It may seem like everything is closed on Christmas Day, but a surprising number of restaurants are open on Christmas. This runs the gamut of restaurants, from establishments that are typically open 24 hours to cafes that primarily serve breakfast to restaurants that cater to the lunch crowd or serve sit-down dinners.
While many national chain restaurants open on Christmas Day, some local restaurants choose to stay open on Christmas, too, and some even host holiday buffets or special menus. Most local newspapers will have a list of these openings in the week before Christmas, so you can check there or give your favorite local restaurant a call.
Just because a chain is open on Christmas Day in one city, however, that doesn't mean every franchise across the country is open. It's often up to the local owner whether their specific location will be open on Christmas Day, so contact the location you're planning to visit before you go. And if you want to enjoy a sitdown dinner in an upscale restaurant, reservations for Christmas Day book up surprisingly fast.
For Christmas 2020, restaurant hours are even more unpredictable than usual. Depending on the state or county you live in, restaurants may be shut down completely or only available to carry out. The best way to confirm hours is to call the business directly.
Restaurants Open All Day on Christmas Day
If you're hungry for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between, you'll want to check out these restaurants that are usually open 24 hours on Christmas Day.
- Denny's: Almost all Denny's are open 24 hours, 7 days a week, and they stick with that schedule on Christmas Day. Come for breakfast, dinner, or the all-time favorite of breakfast for dinner.
- IHOP: IHOP fans can rejoice because the beloved all-day breakfast chain is open on Christmas Day, sticking with its usual 24/7 availability. If you want holiday pancakes, there's nowhere better.
- Waffle House: If you're craving waffles instead of pancakes, Waffle House is open on Christmas Day, also following its 24/7 normal schedule.
Restaurants Open for Breakfast on Christmas Morning
With all of the excitement of waking up on Christmas morning, running out to grab a quick breakfast for the family is often the easiest meal of all. Many of the familiar chains are also open for lunch or dinner, but the opening hours vary by specific location. Call your local eatery to confirm they're open.
- Starbucks: Most Starbucks are open on Christmas morning—and sometimes later—and you can pick up your coffee or something for breakfast.
- Boston Market: Some Boston Markets are open on Christmas Day from the morning until night, and also have holiday pre-order menus if you want to pick up your entire Christmas-day dinner while you're there.
- Dunkin' Donuts: Pick up food from one of America's favorite breakfast chains to start Christmas morning off right, whether it's a breakfast sandwich, a big coffee, or their eponymous doughnuts.
- McDonald's: Whether you're going for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, many McDonald's restaurants are open at least part of the day on Christmas, in case you're looking for a holiday McMuffin.
- Perkins: All-American breakfast options—skillets, griddles, omelets, and more—are available at Perkins, along with lunch and dinner items for later diners.
- Golden Corral: Golden Corral has endless buffet options, with menus changing depending on if you visit at breakfast, lunch, or dinnertime.
- Bakers Square: Stop in for break, lunch, or dinner on Christmas Day at many Bakers Square locations. While you're there, it's a perfect excuse to pick up one of their homemade pies to bring home for Christmas dessert.
- Village Inn: Part of the same restaurant family as Bakers Square, Village Inn is also famous for its homemade pies. Many are open through breakfast and lunch on Christmas Day, offering their diner-style menu.
- Huddle House: A restaurant serving traditional American diner fare, most Huddle Houses are open from the early hours of the morning until the evening or late-night.
Restaurants Open for Lunch and Dinner on Christmas Day
Restaurants that are open for lunch and dinner range from casual fast-food eateries to fine holiday dining. Holiday hours at chains vary by individual locations, so call your local restaurants to confirm they're open and make a reservation if you can. In addition to these national or regional restaurants, local eateries in your hometown may be open as well.
- Panda Express: To fill your holiday with egg rolls, orange chicken, and chow mein, stop by your local Panda Express. Mall locations are likely to be closed, but many stand-alone restaurants are open.
- Shoney's: All Shoney's will be open for Christmas Day in 2020 beginning at 11 a.m. for dine-in (where allowed) and take out, with a special Christmas Day buffet in the evening. Call ahead to your local Shoney's to make a reservation or order your meal.
- Buffalo Wild Wings: Have something completely different for your Christmas meal this year by picking up some wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, because most of them will be open.
- Buca di Beppo: All Buca di Beppo restaurants are open on Christmas Day in 2020 for an Italian-style lunch and dinner. Many of them have a special Christmas menu and it's highly suggested that you make your reservation ahead of time.
- Luby's Cafeteria: Specializing in homecooked meals that are perfect for the holidays, many Luby's Cafeterias are open on Christmas, and even more are open on the days before with holiday meals available to pre-order and enjoy at home.
- McCormick & Schmick's: Most McCormick & Schmick's will be open on Christmas Day for lunch and dinner with a special three-course menu just for Christmas. In 2020, you can also pre-order a full prime rib dinner to pick up and enjoy at home.
- Ruth's Chris Steak House: Ruth's Chris will be open on Christmas Day starting at noon, although reservations are necessary at this popular steakhouse. You can also pre-order a meal online to pick up.
- Smith & Wollensky: All Smith & Wollensky locations will be open on Christmas Day from noon until 9 p.m. Enjoy a premium steak in addition to a special holiday list of exclusive wines.
- Legal Sea Foods: Legal Sea Foods is open for lunch and dinner on Christmas Day, and many locations offer pick-up options or delivery through Doordash or Caviar.
- Benihana: All Benihana restaurants will be open for both lunch and dinner on Christmas 2020, for a traditional hibachi-style Japanese meal that's just as much about the experience as it is about the food.
- Chart House: Chart House restaurants will be open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day where dine-in is available, serving high-grade seafood and meats. All locations also offer meals to pick up if you order by December 20, 2020.
- Fogo De Chão: Enjoy a Brazilian Christmas at Fogo De Chão, where all locations will be open on Christmas Day for lunch and dinner. Premium meats prepared churrasco-style are the specialty of this popular restaurant.