City of Delights: L.A. Chefs Discuss Their Holiday Traditions

Noshing all the way, top chefs share their favorite festive spots for eating and drinking

A Toasty Gathering

(Photo courtesy of Ototo)

Chef Charles Namba of beloved Eastside Japanese joints Ototo and Tsubaki carries on a tradition that has been part of his family’s Christmas Day celebration for years: hitting the Club Bar at the elegantly decorated Peninsula Hotel (9882 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills, “My parents, [my partner] Courtney, my brothers and their families head over around 11 a.m., after their kids have opened presents, to eat bar snacks and drink cocktails. I usually go with a glass of champagne or a martini, and my dad always has an old-fashioned.” says Namba, who grew up in L.A. “The lobby is decked out—a white Christmas tree, presents, lights. It’s very festive.”

A Drink and A Show

(Photo by Anne Fishbein)

When Suzanne Tracht gets the chance to step away from her classic Beverly Grove restaurant, Jar, during the busy holiday season, she loves to catch a show at the Coronet (366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove, “It’s the best time to go to the theater,” she enthuses, noting a particularly great Tig Notaro show she caught around the holiday one year. “I get dressed up for a change and wear a dramatic long coat.” Before or after the show, she goes next door to the Roger Room (370 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove, for negronis or one of the seasonal cocktails on offer. “The bartenders make a mean drink.”

An Outing and Oysters

Though Margarita Kallas-Lee and Phillip Frankland Lee are quite busy these days with their growing restaurant empire—it includes Sushi | Bar and the recently Michelin-starred Pasta | Bar—the couple make a point of carving out time for a trip to Disneyland during the holidays. “It’s one of our favorite things to do, and it’s even more magical during the holidays,” said Kallas-Lee. After a long day at the park, they refuel at their favorite Chinese restaurant in all of L.A., Full House Seafood (963 N. Hill St., Chinatown, fullhouse “They have the best pan-fried oysters in black bean sauce and are open super late,” says Frankland Lee. “There’s no better way to end the day, and it’s a must during the holidays.”

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