All across Houston, families with gather to celebrate Christmas by going to church, opening presents under the tree, and dining on a home cooked meal. To them, we say "Merry Christmas!"
This list is not for you.
Other people, for any number of reasons, will not celebrate a traditional Christmas. Whether travel is too expensive or too inconvenient, whether someone isn't a Christian, or whether family gatherings just aren't fun, we have an alternative. Celebrate Jewish Christmas instead.
The program is simple. Take advantage of a day off in the middle of the week by sleeping in, watching a movie (at home or in a theater), and then eating Chinese food. Or eat the Chinese food and then watch a movie.
While it should be noted that many restaurants in Chinatown will be open, we've selected a few recent favorites as a starting point for anyone contemplating a meal along Bellaire Boulevard. In addition, we've mixed in some other options from various parts of the Houston area.
Cafe East 3: The buffet restaurant in Mission Bend will be open regular hours (11 am to 9:30 pm). The price is just $11.50 for an all-you-can-eat spread of over 100 items.
China Garden: Since the Rockets are playing a home game at Toyota Center at 2 pm, this Houston classic will be serving Houston's best egg rolls. Hours are 11 am to 8 pm.
Chengdu Taste: The California import that's considered by some to be the best Sichuan restaurant in America will be serving toothpick lamb, ma po tofu, diced rabbit, and other signature items. Open 11 am to 3 pm and 5 pm to 9:30 pm. Reservations recommended.
Hunan Garden: The Kingwood location of this family-owned restaurant serves up all the classic dishes, but the chicken wings, beef and shrimp in sa tsa sauce, and Phoenix chicken are particularly noteworthy. Opens at 11 am. Last seating 8 pm (expect a wait for a table by 6 pm).
Kim Son: All three locations of the popular Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant will be open, but we recommend the Stafford location, which will be rolling out the dim sum carts starting at 10 am.
Mein: Chef Mike Tran's Chinese comfort food restaurant will be serving its roast pork, wontons, decadent lava toast, and so much more for Christmas lunch. Open 11 am to 3 pm.
Peking Duck Restaurant Westheimer: Contrary to initial reports, this new restaurant is not directly affiliated with Beijing's legendary QJD restaurant (thus the name change), but the chef worked at the Toronto location and uses many of the same recipes. Regardless of the name, the duck is first rate. Open at 11 am.
Regal Seafood Lounge: The Stafford restaurant will serve its full a la carte menu of both shareable dim sum options and family-style entrees such as Peking duck and fresh seafood. Vegan and gluten-free options are also available.
Shabu Zone: Admittedly, this pick isn't a Chinese restaurant (shabu shabu is Japanese), but the high-quality meat options, wide range of seafood, and extensive selection of vegetables all make this Chinatown spot an appealing option. Best of all, individual pots of broth mean never having to wait for someone else's food to cook before dunking that slice of ribeye into the bubbling broth.
Shanghai River: Located in River Oaks, this restaurant has a sign on its wall testifying to its high quality: A picture of legendary Houston broadcaster Marvin Zindler. Fried dumplings, hot and sour soup and Mr. Dan's chicken are all can't miss.