Dining Out for Christmas

Lynn Cline - December 14, 2016

A roundup of some of the best places to enjoy a Christmas Eve/Day feast

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and in Santa Fe, we celebrate the season with farolitos, bizcochitos, a traditional walk on candlelit Canyon Road and festive gatherings with family and friends. Perhaps on Christmas Eve, you'll be making tamales, posole or other traditional New Mexican holiday dishes, or roasting a turkey or ham to serve on Christmas Day. But if you prefer to skip hours of labor in the kitchen then head out instead, to one of Santa Fe's top restaurants for a holiday meal with all the fixings and more. There are plenty of places serving celebratory dinners on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and all you have to do is make a reservation.

Here's a roundup of some of the best places in Santa Fe for Christmas Eve dinner and a Christmas Day feast. Be sure to make your reservations soon, as these popular spots tend to fill up fast during the holidays.

If, like most Santa Feans, you plan to stroll Canyon Road on Christmas Eve and take in the dazzling display of farolitos, light displays, electric train exhibits and more, then 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar is the perfect place to head to when you're done. The restaurant offers a prix fixe Christmas Eve menu featuring first course options that include lobster bisque with risotto fritter and house-made charcuterie with pickles and mustard, country pate, duck rillette, salume, bresola and mortadella. Entree choices include veal schnitzel with mashed potatoes and lemon buttered asparagus; cassoulet with duck confit, pork sausage and lamb shoulder; and steak frites with au poivre, Bernaise sauce or herb butter. 315 offers the same menu on Christmas Day, too.

Serious foodies in your party will want to celebrate Christmas Eve or Christmas Day at the Coyote Cafe, a landmark Santa Fe restaurant that helped put the city on the world's culinary map. The Coyote's Christmas feast begins with a selection of starters that include pan-roasted stuffed quail with quince apple salad, duck confiture and buerre rouge sauce; red lentil, pheasant and cheddar soup with oregano toast; and house-smoked duck breast with butternut squash agnolotti, chorizo apple chutney and pomegranate sauce. The main course options include mesquite-grilled Maine lobster tails with house-made parpadella, organic spring onions and spicy creamy chile sauce; and the signature Tellicherry Pepper Elk Tenderloin with roasted garlic smashed potatoes, applewood smoked bacon and brandied mushroom sauce.

A Christmas Day buffet dinner at La Fonda on the Plaza's La Plazuela takes you into Old World Santa Fe, a charming restaurant housed in a historic hotel that once belonged to the famous Harvey House hotel empire and it retains its original, authentic charm today. La Plazuela's holiday menu includes cheese platters, grilled shrimp salad and sweet and spicy deviled eggs along with roasted turkey with giblet gravy and orange-cranberry relish; roasted leg of lamb with honey-Dijon demi-glace; and roasted top round au jus. Sides include roasted chestnut dressing, smoked cheddar-creamy polenta, roasted garlic-buttermilk mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans almondine. Leave room for dessert, as the buffet includes bourbon pecan pie, sweet potato-maple cheesecake and bread pudding.

For an elegant Christmas Eve dinner in a Pueblo-inspired setting, reserve a table at Hotel Santa Fe's Amaya. The prix fixe menu includes starters such as moked buffalo, date, apple puree with a sesame seed crepe and berry gastrique, or a bruised kale salad with lemon agrumato, cranberries, toasted pecans and shallots. Then try beef Wellington with mashed potatoes, honey carrots and veal demi, or salmon with orzo and lobster pepper sauce. For dessert, nothing says Christmas like the Yule log, a traditional French cake decorated to look like the log carefully selected to burn in the hearth on Christmas Eve.

Amaya also offers a Christmas Day buffet large enough to feed Santa and all his elves. The menu spans the globe, with starters that include New England lobster and corn bisque and European antipasto with Genoa salami, Ilbao chorizo, morcilla sausage, andouille sausage, assorted pates and cheese and more. You can also dine on a seafood selection of oysters on the half shell, peel-and-eat shrimp and smoked Scottish salmon, then try the herb-crusted and roasted turkey breast with pan gravy; slow-roasted prime rib with horseradish cream au jus; and herb-and-mustard crusted leg of lamb with shallot veal reduction. The grand finale includes a Yule log, chocolate cake, Christmas cookies and more.

For a festive French feast on Christmas Eve, dine at Bouche Bistro, an intimate restaurant in the style of a neighborhood Parisian bistro. The menu's first course options include East/West oysters on the half shell with three sauces; celery-root soup with King crab cake and chive oil; and pan-seared foie gras with cranberry marmalade, honey-roasted pear and wild arugula. Entree options include plum-glazed red deer with cinnamon yams, Swiss chard and black currant Bordelaise; and local grass-fed beef tenderloin, Rossini style, with spinach, duck fat toast, foie gras terrine and truffle au jus. Try and leave room for dessert, which includes the famous Yule log or a trio of mini crème brulee, mini profiterole and raspberry sorbet.

Housed in a handsome rambling adobe, Rio Chama offers a hearty Christmas Eve feast featuring the finest cuts this steakhouse is known for. The menu is a la carte and includes such appetizers as shrimp cocktail, calamari with Sriracha lime sauce and garlic aioli; and avocado grapefruit with marinated olives, beets, goat cheese, watercress and Dijon vinaigrette. Entrees include slow-roasted prime rib au jus, with green beans, au jus, horseradish crème and garlic mashed potatoes; smoked pork loin with roasted yams, Brussels sprouts, dry cherry compote and marshmallow caramel; and bone-in beef tenderloin with truffle risotto, creamed spinach, onion jam and Bordelase sauce. End the evening with a sweet treat such as chocolate pot with Creme Anglaise, pumpkin cheesecake with vanilla whipped cream and white chocolate bread pudding with pecan clusters and whipped cream.

Photos courtesy of Bouch Bistro