As the days have turned into weeks and the weeks have turned into months, it is already that time of year to begin planning for the holidays — can you believe it? 

Whether you’re looking to celebrate the holidays with the entire family or just a few friends, there’s no shortage of seafood, prime meats, or even the festivities to bring on the holidays in San Diego.   

Here are some of the recommendations we found appealing for your Christmas and New Year’s Eve dining choices. Don’t forget to plan early and make reservations.

Dining Out on Christmas Eve in San Diego

Serẽa | Coronado, CA

Serea restaurant in Coronado view from their outdoor dining space

Celebrate the season seaside at Serẽa Coastal Cuisine and enjoy Christmas Eve by the Sea. Indulge in a festive three-course prix-fixe Christmas meal with menu highlights including scallop Crudo, an orange and pomegranate Christmas salad, a prime rib roast, manhattan cioppino, and a cranberry mouse dome for dessert. 4-9 p.m. $120 per person/$45 per child. Continue the celebration on Christmas Day and all weekend long with unmatched coastal views and a host of sustainable, sea-to-table menus with a holiday twist. Brunch is available from 11 am-2:30 p.m. and dinner is from 5 pm-9 pm. 

Full menu here 

Lionfish | Downtown San Diego

‘Tis the season for holiday treats and dine in the heart of San Diego this Christmas Eve at one of San Diego’s hottest restaurants, Lionfish, and indulge in modern coastal cuisine that features fresh-catch cooking and seasonal ingredients, all prepared with innovative twists. James Beard Smart Catch Leader and Executive Chef JoJo Ruiz are featuring a Wagyu Filet Steak and Lobster, topped with creamed horsey spinach purée, crispy potato gratin, and LF1 sauce. For dessert Chocolate Yule Log

A man pouring a blackberry drink on Christmas Eve at the Lionfish in San Diego

Hotel del Coronado | Coronado, CA 

One of the most magical times of the year at this historic grande dame, The Hotel Del is known among locals and travelers alike for welcoming the holidays with splendid fanfare, bringing wintertime fun to sunny Southern California. Dine in the iconic Crown Room on Christmas and Christmas Eve and indulge in a lavish holiday buffet of traditional favorites and culinary surprises all day long. Marvel at thousands of sparkling lights adorning the property with towering Christmas trees, garlands galore, and stunning holiday décor, including a fabulous two-story lobby tree in Del’s newly restored lobby. $175 per person / $75 per child. It’s hard to get in. Make your Reservations by clicking here

Three women on Christmas Eve dining at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego

ARLO  | San Diego, CA

Celebrate the season and dine at San Diego’s destination eatery, ARLO, indulge in a celebration of the local lifestyle and culinary culture this Christmas. Helmed by Chef Josh Mouzakes, ARLO serves scratch-made dishes using only the freshest ingredients and regional flavors from both sides of the border for an authentic “taste-of-place” and these special two days, a selection of Chef Josh’s favorite items plus holiday favorites like an Air Dried Christmas Goose and Santa’s Tapas Trio will be served. Indulge in a hand-crafted cocktail and sip down a Spiked Brown Butter Egg Nog. Spend Christmas Eve and Day at ARLO with an expansive outdoor patio and fireplace, swaying palm trees to look upon, seasonal craft cocktails, and decadent desserts.   

Christmas Menu: here  

Manchester Grand Hyatt | San Diego, CA

Delight in a true California Christmas while staying seaside at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, the West Coast’s tallest waterfront hotel boasting panoramic views of San Diego Bay and beyond. Holiday travelers and locals alike are invited to Sally’s Fish House & Bar to indulge in a plated Christmas Day dinner including salt and herb crusted prime rib, grilled jumbo prawns, caramelized cipollini onions, creamy herb horseradish sauce, and much more, as well as seasonal craft cocktails such as the Winter Rose with Makers Mark, Rudolph with You & Yours Gin and more.

