Loads of Orlando restaurants are opening their doors on Christmas Eve and Christmas so you can celebrate without a bit of work. Others will prepare food in advance that you can heat and eat once at home on the big day. Here are our favorites. (I'll keep adding to this list, so check back regularly.)
WHERE TO EAT ON CHRISTMAS IN ORLANDO 2017: CHRISTMAS EVE
This shabby-chic Winter Park seafood restaurant will serve a traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve. Only 25 guests will be able to experience this meal, so sign up soon. The menu sounds wonderful, and will be paired with Chateau Ste. Michelle wines. Some items will be served family-style, others individually. 6:30pm, $69 plus tax and tip. Reservations: 407.543.3474
Contemporary takes on Southern fare are ideal for brunch, and that explains why Soco fills its Thornton Park seats regularly on Sunday mornings. Now the restaurant will open its doors for Christmas Eve brunch, served 11am to 5pm on December 24. I haven't received menu details, but if the menu is the same as always you can expect lobster eggs Benedict, buttermilk biscuits and gravy with crispy pork belly, and Southern-fried quail and waffles as options.
Sometimes artisan pizzas and craft brews are just the thing for a low-key celebration on Christmas Eve, and this Orlando favorite provides. Still, guests can also order Italian brunch selections from 11am to 3pm. I'll add details if I get them.
In historic downtown Winter Garden, Christmas Eve revelers can indulge in a three-course dinner beginning at 5:30pm or 8:30pm. The dinners have upscale options such as porcini-rubbed filet mignon and veal osso bucco. $60, which is a steal given the luxury items offered. Book your meal at the cozy hideaway through the website or at 407.230.4837. Click here for details.
This elegant Winter Park gastropub always feels kind of special, so it's a nice choice for Christmas Eve. Groups of two and up can bypass the regular a la carte menu for a three-course Holiday Sunday Supper for $50/person. To point: smoked prime rib.
This contemporary Lake Nona dinnerhouse will start the holiday off for you with both the regular a la carte menu and holiday specials. I don't have any more details. Reservations
A personable Modern Floridian restaurant in Mount Dora, 1921 will usher in Santa's day with a four-course prix fixe menu. It will cost $79, with lower-cost options for children 12 and under. Guests will have choices. They snagged my attention with oyster pan stew with sherry cream and lionsmane mushrooms. Then there's the black truffle gnocchi with wild mushrooms and chestnuts. Reservations: 352.385.1921
Whether you crave the Tomahawk steak like I do, or the lobster mac 'n' cheese (like I do), or the Butter Cake -- a sweet indulgence like no other, you might find this International Drive meat purveyor a fine place to kick off the holiday. The restaurant will be serving its full dinner menu on Christmas Eve from 4pm to 10pm.
WHERE TO EAT ON CHRISTMAS IN ORLANDO 2017: CHRISTMAS DAY
Infuse your Christmas with a little Hawaiian-fusion zing. The Roy's Restaurant in Orlando's Dr. Phillips neighborhood will offer a three-course dinner from noon through 8pm. The Christmas menu features chateaubriand ($59.95), with an optional wine pairing ($30). A "classic" prix fixe is also available (from $49), as is a kids' menu for $15.
On the east side of town in Lake Nona, stylish small-plates specialist Canvas will offer its full a la carte menu. Want something more special? Splurge on a Porterhouse Steak dinner for $80. It will be served with smashed root vegetables and broccolini with garlic and oil. Reservations: 407.313.7800 or click here.
More or less a French brasserie, Chef Tim Keating's Restaurant Row escape is a tasteful space worthy of this special day. The holiday menu offers three courses for $49 plus tax and tip, and you have a whole lot of choices. Here's one, to whet your appetite: "exotic" five-spice scented Long Island duck breast with duck confit and kiln-dried cranberry-laced rice and grain pilaf and pomegranate duck gastrique. The same menu will be available on Christmas Eve. Reservations
Pubby Teak serves its burgers and beer in MetroWest and in Maitland. On Christmas Day, the duo will open for dinner at 6pm. For those who need destressers, Jack Daniels drinks will be $5, 20-ounce beers $3.50, and NFL games will air. The restaurants will also be open on Christmas Eve from 11am to "close," whenever that is, with the same drink specials.
A seafood restaurant at Disney Springs, Paddlefish will offer a special menu on Christmas Day: prime ribeye with king crab mash, baby carrots and red wine demi-glace for $44. I assume the regular menu will also be available but am not sure. Reservations are welcome but not mandatory.
Visit this resort hotel to indulge in its Grande Christmas Feast, where charred herb lamb and slow-roasted strip loin are among the options at carving and other food stations. Seatings are at 2pm and 5pm, and the events will include live entertainment and children's activities. Free parking. $54.95/$21.95. Reservations 407.662-3462 or here.
WHERE TO EAT ON CHRISTMAS IN ORLANDO 2017: PREPARED FOODS TO GO
Whether you want to serve an entire vegan Christmas meal or just pick up a dish or two for vegan guests, this hip vegan hotspot has you covered. Bonus: Animal-free eggnog! Click here to see the menu, which is also below, and click here to place your order. Deadline: December 18.
WHERE TO EAT ON CHRISTMAS IN ORLANDO 2017: HOTELS
I can't imagine any hotels that won't serve something hot and nice on Christmas Day. Here's a shout-out to some worth going out of your way for, although without details. Email me if you'd like me to forward more info about these.