10 Last Minute Ideas for Celebratory Holiday Dinners

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The holiday cheer at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel
The holiday cheer at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins Hotel

Merry Christmas Eve Eve and Happy Hanukkah Eve! This weekend, the biggest seasonal traditions of the year are taking place. If you’ve decided to lay low and spend the holidays in San Francisco, but have procrastinated on the menu planning and wine shopping, you’ve come to the right place. Why not let the professionals prepare your celebratory meal? Here are 10 restaurants that are going all out for Christmas and Hanukkah with elaborate dishes and indulgent desserts.

With the entire city glittering in the background, the Top of the Mark at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins (which just turned 90!) is a sensational place to enjoy Christmas dinner. A wide variety of classics dishes, including seared beef tenderloin with melted onions, whole suckling pig with apple brandy, lobster bisque, and mint marinated lamb loin with braised fennel, are on the menu. Two live pianists will serenade diners with traditional holiday tunes.

Fried rice at Dosa
Fried rice at Dosa

Indulge in an Indo-Chinese feast at Dosa. Over a hundred years ago, a small group of Chinese moved across the border to Calcutta in Bengal, India. They established a local Chinatown called Tangra and developed an incredibly popular style of cuisine known as Indo-Chinese. On Christmas Eve, Dosa is serving up a special menu of this unique culinary fare. Some featured dishes are spicy Szechwan prawns, crispy lamb show men, fried rice, and gobi Manchurian—sweet and spicy fried cauliflower with chile, garlic, and soy.

The Grill at St. Regis is a luxe new restaurant concept from chef Franck Desplechin. Although the name sounds casual, the ambiance and food is elegant, upscale, and delicious. For Christmas dinner, guests will devour a four-course prix fixe menu of grilled Carmel persimmons and little gem salad, roasted Maine lobster, and Snake River Farm ribeye of beef. For dessert? A traditional chocolate yule log with raspberries and Valhrona chocolate.

A Copita tamale
A Copita tamale

For many Latin families, the holidays are a time to make and consume tamales. Experience this ritual at Copita, Joanne Weir’s tequileria in Sausalito. From now until December 31st, Weir’s team is offering an outstanding tamale menu. Order one or all four of the scrumptious flavors: chicken and salsa verde with cream, queso fresco, and cilantro;  cochinita pibil with black beans, hija santa, pickled habanero and onion; poblano rajas and panela; and butternut squash and ginger with cranberry foam. Note that the tamales are available for takeout, so if you want to have a Mexican-themed holiday feast at home, you can do so. Olé!

For Italian-Americans, Christmas Eve often involves a feast of the seven fishes. Learn more about this seafood extravaganza at both locations of A16. The menu will highlight the seasonal bounty that thrives in the cold waters of the Pacific. Think fresh sea urchin, baccala, calamari, and Dungeness crab. Shelly Lindgren’s wine pairings are an optional highlight to the dinner.

A decadent chocolate treat at Dry Creek Kitchen
A decadent chocolate treat at Dry Creek Kitchen

At MKT, the restaurant at the Four Seasons, the same four course prix-fixe menu is being served on Christmas Eve and Christmas. The choose-your-own adventure meal sounds sensational! Delectable options include root vegetable salad with ahi belly conserva, blood orange, and sesame seed dressing; charred octopus risotto with broccoli rabe, Cowgirl Creamery’s wagon wheel cheese and cranberry; egg spaghetti with mushroom broth, cured egg yolk, and black truffle; and chocolate gateau with espresso-toffee ice cream.

Head to Healdsburg for Christmas Eve—Dry Creek Kitchen is offering a delicious-sounding four course feast from chef Scott Romano. The evening begins with caramelized diver scallops and continues with kabocha squash tortellini with foie gras and truffled venison loin. Wine pairings from wine director Rolando Maldonado are optional, but highly recommended. The next night head to h2hotel’s Spoonbar for another four-course tasting menu, this time from chefs Casey and Patrick Van Voorhis. On the menu? Foie gras pasta with marsala cream and truffles, beef short ribs that have been slow cooked for 48 hours, and modern variations of cherries jubilee and bananas foster.

Jewish bread from Wise Sons Deli
Jewish bread from Wise Sons Deli

Celebrate Hanukkah at Fiorella on Clement Street. Chef Dante Cecchini is whipping up inspired Jewish-Italian dishes like fried sardines with kumquats and almonds or crispy winter squash with mint, pecorino, and braised artichoke. Cheers to the Festival of Lights that begins tomorrow on December 24!

Hosting a Hanukkah feast at home, but don’t want to worry about frying up thousands of latkes? Let Wise Sons Deli do the dirty work for you. They are offering an extensive Hanukkah menu that will be delivered to your door. Choose from the aforementioned latkes, carrots tzimmis, brisket, kugel, matzo ball soup, and apricot-braised chicken. But that’s not all: there is also house-baked braided challah, smoked salmon and cold cut platters, sufganiyot, babka, macaroons, and rugelach.

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