Picture this: It's Christmas morning, you're swimming in pools of gifts (or maybe ponds, considering our current economic crisis), and the entire family's itching to get out of the house. Or maybe you're the lone Jew in a sea of candy-cane suckers, always at a loss for "joy" on this supposed "holy day." If cooking whatever you've got in the cabinet or warming those questionable leftovers just doesn't sound appealing, we've got news: There are more than a handful of restaurants open on Christmas (and Christmas Eve). And no matter what your views on the holiday, make sure to tip your server with something more than good cheer.
Roast more than chestnuts at 33 Club
Celebrate Christmas the Jerry Kleiner way at this new Old Town restaurant, which will be open from 2-8 p.m. on the 25th (and all day, 11 a.m.-10 p.m., on Christmas Eve). Several $12 seasonal cocktails will be available, including the Old Town Fashioned (cherry-infused Bookers, "drunk" cherries, fresh ginger orange, ginger ale) and Star Struck (Prosecco, St. Germain, blood orange bitters, sugar). There will also be a special holiday menu, featuring roasted chestnut soup, roasted prime rib, sauteed dover sole meuniere, roasted amish chicken and choice of pumpkin or pecan pie ($33-$53, depending on entree selection).
Spread it on at Lockwood
After you open presents, head to the Palmer House Hilton, where executive chef Phillip Foss offers a lavish buffet from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. ($55 adults, $25 for kids under 12) including roasted prime rib, maple honey molasses roasted turkey with pistachio and chestnut stuffing, mustard glazed country ham, lobster ravioli, pan-roasted salmon and much more.
Meet new friends at O'Donovan's
Christmas night should be full of delights at this North Center favorite, which will be serving a la carte dishes from 6-11 p.m. If you don't want to eat your tangerine and pomegranate salad and lamb chops alone, the restaurant opens its communal table to everyone for one night only. Toast your new friendships with $13 24-ounce cocktails, $4 Honker's Ale and $6.50 Matilda drafts 'til 2 a.m.
Have a family-friendly feast at Birch River Grill
Take on a three-course menu anytime from noon-10 p.m. on Christmas Day for just $29.95; selections include Yukon Gold potato and charred leek chowder, choice of Creole mustard-glazed salmon, roast turkey or roast prime rib, and a triple chocolate mousse for dessert. Picky kids get a three-course meal of their own ($12.95 for kids 5-12, free for those under five) featuring tortilla chips with cheese sauce, turkey with mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans, and an ice cream sundae.
Do what the name says at Dine
From 3-9 p.m., you can enjoy a $46 four-course menu at this West Loop restaurant, including roasted butternut bisque, choice of salads, herb-roasted turkey or pan-seared New York Strip steak, plus bread pudding and banana brulee for dessert.
Go for three at Glen Prairie
You'll find a special prix-fixe menu at this Glen Ellyn favorite all day long, including roasted winter squash and chestnut soup, prime rib and Red Velvet cake ($30 for adults, $14 for kids 12 and under). The regular menu will also be available.
Eat like an Emperor at Karma
It's the holidays, so indulge! Among the Pan-Asian restaurant's special Christmas offerings are Black Dragon Soup, fresh crab and avocado salad, hoisin and plum-glazed rack of lamb and the Emperor's Meal, featuring wok-seared scallops, shrim, salmon and striped bass with Forbidden rice and rainbow straw vegetables. The regular menu will also be available.
Scope out the view at Italiasia
Take the elevator up to this 15th-floor Holiday Inn restaurant from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Christmas Day for a big buffet ($17.95 adults, $10.95 for kids 12 and under) featuring roasted chicken breast with pinot noir sauce, roasted prime rib, crab salad and much more.
Rock on at Lottie's Pub
Who says the party's over after you open presents? Not this venerable Bucktown bar, which will be giving away a brand-new Fender guitar at its annual Rock and Roll Christmas Party. The bash, beginning at 6 p.m., features several special $7 warm cocktails (including the Rumplestillsken, Rumple Minze and hot chocolate topped with whipped cream), dancing and a visit from Santa.
