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Pumpkin-carving parties, all-you-can-eat feasts, hangover brunches, and more. By Caroline Cunningham
Try spooky food specials, head to a costume party, or drink zombie cocktails for Halloween. Photograph via Shutterstock.

"Mummified" bacon dogs and Shack O’Lantern shakes at Shake Shack

Multiple Locations

Spooky specials include a Vienna all-beef hot dog that’s been "mummified" (a.k.a. wrapped with bacon, and pumpkin-maple mustard) for $4.50. Chase it with pumpkin and marshmallow-infused vanilla Shack O’Lantern shake for $5.50.

When: Now through Friday, October 31.

Mystery beer dinner at Mussel Bar & Grille

7262 Woodmont Ave., Bethesda

Reserve a seat for a four-course meal with a mystery menu that features seasonal food paired with Halloween-themed beers. We’d tell you more, but we’d hate to spoil the suspense.

When: Wednesday, October 29, at 6.

Pumpkin carving and zombie cocktails at Kimpton’s Helix Lounge

1430 Rhode Island Ave., NW

Design a winner at the Kimpton Hotel’s tenth annual pumpkin carving contest, which will award the “most local-themed” and the “most ghoulish” with a gift certificate to the lounge or a one-night weekend stay at the hotel. Sip an $8 cherry-and-blood-orange flavored Zombie Gut Punch with Smirnoff vodka, or take advantage of the $6 Sam Adams Octoberfest brews.

When: Thursday, October 30, from 6 to 9.

Party with your pooch at Jackson 20

480 King St., Alexandria

Dress up your dog and strut down the runway in the restaurant's outdoor courtyard, which hosts a costume contest to benefit the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Registration is $15, and you can sip Halloween-themed cocktails from head bartender Andy Nelson or sample pup-themed beers from Dogfish Head Brewery and Flying Dog Brewery while your canine enjoys complimentary treats and fresh water.

When: Thursday, October 30, at 5.

Pirate party, beer dinner, and brunch at Republic

6939 Laurel Ave., Takoma Park

A weekend of festivities stars on Thursday with a six-course "Belgian Americaine" beer dinner, with pairings by cicerone Brett Robison. The festivities continue on Friday with a Pirate Party, including a costume contest, “zombie killer” rum cocktails, and live music from One Word and Tony Grasso. Wrap up Halloween weekend with the Day of the Dead brunch on Saturday.

When: Thursday, October 30, at 7; Friday, October 31, at 10; and Saturday, November 1, from 11 to 2:30.

Trick or Treat mini dozen from Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken

1308 G St., NW

Stop by the shop or food truck to pick up a $20 mini dozen that includes flavors topped with Halloween candy, such as vanilla-glazed doughnuts sprinkled with Kit Kats, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or Snickers, as well as Nutella-glazed and PB&J doughnuts.

When: Thursday, October 30, through Friday, October 31.

Costume Contest and Pumpkin Brews at Drafting Table

1529 14th St., NW

Don your Halloween best and head to this 14th Street bar for a chance to win the costume contest and a $50 gift certificate to the restaurant. At the very least, you can pick up a free Brooklyn Brewery T-shirt and sample seasonal ales, such as the Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest, Pumple Drumkin spiced ale from Cisco Brewers Inc., or Post Rode pumpkin ale from Brooklyn Brewery for $4.

When: Friday, October 31, from 4 to 2.

All-you-can-eat appetizers at Dino’s Grotto

1914 Ninth St., NW

Come in costume for the Grotto’s Halloween party. The $19 ticket gets you all-you-can-eat appetizers, including “zombie eyes”—meatballs in red sauce—and deviled eggs, free candy, and specialty drinks such as $6 Jack O punch made with pear-infused vodka, or $8 hot buttered rum cider.

When: Friday, October 31, at 7.

Disco is Dead at The Passenger

1021 Seventh St., NW

Dig out your best bellbottoms for this disco party hosted at the Warehouse Theater, adjoining the Passenger. You'll find plenty of themed cocktails to fuel boogeying to the tunes of DJ Honest Lee. Tickets are $5 at the door after 9.

When: Friday, October 31, from 5 to 3.

No Tricks, All Treats dinner at Morton’s The Steakhouse

Multiple Locations

Dine on a four-course All Hallow’s Eve offering at this steakhouse chain. Menu options include baked five-onion soup, chili-glazed salmon, Chicago-style horseradish-mashed potatoes, and double-chocolate mousse. Tickets are $35.

When: Friday, October 31.

Skull sugar cookies at Taco Bamba

2190 Pimmit Dr., Falls Church

There're no tricks when you drop by for Mexican candy and $3 skull-shaped sugar cookies by Buttercream Bakeshop’s Tiffany MacIsaac.

When: Friday, October 31, through Saturday, November 1.

All Saints Day bourbon bash at Acadiana

This New Orleans-style celebration includes live jazz, all-you-can-eat barbecue pork, braised short ribs, chicken satay, smoked mashed potatoes, bacon-bourbon pralines, specialty cocktails, and bourbon tastings. Tickets are $60.

