Too pooped to put on Christmas this year? Not to fret! There are plenty of restaurants in New Jersey where you can pull up a chair on Christmas Day. So, once all the presents under your Christmas tree have been unwrapped and the stockings scavenged, you can lounge in your PJs, sip your coffee, and watch the kids play with their gifts and goodies without having to worry about cooking and cleaning before guests arrive.
We’ve rounded up 13 of New Jersey’s best haunts to feast on festive fare. Call ahead to secure your spots at the table, and then start mapping out the holiday light displays you can catch after dinner. You won’t have to build in extra travel time, because chances are you’ll have the roads all to yourselves. Merry Christmas!
Blue Morel – Morristown
Come to this contemporary farm-to-table restaurant, and have the blue-est Christmas ever—in the best way possible. With seatings beginning at 12:30pm through 9pm, the annual Christmas dinner will be served as a three-course prix-fix menu. $75 for adults, $38 for children under 12 years old. And if you’re fixing to celebrate with a caravan of family and friends, plan ahead and book the exclusive Wine Room. The more intimate setting can accommodate parties up to 18 people. For reservations call 973-451-2619.
Grand Cascades Lodge – Hamburg
Have a budding New York Times food critic in your family? Then you might need to test out the creative culinary chops of the chefs in command at the Crystal Springs Resort. A three-course prix-fix menu is available at two of the Grand Cascades Lodge restaurants: The Crystal Tavern and The Springs Bistro. Dine from 5–10pm at Crystal Tavern and 3–8pm at Springs Bistro, at $69 per person for adults (with an additional $29 pp option for a wine pairing) and children over the age of 12. Reservations are required, call 877-447-8613 or 866-976-7292.
Legal Seafood – Paramus
Haven’t tried a traditional feast of seven fishes before? Don’t worry, we have you covered. While the Garden State Plaza mall itself isn’t open, its seafood haven is hopping with a holiday feast from noon to 9pm. Though the menu hasn’t posted yet, we have it on good authority that the New England–style eatery will be offering up edibles from scallops and shrimp to luscious lobsters and a whole lot more. Reservations are recommended; call 201-843-8483.
McCloone’s Boathouse – West Orange
Celebrate Christmas from the banks of the reservoir in this lodge-style restaurant famous for its traditional American cuisine. At $49.95 per person, the Christmas Day prix-fix features scrumptious selects like pear and pecorino ravioli and filet mignon with a delicious demi-glaze and haricot verts that would make St. Nick himself ditch the cookies for some veggies. For reservations call 862-252-7108.
The Mohawk House will put everyone in a festive mood, with loads of holiday decorations and a ski chalet feel.
Mohawk House – Sparta
This grand country estate is already decked out for the holiday season and ready to make all of your Christmas dinner dreams a reality. Check your car with valet service and venture into one of the eight elegantly appointed, cozy, fireside dining areas reminiscent of a charming ski chalet. The website isn’t updated yet, but check in often for the first glimpses of the holiday menus, and make reservations soon by calling 973-729-6464.
Sofia – Englewood
Whether you want to go early for its special holiday brunch, or prefer to dine out for dinner, you won’t be disappointed with this Northern NJ hotspot. From seafood that’s flown in fresh daily, to house-made pasta and sundry seasonal Italian creations, many cooked in a wood-burning oven, the food is out of this world. All you can wish for is some flurries to complete the picture, as the restaurant’s open-air concept and floor-to-ceiling windows usher in tons of natural light and a great view of downtown Englewood. For reservations call 201-541-8530.
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Enjoy a historic holiday feel and New American cuisine at Metuchen Inn.
Lambertville Station – Lambertville
Have your kids been itching to take a ride on the Polar Express? Well, dinner here is the next best thing. Housed in a restored, 19th-century train station situated on the banks of the Delaware River, this culinary landmark pulls out all the stops for the Christmas season. Dining hours are from noon–8pm on Christmas Day, offering a choice of a la carte selections or a traditional buffet. If kimchi tuna and stuffed acorn squash are too grown-up for your peanuts’ palates, the restaurant also has a children’s menu stacked with simpler savories like mac and cheese and chicken tenders. For reservations call 609-397-8300.
Metuchen Inn – Metuchen
Hoping to pair a historic vibe with your holiday meal? Look no further than Metuchen's fancy New American fixture, complete with a creative a la carte Christmas menu. Though the menu hasn't made its way online yet, if the tempting Thanksgiving menu is any indication of what you can expect from its curated Christmas cuisine, you won't be disappointed. Seatings are scheduled from noon to 6:30pm, and a children's menu is available upon request. For reservations call 732-494-6444.
You'll get your fill of holiday fare at Nassau Inn's gastro-pub, Yankee Doodle Tap Room.
Nassau Inn – Princeton
Even the Grinch-iest guests would have their hearts grow three sizes after a meal at the Nassau Inn’s gastro-pub, Yankee Doodle Tap Room. With three buffet seatings (at noon, 2 and 4pm), the historic downtown-Princeton watering hole, with a view straight out to Palmer Square (and its huge Christmas tree lights display), promises premium yuletide yummies—from cream of mushroom soup with truffle oil to pepper-charred roasted pork loin and desserts for days. $35 for adults and $15 for kids ages 3-12. Children under 3 eat for free. For reservations call 609-688-2600.
Café Madison – Riverside
Tired of Christmas dishes that start with turkey and end with some sort of fruit pie? Thankfully, Café Madison has a much more exciting flavor profile for its three-course prix-fix served from 1–6pm ($39.95 for adults; a children's menu available on request). The holiday menu isn’t finalized yet, but considering its winter roster ripe with unique options like kurobuta pork osso bucco, it should be stacked with similarly bewitching bonne bouche. Toast the season with a specialty cocktail created at the award-winning martini bar. For reservations call 856-764-4444.
Ram’s Head Inn – Galloway
Step out for decadent holiday dining that’s a fit for the whole family. Offering a four-course prix-fix menu, with fare from traditional to trendy, this New American restaurant with Colonial charm serves up an amazing Christmas spread. Pricing depends on the entree you choose (from $46 to $59), and starred items indicate those that come in children’s portions, capped at $29. Children under 3 eat for free. For reservations call 609-652-1700.
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Enjoy the view of the coastline while enjoying your holiday meal at McCloone's Pier House.
McCloone’s Pier House – Long Branch
Open from noon to 5pm, this oceanfront find offers a tailored holiday prix-fix menu that can’t be beat. For $54.95 per person, you can sample not-so-ordinary options like a poke tuna bowl and shrimp provencal. Leave room for dessert, because the apple walnut cake is top notch! And for the 21+ patrons, you’ll be treated to a complimentary glass of champagne to toast the most wonderful time of year. For reservations call 732-923-1006.
The Blue Pig Tavern – Cape May
Spending Christmas down the shore this year? If so, you’ll have quite a few places to pick from, and the Blue Pig Tavern hosts a can't-miss three-course dinner from 2-8pm. Prices depend on the entree you choose (from $29 to $48) and include a starter and dessert. There is a $19 children’s meal, too. If the winter vegetable ratatouille or pan-seared duck breast don’t get your mouth watering, you can opt for the Christmas buffet in the ballroom from 1–5pm. $45 for adults; $19 for children ages 3-12. For reservations call 609-884-8422 (sit-down) and 609-884-6542 (buffet).
All photos courtesy of the restaurants.