I'm not from Kansas City and have no relatives here, so I was invited — during my first few years here — by well-intentioned friends and co-workers to spend Christmas Day with them. It was a gracious gesture from lovely people, but I never had a very good time because, well, I can hardly tolerate my own family, so why would I want to spend the day with a strange family, sometimes even more dysfunctional than mine? That's not a holiday; it's a reality show.
So I now refuse all invitations and usually spend Christmas Day eating in a restaurant, often with other family-phobic friends. The problem, sometimes, is finding a restaurant that's open on Christmas. That's why Fat City has compiled a list of choices to consider. It's not a definitive list by any means, but it covers a wide range of options: from egg foo yong to waffles. Many of the nicer restaurants on the list suggest making advance reservations, while others don't mind if you just walk in.
Now I grew up believing that there was a Santa Claus and that all Chinese restaurants were open on Christmas Day. Today, I know that both legends are false.
But wait a minute, there are quite a number of local Chinese restaurants planning to be open December 25, including the venerable Princess Garden (8906 Wornall, 816-444-3709), which will be serving from its extensive menu of Chinese-American classics (and one of the most dazzling exotic cocktail selections in the city) from noon to 8 p.m. Reservations are taken only for parties of six or more.
Another local favorite, the New Peking Restaurant in Westport (540 Westport Road, 816-531-6969), will be serving from its regular menu from noon to 10 p.m.
Hey, what about a dim sum Christmas? Only two of the Bo Lings locations will be open on Christmas Day: the original Bo Lings (9055 Metcalf, 913-341-1718) and the Plaza location (4800 Main, 816-753-1718) are serving only from the dim sum menu from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Over in Grandview, the owners of the New Taiwan Restaurant (13055 S. 71 Highway, 816-763-3710) will welcome you into their gloriously kitschy dining room from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aloha Chopstix Restaurant (4316 Rainbow, 913-677-6789) isn’t much on ambience or décor, but it is open on Christmas from noon to 9 p.m.
If that ol’ traditional turkey dinner sounds ho-ho-hum, perhaps a merry and exotic Chinese buffet — General Tso’s chicken! kung pao beef! — will jingle your bells. The Northland fave, China One (5150 N. Oak Trafficway, 816-455-2207), will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. In Olathe, Wei’s Super Buffet (12225 Strang Line Road, 913-782-6888) will be open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The selections at the Fusion Buffet in midtown (4039 Mill, 816-960-6598) can be hit-or-miss, but hell, it’s cheap … and open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
How about Asian-style takeout for the family? The Palace Express restaurant (4128 Rainbow, 913-236-4382) will be open from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
One of the few restaurants actually open on the Country Club Plaza on Christmas Day is the M&S Grill (4646 J.C. Nichols Parkway, 816-531-7799). It will serve a holiday brunch — $27.95 for adults and $12.95 for children over age 6 — from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the full dinner menu from 3 to 8 p.m. Reservations are suggested.
A hotel is always a good bet for Christmas dinner, and Chaz on the Plaza in the Raphael Hotel (325 Ward Parkway, 816-756-3800) will be serving from its regular menu and also offering a couple of more traditional holiday entrées that night from 5 to 9 p.m. A few reservations are still available. The Brasserie restaurant in the Westin Crown Center Hotel (1 East Pershing, 816-474-4400) will offer a prix fixe dinner from noon to 10 p.m. featuring a choice of salad or clam chowder, a choice of prime rib or turkey, and the traditional side dishes with a dessert, for $24. Reservations are encouraged.
You don’t have to be a high roller to get a great dining deal at one of the local casinos in the metro on this holiday. The Buffet at Harrah’s Casino (1 Riverboat Drive, 816-472-7777) will be serving a holiday dinner from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The spread features smoked pork loin, baked ham, whole roasted turkey and a variety of other salads, side dishes and desserts. The meal is priced at $23.99 for adults. The Terrace Buffet at the Argosy Casino (777 Argosy Parkway, 816-746-3312) will offer a breakfast buffet from 7 to 10:30 a.m. and a traditional Christmas buffet — featuring baked ham, turkey and all those good things — from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The buffet is priced at $24.99 for adults. One of the best-laden casino buffets, the Horizons Buffet at Ameristar Casino (3200 Ameristar Drive, 816-414-7000), will serve a holiday buffet featuring roast turkey, ham-stuffed pork loin, prime rib, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes, glazed sweet potatoes and assorted sweets (including a chocolate fountain) from 4 to 9 p.m. The price for adults is $22.99. Calypso's Buffet at the Isle of Capri (1800 East Front Street, 816-855-7777) will serve breakfast from 7 to 10 a.m., brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 4 to 10 p.m. Call for prices and details.
You haven’t really lived if you haven’t spent at least one Christmas morning drinking coffee with your true love at the Village Inn Family Restaurant (5800 Broadmoor, 913-236-7088). The all-night diner will be open from the wee hours of the morning until 2 p.m. Christmas Day. It may not be the greatest meal, but you’ll talk about it for years afterward.
If you’re one of those bah-humbug types who simply wants the holiday to be over, finish off the festive day with java and hot cakes at the Waffle House (6840 East Front Street, 816-231-8565). It’s serving 24 hours that day.