No Christmas dinner? No problem
BY CAROLYN WALKUP December 20, 2012 10:38AM
Markethouse Restaurant in Chicago at 611 N. Fairbanks Court on Wednesday, December 5, 2012. Maple Leaf Farms Cassoulet: Duck confit, Garlic Sausage, Christmas beans. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: December 20, 2012 10:38AM
The majority of restaurants in and around Chicago are closed on Christmas Day, giving staffs a rare holiday off. Where does that leave diners who would rather eat out that day, for whatever reason, than eat at home?
Fortunately, finding a good restaurant meal on Christmas Day is possible, if you know where to look. The best bets are restaurants affiliated with hotels, Chinese and Indian eateries, and an occasional casual spot. Here are some of the more noteworthy places that are open for business. Most, but not all, require reservations.
Deca Restaurant (The Ritz-Carlton Chicago, 160 E. Pearson, 312-573-5160, www.decarestaurant.com, noon to 3 p.m.). Deca will have a decadent brunch that includes roast goose. There will be both breakfast and dinner items on the buffet and a three-course holiday meal for children aged 6 to 12. A jazz trio will play songs of the season. After 6 p.m. the deca Bar will feature a “Bar! Humbug Buffet,” a non-traditional Chinese takeout buffet. Cost is $65 per adult and $25 per child.
Lockwood Restaurant (The Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe, 312-917-3404, www.lockwoodrestaurant.com, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.). A traditional buffet will feature prime-aged rib of beef with Yorkshire pudding and horseradish cream, maple honey molasses roast turkey and much more. Price is $65 for adults, $55 for seniors and $30 for children.
Filini Bar & Restaurant (Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, 221 N. Columbus , 312-477-0234, www.filinichicago.com, 5 to 10 p.m.). Seafood lovers will enjoy Filini’s “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” an Italian-American Christmas tradition. Seven seafood dishes include citrus-cured salmon, grilled octopus and salted cod. The regular menu also will be available.
Hash House A Go Go (1212 N. State Pkwy., 312-202-0994, www.hashhouseagogo.com/chicago, 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Known for “twisted farm food,” this brunch and dinner destination will offer a la carte dishes all day at regular prices, ranging from $8 to $35, with the bulk falling between $15 and $25. Christmas specialties include the Boston Scramble (eggs, sauteed shrimp, pesto and goat cheese, with side accompaniments); a mixed grill of duck breast, boneless ribeye and grilled pork tenderloin over sweet corn mash; and children’s items, including Captain Crunch French toast.
Mercat a la Planxa (638 S. Michigan, 312-765-0524, www.mercatchicago.com, 5 to 10 p.m.). Inspired by the cuisine of Barcelona and Spain’s Catalan region, Mercat is encouraging groups of 6 to 12 to pre-order its special suckling pig package for either dining in or to go. Vegetables served with the pig are grilled green onions, herb-roasted fingerling potatoes, Catalan spinach and rosemary white beans. The price is $220 for 6-to-8 servings or $440 for 6-to-12 diners. Orders must be placed at least 48 hours in advance. The regular a la carte menu also is available.
Markethouse (611 N. Fairbanks Ct., 312-224-2200, www.markethousechicago.com, 4 to 10 p.m.). Markethouse is serving the kind of farm-to-table dinner for which it is known. A meaty highlight from the a la carte menu is braised lamb shank with merguez sausage, pumpkin and preserved cranberry. For seafood, there is lobster pumpkin pappardelle with poached Maine lobster, chanterelle mushrooms, curried squash, truffles and pumpernickel. Chef Scott Walton works closely with area farmers year-round to procure his fresh ingredients and has a seasonal rooftop garden.
Sushisamba Rio (504 N. Wells, 312-595-2300, www.sushisamba.com, noon to midnight; delivery until 10 p.m.). Sushisamba is serving its regular fusion menu inspired by Brazilian, Peruvian and Japanese cuisines, plus specialty cocktails and a few Christmas specials. They include lobster-stuffed prime filet and pan-seared dayboat scallops.
Grand Geneva Resort & Spa (7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, Wis., 800-558-3417,, www.grandgeneva.com, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). “Christmas in the Country” celebration is for folks who want to escape the city for the holiday. Christmas Day brunch will be served in one of its restaurants, the Geneva ChopHouse, for $42 for adults, $21 for children 6-12 and $6 for those aged 2-5. A few of the buffet items are iced shrimp and snow crab legs with lemons and cocktail sauce, glazed ham with apricots and ginger, pork loin medallions with Dijonaise sauce and a Viennese dessert station. Before or after brunch, guests may tour displays of Christmas trees, a gingerbread village and an outdoor display lit with more than 1 million Christmas lights.
MingHin (2168 S. Archer, 312-808-1999, www.minghincuisine.com, 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.). This is one of many Chinese restaurants open regular hours on Christmas Day and serving its regular menu. Hong Kong-style dim sum is served from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. A la carte specialties include choosing a live fish to be prepared for you or your table, Peking duck, orange chicken, pork belly, scallops and hot stone pot dishes. Decor is contemporary, and private rooms may be reserved.
Vermilion (10 W. Hubbard, 312-527-4060, www.thevermilionrestaurant.com, 5 to 9 p.m.). Its trademark Indian/Latin fusion offers an alternative to blandness with a six-course “Herb & Spice” dinner feast, complete with some spicy renditions of eggnog cocktails in addition to the regular bar menu. Courses include a crab-lobster cake with a tomatillo salsa; mango cumin ham with sides and an almond dried fruitcake dessert.
The Peacock House (700 N. Milwaukee, Vernon Hills, 847-816-3100, www.peacockindianrestaurant.com, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9:30 p.m.). One of many Indian restaurants open Christmas Day, Peacock House will features its regular menu, but the chef especially recommends the Tandoori Chicken and the vegetarian Saag Paneer, cubed homemade soft cheese in a creamy spinach sauce.
Cyrano’s Farm Kitchen (546 N. Wells, 312-467-0546, pre-ordered carryout only 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.). A four-course prix-fixe meal or a la carte meals to go is available. Foods to be eaten hot, including goose or guinea hen entrees and five vegetable sides, will be pre-cooked and easy to reheat. The prix-fixe meal includes a loaf of bread and the traditional French Christmas cake, buche de Noel.
Butch McGuire’s (20 W. Division, 312-787-4359, www.butchmcguires.com, 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.). Butch McGuire’s is open all day and into the wee hours, complete with its over-the-top Christmas lights and decorations display. The kitchen, serving its regular menu that is especially renowned for burgers, reubens and other hot sandwiches, closes at 11 p.m. Jumbo mimosas are the December cocktail special.
Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club (3700 N. Halsted, 773-525-1111, www.kitkatchicago.com, 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.). Kit Kat has a special prix-fixe dinner, drinks and entertainment on Christmas night, especially aimed at folks who may want to relax with friends after all of the family festivities are over. Kit Kat will cut the $40 turkey dinner price to $20 with a nonperishable food donation for a local charity food drive. Diva Kinley Preston will perform starting at 7:30 p.m.
NOTE: All prices, menu items and hours were valid as of publication date.
Carolyn Walkup is a local free-lance writer.