Wrapping gifts, addressing Christmas cards and entertaining kiddos on winter break leaves little time for putting meals on the table during the holiday season. We know you’ve got a lot on your plate (other than home cooked meals,) so we’ve put together a list of places to satisfy the need for good eats and holiday cheer.
THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY
When a restaurant is named after dessert, it’s OK to just go for treats. Order the Cheesecake Factory’s peppermint bark cheesecake (available after Thanksgiving through December only), which has chocolate peppermint bark integrated into almost every bite of the white chocolate cheesecake. Oh, plus it’s topped with white chocolate mousse.
Multiple locations, thecheesecakefactory.com
Denny’s has always been a good option when you want to dine on a dollar. Choose between the sweet (like cinnamon roll pancakes and pumpkin spice pancakes) and the savory (holiday turkey melt sandwich or a turkey dinner with gravy) on the seasonal “Festive Flavors” menu. Old school patron’s can upgrade their Super Slam breakfast and trade buttermilk for pumpkin pancakes, still for under six bucks. This deal is going on through Jan. 8, which means your crew will have plenty of time to try additional holiday bites like pumpkin spice pancake puppies, a pumpkin shake and pecan or pumpkin pies.
Multiple locations, dennys.com
This chain of European-inspired markets is one of the best places to get inspiration for seasonal family feasts, so it’s only right that they offer a special holiday menu in addition to the regular upscale fare sold behind the counters. While traditional treats abound, consider picking up some Yeti cookies – gingerbread cookies iced and decorated to be the abominable showman himself.
Multiple locations, eatzis.com
EMPIRE BAKING COMPANY
Head to Empire Baking Co. for a lunchtime turkey sandwich, and come home with holiday treats galore. Get a dozen ginger molasses cookies — a great hostess gift or after school snack — a loaf or two (or three or four) of the cranberry cinnamon walnut bread (it’ll go fast) or a sampling of the seasonal braided challah.
5450 West Lovers Lane, Dallas; empirebaking.com
Is the newly released movie of Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch already your family’s favorite Christmas classic? Now through Dec. 31, take a trip to Whoville – er, a nearby IHOP – for a breakfast feast inspired by the green grump himself. Sip on a minty hot chocolate (topped with green whipped cream) and order the Whoville Holiday Cheesecake French Toast, or opt for Grinch’s Green Pancakes, green buttermilk pancakes loaded with sweet cream cheese icing and topped with whipped cream and red candy hearts. It might sound like dessert, but happy kiddos and Christmas treats go mitten in mitten. Plus, kids eat for free at IHOP and other restaurants. Check them all out here.
Multiple locations, ihop.com
Order the regular (and delicious) burger and crinkle-cut fries with one of Shake Shack’s Merry & Brrright Holiday Shakes. Try the chocolate peppermint shake, a combination of chocolate custard sprinkled with peppermint candies, the all-new white mocha milkshake with whipped cream and white chocolate shavings, or the fan favorite Christmas cookie shake, which features sugar cookie custard, shortbread cookie crumbles and festive red and green sprinkles.
Multiple locations, shakeshack.com
You might recognize Torchy’s Tacos as a repeat winner from our Best For Families: Dining and Destinations survey. Along with their kid-friendly quesadillas and fried chocolate chip cookie dough bites, December’s taco of the month is The Preacher, a mix of marinated and grilled pork, grilled pineapple, avocado sauce, onion and cilantro wrapped in a corn tortilla.
Multiple locations, torchystacos.com
This article was first published on Dec. 13, 2016; it was updated with original research on Dec. 17, 2018.