The 2021 holiday season won’t feel completely normal — indoor mask mandates are still in place in Boston and some surrounding communities; some restaurants require proof of vaccination; Massachusetts is still reporting over 1,000 new COVID-19 cases each day — but it will certainly be a little more normal than the 2020 holiday season. For those who feel comfortable dining and attending events indoors, the usual traditions of holiday lunches and teas are picking back up again this year, not to mention pop-up Christmas- and Hanukkah-themed cocktail bars and boozy holiday markets.
Here’s a guide to special holiday season lunches, teas, pop-up bars, and markets happening around Boston (and a bit beyond) for the 2021 season. This will be updated periodically throughout the season as more restaurants and bars announce their plans; reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if something’s missing.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.
This article was originally published on November 19, 2021; the date of the most recent update appears above.
- Grill 23 (161 Berkeley St., Back Bay, Boston): The venerable Back Bay steakhouse always gets dressed up for Christmas with trees, lights, and such, and there’s a special holiday lunch menu available for four days only: December 16, 17, 22, and 23, noon to 2:30 p.m. A la carte steaks are joined by a burger, wedge salad, steak frites, lobster roll, meatloaf, and more. Reserve via OpenTable or call (617) 542-2255.
- Haley Henry (45 Province St., Downtown Crossing, Boston): The funky little downtown wine bar is opening for holiday lunch on Fridays in December (3, 10, and 17), noon to 3 p.m. The $70 four-course menu includes stuffed Cavendish quail, brown butter cake, and more. Reservations available via Resy; navigate to the holiday lunch event on the desired date from the main Haley Henry page. (Sibling wine bar Nathálie, located in Fenway, is also serving holiday lunch; see below.)
- Nathálie (186 Brookline Ave., Fenway, Boston): Like sibling Haley Henry (see above), Nathálie is serving holiday lunch on Fridays in December (3, 10, and 17), from noon to 3 p.m., with a $70 prix fixe menu. Nathálie’s menu has five courses, including aged Rohan duck and chocolate souffle. Reservations available via Resy; navigate to the holiday lunch event on the desired date from the main Nathálie page.
- Pêche by Saltie Girl (281 Dartmouth St., Back Bay, Boston): Opening daily at 11 a.m. starting on December 1, this new Saltie Girl offshoot — located in the original Saltie Girl space (Saltie Girl has moved next door into the larger Met Back Bay space) — is serving a prix fixe menu that focuses on three seafood dishes, including lobster frites. (The meal is $35 to $55 per person, plus optional beverages and caviar supplements.) Reserve on Resy; look for Pêche event tickets on the main Saltie Girl page. Reservations open a week in advance. Walk-ins also welcome on a first come, first served basis.
- Yvonne’s (2 Winter Pl., Downtown Crossing, Boston): The downtown restaurant honors its historical space — the longtime home of fine-dining icon Locke-Ober — with an a la carte holiday lunch menu that’s an homage to the Locke-Ober era. Think crab and anchovy canapes; roast chicken for two with black truffle butter; colossal shrimp stuffed with lobster and Gruyere; sticky toffee pudding; and baked Alaska. Reservations are required for holiday lunch, which is available on December 3, 10, 17, and 18, with seatings at noon, 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. Call (617) 267-0047 or reserve online.
- Alice (Patriot Place, 266 Patriot Pl., Foxboro): This Alice in Wonderland-themed tea room is open year-round, serving afternoon tea and high tea in its Queen of Hearts room Tuesday through Sunday. From November 26 through December 31, there will be a How the Grinch Stole Christmas holiday theme to the menu (the decor remains Alice-themed, though), which includes tea, sandwiches, scones, and more. $39/person for adults; $30/person for children. Reservations are recommended four to six weeks in advance if you’re trying to book for a weekend, school vacation, or special theme, like the holiday menu. There’s also a location in Mystic, Connecticut.
- Courtyard Tea Room and Map Room Tea Lounge (Boston Public Library, 232 Dartmouth St., Back Bay, Boston): Ah, tea and cocktails and little sandwiches inside the gorgeous public library. Choose from the Courtyard Tea Room or the Map Room Tea Lounge: Each offers afternoon tea year-round Monday through Saturday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m., with weekday pricing at $45 per person and Saturday at $59 (with a little more food). From November 26 through January 8, though, there’s special holiday pricing every day (Monday through Saturday) — $69 per person — with a menu that’s mostly the same as the usual Saturday menu, plus a few holiday season petit fours, like gingerbread buddy and red velvet bundt cake. Reserve online.
- Inn at Hastings Park (2027 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington): The Lexington boutique hotel is hosting family-friendly holiday teas on December 11 and 18 (10 a.m., 12 p.m., and 2 p.m.) inside its restaurant, Town Meeting Bistro, as well as in its heated outdoor igloos. In addition to tea and cocktails, the menu includes mini lobster rolls and other savory snacks, as well as sweets like cupcakes and apple cider doughnut muffins. There will also be gingerbread cookie decorating and other crafts, as well as a visit from Santa. $65/adult, $45/child (free for those three years old and under) for indoor seating, or $600 for a group of up to six in an igloo. Reserve online.
