Bethany Clough

These restaurants are open on Christmas, plus where to buy a whole holiday meal

A key part of Christmas is the big meal with family around the table.

Hats off to the people who do all the cooking themselves.

For the rest of us – those of us who have to work, have little kids at home or otherwise need a little help – we have some ideas.

Several local restaurants sell fully prepared Christmas dinner meals to take home and reheat there. Groceries stores do this too.

Some restaurants here are open on Christmas eve or Christmas Day with nice holiday-themed meals. Some serve a classy spread and make the occasion. For others who don’t celebrate or may be traveling, we’ve included a few low-key, low-cost options, like Chinese restaurants and chain restaurants that are open on the day.

Here’s how to get some food help in the Fresno area.

Dining out

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m Christmas Eve and from noon to 8 p.m. Christmas Day. You can get a three-course holiday meal or a holiday surf and turf starting at $45.95. Reservations are a must and can be made online or by calling (559) 490-0358.

Romano’s Macaroni Grill is open on Christmas Day from noon to 8 p.m. Reservations can be made online or by calling (559) 436-6690.

Imperial Garden Restaurant at 6640 N. Blackstone Ave. is open on Christmas Day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Other Chinese restaurants are likely open too. Call your favorite to check.

Hometown Buffet at 3617 W. Shaw Ave. is open Christmas Day from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It does not take reservations.

Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery are also open on Christmas Day. In Fresno, the dining room is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. The bakery opens at 9 a.m. in case you need to pick up a pie.

The restaurants usually have a special holiday meal available with a slice of pie for dine-in customers. They don’t take reservations though, so get there before you’re starving.

Boston Market at Bullard and Blackstone avenues is closed on Christmas Day. But the one at First Street and Nees Avenue is open from noon to 6 p.m. that day. It will have a special menu that day and is first-come, first-served.

Erna’s Elderberry House is hosting Christmas eve and Christmas Day dinners if you’re looking for something memorable. It’s the only restaurant in the Central Valley to consistently win Forbes Travel Guide’s four-star award.

The Christmas eve five-course dinner is served at 6 p.m. It starts with a fish course of Arctic char, duck consommé, Wagyu short rib and more. It costs $135 per person, plus $78 for wine pairings.

The Christmas Day dinner is served from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The menu includes lobster soufflé and slow-smoked Christmas goose, among other courses. Dinner costs $135 per person, plus $78 for wine pairings.

Reservations are a must: (559) 683-6860.

If you’re traveling and just looking for something quick and easy, most IHOP restaurants and Denny’s will be open.

Take-home dinners

Several restaurants, grocery stores and catering companies sell fully cooked meals that you take home and reheat.

The Southern Hospitality Company is selling a Christmas meal made by native Fresnan and chef Aaron Nielson. He once worked at Me-n-Ed’s and Campagnia before going to culinary school and working at restaurants around the country. He returned to the Valley with a job at Erna’s Elderberry House and now runs a catering company with hopes of opening his own restaurant here.

His Christmas meal serves between six and eight people and features a honey-glazed ham for $169 or $249 for the prime rib meal. The dinners also include sides like mac ‘n cheese, garlic and green onion mashed potatoes, buttered brioche rolls and a chocolate yule log with berries and mint. To order: or (559) 213-8202.

Campagnia Bistro in northeast Fresno is selling a complete take-home holiday meal serving six to eight people. You get the choice of a 12-pound herb-marinated turkey dinner for $166 or a 10-pound rib roast dinner for $278. Each includes sides like sausage stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes and gravy, candied yams, rolls and pumpkin pie. Additional sides can be tacked on to the order.

The deadline to order is Sunday, Dec. 16. Call (559) 433-3300. Meals can be picked up between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Monday, Dec. 24.

Marie Callender’s has six Christmas meals that can be reheated at home. They feed between four and eight people with plenty of sides and range in price from $109.99 for a turkey breast feast to $174.99 for a prime rib feast.

Customers can also purchase just the meats, from $41.99 for roasted turkey breast to $89.99 for a prime rib roast.

Marie Callender’s also sells sides and pies individually for people who may want to supplement their own cooking.

See the full menu and order the meals online.

Mimi’s Cafe sells several take-home holiday feasts. They include turkey and ham meals with several sides for $104.99. You can also purchase just the six sides for $49.99 , or purchase individual pies.

Boston Market sells take-home meals, including ones for four to six people and other meals for 12 people. Options include prime rib, spiral-sliced ham, a whole roasted turkey and smaller portions of the meats. The meals come with several sides. Sides and pies can also be purchased individually.

Whole Foods has all kinds of options. They range from a roasted turkey breast dinner for four for $69.99 to a $449.99 meal serving 12 to 14 people featuring prime rib, ham and turkey. It even comes with a floral centerpiece.

The store also has a “just the sides” option and sides like mashed potatoes, stuffing and rolls can be purchased individually.

Sprouts sells full holiday meals too, ranging from a turkey dinner that serves two people for $29.99 to a rib roast meal serving six to eight people for $79.99.

Save Mart sells meals serving between six and 10 people, ranging from $49.99 to $99.99.

The Honey Baked Ham Co. sells ham, obviously, but also fully cooked whole turkeys, prime rib, tri-tip, ribs and sides. Order online or call the Fresno store at (559) 224-4267.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough