Leave roast beast to the Grinch. Here you’ll find Peruvian duck ceviche, barbecued turkey, a Feast of Seven Pastas, and more.
The time-crunch ’til Christmas is very much on. And even if your travel plans are off this year, there’s still a lot to do: Gift shopping, package shipping, hall decking, stocking stuffing—should we go on? Give yourself a break, and take “dinner cooking” off the list by ordering in from Boston-area restaurants. Many spots are offering special Christmas Eve or Day takeout packages this year, so it’s worth giving any of your favorites a call to see what their plans are. But if you’re looking for inspiration, here are 10 ideas to satisfy any taste.
A deep thought: Home Alone could never have happened in 2020. The McCallister family could never take a Christmas vacation to Paris during a pandemic, would never have fled their fancy suburban home in a mad rush to run, run, like Rudolph through the airport, and would never have abandoned their youngest child in the process. Instead, they would have simply called up Aquitaine, the South End’s stalwart French bistro, and ordered up a feast—sized for two ($140), four ($280), or six ($420) people—that includes truffled mushroom tartlets, cauliflower and potato gratin, and other shareable plates, as well as a choice of entree: duck à l’ orange, steak au poivre, mustard- and maple-glazed ham, or mushroom and chestnut Wellington. Maybe they would have added a la carte extras like brie an croute or caviar. They definitely would have donned berets and watched Emily in Paris afterward. Definitely. Order before: 10 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 20. Pick up: From 12-8 p.m. on Thursday, December 24.
569 Tremont St., Boston, 617-424-8577, aquitaineboston.com.
Over the last few weeks, Bambara chef David Bazirgan has been rolling out Capalbo’s Italian Pop-Up, his new project devoted to weekly-changing, family-style meal kits full of garlic knots, bucatini with meatballs, Tuscan white bean soup, and the like. His Christmas spread, though, moves away from the Boot and toward comforting fare that fits winter like a glove: A seasonal green salad of oranges, goat cheese, and candied pecans; ham with dijon mustard and pineapple glaze; baked mac ‘n’ cheese; warm chocolate cake with hazelnut crumble; and more. It’ll run you a very-affordable $32 per person, plus any extras you add—say, pigs-in-a-blanket offered by the dozen, or spiked egg nog served by the quart. Order before: Monday, Dec. 21. Pick up: Between 1-5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24.
25 Edwin H Land Blvd., Cambridge, 617-868-4444, bambara-cambridge.com.
This intimate Peruvian restaurant actually started its life as a supper club pop-up at the home of owners Maria Rondeau and chef JuanMa Calderon. Naturally, we’re confident their Christmas spread will now elevate our own dining room, thanks to the cilantro stew with rack of lamb, prawn bisque, purple tamales with creamy chicken, frozen mousse, and more. The splay feeds four for $180, with additional two-person portions available until you reach your responsible pod size. Order before: 5 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 20. Pick up: Wednesday, Dec. 23; delivery options available too.
21 Bow St., Somerville, 617-616-5319, celesteunionsquare.com.
You’ve probably heard of the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a Christmas Eve tradition in many Italian households. Seafood doesn’t always travel well, though, so Mida’s Feast of the Seven Pastas ($110) might be the better bet for those relying on takeout. The delightfully carbohydrate-crammed meal covers ricotta ravioli, bucatini all’amatriciana, lobster scampi, and four other pasta plates, plus salad, bread, and pizzelle cookies. It’s enough for two to four people, and will actually be offered a day early—Wednesday, Dec. 23—as a dine-in or takeout package. Don’t worry, though, these pastas will reheat just fine if you want to wait another night, and to-go orders can also add on a pair of wine bottles ($70) to hold you over. Offered on Wednesday, Dec. 23 for takeout or dine-in with 5, 6:30, and 8 p.m. seatings.
782 Tremont St., Boston, 617-936-3490, midaboston.com.
What’s a grumble? It sounds like a Whoville beast out of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but it’s actually the word for a group of pug dogs. And so, since the name of her Cambridge restaurant is the Japanese word for pug, chef and pooch lover Tracy Chang has pulled together “Holiday Gift Grumbles” that let you ship house-made gourmet groceries—from Thai chili hot sauce to purple pancake mix—to members of your pack across the country. Closer to home, though, you can check out her family-style holiday meals that include sake mirin coconut steamed whole branzino; Sichuan peppercorn prime rib; seafood or veggie paella; sticky rice-stuffed Pekin duck; and other feasts outfitted with sides. And if you want to put a little extra love into the winter holidays, participate in Pagu’s Project Restore Us fundraiser: On Saturday, Dec. 19, when you pick up any of these select snacks from partner eateries (say, walnut cookies from Cafe Madeleine), proceeds will benefit Chang’s organization that provides culturally appropriate groceries to essential worker families. Order by: Sunday, Dec. 20. Pick up: Between 1-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23; 1-6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24; or 12-2 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 25.
