Ditch your hosting duties and indulge in a night out for the holidays
By Jessica Koslow
Oh what fun it is to ring in the New Year — and yet, the end of the year can also drum up more work and stress: shopping, planning, cooking, baking and more cooking. It’s a time of family togetherness, which is nourishing, but it also means more mouths to feed and dishes to wash. While home-cooked meals are worth their weight in gold, sometimes going out to eat is… priceless. Reserve your table at one of these restaurants that’ll gladly give you the gift of peace of mind for the holidays.
Celebrate Your Good Fortune @ Lunetta
Most holiday scenes are filled with snowy streets and chestnuts roasting by the open fire. But in SoCal, our December days are filled with sunshine, shorts and surfboards. Lunetta Dining and Moon Bar — the nocturnal counterpart to brunch-driven Lunetta All Day — makes you feel right at home in the wintry season. Low lighting and mistletoe hang from the walls, the warm and welcoming atmosphere feels like a toasty lodge après-ski, and chef Raphael Lunetta has crafted Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve menus with a few of his favorite things.
On the 24th, celebrate with the 21-day-aged Angus New York steak for two, and ring in the New Year with the New Zealand rack of lamb. Another dish you’ll want to try before end of 2018 is the wood-grilled Spanish octopus — a refreshing burst of white bean hummus, baked picholine olives, roasted sweet peppers and confit Meyer lemon.
Finish off your meal with the sticky toffee pudding, a signature dessert from chef Lunetta’s JiRaffe restaurant. The Manjari chocolate crème brûlée is also decadent — and you should probably eat it slowly. Savor each bite while you reminisce about all your sweet memories from 2018. Chef Lunetta himself will likely breeze by your table for a toast on both nights.
Holiday Hours: 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. 2424 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 581-9888; lunettasm.com
Eat Like a King @ BOA Steakhouse
The food at BOA tastes like the chefs in the kitchen really care. On a recent visit, a young chef shared that he had been happily cooking there for eight years. (BOA has been open for 14.) It was his first job and as he scanned the restaurant, he revealed that many of the staff had also been at BOA for years. Everyone is jovial and with just the right menu choices, your entire eating experience can be dramatically festive: the Classic Caesar salad is tossed tableside, and the apple is set ablaze in front of your eyes for the Baked Alaska. The tender and mouth-watering steak is fit for royalty. Reservations after 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve will receive 50% off select bottles of champagne, and everyone will receive a complimentary glass of champagne at midnight.
Holiday Hours: 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve & 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to midnight on New Year’s Eve. Dinner is served at 5:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day. 101 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 899-4466; innovativedining.com
Party Like a Petit Royal @ Little Prince
It’s no longer 1999, but it is almost 2019 — and so it’s time to party like (Little) Prince. Chef Ari Taymor’s Sundowners menu offers delicious bites weekdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. When you’ve been out playing tourist all day, nothing beats their patty melt and crispy brussel sprouts. And because you’ve got family in town, order the beer battered spring onions and chocolate chip-buckwheat-molasses cookies with crème fraiche ice cream. Your relatives only visit once a year, after all! Just for December, you can order a whole duck dinner (or half a duck, but you must reserve in advance). Dinner is served till 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve with deejayed beats and drinks flowing from 10 p.m. onwards.
Holiday Hours: 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. 2424 Main St., Santa Monica. (310) 356-0725; littleprince.la
Sup by the Sea @ SALT
Marina del Rey Hotel’s SALT restaurant is welcoming the New Year with a special menu ($125 per person). While your eyes gaze upon the sparkling waterfront, your mouth can graze on Maine lobster, Dungeness crab, Mer Bleue oysters, jumbo shrimp, Snake River Farms Wagyu Cap Meat and champagne, too, of course.
Holiday Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve. 13534 Bali Way, Marina del Rey. (424) 289-8223; marinadelreyhotel.com
Countdown @ 1 Pico
Show your out-of-town relatives the quintessential Cali Christmas at 1 Pico, Shutters on the Beach’s seaside restaurant. 1 Pico offers sweeping views of the Pacific plus prix fixe menus for dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and brunch on Christmas morning (all are $110 per person). Munch on seared day boat scallops with brown butter or dessert on rosemary and medjool date rum cake
You can also warm up with spiked hot cocoa and hot toddies at Shutters’ pop-up Cocoa Bar through Jan. 1. Or ring in the New Year at one of two dinners offered on N.Y.E. ($145 to $190 per person). Choose from Kumamoto oysters, two kinds of risotto, bittersweet chocolate custard or grilled turbot bathed in a champagne caviar sauce.
Holiday Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Christmas Day, & 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve with dinner served at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. 1 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 587-1717; shuttersonthebeach.com
Make Merry @ Doma Kitchen
Just for the holidays — and before your 2019 resolutions kick in — Doma Kitchen in Marina del Rey is whipping up a festive French toast with a gooey twist: Nutella and banana stuffed Panettone French toast. Now that sounds like something worth celebrating!
Holiday Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. 4325 Glencoe Ave, Suite #8, Marina del Rey. (310) 301-0582; domakitchen.com