- The Newbury Boston (1 Newbury St., Back Bay, Boston): The new hotel — a revamp of the Taj, which offered afternoon tea for years — has begun hosting its own afternoon tea, with holiday dates running from November 26 through December 23 on select days (seatings at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.). There will be tea sandwiches, scones, and a variety of sweets alongside Jenwey Tea, and there’s a special menu available for kids. $5 from each ticket will be donated to the Highgate Charitable Foundation in support of children’s health and welfare. Reserve and prepay online; tickets are $99/adult (or $125 with a glass of Champagne) and $60/child.
- Rowes Wharf Sea Grille (Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, downtown Boston): This afternoon tea is also available year-round, Thursday through Sunday, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.; there’s typically a special holiday menu available in December that’s not too different from the regular menu. Specific 2021 holiday plans haven’t been announced yet, but in any case, you can make a reservation now. The tea service includes, of course, a variety of teas, as well as sandwiches, pastries, and tea-inspired cocktails. $50 per person includes the tea and food (cocktails are extra); add $10 for a glass of sparkling rosé.
- The Vintage Tea and Cake Company (129 Belmont St., Belmont): While the company is a decade old, catering events with tea, traditional scones, vintage china, and more, its sit-down tea room debuted this fall, allowing customers to start coming in for afternoon tea service. The special holiday menu launches on December 2, including several types of finger sandwiches; traditional scones with jam, butter, and optional clotted cream; and sweets like chocolate peppermint bites, lemon curd mousse tarts, and optional mini Irish trifle, a family Christmas tradition of owner Adel Donegan. Reserve online; morning and afternoon time slots are available Thursday through Sunday in December, with a few days off right around Christmas. Pricing starts at $30 per person, with some add-ons available.
Holiday Cocktail Pop-Ups
And other wintery places to cozy up with a themed drink
- Committee (50 Northern Ave., Seaport District, Boston): Seaport Greek restaurant Committee is featuring special holiday cocktails from December 1 through 30, including a rotating shooter served in an ornament-style vessel, a boozy hot chocolate, and more to drink by the Christmas tree.
- Delux Cafe (100 Chandler St., South End, Boston): No pop-up here — Delux Cafe, a South End institution, just always looks like Christmas.
- Flannel Fridays at the Revere Hotel (200 Stuart St., downtown Boston): On Fridays in December, the Revere Hotel is hosting seasonal activities in its lobby, with festive cocktails available by the fire in the adjacent lobby bar. Activities include a cappella by Tufts University’s Beelzebubs (December 3 at 7 p.m.), a DIY hot chocolate bar (December 10), and other events. Flannel shirts encouraged.
- The Lodge at Publico Street Bistro (11 Dorchester St., South Boston): Publico is once again transforming its interior courtyard into a ski lodge-inspired space, open Thursday through Sunday from December 9 though March 31, featuring big flannel blankets, an artificial snow machine, fire pits, heated lounge areas, and a lodge-inspired snack and cocktail menu (including hot drinks, punch bowls, and the Shot-Ski). The Lodge is bigger this year, taking over a former private dining space and featuring more couch seating (each area with its own television).
- Maccabee Bar at Bow Market (Variety Bar, Bow Market, 1 Bow Market Way, Union Square, Somerville): The annual Hanukkah pop-up — spearheaded by industry vet Naomi Levy — is back for its fourth year, popping up again at Somerville’s Bow Market from November 29 through December 12, open every night. Reservations highly recommended. While Maccabee Bar will be headquartered at Variety Bar on Bow’s second floor (and decked out for the occasion), other Bow Market vendors will be involved this time around with various food specials and gifts available for purchase. On the menu: the Latke Sour cocktail, actual latkes from Saus, a beer collaboration with Remnant Brewing, jelly doughnuts from Lionheart Confections, and more.
- Miracle at Central Tavern (31 Central St., Milford): This Milford bar is one of several Massachusetts venues hosting the annual Miracle pop-up, a Christmas-themed cocktail bar experience that pops up at participating venues all around the United States (with a few international locations, too). Participants put up over-the-top holiday decor and serve cocktails with Christmas-y names. This year, Miracle is donating 10% of proceeds from the sale of Santa Pants, Christmas Carol Barrel, and Santa Heads glassware to the James Beard Foundation Open for Good campaign, which is funding independent restaurant relief efforts. Central Tavern’s Miracle pop-up is running from November 26 through December 31, Wednesday through Saturday, starting at 4 p.m. Reserve online. (The bar also has some other Christmas events going on throughout the season, like a create-your-own ornament night and a wreath-making night.)
