Even if you’re cooking Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at home, if you plan to dine out during the holiday season, here are 6 cozy restaurants in destination locations across the USA that are ideal for visiting.
From iconic restaurants in New York City and Carmel, California to popular eateries in spots like Lake Tahoe, Santa Barbara, and even Solvang, these are some of the most charming places to wine and dine at during the holidays.
Mission Ranch Restaurant in Carmel, California
From grazing sheep to sweeping ocean and valley views, Mission Ranch Restaurant in Carmel, California is a legendary restaurant that’s owned by Clint Eastwood. As one of the most popular places in our area, this charming restaurant has long been one of my favorite places to visit, especially during the holiday season.
With a lively piano bar and cozy indoor/outdoor seating, this picturesque restaurant is an idyllic spot to visit with friends and family. Not to mention – their traditional dishes like grilled salmon and beef short ribs make for a truly wonderful dining experience.
The Lark in Santa Barbara, California
This cozy urbane eatery located in the Funk Zone of Santa Barbara, California offers New American fare in wood-lined quarters with a patio. Not only is this bustling restaurant a fun place to go with friends over the holidays (since it’s a cool hangout spot), it’s also equally great for a romantic date night.
Boasting artisanal and seasonal ingredients, The Lark serves everything from craft cocktails to unique, mouthwatering dishes (like prime ribeye with oak-smoked red garnet yam, caramelized diver scallops, and roasted fall beets & burrata salad).
First & Oak Restaurant in Solvang, California
Nestled in the sleepy Santa Ynes Valley in Southern California lies the quaint Danish town called Solvang. Here you’ll find delicious bakeries, charming wineries, and European-style inns. Amongst these enchanting locales, you’ll also discover one of the best restaurants in the area called First & Oak restaurant.
Located in the Mirabelle Inn, this romantic gourmet restaurant is one of the coziest places to visit during the holiday season. From a sumptuous lobster bisque and truffle roasted cauliflower to butter-poached halibut and pan-roasted sea bass, the menu is a feast for the eyes and the stomach.
Christy Hill in Lake Tahoe, California
With epic views of the glassy lake and surrounding mountains, Christy Hill restaurant in Lake Tahoe is one of the coziest restaurants to visit during the holiday season. This elegant bistro garners rave reviews for its European-inspired California cuisine and lakefront patio seating.
I recommend booking a table just before sunset so you can watch the sun go down over the mountains in the distance. They serve everything from roasted fingerling potatoes with herbed aioli and caramelized brussels sprouts to grilled octopus, roasted chicken breast, and grilled bistro steak. Bring your appetite (and your camera), because it’s guaranteed to be a dining experience that you’ll want to savor.
Sur at the Barnyard in Carmel, California
Naturally, being based in Carmel, California, we are a little biased towards the incredible restaurants in our area. So, of course, I had to include another cozy restaurant that’s great for visiting during the holidays. Sur at the Barnyard has quickly become one of the most popular places to wine and dine, whether you’re a local or a tourist.
With its warm and inviting rustic-inspired atmosphere to its expansive menu of delicious dishes (including everything from Chicken & Waffles with rosemary-lavender honey butter to juicy burgers and my favorite, the fresh salmon Asian rice bowl with roasted vegetables), it’s easy to see why this hotspot is always busy.
Tavern on the Green in New York City, NY
Last, but certainly not least is the iconic Tavern on the Green in New York City. This landmark destination restaurant is set in the heart of Central Park, boasting both indoor and outdoor seating. During the holidays (since the weather will most likely be freezing), sitting inside in one of the warm cozy booths (overlooking the lighted courtyard) is the way to go.
Boasting gourmet dishes in an elegant, upscale atmosphere, they serve a wide range of options – including roasted figs with honey and goat cheese, a tower of oysters, clams and shrimp, grilled lobster risotto, caramelized rack of lamb, and a classic NY sirloin steak with creamed spinach and garlic fingerling potatoes. Not to mention – lots of vegetarian-friendly dishes as well.
For more inspiring restaurants and vacation ideas, check out the Travel section on Inspirations & Celebrations.