Christmas Eve and Day dining is a fabulous racket in Manhattan—with all the best restaurants open for business and happy to charge upwards of $150 a head, for the pleasure of spiking your eggnog, roasting your chestnuts, or stuffing your holiday goose. But you know how it is in touchy-feely Brooklyn—eateries largely elect to give their staff a break come Christmas, so they can take their kiddies caroling, have an actual sit-down dinner with their families, or, you know, decimate sleeves of gingerbread crème oreos, while bingeing on The Great Christmas Light Fight on TV. That being said, there are actually a few establishments left, selflessly standing sentinel so you don’t have to lift a finger in food preparation this holiday; from Roman’s and its Feast of Seven Fishes, to Fonda’s Mexi-Swedish Christmas celebration.
Roman’s: As a crustacean-obsessed Jew, the only holiday tradition we’ve ever truly lusted after is the Feast of the Seven Fishes (also known as La Viglia); an expansive shellfish spread enjoyed by Italians on Christmas Eve, during the hours spent awaiting the midnight birth of baby Jesus. And Roman’s (possibly our very favorite eatery in Andrew Tarlow’s considerable canon) is honoring the celebration with a $95, four-course, all faiths welcome prix fixe; including lobster ravioli, scungilli salad, spot prawns with oranges and olives, and baked snapper with lentils and littleneck clams. But sorry, guys, you’ll still have to tip.
243 Dekalb Avenue, Fort Greene
Grand Ferry and The Richardson: These Williamsburg sister-bars will both be open on Christmas Eve, offering all-day oyster happy hours, half-priced whiskies and a $25 two-course prix fixe (Grand Ferry), and $8 Old Fashioned cocktails from noon-4am (The Richardson), although you may want to wait to imbibe in earnest until after midnight mass. The Richardson will also be hopping from 7pm-4am on Christmas evening (in case you need a booze-break from the in-laws) pouring mugs of mulled cider spiked with 100-proof Laird’s bonded apple brandy.
229 Kent Avenue and 451 Graham Avenue, Williamsburg
Dear Bushwick: The United Kingdom’s culinary Christmas traditions have largely inspired our own, from whole roasted beasts and mince pies to mulled wine and fruitcake (um, thanks?) But since snagging a table at The Spotted Pig probably isn’t an option, you can get your holiday fill of Brit-style grub at Dear Bushwick instead; offering an eminently affordable ($59) Christmas Eve prix fixe of bone marrow with pickled persimmon, standing rib roast with Yorkshire pudding, fat-basted potatoes and a cranberry chocolate torte for dessert, accompanied by gratis glasses of bubbly and surprise amuse bouche.
41 Wilson Avenue, Bushwick
Black Tree BK: Obviously making a play for Brooklyn’s sizable Jewish contingent, the new Brooklyn branch of Black Tree is going full-on Chinese for both Christmas Eve and Day, featuring a la carte dishes like crab rangoon, BBQ spare ribs, miso pork belly, fatty duck bao, kung pao chicken, veggie fried rice, and platters of whole fish, bathed in spicy garlic sauce.
261 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg
Fonda: Back for its umpteenth year, this Mexico City-meets-Stockholm mash-up is entirely original to Fonda (and its honorary Swedish chef, Roberto Santibanez). Actually offered from December 21st through Christmas Eve, a special menu includes salted cod empanadas, tacos with smoked ham and cucumbers, arroz con leche with cherry compote and ginger snaps, and of course, albondigas—lingonberry and chipotle-drizzled meatballs served with dill mashed potatoes.
434 7th Avenue, Park Slope
Henry’s End: A Brooklyn Heights standby, Henry’s End eschews tiresome trends for hearty starters and hulking joints of meat, making it as prime a place as any to spend Christmas Eve. For $75 per person, a set meal includes your choice of small plate, entrée, dessert and coffee, paired with a glass of sparkling wine—but all roads lead to the mixed game grill, a trio of elk chops, buffalo sausage and wild rice and chestnut-stuffed quail.
44 Henry Street, Brooklyn Heights