For about ten years, our Christmas Eve tradition has consisted of early evening drinks at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica, followed by a Persian food feast at Javan in West L.A. It started by accident in I think 1999, when I met up with my aunt who was staying at Shutters on Christmas Eve, and then we scrambled to find a place outside the hotel for dinner. Javan was open, it all clicked, and a new ritual was born! The only year we’ve ever missed it was when the Buenos Aires stop on our honeymoon coincided with Christmas.
A proper Javan post is coming next, but in the meantime, here are a couple scenes from this year’s pre-dinner celebration with family and a couple of friends. We arrived just in time (LOVE that light holiday traffic) to watch a stunning, lingering sunset over the Pacific from inside the vaguely Cape Cod-style building. That’s truly California for ya, right? Shutters is a perfect Christmas-y scene, exotic and evocative in its own way to us non-Christians. The model train display provides plenty of kid entertainment, and they’ve recently improved things in the beverage department, having jumped on the classic cocktail bandwagon. So this schmancy hotel lobby bar isn’t a major destination for true, hardcore historic booze hounds, but it’s a good trend to glom onto.
2012 UPDATE: We skipped the usual part 2 of our tradition by foregoing the venue change and staying at the hotel for dinner instead. Sad to miss Javan, but it was mighty convenient for the whole group to adjourn to the lovely casual Coast restaurant downstairs (pictured above), even if the dinner was like expensive ballroom dining fare. Views of the Pier and easy access to the beachfront path helped, too.