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Plus Bar Pilar channels Home Alone during a budget-friendly feast. By Anna Spiegel
Foie gras-hop on H Street during their Foie La La festival. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Plan ahead: ‘Tis the week before Christmas, so here’s a friendly reminder to make those holiday plans. Browse our roundup of Christmas Eve dinners, festive brunches, foodie gift guides, cocktail recipes, and more.

Happy anniversary: If you’re looking for a Monday splurge, then Bourbon Steak’s five-year anniversary party is the place to go. Chef-owner Michael Mina is joined by a team of past and present toques from the restaurant, all serving a six-course meal with optional wine pairings after an opening cocktail reception at 7. Reservations are $165, or $250 with pairings.

Foie la la: California may have banned the luxurious liver, but you can get your fill along H Street with the Foie La La fest, starting Monday. Restaurants like Granville Moore’s, Boundary Road, and the Atlas Room all serve foie gras-based dishes through the end of the month, so you can try them all and vote for your favorite.

Party like Ron Burgundy: Jack Rose commemorates the upcoming release of Anchorman 2 with a Ron Burgundy-esque Scotch party on the rooftop terrace Monday. Come for Scotch cocktails, flights, and barrel-aged beers, plus a screening of the original movie and costume contest (incentive: $2 off themed cocktails all night for the winner).

Drink for good: Sip beer and help feed those in need at ChurchKey on Monday, which hosts a holiday ale tap takeover and canned food drive. Bring an edible item for So Others Might Eat (or make a cash donation) between 4 and 9, and get a free four-ounce pour from the 50 varieties of holiday drafts.

Jingle ales: Christmas comes a bit early at Belga Cafe during a holiday beer dinner on Tuesday at 6:30. The five-course menu is paired with a variety of seasonal brews, and is $69 per person.

Festivus for the rest of us: Expect plenty of alternative holiday spirit at Rustico Alexandria on Wednesday, which hosts its seventh annual Festivus celebration at 6. Go dance around the Festivus pole, air some grievances, and taste 15 varieties of holiday brews. You may even snag free brewery glassware.

Class/preview: Want to learn about whiskey and check out a buzz-worthy bar all at once? Sign up for the Southern Whiskey 101 class on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, held at Derek Brown’s soon-to-open bar, Southern Efficiency. The space doesn’t officially open until Saturday, but you can get a sneak peek while learning about the South’s greatest spirit and sipping a mix of well-known and less-common liquors. Classes are held at 6 and 8 each night, and costs $45 per person.

Holiday market: Browse holiday foodstuffs and chef Frederik de Pue’s new Penn Quarter restaurant-market-wine bar all at once during a pop-up holiday market at Menu on Thursday from 3 to 7. Guests will sip free hot chocolate and snack on Chapel Hill Farm veal meatballs, wander between stalls manned by local producers like DC Cured, and find an array of foodstuffs from the upcoming concept like sticky buns, soup, and Belgian waffles.

Fish feast: Chef Mike Isabella offers his take on the traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner, Thursday through Sunday at G. The five-course menu includes an ocean’s worth of offerings, from roasted oysters to crab pasta and pan-roasted branzino. Reservations are $65, with an additional beverage pairing for $35.

Yesss: Bar Pilar channels Home Alone during a Sunday dinner party from 6 to 9. You’ll pig out like Kevin on an all-you-can-eat dinner buffet (house-made pizza bagels, deep-fried PB&J), drink eggnog, and hopefully avoid blowtorching burglars. Tickets are $25, and include a free drink ticket.

Posted at 12:45 PM/ET, 12/16/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus a preview of the chef Frederik de Pue’s new restaurant. By Anna Spiegel
Get in the holiday spirit with Champagne dinners, cooking classes, and gingerbread house-making parties. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Dine for good: Four Union Market affiliates— Toki Underground, Maketto, Buffalo & Bergen, and Rappahannock Oyster Bar—team up for a collaborative dinner on Monday to benefit Miriam’s Kitchen. The four-course meal is $50, with additional wine pairings available during two seatings at 6 and 8. Email for reservations (which are limited).

Pop-up preview: Get a preview of chef Frederik de Pue’s upcoming Penn Quarter restaurant, Menu, during a three-day pop-up at Table. You’ll find three-course offerings for $45 per person Monday through Wednesday, plus optional beer pairings for another $25.

