Eat This Tonight: Christmas edition 

Make your reservations now

Families are beginning to embrace eating out during the holidays. Less time cleaning up the dishes means more family time, plus no one has to suffer through your aunt-who-can't-cook's dish. Several restaurants in Charleston are open on Christmas Day, offering special holiday menus. Unlike the gifts that your same aunt gave you, you won't want to give any of these dishes back.

Chef Jeremy Holst at Anson is serving up a three-course supper on Christmas Day from 1-8 p.m for $55 a person. Guests have a selection of several first courses, including handmade sweet potato ravioli with duck confit, or they can go for oysters with cider mignonette and American caviar. More than 12 entrées are available, including olive-encrusted lamb with merguez sausage, white beans, artichoke tapenade, and lamb jus; a roast pheasant breast with chestnut bread pudding, wild mushrooms, and pearl onion gravy; or barbecued mahi-mahi with grits, greens, and green tomato relish.

"I wanted to use dishes centered around game and chestnuts. I think those really evoke the feeling of the holiday season well," Holst says. On the menu for dessert are some intimidatingly named dishes, including the Mile High apple pie or the Chocolate Oblivion torte.

Poogan's Porch is offering a three-course meal for $39.95 ($19.95 for children under 10). Kick things off with she-crab soup, gumbo, or a seasonal greens salad, then choose from one of eight entrées, including the Christmas Combination, replete with turkey, ham, cornbread stuffing, corn pudding, and whipped potatoes. Kahlua-cream coconut pie, bread pudding with bourbon butter sauce, and banana pudding with white chocolate are on the menu for dessert.

Chef Robert Carter at Peninsula Grill is cooking up a holiday four-course meal that should please seafood fans. First course is lobster bisque with spinach gnocchi and beet oil, followed by a smoked trout and goat cheese fallen souffle. The entrée is rosemary and thyme-scented standing beef rib roast.

Blu is running a special Christmas menu on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day from 4:30-9 p.m. Hearty, wintery dishes are abound, including a venison pâté with garlic and ale mustard and a port wine vinaigrette, a pistachio-encrusted rack of lamb, trio of duck, and a local beef duo. Coffee and doughnuts for dessert should keep you warm.

Magnolias' Christmas specials run on Christmas Day from 12-8 p.m, offering up some traditional home-cooked dishes, minus the clean up on your part. They're serving up a butternut squash bisque with a cayenne pepper pecan brittle and an entrée of roasted turkey served with andouille sausage stuffing, whipped potatoes, braised local mustard greens, a cranberry-orange chutney, and giblet gravy.

With a limited number of restaurants open on Christmas Day, it's probably best to make reservations before heading out. Click here for full list of restaurants open for the holidays.

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