option, Everything But the Turkey Bowl, packed with chipotle black beans, roasted broccoli, roasted corn, cheddar mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce and a crescent roll. Finish on a sweet note on Christmas Eve with their Yule Log with rich chocolate cake, vanilla cream cheese frosting, toasted meringue, crushed peppermints, chocolate glaze, Nutella snow and hazelnut ice cream. Christmas Eve 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Christmas Day 11 a.m.-9 p.m. 4325 Ocean Blvd., Pacific Beach, 858.888.4343. waterbarsd.com


The Westgate Hotel
Dec. 24-25. Executive Chef Fabrice Hardel will prepare a four-course prix-fixe menu available in the elegant Westgate Room on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If your friends and family prefer a buffet, gather in Le Fountainebleau Room on Christmas Day for a wide variety of options with everything from seafood to caviar to a chocolate fountain. See website for hours. Prix-fixe $69; buffet $89 adults, $40 children ages 4-12, free children ages 3 and under. 1055 Second Ave., downtown, 619.238.1818. westgatehotel.com


Dec. 25. The recently revamped restaurant will serve a decadent three-course Christmas Day dinner featuring elevated holiday classics. Guests will begin with a choice between a Fuyu persimmon and basil compressed strawberry salad with apple ginger vinaigrette or a smoked sunchoke and garlic soup with crisp pancetta and leeks. Entree highlights include Cape Grim beef tenderloin with celeriac gratin, porcini jus, pan-roasted duck breast and duck leg confit with gooseberry chutney and beet risotto, and Baja striped bass with tarragon chervil pistou, followed by sachertorte or chocolate mousse for dessert. 2-8 p.m. $75. Westin Carlsbad, 5480 Grand Pacific Dr., Carlsbad, 760.827.2500. 20twentygrill.com


The Abbey on Fifth Avenue
Dec. 25. Experience a spectacular holiday buffet complete with all the holiday trimmings at the Abbey. Enjoy an elaborate seasonal brunch buffet, decadent desserts, holiday carolers and background holiday music. Reservations required. 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. $59 adults, discounts available for seniors, children and military. 2825 Fifth Ave., Bankers Hill, 619.686.8715. hornblower.com


Dec. 25. A festive three-course menu will delight the entire family with seasonal creations such as parsnip soup, potato gnocchi, braised short ribs and a dessert trio. Call for reservations. Noon-9 p.m. $115 adults, $30 children ages 4-12. Fairmont Grand Del Mar, 5300 Grand Del Mar Court, Del Mar, 858.314.1996. fairmont.com


Get into the Christmas spirit at Rancho Bernardo Inn.

Rancho Bernardo Inn
Dec. 25. Find an expansive holiday brunch buffet accompanied by live music with offerings including breakfast, carving and hot items, a salad bar, seafood and plenty of desserts. There will also be a special buffet just for children, along with a petting zoo and pony rides. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. $89 adults, $40 children. Aragon Ballroom, 17550 Bernardo Oaks Dr., Rancho Bernardo. ranchobernardoinn.com  


Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa
Dec. 25. Enjoy an all-encompassing buffet this Christmas with all the fixings including slow poached Baja white prawns, wild mushroom risotto, Brandt beef prime rib, braised lamb, a variety of traditional sides, delectable desserts and more. Call for reservations. 1-5:30 p.m. $130 adults, $55 children ages 3-11, free children under 3. 5921 Valencia Circle, Rancho Santa Fe, 858.759.6246. ranchovalencia.com


Rustic Root
Dec. 25. Executive Chef Marcel Childress will offer a three-course holiday prix-fixe menu with highlights including porcini mushroom soup with truffle creme; boudin blanc with celery root and apple puree, braised red cabbage and chicken jus; herb-roasted venison loin with celery root puree and chanterelle mushroom sauce; stuffed roasted acorn squash with quinoa, snap pea, kale, harissa, squash, date puree and toasted almond; and sweet bites including a yuletide chocolate log, bananas foster creme brulee and fig”gy” pudding. $55. 535 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter, 619.232.1747. rusticroot.com


Seaview Restaurant
Dec. 25. In true California style, dine seaside at Manchester Grand Hyatt’s Seaview Restaurant. Delight in festive selections like acorn squash soup to start, king crab legs served with cocktail sauce, honey mustard glazed ham and spiced winter ale braised short ribs. Cap off the meal with sweet dessert options including mini eggnog cheesecake, or head over to the mini donut station. Call for reservations. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. $74 adults, $34 children ages 5-12, free children ages 4 and under. 1 Market Place, downtown, 619.358.6735. hyatt.com  


Be sure to save room for dessert at The Shores Christmas Day buffet.

The Shores Restaurant
Dec. 25. Gather your family and friends for good tidings and cheer with a gourmet Christmas Day buffet. Treat everyone to a feast fit for a king, complete with appetizers and side dishes like stone crab salad and ginger butternut squash soup. Savor main courses including Shores seafood paella and brown sugar glazed bone-in Kruse Ham. Indulge in something sweet from the dessert table with gingerbread bread pudding, hazelnut yule log, Meyer lemon cheesecake and holiday cookies. 10 a.m.-7 p.m. $64 adults, $38 children ages 6-10, $5 per year for children 5 and under. La Jolla Shores Hotel, 8110 Camino Del Oro, La Jolla, 866.644.2630. theshoresrestaurant.com


Chandler’s photo courtesy Raluca State. KITCHEN 1540 photo courtesy Marguarite Clark Public Relations. Rancho Bernardo Inn photo courtesy J Public Relations. The Shores Restaurant photo courtesy c3 Communications.


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