Dining out on Christmas offers an appealing option for an extended family gathering or an intimate meal for two. Dining out takes the meal pressure off and puts the emphasis on quality time with loved ones. Consider going out to eat before strolling through Old Town Albuquerque on Christmas Eve, when luminarias light up the neighborhood. You can choose from several restaurants within walking distance of the seasonal display, but be sure to make reservations for this busy night.
Or start a new tradition and invite family or friends to meet you for a festive Christmas brunch or special seasonal dinner at one of Albuquerque's iconic eateries.
6520 Americas Parkway NE
Buca di Beppo serves both lunch and dinner on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, with the usual menu of Italian specialties. For a larger gathering, consider booking a semi-private dining room, where you can host a family-style meal with courses customized for your group. Make reservations online or call the restaurant directly.
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, December 24 and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday, December 25
425 San Felipe Rd NW, in Old Town
Called "the original Old Town steakhouse," High Noon's loyal following of 43 years attests to the quality of the hand-cut steaks, wild game, and New Mexican specialties that bring in customers today.
This Albuquerque institution serves its eclectic menu in a centuries-old adobe building. Christmas Eve dinner requires advance reservations.
When: Noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, December 24
125 2nd Street NW
Executive chef Mark Quinones, a two-time "Best Chef in the City" award winner, continues the tradition here of turning locally sourced, seasonally available organic ingredients into reinvented traditional Spanish cuisine.
With a long list of signature tapas, light plates, and some more robust dishes, the menu lends itself to holiday sharing.
When: 5 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, December 24 and Monday, December 25
288 Prairie Star Road, Santa Ana Pueblo
The romantic views of the Sandias and the charming adobe atmosphere make this an especially romantic place for dinner. The four-course, prix fixe (fixed-price) Christmas eve dinner features duck tamales, blue-corn fried oysters, Berkshire pork osso buco, and a grilled ribeye, among other choices. Reservations are required.
When: 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday, December 24
1901 University NE at the Crowne Plaza Hotel
This AAA Four Diamond-awarded restaurant uses wood-fired French ovens and "gridiron" grills to give its meats and seafood a distinctive flavor. Call ahead for reservations for Christmas dinner, which includes the regular menu and holiday specials.
When: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday, December 25
West of Albuquerque on I-40 at Laguna Pueblo
Celebrate Christmas at the Hungry Cowboy Buffet with brunch on Christmas Eve and a crab leg buffet dinner for Christmas Day. The Thunder Road Steakhouse and Cantina serves its New Mexico-flavored menu of plated steaks and seafood both days.
You can work up an appetite at the slot machines or playing Vegas-style table games.
When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, December 24 and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday, December 25
30 Rainbow Road NE
Bien Shur's holiday dinner menu features house-made sweet potato gnocchi, duck posole verde, and entrees that include buffalo tenderloin, rack of lamb, and surf and turf specials. Bien Shur offers rooftop dining with breathtaking mountain views. Reservations are a must.
Thur Shan's Christmas buffet includes a wide variety of regional and international favorites from Mexican, Italian, and American culinary traditions.
When: Bien Shur: 1 to 8 p.m. Monday, December 25; Thur Shan: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, December 25
2031 Mountain Road NW
With its proximity to Old Town, Seasons makes a convenient place to dine before or after a luminaria tour.
On Christmas Eve, the restaurant offers a three-course prix fixe (fixed-price) menu. Required reservations begin at 4:30 p.m.
1300 Tuyuna Trail, Santa Ana Pueblo
The Christmas Eve dinner buffet at Santa Ana Cafe includes a salad bar, artisan cheese display, a carving station with prime rib and pork loin, posole, tamales, chicken with mole, seafood, and five decadent desserts. The Christmas Day brunch buffet at Santa Ana Cafe and Corn Maiden features holiday favorites and inspired specialties from award-winning chefs, including a carving station with turkey and ham, a cheese display, an assortment of small tacos, and a dessert selection longer than Santa's list. Reservations are required.
When: Santa Ana Cafe: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, December 24 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, December 25; Corn Maiden: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, December 25
3009 Central NE
An exhibition kitchen turns dining at Zinc in Nob Hill into an entertaining experience. An extensive list of wines by the glass plus the option of wine tasting flights makes pairing wine with a multi-course meal easy. Zinc serve their regular dinner menu on Christmas Eve, plus holiday specials.
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday, December 24