‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and Everyone was Hungry
For many, Christmas Eve is a sort of green room abuzz with anticipation of the next day’s big show. For some, it is a quiet evening focused on retro movies, cocktails and small plates; for others, nibbles are consumed amid a search for scissors and tape as last-minute packages arrive. If your family is like ours, the Christmas Eve meal is simple and focused on a single-dish entree or favorite carryout foods to keep cooking to a minimum and to save energy for the next day’s bash. From tamales and gumbo to Asian noodles and potpies, here are a few suggestions that might be just the thing. Get your orders in early — many providers have deadlines. Don’t forget to fill a plate for Santa; the man needs more than cookies to fuel his journey.
While Chinese food is a Christmas Day tradition for some, we love a spicy noodle dish as a prelude to the holiday feast. The pad Thai from Malai Kitchen features lightly sauced rice noodles with either shrimp or chicken, along with bits of egg, tofu, carrots, green onion and bean sprouts. Ask for meatless if you prefer a vegetarian option, and you can choose the heat factor (we like medium). The servings are generous; each order easily feeds two, $14 for shrimp or chicken; takeout and delivery available.
Park Village, 1161 E. Southlake Blvd., 817-251-9141; The Shops at Clearfork, 5289 Monahans Ave., Fort Worth, 682-707-3959; malaikitchen.com
The family meals at Enchiladas Olé taste like mama’s cooking. A choice of six styles of enchilada dinners — including Hatch brisket — with rice, beans, chips and salsa feed four to six, $40.
2418 Forest Park Blvd., Fort Worth, 817-984-1360, enchiladasole.com
Perhaps the most traditional of Texas Christmas Eve treats, tamales by the dozen, a flight of salsa, guacamole and beans equal a noche buena fiesta. Tommy Tamale Market & Cafe has you covered with chicken, beef, pork and vegan choices at various heat levels, as well as sweet varieties. We like the compatibility of black bean and cheese served aside the amped-up habanero beef and classic pork, all generously stuffed in fresh masa. For hot steamed tamales, order online or call. Frozen items available on a first-come, first-served basis, $14 to $16 per dozen.
1689 W. Northwest Highway, Grapevine, 817-360-6385; 208 N. Main St., Keller, 817-398-3500; tommytamale.com
With a hint of smoky heat and chock-full of surprises, a good gumbo is like a culinary treasure hunt. The Cajun Market offers both an authentically roux-rich chicken and sausage version as well as a luxe seafood version using owner Phil Tullis’ mom’s recipe. Get the frozen quart containers, $16 each, or individual orders that include rice, $9.99 to $12.99 per generous serving. Order online for quick pickup. Another go-to is Tributary Cafe for its shrimp gumbo in a dark roux filled with okra. Get some of the blackened pork skins for snacking. Gumbo, $11 per serving; pork skins, $6 per serving.
5409 Colleyville Blvd., 817-527-2175, thecajunmarket.com
2813 Race St., Fort Worth, 817-832-0823, tributarycafe.com
Nothing defines one-dish comfort food and dinner-service ease better than a crusty potpie. Local Foods Kitchen offers pot roast and chicken versions, both with big chunks of meat and vegetables in more of a rich broth than a creamy sauce. Both are regulars in the chef’s case at the gourmet cafe and carryout spot, but it’s best to order in advance, $8.99 to $9.99. For a more traditional take, try the chicken potpies from Eatzi’s Market & Bakery, which feature a creamy white sauce, $9.99.
4548 Hartwood Drive, Fort Worth, 817-238-3464, localfoodskitchen.com
University Park Village, 1540 S. University Drive, Fort Worth, 817-945-9095; 1200 W. State Highway 114, Grapevine, 817-527-4007; eatzis.com
Italian families know it’s not a gathering unless there’s a pasta dish — or seven — on the table. The family-size pasta dinners for four to six from Cane Rosso are a great way to feed a gathering. Try the Fusilli alla Vodka with sausage, roasted red peppers, caramelized onions and garlic breadcrumbs in a vodka sauce or the Truffle Carbonara with fettuccine tossed with cracked pepper, bacon, truffle cream and egg yolk. Or order both, $40 each. Call for carryout or order online for delivery via Uber Eats.
Multiple locations, canerosso.com