Eat, Drink, and Be Merry
Best Austin restaurants dishing holiday meals to make the season bright
Not to sound like a grinch, but this holiday season is kind of a bummer. “The more the merrier” is a notion we can’t really embrace this year (along with our friends and family). Joyous holiday gatherings and lively cookie swaps and cocktail parties aren’t written in the stars this season.
Despite the gloom, there is still cause for the holiday spirit, maybe even more so this year. So, deck the halls and pop the Champagne, because Austin restaurants are dishing out all kinds of festive feasts to beat the 2020 holiday blues.
From barbecue to tamales to multi-course meals and hangover-busting New Year’s Day chow, here are the Austin restaurants and bars presenting holiday offerings.
Mediterranean fare is the name of the holiday game at Aba, which opened recently on South Congress Avenue. And the eatery is serving a variety of holiday meal options, including a Christmas Eve dinner ($48.95 per person) featuring specials like wild-mushroom hummus; stracciatella with persimmon; grilled chicken kebab with lemon dill rice; braised short rib with gunpowder-spiced potatoes, barberry glaze and tamarind jus; crispy Brussels sprouts; thyme roasted carrots and labneh; and isot double chocolate cake. Order by 3 pm December 22 for pickup or delivery December 24. Order by December 29 for Aba’s New Year’s Eve at Home menu ($79.95 per person), to be picked up or delivered December 31. And order by 2 pm on New Year’s Eve for Aba’s New Year’s Day Brunch at Home menu ($35.95 per person), available for pickup or delivery on New Year’s Day. Order online for all menus.
North Austin’s authentic Italian restaurant Andiamo is ringing in the season with its three-course Christmas Eve at Home special ($45 per person) for preorder with pickup and delivery options. The meal includes a choice of starters and entrees (try the gnocchi!), wine pairings, and house-made desserts. The five-course prix-fixe Andiamo at Home menu ($65) is also available all month. Extend the Italian feast into the new year with Andiamo’s New Year’s Eve at Home special ($85 per person), a prix-fixe, four-course dinner featuring selections like seared scallops, prosciutto di Parma, lobster risotto, pan-seared halibut, veal osso bucco, tiramisu, and panna cotta. Best yet: The special includes a bottle of prosecco or wine. Preorder through December 27 for pickup on New Year’s Eve. Call 512-719-3377 or email to order.
At Bakery Lorraine at Domain Northside, festive desserts are all about sharing this season, even if it’s just with the few folks in your pandemic bubble. Holiday pies ($26) include apple cranberry, Dutch apple, and whiskey pecan. The bakery is also offering a handcrafted buche de Noel ($48) with fluffy vanilla mousse, cherries, and a chocolate sponge cake saturated in kirsch syrup. It’s available through New Year’s Eve. Preorder online by December 18 for Christmas Eve pickup.
Buenos Aires Café Galleria
Add some Argentine flair to your holiday meal. Buenos Aires Café’s Hill Country Galleria location is offering holiday takeout dinners for four ($180). Preorder by December 22, and swing by to pick up your meal on Christmas Eve. The menu includes a choice of salad, roasted Angus beef tenderloin with chimichurri or a Malbec sauce, au gratin potatoes, asparagus, and four leches cake. Preorder by calling 512-441-9000 or 512-994-0662.
Central Machine Works
Brewery, restaurant, and beer garden Central Machine Works is celebrating the new year with a socially distanced New Year’s Eve party featuring DJ Tropicana and 2021 predictions from Sister Palm. Mask wearing will be strictly enforced and reservations are recommended.
Chicken Salad Shoppe
New Burnet Road eatery Chicken Salad Shoppe is offering party sandwich platters and Monster Mountain cookie platters perfect for gobbling up this season. For a real holiday charmer, check out The Sixer, a gift package containing six half-pound cookies in a box decked out with festive holiday lights. Order online.