- Miracle at Kimpton Marlowe Hotel Lobby Bar (25 Edwin H. Land Blvd., East Cambridge): Another Miracle pop-up; see Central Tavern above for the details. The Lobby Bar is hosting Miracle from November 26 through December 24 this year, open at 4:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
- Miracle at Mystic Station (139 Pleasant St., Malden): This Malden bar is also hosting Miracle; see Central Tavern above for full details. Mystic Station will be hosting the pop-up from November 23 through December 31, Tuesday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Reserve online; reservations are strongly recommended and become available two weeks in advance.
- Sippin’ Santa at Shore Leave (11 William E. Mullins Way, South End, Boston): The South End tropical bar is hosting the Miracle pop-up’s tiki-themed sibling, Sippin’ Santa, again this year, featuring cocktails that draw inspiration from tiki classics as well as the holiday. Sippin’ Santa will be running at Shore Leave from November 23 through January 1. Reserve online if you’ll be eating dinner. Bar seating and limited table seating will be available for walk-ins on a first come, first served basis.
- Seaport Snow Globe on Deck 12 at Yotel (65 Seaport Blvd., Seaport District, Boston): The Seaport District hotel is festively decorating its indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge for the season; a variety of cocktails and snacks are available, and a portion of December sales will be donated to the Greater Boston Food Bank.
- Bazaar Mezzana at Bar Mezzana (360 Harrison Ave., South End, Boston): The South End Italian restaurant is hosting a holiday market full of local crafters and artisans from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on December 11; brunch and drinks will be served in the bar and lounge. Make a brunch reservation online.
- Boston Women’s Holiday Market at the Speedway (525 Western Ave., Brighton, Boston): The Speedway, Brighton’s new dining/shopping destination (not all vendors are open yet, but there’s lots going on there already), is hosting Boston Women’s Holiday Market on December 12 and 19 from 12 to 5 p.m.; grab some beer at Notch Brewing and watch for food trucks onsite for snacks.
- Boston Women’s Holiday Market at Time Out Market Boston (401 Park Dr., Fenway, Boston): The Fenway food hall will also host the Boston Women’s Holiday Market on December 4 from 12 to 5 p.m. (with live music from 1 to 4 p.m.) — find jewelry, candles, art, and lots more, surrounded by over a dozen dining and drinking options.
- German Christmas Markets at Jack’s Abby (100 Clinton St., Framingham): The local brewery is turning its beer garden into an outdoor winter market, inspired by Christmas markets in Germany, for two weekends in December: December 11 and 12 and December 18 and 19, operating from 2 to 6 p.m. on the Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. on the Sundays. There will be 12 local vendors selling goods from sheds, and there will be plenty of beer, food, and hot drinks for sale as well (not to mention fire pits). Watch the event page on Facebook for any pertinent updates, including vendor announcements.
- Holiday Market and Winter Lodge at the Canteen (225 Commercial St., Provincetown): The popular Cape Cod holiday market is back this year, lasting from the weekend after Thanksgiving to New Year’s weekend, with both indoor and outdoor portions. There are three parts: The holiday market, open on Saturdays and Sundays, features over 20 local vendors (jewelers, artists, woodworkers, and more); wreaths and trees will also be available. The backyard bar and food hut, also open on Saturdays and Sundays, includes a fire pit; hot drinks; foods such as grilled sausages, potato pancakes, and waffles; blankets; and a skating rink. And the winter lodge, open Friday through Sunday, is a chalet-inspired restaurant with three heated dining rooms and a menu of European winter dishes (schnitzel, pretzels, etc.) and hot drinks. Email email@example.com to make a reservation for the winter lodge. Find the full schedule and details here for all portion of the market and lodge. (Planning on making the trip? Here’s a guide to dining and drinking your way around Provincetown during the off-season.)
- The Holiday Market at Snowport (88 Seaport Blvd., Seaport District, Boston): WS Development, which is behind Boston Seaport (a giant development project within Boston’s Seaport District), is hosting Snowport from November 19 through February 28, a big lineup of holiday and winter activities, events, markets, and more. Snowport’s holiday market will be running from November 19 through January 2, open daily, featuring over 60 vendors selling everything from holiday ornaments to handblown glass to alpaca throws. Tuscan Kitchen will be onsite with winter-themed cocktails as well as arancini, pizza, calzones, and more, while Breezy Hill Orchard will be serving hot cider, cider doughnuts, and gingerbread treats. (There will be a heated tent available for seating.) Find a full schedule and other details, including information on other Snowport activities, at the Boston Seaport website.
- SoWa Winter Festival (Power Station, 540 Harrison Ave., South End, Boston [and elsewhere around the neighborhood]): SoWa, Boston’s art and design district that plays host to various markets throughout the year, is holding a winter festival from December 3 through 12, featuring over 100 art and food vendors, Christmas trees for sale, grab-and-go French food from Brasserie’s cafe counter, winter cocktails on the mezzanine of the Power Station, a food truck lot, a heated Jack’s Abby beer garden tent, a hot chocolate hut, and lots more; view the full schedule and details here. Free entry Monday through Thursday; $10 tickets required for Power Station entry Friday through Sunday ($5 if purchased online ahead of time). $10 parking is available in various lots.