Looking for a Christmas dinner in Ottawa without the hours of effort that go into preparing one?

While many people love cooking for an annual family gathering, there are others who prefer to relax and leave the cooking to someone else.

In Ottawa, as I tell my real estate clients who are new to the city, we’re lucky to have a great hotel and restaurant scene. I enjoy dining out and love recommending favourite places to newcomers.

Finding a restaurant that’s open on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day or other holidays can be challenging, however. 

Large hotels with restaurants are a good bet, as they are usually open for their guests. You’re also likely to find a few diners and pubs open across the city, though not all will have Christmas menus, so it’s good to call and inquire first.

We’ve rounded up a few venues offering Christmas dinners this year. As a bonus, several are located in the downtown area, which features a spectacular multi-coloured lighting display to enjoy before or after your meal with a stroll or drive along Wellington Street or the Confederation Park area on Elgin Street. For information on the lighting route, visit www.ottawatourism.ca/ottawa-insider/christmas-lights-across-canada/

If you’re interested in any of these dinners, call to inquire about availability as soon as possible, as they’re very popular each year.

Fairmont Chateau Laurier

Open since 1912, this stately hotel is a must-visit for anyone new to the city, even if only to see the beautiful lobby and the display of photographs and artifacts tracing the hotel’s rich history.  The elegant, wood-panelled walls and soaring ceilings make you feel as if you’ve stepped back to another era.

 At last report, the Christmas brunches and dinners were fully booked and the hotel was taking names for a waiting list in the event of cancellations.

However, the beautiful and popular Zoe’s lounge, where the hotel offers its classic afternoon teas and also has a dinner menu, will be open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Open from 11:30 a.m. to midnight, it will not have a turkey dinner but will offer the regular Zoe’s menu, which includes soups, salads, desserts and main dishes that include Thai curry mussels, steak au poivre, short ribs and tofu with vegetables. Zoe’s does not take reservations for dinner, and is first-come, first-served.

It does take reservations for its afternoon teas, which are served at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends. These classic teas include savory and sweet dishes.

For details, visit https://www.fairmont.com/laurier-ottawa/special-offers/holiday-offers/ or call 613-241-1414.

The Zoe’s website, where you can view the menu, is at www.zoesottawa.com

The Westin Hotel

The hotel’s dinner restaurant, the Shore Club, is not serving a Christmas dinner, but its breakfast restaurant, Daly’s, is offering a Christmas day brunch buffet, with a sweeping view of the Rideau Canal. Brunch options will include a traditional turkey dinner. When we contacted the hotel recently, there were still a few tables available, but reservations are a must. Cost is $70 a person, $35 for children 11 and under, and free for children under 3 years of age. Reservations: 613-560-7000.

The Lord Elgin Hotel

Dating from 1941, the Lord Elgin has a prime location on Elgin Street, across from beautiful Confederation Park. The trees in the park sparkle and glow with colored lights every year for the holidays.

The hotel restaurant, Grill 41, will offer a Christmas Day brunch and Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner.

 The Christmas day brunch buffet, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., will include egg dishes, fruits and juices, cheeses, a crepe station, green salads and pasta salads, turkey, a strip loin carving station, Yorkshire pudding and desserts. Cost: $45 per person.

The prix fixe dinner menu on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, has seating times from 3:30 to 8 p.m. The menu includes appetizers and several main courses, including a traditional turkey dinner and, for vegetarians, a main course of squash risotto with parmesan and arugula.  Cost: $65. Reservations: 613-569-2126.

For Information on festive celebrations at and near the Lord Elgin: https://lordelginhotel.ca/celebrate-festive-season-lord-elgin/

Banco Bistro, Casino du Lac Leamy

The bistro at the Casino, located in Gatineau just 10 minutes north of downtown Ottawa, will offer a Christmas dinner buffet Dec. 24 and 25, from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., priced at $35. The bistro does not take reservations. For information, call 819-772-6220 or visit https://casinos.lotoquebec.com/en/lacleamy/explore/restaurants

The Elgin Street Diner

For a more casual, budget-friendly dinner, this old-school diner is at 374 Elgin Street near Frank Street. Open 24 hours and a good option for anyone looking for a late night bite or early breakfast through the year, the Diner offers traditional comfort-food classics. On Christmas Eve and Christmas day, it will offer a traditional turkey dinner plate at about $20. Information: 613-237-9700.

Summerhays Grill

Like the Elgin Street Diner, this restaurant at 1971 Baseline Road offers a comfort-food menu of burgers, pizzas, pastas, salads and seafood and is open 365 days a year. Open from breakfast to late night, the restaurant will offer a turkey plate on Christmas day, priced in the $20-to-$25 range.  The restaurant will be open until 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve and 11 p.m. on Christmas day. A staff member said it was likely the turkey dinner would be offered Christmas Eve as well, but call to confirm. Information and reservations: 613-228-6049.

I’d like to wish everyone the best for a happy and healthy holiday season, wherever you celebrate it.

If you are considering buying or selling property in the new year, I have more than 30 years of experience as a Realtor in Ottawa, and know the city well. You can read more about me and my team at www.nancybenson.com or give me a call at 613-747-4747.