Contigo Catering & Dispatch
If you need enough food to feed an army of elves, Contigo Catering & Dispatch is serving up holiday dinner party meals for 10 (starting at $550). Choose from a variety of seasonal charcuterie and cheese; dips and spreads; appetizers; and seasonal batch cocktails by the half gallon, including a cranberry Old Fashioned, a Negroni, red sangria, and spiked horchata. All items are available for pickup and delivery (with four days’ notice). Check out the full menu here, and preorder online.
South Austin watering hole Corner Bar is celebrating the season with holiday vibes and plenty of spirited cocktails, including the Snowconut Margarita with Don Julio tequila, coconut, lime, agave, Triple Sec, and “snow dust.” Other highlights include the Blitzen Martini with Baileys Red Velvet, vodka, and crushed peppermint candy, and the Santa’s Helper shot with rum, sliced apple, and RumChata.
Devil May Care
Underground lounge Devil May Care is saluting the new year with a pop-art-inspired pop-up December 31 ($45). Featuring pop-art installations, performers, DJ entertainment, and a special menu, the event requires reservations, and the wearing of masks will be strictly enforced when guests are not seated at their table. Get tickets here.
The sausage slingers at Dog Haus, the new meat-centric joint in North Austin, know the best way to cure a hangover is with a big, fat, juicy burger. Get a little hair of the dog on New Year’s Day, aka National Hangover Day, with the Dog Haus Hangover Burger, covered in white American cheese and topped with smoked bacon, mayo, Haus chili, and, of course, a fried egg. This New Year’s Day special is only $5.99 and comes with a 16-ounce can of Pabst Blue Ribbon to cure all that ails. Order online for takeout service.
Treat yourself this holiday season with a decadent dessert from FoliePop’s French Pastry & Coffee House. Prepared by executive pastry chef Antoine Chassonnery, FoliePop’s buche de Noel ($75, serves six) is a reimagined French yule log featuring chocolate mousse, Madagascar vanilla cream, and salted caramel with pecans. It’s topped with three chocolate hazelnut pops and three mango and passion-fruit pops and sits on a crunchy honey and hazelnut biscuit base. Preorder online by December 20 and pick up your log by New Year’s Eve at the FoliePop’s Factory located next to the shop’s dine-in space.
Italian eatery Intero is presenting an exclusive holiday menu for pickup Christmas Eve. The menu includes dishes like roasted leg of lamb, slow-roasted porchetta, roasted butternut squash, and glazed Brussels sprouts. And for dessert (or for stocking stuffers), check out Intero’s mouthwatering seasonal chocolates. Order online.
For Austinites who feel they must leave the holiday cooking to the experts, Japanese eatery Kemuri Tatsu-Ya is offering its Omakase Club dine-in experience this season, ensuring all measures are taken to provide an intimate and safe affair. Omakase Club features three different menus, including the smoked-meat-forward O-niku Omakase; the pescatarian-friendly O-sakana Omakase; and the vegetarian O-yasai Omakase. A curated menu of cocktails, sake, whisky, and shochu will also be available. A limited number of guests will be seated each night and reservations are required. Call 512-803-2224 or reserve a table online.
Nothing says “celebration in Texas” like barbecue. And the folks at La Barbecue are happy to “meat” you this holiday season, offering up faves like brisket, smoked turkey, and pulled pork. Why not add on a pound of thick-cut house-cured bacon for good measure? It’s perfect for a holiday brunch at home. La Barbecue is open December 21-23 for pickup service. Order online.
Rooftop Tex-Mex spot La Piscina, located in the Austin Proper Hotel downtown, is offering holiday specials on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alongside its a la carte menu. Highlights include a selection of ceviches, oysters, grilled fish, fajitas, and Mexican classics. Holiday specials like pozole rojo and pavo en mole are also available. Toast to the end of 2020 with an assortment of fresh-fruit margaritas, native Mexican spirits, and small-batch tequila and mezcal. La Piscina is open for dine-in service from 5-10 pm both nights. Make reservations here.