Virginia wine tutorials: The new-ish Eno Wine Room launches Enoversity on Tuesday from 6 to 8. The monthly class will highlight a variety of producers, including Virginia wineries for the first four sessions. Guests can opt to sample a glass or flight while learning about the featured grower. Up this week: Lovingston Winery.

Bountiful bubbles: The holidays call for more Champagne, and you’ll have plenty at Bastille on Wednesday with a paired tasting menu. There’s no lack of luxury ingredients—foie gras, caviar, truffle sauce—hence the $115 price tag (or $60 without the pairings).

Distillery Dinner: Ever dined in a distillery? Here’s your chance. Purcellville’s Catoctin Creek hosts a dinner on Friday at 6:30, which combines a private tour of the production facility with a four-course meal and cocktail pairings. Tickets are $125, including tip, and available online.

Whiskey 101: Serious bourbon lovers can head to Jack Rose on Saturday for an eight-hour Bourbon Academy lead by the Filson Historical Society’s bourbon historian. Tickets are $150 for the general public and available online.

Gingerbread galore: You can drop by two gingerbread house parties on Saturday. Ris hosts a workshop benefiting DC Central Kitchen, with all the ingredients needed to craft a sweet mansion, holiday desserts, and spiked cider from noon to 2 ($20 adults/$10 kids). Call 202-730-2500 to reserve space. Over at Cork Market, pick between two sessions for decorating at 11:30 and 3:30. Come for construction, stay for Christmas cookies, hot cocoa, and more ($35).

Christmas cooking class: Get a head start on your holiday meal at Osteria Marzano, which hosts an Italian Christmas cooking class on Saturday from 11 to 2. After whipping up a variety of dishes, you’ll sit down to lunch and gratis Champagne. Reservations are $85, and limited to 20 guests.

Holiday cooking “light”: Looking to cut calories this season? Westend Bistro chef Devin Bozkaya hosts a health-minded cooking class on Saturday from 2:30 to 4, which includes recipes and tips for creating lighter versions of holiday classics. Reservations are $65, and include wine pairings.

Treme cookbook “eat and greet”: Get a taste of the Big Easy on Saturday and meet Lolis Eric Elie, author of Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans. Bayou Bakery hosts a party with Elie from 5:30 to 7:30, where you’ll find copies of the cookbook available to purchase ($30) alongside cocktails, food specials, and live music.

Pre-holiday dinner: Get in the festive spirit (without the immediate holiday stress) at Sonoma on Saturday, which serves a special three-course menu with an amuse and optional wine pairings ($70). Guests can also enter to win a free wine flight with the meal.

Santa Brunch: Take the kids to the Kennedy Center on Sunday for the annual Brunch with Santa at the Roof Terrace Restaurant. The afternoon includes a breakfast buffet, a gratis mimosa for adults, and photos with the North Pole’s main man for kids ($45 adults; $20 children).

Looking Ahead

Bourbon Steak’s fifth anniversary: The big ticket event next week falls on Monday, so you’ll want to plan ahead. Bourbon Steak celebrates its fifth anniversary with a reunion dinner of past and present chefs, including owner Michael Mina, David Varley, Adam Sobel, and more. A cocktail reception starts at 7, followed by a six-course meal with optional pairings ($165, or $250 with wine). Call 202-944-9173 or email for reservations.

Posted at 12:30 PM/ET, 12/09/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus get your fill of Scotch at Cordial in Union Market. By Anna Spiegel
Celebrate Repeal Day with a large of bourbon (or three) at Jack Rose. Image via Shutterstock.

Chef party: Graffiato hosts its monthly industry takeover night (a.k.a. Monday rager) from 10 to 1. Contributing chefs and barkeeps include Boqueria chef Greg Basalla, Top Chef season six competitor Eli Kirshtein, the crew from Level in Annapolis, and more. There’s a $10 cash cover at the door, with partial proceeds going towards Martha’s Table.

Ugly sweater party: Let the holiday festivities begin. The Loews Madison Hotel hosts an ugly sweater party in its PostScript Lounge on Monday from 4:30 to 7:30. Come for happy hour prices; stay to post Instagram photos of guests in their unattractive attire—$1 will be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank for every pic.

Scotch tasting: Get a taste of the peaty stuff during a Scotch tasting at Cordial in Union Market on Tuesday from 7:30 to 9. Keepers of the Quaich member Ed Kohl leads the seminar, which includes tastings of whisky and snacks from neighboring vendor Neopol Savory Smokery. Another perk: Bottles will be offered at a 10 percent discount. Reservations are $45.

