According to multiple sources, spending Christmas sequestered in a kitchen baking, cooking and washing up isn’t everybody’s idea of a delightful holiday. While this reporter cannot relate to such findings, I suspect many of you — who must navigate ornery in-laws, scheduling snafus and children strung out on peppermint bark — wish to be unburdened from as many culinary duties as possible this season. That’s why we’ve compiled this list to help you order your Christmas feast to go at one of these reliable and delicious local markets or restaurants. In turn, you’ll help to make their Christmas merry, too.
Also, keep in mind that some of these spots offer special menus for other winter holidays including Hanukkah, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, so please do check their websites for other offerings.
Note: This roundup of meals to pick up (or be delivered) isn’t exhaustive; it’s intended to help spark some holiday takeout ideas. If you’re hoping for a dish from your East Bay favorite for the holidays, contact them directly to see what you might arrange.
Great Christmas takeout in Berkeley
Now firmly settled in its new location, Joan Ellis and Patrick Hooker’s San Pablo Avenue spot will have a short rib dinner ($150) available for pick up, which includes said ribs, coconut curried yam, broccoli with chili crunch and your choice of dessert (chocolate whiskey cake, Sicilian lemon-almond pistachio cake or coconut pavlova with passionfruit curd and tropical fruit). Rounding things out are the root vegetable gratin ($140) with yukon gold potatoes, butternut squash and rutabaga, as well as a castelfranco and frisee salad ($60) brimming with farro, roasted delicata squash, goat cheese, hazelnuts, pomegranate seeds, and a sherry-shallot vinaigrette.
What you need to know: All meals serve four and come in oven–ready cooking vessels. Orders will be ready for Christmas Eve pickup; Babette is closed Christmas Day.
Babette, 2033 San Pablo Ave. (at University Ave.), Berkeley
This Berkeley mainstay offers some of the finest vegan fare in the East Bay. Check out its holiday menu, including maple mustard-glazed vegan ham ($18), vegan turkey roast with crispy skin ($18), Impossible meatloaf ($27) and vegan chicken pot pie ($22). Be sure to add some cheesecake ($26), eggnog ($14), fudge and chocolate chip cookie dough ($12) to your cart.
What you need to know: Most items serve up to three. Deadline to place orders is Dec. 16. Pickups between Dec. 17 – 24.
The Butcher’s Son 1954 University Ave (between Milvia and Martin Luther King, Jr., Way), Berkeley
With locations in Berkeley and Oakland, Cactus is a safe bet for all your tamale needs this Christmas. Selections include chicken and green Anaheim chilies, chicken and red mole, turkey and black mole, pork with red sauce, corn and roasted poblano chilies and cheese and jalapeño. All tamales come with salsa, pickled onions and Mexican crema.
What you should know: A dozen tamales will run you $40. Order by phone or in person at either location. Please place your order two days in advance. Closed Christmas Day.
Cactus Taqueria, 5642 College Ave. (at Keith Avenue), Oakland or 1881 Solano Ave. (between The Alameda and Fresno Avenue), Berkeley
This choice Chinese spot prepares one of the best roast Peking ducks ($59.95) in the Bay Area. The Michelin-recognized spot also offers its entire menu for pickup or delivery.
What you need to know: If you want the roast peking duck, you had best order it posthaste; it sells out early.
Great China, 2190 Bancroft Way (at Oxford Street), Berkeley
Featuring a vast Christmas-specific menu with a bevy of entrees, Market Hall Foods offers cassoulet, chicken pot pie, mushroom harvest pot pie, caramelized root vegetables, winter vegetable bisque with saffron, stuffing (it’s not just for Thanksgiving!), brandade, Fra’ Mani apple ham and much more. For dessert, might I recommend the bûche de noël or the fruitcake (unfairly used as a punchline in ’80s sitcoms for some reason) studded with soaked raisins, currants, apricots, cherries, prunes, orange peel, lemon peel, figs and ginger.
What you need to know: Orders must be placed by noon, Tuesday, December 20 for pickup on Thursday, Dec, 22 – Saturday, Dec. 24. Popular pickup time slots fill up early, so please plan ahead — and for the crowd-averse, Markey Hall’s Berkeley location is almost always less packed. Menu items will also be available in store during the holiday dates listed. Market Hall Foods is closed Christmas Day.
Rockridge Market Hall, 5655 College Ave. (at Keith Avenue), Oakland; Market Hall on Fourth Street, 1786 Fourth St. (between Hearst Avenue and Virginia Street), Berkeley
Great Christmas takeout in Oakland
This acclaimed French soul food restaurant offers a holiday ham dinner kit ($210) that serves six. Said ham comes with sweet potatoes, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, Creole mustard sauce, brown sugar glaze, biscuits and jam.