Celebrate like the Swedes at Anne Sather
Stop by Ann Sather's Andersonville location (7 a.m.-5 p.m.) to enjoy the regular breakfast menu (cinnamon rolls!) as well as a special holiday dinner menu featuring your choice of five complete meals, $17.95 each ($10.95 for kids 12 and under). Choose from roast turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce; baked ham with fruit glaze and sweet potatoes; prime rib au jus with mashed potatoes; broiled salmon with mustard-dill sauce and mashed potatoes; and the Swedish Sampler, roasted duck breast with lingonberry glaze, meatball, potato sausage,spaetzle, saeurkraut and brown beans. All meals come with homemade breads, vegetable soup, seasonal vegetable and dessert (pie). The prime rib and roast turkey meals will also be available at the restaurant's Broadway location, which is open from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Spice up the season at Zest
Enjoy a five-course menu ($67, $92 with wine pairings) from 5-10 p.m. on Christmas Day at the InterContinental Chicago's restaurant. Courses include house-cured salmon gravlax with avocado drizzle and poblano foam; seared duck breast with port wine-poached baby pears, celery root puree and green peppercorn sauce; butternut squash and apple bisque with pumpkin ravioli, mascarpone and orange zest; choice of roasted rack of lamb with potatoes, rosemary jus and root vegetables or citrus and olive oil marinated sea bass with lobster risotto, white asparagus and champagne cream sauce; and warm spiced chocolate cake with a berry and fig compote.
Have a Middle Eastern Christmas at Reza's (Andersonville and River North) or Andies (Andersonville and Lincoln Square)
Ask a group of Andersonville residents where to eat Middle Eastern food in their neighborhood, and you'll likely spark a spirited debate regarding these two competing spots. The choice doesn't get any easier on Christmas day, as they'll both be open for business. Many go for the family-style menu at Reza's, which includes your choice of three appetizers and three entrees (e.g. broiled salmon, sea scallops, boneless chicken breast kabobs) for under $30 a person; a typical entree will set you back $15-$18. Andie's prices are slightly lower; chicken and kefta kabobs ring in at only $10.50. You decide which is merrier.
Dine with the Chanukah reindeer at Bagel (Lakeview and Old Orchard)
Do you own multiple menorahs, a Chanukah bush or a reindeer that wears a yarmulke? Then you've probably been to Chicago's quintessentially yenta restaurant. Gaze at old movie posters as you wait for homemade matzo ball soup ($4/pint or $8/quart) or sweet and sour cabbage borscht (a steal at $3.50/pint or $7/quart). And who could forget the lox-and-bagel and the corned beef sandwiches? Kids who want other snacks can get a hot dog or a grilled cheese sandwich. Just don't forget to finish the meal with raspberry, apricot or cinnamon rugelach. Take that, Santa!
Go meatless at Soul Vegetarian East
Spread cheer to your vegan and soul food-lovin' friends at this South Side standby. If you live up north, it's worth the hike. And because it's run by African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem, they're open Christmas day. Break away from your meaty traditions with appetizers like battered cauliflower or hearty brown lentil soup. Try the wheat gluten Garvey Burger, named after Marcus Garvey, the founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL). If it's available, don't miss the vegan sweet potato pie for dessert.
Choose this Chinese restaurant: Phoenix Restaurant
Overwhelmed by the amount of Chinese restaurants open on Christmas? Here's a solution: Go wild with dim sum, which actually comes to tables on the traditional silver carts, at this popular Chinatown standby. Each of the two red-carpeted dining rooms offer a southern view of the majestic Chicago Loop. Dim sum options include barbecue pork-filled buns, steamed shrimp dumplings, fried sesame-seed balls, seaweed shrimp rolls, steamed pork dumplings and even chicken feet. Take your pick.
It's just another business day at Indian Garden (Streeterville and Devon)
When asked if Indian Garden was open on Christmas, the hostess replied, "we're open 365 days a year." The North India-influenced cuisine includes meaty options like chicken tikka masala (chicken blended with yogurt and spices that's served with a creamy tomato sauce). Satisfy vegetarians with pea-and-potato-filled samosas, chana masala (chickpeas cooked with a blend of Indian spices). Go for the vegetarian-friendly lunch buffet, which is a true steal for under $12.
More restaurants open on Christmas:
Bin 36 will be open from 6:30 a.m.-1 a.m. on Christmas, serving up its regular breakfast, lunch, dinner and cheese menus.
Carnivale is open and serving Nuevo Latino specialties from 5-11 p.m.
Chen's offers Chinese cuisine and sushi from 4 p.m.-midnight.
Koi serves up sushi and more from 4:30-11 p.m.