Where to eat in LA on Christmas day

Hungry patrons lined up outside Canter's Deli on Christmas Day.
Hungry patrons lined up outside Canter’s Deli on Christmas Day.

It was Christmas Day in Los Angeles. Schools, offices, stores closed. On the streets, a Christmas miracle: no traffic, and plenty of parking. For once, quiet reigned in the city. Mostly.

At Canter’s, the venerable deli on Fairfax, the line was out the door. Longtime patron Rita Rose sat at the counter, eating blintzes.

“I’ve never seen it this busy,” she said.

At Hop Woo Barbecue and Seafood in Chinatown, Paul Almazan ate Peking duck and shumai with his family – a Christmas tradition for them.

For lots of people, of all races and ethnicities, eating at Chinese restaurants and delis at Christmas is as much of a seasonal tradition as drinking eggnog or regifting. Marc Canter said that at his family’s deli, it’s the busiest day of the year.

“Christmas Day, absolutely. Most restaurants are closed. Most supermarkets are closed. Years ago, that’s all that was open, was Chinese food and us,” Canter said.

Judy Liang, Lupe Liang and Kelly Liang at Hop Woo Barbecue and Seafood restaurant on Broadway in Chinatown.
Judy Liang, Lupe Liang and Kelly Liang at Hop Woo Barbecue and Seafood restaurant on Broadway in Chinatown.

There are more options these days, but restaurants like Hop Woo still stock up.

Chef and owner Lupe Liang, speaking in Chinese with his daughter Kelly translating, said, “We’re prepared with a lot of food in because we expect customers to order like, mainly ducks because a lot of people order ducks and we don’t want to run out.

Chef Liang ordered more than 150 ducks just for Christmas Day. In the kitchen, the plucked birds were stacked up by the dozen, or hanging ready to be roasted.

Jeanne Lam owns Golden Dragon restaurant on Broadway in Chinatown.
Jeanne Lam owns Golden Dragon restaurant on Broadway in Chinatown.

Across the street, Golden Dragon restaurant seats 600 for dim sum but people were waiting in line. Owner Jeanne Lam said she was seating double a normal Sunday’s crowd.

Greg Fisher came in from La Canada with his parents, his wife and three daughters. He called it his Jewish family’s Christmas tradition – eating pork buns at Golden Dragon.

Chinese food and a trip to the movies has long been a popular Christmas itinerary for Jewish Americans, but the idea is spreading. Liz Corey and her family celebrated the holiday on Christmas Eve. Their plan for Christmas Day? Dim sum and a movie.

“It’s communal. It’s a lot of fun to be out and about,” Corey said.