What you need to know: Pick up at Brenda’s in Oakland on Thursday, Dec. 22 between noon to 6 p.m.
Brenda’s, 4045 Broadway (near 41st Street), Oakland
Pre-order Christmas dinner for two ($100) comes with lamb shanks with apricot and chickpeas, couscous pilaf, broccolini with pickled onion and tiramisu. The vegetarian version ($70) features a portobello, cremini mushrooms, and butternut squash lasagna and refreshing radicchio and curly endive salad. Pre-order by Dec. 20. Don’t miss out on a sundry of desserts, including sweet potato pie ($26), apple galette ($26) or bread pudding with whiskey sauce ($50)
What you need to know: Place orders online or call 510-482-2114.
Communitē Table, 4171 MacArthur Blvd. (at Maybelle Avenue), Oakland
Chef/owner Matt Horn nabbed Food & Wine’s best new chef of 2021 prize, as well as a coveted spot on the Michelin Bib Gourmand list of 2021. Horn’s 2022 was more difficult, marred by employee complaints and lawsuits, but as the year draws to a close, the acclaimed pitmaster remains ready to cover your holiday spread. A la carte pre-orders include Horn’s popular whole smoked prime brisket ($275), smoked beef rib slab ($175) and smoked ham ($100). Be sure to grab a pan of mac ‘n cheese ($75) and — blessed be — a banana pudding with salted caramel that feeds 10 to 15 people.
What you need to know: Christmas pre-orders can be picked up on Saturday, Dec. 24, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Horn Barbecue, 2534 Mandela Pkwy. (between 24th and 26th streets), Oakland
Run by mother/daughter duo Reyna Maldonado and Ofelia Barajas, La Guerrera’s Kitchen prepares some of the East Bay’s best meat, veggie and vegan tamales, like chicken with mole rojo sauce, black bean and cheese, pork in salsa roja or sweet piloncillo and raisin. New this year will be pre-cooked frozen options, which are pre-packaged and come with heating instructions.
What you need to know: “Place your orders ASAP,” warns La Guerrera’s Kitchen. “Do not wait! We repeat, do not wait!” However, if you do dilly dally, last day to pre-order for Christmas Eve is Thursday, Dec. 22 at 8 p.m. Pick up for Christmas Eve is from 10 a.m. -2 p.m.
La Guerrera’s Kitchen, 468 8th St. (near Broadway), Oakland
This Montclair spot offers a classic prime rib to-go meal for $56 per person. Sides include creamed spinach, Yorkshire pudding and pommes puree. Also included is their million-dollar sweet potato pie topped with lingonberry, vanilla chantilly and gold leaf.
What you need to know: Orders begin Dec. 12, for pick up or delivery. Call for more details, 510-808-7767.
Perle Wine Bar, 2058 Mountain Blvd. (near LaSalle Avenue), Oakland
Chef/owner Tamearra Dyson (the first vegan chef to beat Bobby Flay) will offer pre-order entrees like country-style seitan steak ($14), seitan chick’in waffles ($15) and sizzlin skillet pesto mac ($15). You can also order an entire Christmas meal ($40) consisting of brown butter mashed potatoes, braised collard greens, brown sugar yams, cornbread dressing, Louisiana smothered cabbage, melted buttered cornbread, fried seitan chick’n, Creole cheddar mac, buttered black eyed peas and peach cobbler. Phew! While you’re at it, grab a few jars of the strawberry ginger ale for $5 a pop.
What you need to know: All Christmas dinners will be available for pick up on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Souley Vegan, 301 Broadway (at Third St.), Oakland
Highly recommended Berkeley and Oakland places for baked treats and desserts:
- Big Dill Kitchen: Contact them to make a custom cake, cookies, or other baked good.
- Arizmendi: 3265 Lakeshore Ave. (near Grand Avenue), Oakland
- Fournee Bakery: 2912 Domingo Ave. (at Russell Street), Berkeley
- Grand Bakery 3033 MacArthur Blvd. (between Maple Avenue and Laurel Avenue), Oakland
- La Farine: 6323 College Ave. (at Alcatraz Avenue), Berkeley; 4094 Piedmont Ave. (at 41st Street), Oakland; and 3411 Fruitvale Ave. (at Bienati Way), Oakland
- Mariposa Baking Company: 5427 Telegraph Ave., D3 (at 55th Street), Oakland
- Nabolom Bakery 2708 Russell St. (at College Avenue), Berkeley