310 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-945-9290, gopagu.com.
If the travel-restricted holiday season is keeping you away from the matriarch in your own family, at least you can get a meal cooked by the doyenne of Boston dining. Legendary chef Lydia Shire is preparing feasts to serve up to six people—and the options range from starters like sherried lobster stew to pistachio- and apricot-rolled porchetta. There’s even a cranberry-laced roasted goose with black pepper caramel and chestnut, apple, and sausage stuffing; it actually sounds like something out of a storybook your mom might read you before sugar plum fairies dance through your sleepy head. Order by: End of Sunday, Dec. 20. Pick up: Between 12-4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24.
215 Charles St., Boston, 617-536-2100, scampoboston.com.
Sweet Cheeks Q
Here’s one bonus to keeping Christmas dinner to your own household: There’s far less pressure to change out of your pajamas. So why not go casual with a barbecue-style splay from star chef Tiffani Faison’s Sweet Cheeks? Granted, she’ll be dressing up her fare a bit more than usual: The portioned-for-two options include smoked prime rib with horseradish cream and au jus; slow smoked turkey breast with gravy and cranberry sauce; and maple-glazed pork with roasted pineapple—all of which come with half a dozen sides. But it’s still ‘cue, so you really just need some stretchy pants. Willing to wear jeans? Order from sibling spot Tiger Mama, where the Southeast Asian-inspired holiday package covers hoisin-marinated duck, spicy Sichuan long noodles, and more. And if you decide to toss on a jacket at the kitchen table, Faison’s Italian restaurant, Orfano, has the most elegant menu of the bunch: Prosciutto and Parmesan butter-wrapped beef, as well as grilled shrimp cocktail with brown butter and lemon aioli, are among the offerings. Order by: Friday, Dec. 18. Pick up: Between 12-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23.
1381 Boylston St., Boston, 617-266-1300, sweetcheeksq.com.
Thistle & Leek
This charming farm-to-table restaurant in Newton was only open for a few months before the pandemic hit, so you may not have had a chance to discover the delightful work that chefs Kate and Trevor Smith have been doing. Give yourself a holiday gift by unwrapping their Christmas Eve and Day takeout packages. The former, at $65 per person, includes options like lamb meatballs with tomato and ginger curry, ras el hanout-spiced Brussels sprouts, and sunchoke tortellini with truffle. The latter, priced at $165 to serve four people, involves ready-to-cook prime rib, mince pies, creamed spinach, and the option to add boozy eggnog and Christmas cookies. Order by: Monday, Dec. 21. Pick up: Wednesday, Dec. 23 or Thursday, Dec. 24.
105 Union St., Newton, 857-404-0260, thistleandleek.com.
Tony & Elaine’s
The dim lighting and red-checked tablecloths at this North End eatery offer exactly the kind of environs where you might want to hunker down during a snowy day. If you’re spending a white Christmas at home, though, you can still opt for one of two takeout packages, each priced at $145 and large enough to serve up to six people: The “Roman” assortment pulls together a seafood salad, porchetta, lasagna, rum raisin bread pudding, and more. The “Italian-American” option, meanwhile, brings us baked gnocchi, eggplant Parmesan, tiramisu, and other tasty morsels. Order by: Monday, Dec. 21. Pick up: Before 1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24.
111 N Washington St., Boston, 617-580-0321, tonyandelaines.com.
This cozy Cambridge farm-to-table offers plenty of thoughtful touches to keep us warm this winter. For one thing, its online store allows us to gift loved ones with virtual cooking classes and various food baskets—including a marzipan-filled Christmas stollen and a special Scandinavian assortment that features aquavit- and dill-cured gravlox alongside salmon smoked with maple and juniper. On Monday, Dec. 21, the restaurant will host a virtual Yuletide Feast with award-winning storyteller Alan White, who will share globe-spanning tales about the winter solstice while guests snack on pasties and eggnog. And you can also order to-go Christmas meals, sized for two or four people: Choose from maple glazed ham with cranberry compote, braised lamb shanks with mole poblano, or salt crusted baked striped bass with preserved lemon and bay leaf. All arrive with loads of sides (like squash soup with honey yogurt and pistachio), and you can add on desserts, such as the gingerbread walnut loaf cake. Order by: Tuesday, Dec. 22. Pick up: Between 1-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 23 or between 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24.
2263 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-682-7295, urbanhearth.net.