Snack for good: The annual Celebration of Hope fundraiser for RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization, is on Wednesday at the Long View Gallery between 6:30 and 8:30. Participating restaurants serving cocktails and hors d’oeuvres include Corduroy, Restaurant Nora, and more. Tickets start at $75 for young professionals and $150 for general admission.

Repeal Day party: What better way to celebrate the end of prohibition than by drinking? Jack Rose hosts its annual Repeal Day party on Thursday, and the g̶o̶o̶d̶ even better news: There’s no fixed price. Just dress in your old-timey best and prepare for classic cocktails, burlesque dancers, 1930s-inspired bar snacks, and specially priced cigars.

Remember Movember: Celebrate the end of Movember and freshly shaven faces at Del Frisco’s Grille on Thursday from 5 to 8. The restaurant marks the conclusion of yet another successful campaign with drink specials, complimentary snacks (mini shaved-steak sandwiches! “mo-shroom” flatbreads!), and a raffle.

Virginia is for wine lovers: Sample Virginian vino on Saturday during a tasting hosted by the Washington Wine Academy at Studio Jade Crystal City from 6 to 10. You’ll find varietals from ten vineyards, including Barboursville Winery, Chrysalis Vineyards, Pearmund Cellars, and more. Tickets ($55) are available online.

Calling aspiring food writers: The Smithsonian Associates hosts a seminar called Food Writing: A Practical Introduction on Saturday from 9:30 to 4:30 ($130 general admission). You’ll learn about different forms of food writing—from formal reviews to daily blogs—from a number of experts, including cookbook author Monica Bhide.

Holiday cookies: Get baking on Sunday at the Hill Center from 2 to 4, where Washington Post writers and recipe testers lead a course on holiday cookie making. On the menu: fennel macarons, pear-gingerbread s’mores, and more. Tickets are $65, and available online.

Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 12/02/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus a gin-filled cocktail competition at Vinoteca. By Anna Spiegel
Get your fill of freshly-shucked oysters at Old Ebbitt’s Oyster Riot this weekend. Image via Shutterstock.

Seasonal dinner: Glover Park’s Arcuri hosts an autumnal wine dinner on Monday at 6:30. Five courses are paired with vino for $60, and include dishes such as steak tartare with guanciale, butternut squash agnolotti, and roasted turbot. Call for reservations.

Central-ness: Chef Michel Richard’s bistro hosts two events this week. First up: a five-course “leftover turkey” dinner on Monday that’s geared around holiday dishes and the best wine pairings for turkey, stuffing, etc. Then on Thursday is the third annual Beaujolais Nouveau party from 5 to 10:30 with 15 percent off Burgundy wines, by-the-glass specials, live “gypsy jazz,” and a five-course menu. Both are $150 per person.

Eat for good: Help with the Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts while eating sisig, a popular Filipino dish, at Daikaya Izakaya, which donates all proceeds from the sale of the dish to World Food Programs. You’ll find it at lunch and brunch; the former is a donburi bowl with sizzling pork and egg over white rice, while the latter features a braised-pork hash with yuzu and an egg. Donations will be made through December 31.

Farm-to-table book-signing: Forrest Pritchard, the owner of Smith Meadows Farm in Berryville, Virginia, and the author of Gaining Ground, signs copies of his book at Copperwood Tavern on Tuesday from 8 to 10. Get there early, as the first 50 people receive free signed copies.

Holiday baking: Love the idea of whipping up a Thanksgiving pie but daunted about actually baking? Tiffany MacIsaac leads a holiday pie class on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at Buzz Bakery in Alexandria from 6 to 8:30. You’’ll learn to make a craveable crust, as well as specific items like apple pie and savory quiche. Tickets are $85 per person.

New Jewish cooking: Chef Todd Gray and Ellen Kassoff Gray sign copies of their cookbook The New Jewish Table at the Daily Dish on Tuesday at 6. Guests are then served a three-course meal based on recipes from the book ($40 per person).

Holiday takeout: You’ll still have to wait until mid-December for Ris Lacoste’s permanent stall in Union Market, but the Ris chef debuts a pop-up holiday stand on Tuesday. You’ll find a number of items meant to make your festive meals easier, from chicken stock to cranberry-orange bread, pies, and Thanksgiving sides (the latter will start on Tuesday of next week).

