Racing against a blizzard one year, I exited off a wreck-strewn Pennsylvania Turnpike into an all-night truck stop for what would become my Christmas dinner. Scoffing at reason — it’s my wont, especially during holiday season — I decided to dine “al fresco.”
Thus it came to pass (a nice holiday-story transition, don’t you think?) that halfway through the saddest curbside gas station submarine sandwich ever eaten, my gaze traced past oil-slicked black asphalt — from which a greasy broken rainbow emanated — up into a flake-tumbling white sky wholly indifferent to my ridiculous plight. As a thin, nihilism-verifying smile creased my trembling-in-chilly-wind lips, I thought, “Here’s a tableau that would make for one hell of a snowglobe.” My next thought was, “I ain’t ever doing this again.”
Here are some open-on-Christmas restaurants guaranteed to be a lot more fun than what I went through. Happy holidays, everyone (and please call ahead to verify hours, specials, reservations and last-minute cancellations)!
I like mine loxed and loaded. Translation: cured salmon, a schmear, tomato, red onion and capers.
3415 E. Broad St., Bexley
If greedy-ass Santa gobbled up all your cookies the night before, virtuous yet crave-able vegan treats await you here during limited hours (11 a.m.-4 p.m.).
3009 N. High St., Clintonville
Gallerie Bar and Grill
This special-occasion, French-leaning restaurant inside the swanky Downtown Hilton will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hell, why not just book a room?
401 N. High St., Short North
McCormick & Schmick’s
Since this reliable upscale seafood specialist — which is offering its regular menu plus a holiday-themed dinner (possibly surf-n-turf) — is located at Easton, you’ll have a leg-up on your gift-returning chores.
3965 New Bond St., Easton
Along with its everyday menu, this killer Korean eatery will offer lunch ($12) and dinner buffets ($22) — the latter including all-you-can-eat, grill-your-own Korean barbecue. Lubricate your overeating tube with Korean Christmas cheer, i.e. soju and OB beers.
1138 Bethel Rd., Northwest Side
The Jury Room
Here’s an inspired yuletide evening-time strategy: Cap off an eye-popping Grand Illumination drive-by (i.e. cruise through the Christmas-lights-flaunting Scioto Mile and Columbus Commons) with JR’s holiday hooch and special three-course Christmas dinner — the latter a meal starring short ribs and figs. Note: JR and CFL siblings, Surly Girl and Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails (did someone say POT ROAST?), will open late afternoon/early evening.
22 E. Mound St., Downtown
This terrific meatless Southern Indian outlet will offer a special — yet stoopid-cheap ($10!) — buffet flashing plenty of racy, veggie-based style.
2001 E. Dublin Granville Rd., North Side
White tablecloths and spicy Chinese and Thai food still reign supreme at this perennial favorite, where you might try the Mala Lamb ... of …“Oh God, that’s good!”
2038 Bethel Rd., Northwest Side
Fortune Chinese Restaurant
This dive with fiery and phenomenal Sichuan dishes will be happy to melt down what remains of your Advent candle. Beer and cheap prices complete the Christmas miracle.
2869 Olentangy River Rd., Campus
Somali cuisine doesn’t get any better — and isn’t served in a prettier locale — than what you receive at this (alas, booze-less) veggie-prolific winner. The food here’s so good, you might leave singing: “Just hear those Solay bells jingling/ring-ting-tingling too/Come on it’s lovely weather/for a Solay ride together with you.”
5786 Emporium Square, North Side
Oscar Wilde’s observation that, “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives,” has come into play here after many, “Wow, I have a huge and crazy family!” Christmas Days. So if you wanna drink and eat feel-good burgers, chili and wings, meet me and the “A-Team” bartenders at my favorite divey neighborhood hangout. I’ll show up sometime after O’Reilly’s opens at 6 p.m. Unless I’m stuck in a truck stop, that is.
2822 N. High St., Clintonville
Alive file photos