Italian-inspired neighborhood eatery L’Oca d’Oro is serving up a special holiday subscription bag featuring highlights from its traditional Italian Feast of Seven Fishes Christmas dinner, including house-made bucatini with anchovy butter and whipped salt cod. The restaurant will also offer a new year’s subscription bag that includes an “elegant dinner” with the luxurious fare expected from L’Oca d’Oro. Both holiday subscriptions are available for two or four people and with optional wine add-ons. More info is available online.
Old Thousand, the “dope Chinese” restaurant, is offering up its Naughty List this season, a selection of festive cocktails available for dine-in service or to go from the 11th Street location. Put some pep in your jolly step with the Santa’s Little Helper cocktail. Or warm up with the Hot Butter Scotch cocktail. Additionally, Old Thousand is offering its Super Dope Family Pack (serves four to six, vegetarian also available) with egg rolls, hot-and-sour soup, green beans, xiao mian, General Tso’s Chicken, brisket fried rice, Mongolian beer, and char siu pork belly bao. Order online. The Burnet Road Old Thousand will be open Christmas Day from 4-8 pm for takeout service. The full menu will be available to go.
Dine on a chef-curated Japanese feast at home with Osome’s Holiday Homakase, an at-home version of omakase (15 to 23 courses, $250 to $320 per person). The classic omakase includes a warm starter, 15 to 17 pieces of nigiri, and a seasonal dessert. The platinum omakase includes a warm starter; a mix of crudo, nigiri, and yakitori; as well as a seasonal dessert and a sake pairing. Reserve a holiday meal online.
Continue your holiday revelry at, well, Revelry. The East Sixth Street spot is bedecked in seasonal decor and serving up holiday cheer in the form of toasty cocktails like hot buttered rum, Ho Ho Hot Coco, and Santa’s Spiced Cider. Rounding out the holiday cocktail menu are the Miracle Martini and the Fall Fashioned. Likewise, Revelry on the Boulevard, the eatery’s North Lamar location, is celebrating the season with holiday decor (and lots of open patio space) and a holiday cocktail menu featuring coquito Puerto Rican eggnog, a chocolate s’mores cocktail, a hot toddy, and a peppermint martini. Email for info about The Revelry’s socially distanced New Year’s Eve parties.
Schmidt Family Barbecue
Ham it up this season with a holiday meal from a legendary Lockhart barbecue family. A medley of meat offerings ($69 to $179) is available for preorder from Schmidt Family Barbecue, including smoked ham, whole smoked brisket, whole turkeys, and turkey breast. House-made pecan, pumpkin, and buttermilk pies ($24) are also available. Preorder by December 20 by calling 512-263-4060 or order online. Orders must be picked up between December 21 and 3 pm on Christmas Eve.
It wouldn’t be the holidays without tamales. And for the first time ever, Suerte, the upscale Mexican favorite, is offering tamales to go. Two tamale varieties of the Suerte dozen (12 tamales plus an extra one for buena suerte, or good luck) are available: red pork tamales ($36), and mushroom and mole coloradito tamales ($34). Tamales are available through December 23. Or opt for the family-style Pachanga Party ($250 minimum order, serves four to six), which includes Suerte’s staple tacos, apps, and sides, as well as some new family-style dishes. Order online.
Summer House on Music Lane
The new eatery at Hotel Magdalena is getting in the spirit with four-course prix-fixe Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner menus ($88 per person). Selections include Texas wagyu beef tartare, shrimp and crab bisque, and charred leg of lamb. Limited a la carte service is also available. And don’t miss the chance to sip on Summer House on Music Lane’s Cowboy Santa cocktail, a rye whiskey concoction with house-made holiday syrup and gold-painted raspberries. A multi-course tasting menu will be offered New Year’s Eve, and brunch — featuring an impressive seafood tower — is planned for New Year’s Day.
Downtown Japanese eatery TenTen is offering a New Year’s Eve celebration away from the crowds, with two dine-in seatings on New Year’s Eve: a proper dinner seating from 5-9 pm with a special menu for the event, and a late-night seating with a relaxed izakaya menu from 10 pm to close. Toast 2021 with sake-tinis and Champagne. Restaurant capacity is limited, and social distancing and mask wearing are enforced. Reservations are required.