Gin competition: Fans of the locally distilled Green Hat Gin, here’s an event for you. Five Vinoteca barkeeps compete to make the best gin cocktail on Wednesday during a contest/party from 7 to 9. The $25 ticket price includes tastes of all the boozy creations, snacks, and the chance to hang with “guest celebrity judges” (including yours truly).

Beer gala: Head to Jack Rose on Wednesday for a night of “gambling, games, and giggle juice” at the Samuel Adams Autumn Gala. You’ll find casino games such as blackjack and roulette and an open beer bar with 20 Sam Adams drafts. Tickets are $60.

Brewer meet-and-greet: Rub elbows with Port City’s Bill Butcher during a tapping of the Alexandria brewery’s holiday beer, Tidings Ale, at Red Rocks Bistro in Arlington on Thursday. You’ll also have a chance to fill special Port City growlers and sample new pizzas.

Oysters galore: Oyster Riot returns to Old Ebbitt on Friday and Saturday for an impressive 19th consecutive year. Pick between Saturday “matinee” and weekend-night tickets for downing bushels of bivalves, guzzling beer and wine, and listening to live music ($140 per person).

Dinner with Alice Waters: You’ll have two chances to catch the famed Chez Panisse chef/owner on Saturday. First Politics & Prose hosts Waters at 3:30 for a book-signing of The Art of Simple Food II: Recipes, Flavor, and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden. At 7, head to Buck’s Fishing & Camping for another book-signing and dinner. Tickets start at $350, with proceeds going to the Edible Schoolyard Project.

Posted at 04:07 PM/ET, 11/18/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus a holiday cooking camp at Art and Soul. By Anna Spiegel
Explore the growing world of boozy cider during Virginia’s Cider Week. Image via Shutterstock.

Dine for charity: Cashion’s Eat Place launches its Ticket to Giving dinner club on Tuesday. Guests can buy $40 tickets for a three-course meal Sunday through Thursday until December 30, and 10 percent of the bill will go toward Taste of the Nation’s No Kid Hungry campaign. 

More market: Union Market extends its hours this week, opening for the first time on Tuesday for a six-day-a-week schedule. Drop in for cooking demos from vendors such as Rappahannock Oyster Bar and chef John Mooney, who’s slated to open a restaurant in the market. 

Mole festival: Sadly, this is not a celebration of ground-dwelling mammals. El Centro 14th Street and Georgetown throw their first Mole (pronounced “mo-lay”) Festival on Wednesday, highlighting the Mexican sauce. Through November 30, find specials such as quesadillas with a tasting of three moles, hanger steak with mole negro, and more. 

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Posted at 11:27 AM/ET, 11/11/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus Graffiato’s industry night goes Korean. By Anna Spiegel
Start getting in the holiday spirit with a series of themed classes at Hank’s Oyster Bar. Image via Shutterstock.

Korean takeover: Graffiato hosts its usual first-Monday-of-the-month industry takeover night, this time with a Korean theme. Visiting chefs include Pabu’s Jonah Kim, Ed Lee of Top Chef fame, the Mandu crew, and more. Partial proceeds benefit the James Beard Foundation.

The Scottish are coming: TNT Bar hosts a brand ambassador from Scotland’s Balvenie Distillery on Tuesday at 8. The $25 tasting includes samples of three Scotches, and can be reserved by e-mailing

Wine and dine: Tablas Creek Vineyard and Blue Duck Tavern collaborate for a Wednesday wine dinner, starting at 7:30. The four-course meal is paired with the winery’s Rhône-style blends ($125 per person).

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Posted at 03:28 PM/ET, 11/04/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus Mad Fox’s cask ale festival this weekend. By Anna Spiegel
Get your fill of cask ales during Mad Fox Brewing Company's outdoor festival this weekend. Image via Shutterstock.

Join the beer flock: Newish Glover Park spot Arcuri hosts a Goose Island Brewery dinner on Monday at 6:30. The four-course meal is paired with different beers for $45 per person (including tax and gratuity). 

Happy birthday, Tonic: The Mount Pleasant neighborhood bistro celebrates its tenth anniversary with a weeklong lineup of deals and festivities. Start on Monday with free skeeball and half-price burgers, followed by free bottles of wine on Wednesday (with the purchase of two entrées) and all-night Halloween happy hour on Thursday.

