Even if you do not celebrate Christmas, the spirit of the season lends itself to good meals. Growing up in 1970s Brooklyn, my family (Jewish) had limited options. Our Christmas tradition involved going to Manhattan for a movie and then slurping delicious soup and noodles in Chinatown. Italian restaurants, and other upscale New York eateries, simply would never entertain the notion of being open on Christmas.
Modern-day South Florida affords many more choices. Our tourist-heavy region has restaurants of all cuisines and styles ready to serve those who can not cook or do not want to cook for the holiday. Even Italian. And with Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday this year, the menu also includes brunches with bottomless drinks. Among the dining options:
Avocado Grill, 125 Datura St., West Palm Beach, 561-623-0822 — Chef-owner Julien Gremaud’s seasonal small-plates restaurant will be open 1-9 p.m. on Christmas Day and regular Sunday hours on Christmas Eve (11 a.m.-3 p.m. brunch, 4-9:30 p.m. dinner). The Christmas Eve brunch will feature a “Naughty or Nice” theme, and patrons are encouraged to wear Santa-inspired outfits.
Casa D’ Angelo, 1201 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 954-564-1234 and 171 E. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, 561-996-1234 — Both locations of chef Angelo Elia’s Italian fine-dining flagship will be open 4-10 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve will feature the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes and is almost sold-out. Christmas will feature the standard a la carte menu.
Council Oak Steaks and Seafood, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 954-327-7501 — The prime steakhouse at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino will offer its usual lavish Sunday brunch buffet 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Food stations will feature omelets, waffles, carved meats, pastas, raw bar and sushi. Brunch costs $69 per person (plus tax and tip) and includes unlimited mimosas, Bloody Marys, bellinis or spiked lemonade.
Ditmas Kitchen, 21077 Powerline Road, Boca Raton, 561-826-8875 — For a change of pace this Christmas (and post-Hanukkah), how about a Glatt Kosher restaurant in Boca? “Top Chef” alum Alex Reznik, born in Kiev and raised in Brooklyn, opened this chophouse earlier this year, and the restaurant has added sushi (sans shellfish) to its mix. The restaurant will be open 5-10 p.m. Sunday and 1-10 p.m. Monday, with 5 and 7 p.m. dinner seatings on Christmas. Limited outdoor seating remains at 7 p.m.
Faena Miami Beach, 3201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 786-655-5600 — Gourmands can gorge on an upscale double-header at this Baz Luhrmann-designed oceanfront resort. Los Fuegos by Francis Mallmann will offer its usual Sunday asado brunch (noon-4 p.m., $95 per person, plus tax and tip) on Christmas Eve, featuring a selection of grilled meats and other treats from the acclaimed Argentine chef. The restaurant will also offer a special $125 tasting menu at dinner with stone crab Milanesa, gnocchi souffle, slow-cooked rib-eye and desserts. On Christmas Day, Pao by Paul Qui will offer a $125 tasting menu at dinner (7-11 p.m.) featuring fatty tuna, rabbit adobo, fluke, roast pork, Peking duck and a frozen chocolate Yule log for dessert.
Graziano’s, 177 SW Seventh St., Miami, 305-860-1426 — All four Miami-Dade outposts of this Argentine restaurant, including the newest Brickell location, will offer a $39 dinner 5-10:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day that features pork a la parilla with chimichurri and salsa criolla, a spin on the traditional Cuban Nochebuena roast pig. Dinner includes tomato salad and a glass of wine.
Josie’s Ristorante, 1602 S. Federal Highway, Boynton Beach, 561-364-9601 — This family-owned Italian restaurant will be open 4-10 p.m. Christmas Eve (but closed Christmas Day) and offer its regular menu of pizzas, pastas and meats. It will also offer a spin on the Feast of the Seven Fishes, with a seven-season cioppino over pasta ($42) that includes clams, lobster, scallops, calamari, scungilli, mussels and shrimp.
Le Bistro, 4626 N. Federal Highway, Lighthouse Point, 954-946-9240 — It will be a Joyeux Noel at this cozy French eatery run by Andy and Elin Trousdale. The restaurant will offer a three-course special menu ($39-65 per person) on Christmas Eve (5-9:30 p.m.) and Christmas Day (12:30-8 p.m.). Choices include scallops, Christmas salad or smoked salmon with potato cake to start and roasted turkey ($39), risotto ($39), duck breast ($45), lamb chops ($50) or beef Wellington for two ($65 per person) as mains and chocolate pot au creme, creme brulee or apple tart for dessert.
Point Royal, 3555 S. Ocean Drive, Hollywood, 954-602-8750 — Celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s seafood-centric American restaurant at the Diplomat Beach Resort will offer a Christmas Day buffet for $65, plus tax and tip ($25 for children 12 and under), that includes roasted whole suckling pig, traditional Bûche de Noël, smoked whole branzino, sides, charcuterie, cheeses, Christmas-themed cookies and peppermint bark. Dinner includes choice of bottomless champagne, Le Colombe drip coffee or tea.
Three, 50 NW 24th St., Miami, 305-748-4540 — Chef Norman Van Aken’s new Wynwood restaurant will be open 5-9 p.m. Christmas Eve (but closed Christmas Day) and feature a four-course tasting menu for $75, excluding tax and tip). Offerings will include citrus salad or chilled Key West shrimp; sherry-and-vanilla-chestnut soup or bay scallops; and main-course options of roasted duck breast, glazed pork belly, pan-cooked pompano, or grilled beef cap with Creole-mustard crust.