Price: $52 per person **non-inclusive of beverages  

Harrah’s Resort Southern California | Funner, CA

There’s no better place to escape for an easy Christmas getaway and top-tier dining experience than Funner, California — the city where fun lives. Decked out for the season, Harrah’s Resort SoCal’s lobby will be transformed into a winter wonderland with plenty of photo opportunities and experiences that are sure to get you in the Southern California spirit, with Santa’s sleigh and festive trees sprinkled throughout. Celebrate Christmas with family, friends, and the cuisine of your choice with the following offerings: 

  • The Café: The Merry Turkey Dinner is complete with freshly carved white meat turkey, candied sweet potatoes with pecan bacon, green beans, and gravy. $22 
  • ‘ritas Cantina: Chile Relleno En Nogada is a classic holiday dish, with roasted poblano chile, shredded beef birria, dried apples, apricots, plums, and a walnut crema. $18.99 
  • Fiore: Enjoy a bone-in 24oz Wagyu beef filet mignon, with creamed spinach, duck fat potatoes, and rich bearnaise. $90 

Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa | Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.

Rancho Valencia welcomes guests for the ultimate Christmas feast on December 25. Menu highlights include an expansive cold seafood station, photo-worthy cheese and charcuterie, house-made cavatelli, mero sea bass, and wild mushroom risotto, with a specialty kid’s buffet sure to satisfy the pickiest of eaters (pigs in a blanket, assorted mini quesadillas and mac and cheese). The magic of the season will be complete with live music, seasonal sweets, horse-drawn carriage rides, cookie decorating, and carolers. The dining experience runs from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, with pricing at $165 for adults, $55 for kids 11 and under, and free for kids three and under. Or, enjoy Rancho Valencia’s signature holiday cuisine in the comfort of your own home, with the customizable Christmas to-go option, from favorite sides and pies to the entire holiday meal. Orders must be placed online by Thursday, December 16 at 5:00 pm. More details are available here

Images:  (courtesy of Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa) 

New Year’s Eve

Lionfish | Downtown San Diego

Ring in the new year and dine in Southern California fashion with a “Surf at Turf” four-course prix-fixe menu in the heart of San Diego. Located in the city’s trendy Gaslamp Quarter, James Beard Smart Catch Leader and Executive Chef JoJo Ruiz is sticking true to his colors to ensure fresh catch is balanced evenly with meat-centric dishes and is planning to offer each course with a taste of the sea and a hint of the land. Indulge in a Prime Rib Beef Carpaccio and Scallop Sashimi, followed by a Clam “Royal” Pasta and Duck Confit Pasta. Finish it off with a Sea Bass and Wagyu Striploin, and indulge in a “Creamsicle” Vacherin for dessert. $121.22 per person and reservations are recommended and can be made on OpenTable here

Menu: here

Hotel del Coronado | Coronado, CA 

The Del is famed for its over-the-top holiday decor and offerings, and this year is no exception. Set on one of America’s most iconic beaches, revelers can ring in 2022 inside the legendary Hotel del Coronado during a roaring 20’s gala. Visitors will be mesmerized as the iconic Crown Room transforms into a Great Gatsby-themed speakeasy, with dinner and dancing courtesy of a live DJ and The Mighty Untouchables. A midnight champagne toast and an open bar will have guests clinking cheers all night long, and the following day, guests can enjoy their first meal of the new year with Del’s famed brunch featuring regionally inspired dishes, international cuisine, a gourmet mimosa, and bloody mary bar and more. 

Harrah’s Resort Southern California | Funner, CA

Ring in the new year with an epic getaway to California’s playground for adults, Funner, California — the city where fun lives. With plenty of festive decor and champagne to go around, plus exciting raffle drawings all night long of $500k and a balloon drop at midnight, Harrah’s Resort SoCal has it all for every ideal NYE evening, with dining, entertainment, spa, gaming and more, right at your fingertips. New Year’s Eve dining specials include: 

  • The Café: The Surf N Turf N Surf (a take on the California classic) is a 6oz filet with a 6oz crab cake, layered with asparagus and a shrimp scampi butter sauce. $30
  • ‘ritas Cantina: The Molcajete Surf and Turf is an 8oz ribeye, complete with a garlic-butter lobster tail and sauteed jumbo shrimp. Served in a molcajete bowl with salsa picante. $82.99 
  • Fiore: Clink cheers over a romantic, candlelit dinner with a Jumbo Steamed Maine Lobster (2.5lb whole lobster with fingerling potatoes, baby carrots and pearl onion) or a Drunken Rack of Venison (with brandied apple, braised kale, persimmons, bacon and blistered grapes). $75

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