Top Chef reunion: Three local Top Chef-testants discuss their experiences on the show and the meaning of local eating at the National Museum of Natural History on Tuesday at 6:45. Hear from Art Smith, Mike Isabella, and Spike Mendelsohn before sampling their cuisine at a post-seminar reception. Tickets are $45. 

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Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 10/28/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus a high-profile cookbook talk with the “Ottolenghi” authors. By Anna Spiegel
Celebrate global Champagne day with discount bubbly at Proof. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Let’s talk cookbooks: Chef/authors Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi of London’s Ottolenghi discuss their recently released work at Sixth & I on Monday at 7. Their previous books include Plenty and Jerusalem. Tickets start at $20, or $40 for admission and a copy of Ottolenghi: The Cookbook.

Day of the Dead: Oyamel launches its annual Day of the Dead festival on Monday, running through November 2. You’ll find a range of special drinks, plus dishes such as stuffed crab shells topped with sea urchin butter and atole rico.

Taste of Dupont: Snack your way around Dupont Circle on Monday, when participating restaurants offer “special creations” (off-menu snacks and drinks) for Taste of Dupont ticket holders. Passes ($5 each) are available online and at the Dupont Circle Resource Center.

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Posted at 04:41 PM/ET, 10/21/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus get ready for Thanksgiving with Art and Soul.
 By Anna Spiegel
The many beery events this week include the Snallygaster beer festival at Union Market and the return of oyster brews by Port City. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Wine week reminder: DC Wine Week festivities started yesterday, but many of the events run through Sunday. Vino-centric activities include a keg wine and fall menu tasting at the Coupe on Monday ($20), and Vinoteca’s bocce party on Friday, featuring happy hour pricing. Cost and registration vary by event.

Restaurant week alert: The Village of Shirlington holds its third annual Restaurant Week Monday through Sunday. Deals include a two-course lunch for $12 and $25 three-course dinners at restaurants like Cheesetique and Cafe Pizzaiolo.

Wine dinners: Bourbon Steak hosts two wine dinners this week. Tuesday brings a pairing meal with Mark and Allison Ketcham of Ketcham Estate Vineyards in California’s Russian River Valley starting at 6:30 ($125 per person). On Wednesday, a five-course dinner will showcase rare vintages from Bertani Amarone and other Italian producers. Reservations are $250 per person. 

Oktoberfest dinner: Tuesday, sit down to a meal paired with Allagash Brewing Company beers at Ripple. The five-course meal starts and 7 PM and includes autumnal eats such as scallop schnitzel with lamb pastrami and braised pork shank ($65 per person). A representative from the Portland, Maine-based brewery will walk guests through the accompanying beers.

Meet the brewer: Jack Rose hosts Alex Rodriguez, a brewer from Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing Company, on Tuesday for a special night of new releases. Admission is free; beers are individually priced.

Taste o’ Texas: Tortilla Coast brings a taste of the Texas State Fair to Capitol Hill through October, dishing up specialties like chicken-fried steak, Frito pie, and barbecue brisket. Homesick Texans can stop in on Wednesday for a costume party (sports jerseys and big hair encouraged), and enjoy fair-style entertainers and $4 Shiners from 5 PM to close.

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Posted at 02:42 PM/ET, 10/14/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus Equinox goes Norwegian. By Anna Spiegel
Sample dozens of whiskeys and fine spirits at our boozy party on Thursday. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Poe fans welcome: On Monday from 5 to 8 Les Dames d’Escoffier host an Edgar Allan Poe-themed fundraiser on Monday at several participating local bars. Spots including the Gibson and Hank’s Oyster Bar will feature a different Poe-inspired cocktail and story. Tickets (starting at $20) must be purchased in advance from the event page

Fit takeover: Graffiato hosts its monthly takeover night on Monday at 10, this time featuring Taste for Hope co-winners Will Artley (Pizzeria Orso) and Todd Thrasher (PX), alongside competitor Shannon Overmiller from the Majestic. There’s a $10 cover charge, with half going to charity.

Support slow food: Open Kitchen in Falls Church celebrates its four-year anniversary by partnering with Slow Food DC for a party benefiting garden programs at local public schools. The event runs Monday from 5 to 10.

Taste of Norway: Equinox offers a taste of Nordic life with a Norwegian seafood menu, a limited-run tasting that starts on Tuesday and lasts through the month. The four-course lineup is $68, or $110 with pairings.

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Posted at 01:35 PM/ET, 10/07/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()