Head to the east side for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day specials at The Cavalier. The neighborhood spot is offering its full menu plus two-for-one burgers and to-go holiday cocktails like boozy horchata and boozy chai, and hot toddies. Bottles of wine are also available. Preorder fully cooked quarts of black-eyed peas, gumbos, and chicken and dumplings to nosh on all day long. All items are available for curbside pickup. A full brunch menu will also be available New Year’s Day from noon to 4 pm. Order here.
The League Kitchen & Tavern
Stay safe by bringing the tavern home this New Year’s Eve. The League Kitchen & Tavern, which has locations in Dripping Springs, Lakeway, and Avery Ranch, is serving up its New Year’s Eve Prime Rib Pack ($175, serves four to six), with slow-roasted prime rib, Yukon mashers and jalapeño gravy, green bean casserole, house salad, biscuits with cinnamon butter, and NYE cupcakes. Add a to-go bottle of prosecco or Veuve Clicquot. And since the holiday falls on The League’s Thursday night half-price wine night, you may as well get a deal on another bottle to bring home. Preorder online December 23-29.
Strut on down to the Austin Proper Hotel’s ground-floor Mediterranean eatery, The Peacock, for a special pork chop entree available Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The special ($42) features a Berkshire bone-in pork chop with Long Island duck crépinettes, red lentils, broccolini, parsnips and a truffle jus. Holiday cocktails include a Sugar Plum Coquito and a Mezcal Dreams special. The Peacock is open for dine-in service from 5-9:30 pm Christmas Eve and from 5-10:30 pm Christmas Day. The a la carte menu is available for takeout by calling the restaurant directly. Keep the Peacock party going through New Year’s Eve with the restaurant’s celebratory prix-fixe menu ($100 per person). The three-course feast includes a trio of dips, oak-grilled octopus, mixed grill kebab, and a dark chocolate torte. A selection of Mediterranean sparkling wines will also be available. Make all reservations here.
Give yourself a little TLC this season. TLC Austin, the South Side seafood and pub-grub eatery, is offering its TLC Christmas Package ($285, serves eight to 10), which includes applewood-smoked bone-in ham, rosemary fingerling potatoes, country green beans, honey-glazed carrots, chocolate pecan pie, white-chocolate peppermint bark, a hot cocoa kit, pre-baked cookies for Santa with a decorating kit, and carrots for Santa’s reindeer. Add-ons like garlic-roasted tenderloin, Alaskan red king crab, and lobster mac and cheese are available for an additional price. Preorder online and pick up your goodies December 23 or on Christmas Eve. And welcome 2021 with TLC’s NYE surf and turf dinner for two ($250 per couple), featuring two 8-ounce tenderloin filets, two crab-stuffed lobster halves with tarragon lemon butter, rosemary fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus, a chocolate brownie with winter-spiced strawberry compote, and a bottle of Taittinger Brut Champagne. Add-ons for New Year’s Day include Texas caviar, hot black-eyed peas, cornbread, a TLC Bloody Mary kit, and mimosa kits. Preorder here through New Year’s Eve for pickup service.
Go high-class this season with a multi-course Christmas dinner from Trace, located inside the W Hotel. The prix-fixe holiday menu ($70 per person, $35 extra for wine pairing) includes lamb shank with lemon-thyme jus, truffled mashed potato puree, and a chocolate yule log. Items are available to go. Order by calling 512-542-3660.
Uchi and Uchiko
Give the gift of Uchiko this season, as the beloved eatery is serving up executive pastry chef Ariana Quant’s Uchiko Holiday Sweet Box ($75), a collection of holiday confections like chocolate mediants and peanut dragées. Call 512-916-4808 to order for pickup December 23. Both Uchi and Uchiko will also offer multi-course dine-in menus on New Year’s Eve ($195 to $200 per couple), with optional sake and wine pairings. And both restaurants are offering curbside pickup of omakase.