When: Saturday, November 1 from 6 to 9.

Day of the (Un)Dead at The Yards

300 Tingey St., SE

Enjoy free admission to this block party, complete with live mariachi bands, street performers, fortune tellers, face painters, a celebrity “graveyard,” and a beer garden.

When: Saturday, November 1, from 6 to 10.

Posted at 03:00 PM/ET, 10/29/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Make the most epic (and delicious) Halloween party decoration yet. By Anna Spiegel

Halloween party checklist: Pumpkins? Yes. Keg? Of course! Pumpkin keg? Tell me more…

"The first step is going to be crazy enough to want to do it," says Andy Farrell, beer director for City Tap House and creator of the beer-o-lantern. "I like to find a pumpkin in the 200-pound range, where you could fit a small child into it."

The beer-o-lantern: a hit for any Halloween Party. Photograph courtesy of City Tap House.

More delicious than a small child: a generous serving of your favorite beer, preferably something like an IPA, stout, pumpkin beer, or English-style cask ale that doesn't need to be consumed ice-cold (so no Natty Boh). Farrell says the gourd won't impart much flavor—especially if you scoop out the insides well—but the finished product is sure to put last year's punch bowl to shame.

All you need is a few tools, the instructions below, and a sense of Halloween adventure. Oh, and knocking back a few pumpkin beers during the process doesn't hurt.

Special Equipment:

1 monster pumpkin

1 sharp carving knife

1 large spoon for scooping

1 trash bag for seeds

1 flathead screwdriver

1 hammer

1 cask spigot, available at home brewing stores, online (Farrell likes, or possibly from a local beer bar if they'll trust you to return it.

1 candle


Plastic wrap


1. Pick a pumpkin

A big party calls for a huge gourd—think 200 to 250 pounds—but you can make a pumpkinator of any size. Look for fresh ones without bruises, as well as gourds that lie flat instead of on a tilt.

2. Get scooping

You know the drill from the grade school days: Cut off the top, making sure you create a large enough hole to thoroughly scoop the seeds and inside flesh. This is particularly important with the beer-pumpkin, as stray debris can clog the tap. The inner wall should be as white and gunk-free as possible at the end. Should you decide to keep the many seeds, here's an awesome recipe to use them in.

3. Cut a hole for the spigot

Farrell warns that this is the trickiest part, just like executing a dainty jack-o-lantern nose. Pumpkins are hearty, but carving shapes with too much force can crack the facade. Start by measuring the diameter of the spigot, and then draw it on the gourd's surface with marker—about a quarter of the way from the bottom so the beer flows nicely. Next, soften the flesh around the spigot's perimeter by gently pounding a flathead screwdriver with a hammer. It may be best to lay the pumpkin on its side during this step, depending on your angle.

4. Insert the spigot (and do damage control if necessary)

Once the area around the spigot has been thoroughly loosened, you can pop the device in. If the flesh cracks or the hole is too big, drip candle wax around the exterior to seal in the device. Farrell notes that black candle wax creates a more festive look.

5. Fill'er up

Again, you'll want to choose a generous amount of beer that doesn't need to be swilled ice-cold, since it'll be sitting in a room-temperature pumpkin. Farrell recently used 3 Stars Brewing's Ebony imperial brown ale, Ebony & Ivory. Pour the beer into the top hole, making sure the spigot is turned to the off position.

6. Seal'er up

Once the beer is in, cover the top with plastic wrap and place the pumpkin lid on top. If you want, seal the top with more candle wax and cut away any loose plastic wrap.

7. Drink until the ghouls go home.

Posted at 02:00 PM/ET, 10/28/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Put Halloween gourds to a delicious use. By Ann Limpert
Spicy-sweet pumpkin seeds make a perfect fall snack, or topping for soup. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Most people have a chef or cookbook writer whom they trust eminently—whom they’ll follow down any unfamiliar path with the confidence that whatever dish they’re venturing to make will range somewhere from really good to ridiculously delicious. For many, it’s Martha and Ina (count me in the latter camp for weeknight dinners). But if I have actual time to cook, it’s Suzanne Goin. My copy of the LA chef’s first book, Sunday Suppers at Lucques, is so stock-splattered and worn that it automatically flops open to the pages of the recipes I turn to the most—the chard tart with pine-nut relish, the skirt steak with black-olive aïoli, and, most of all, the chile de arbol-fueled kabocha-squash-and-fennel soup with pepitas. The soup takes about half a day to make. But those buttery pepitas, cumin-scented and honey-soaked, can be done in about ten minutes, and they make for a fantastic snack on their own.

Suzanne Goin’s Candied Pumpkin Seeds

Serves 4, as a snack


¼ teaspoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon sugar

Generous pinch of cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and paprika

1 teaspoon honey

Salt, to taste


In a small pan, toast the cumin seeds until they release their aromas and start to brown. Pound them in a mortar until they are coarsely ground, and set aside. In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the pumpkin seeds, sugar, cumin and other spices, and a pinch of salt, and toss until the seeds are coated. Cook for a few minutes until the seeds start to color and begin to pop. Remove the pan from the heat, and wait 30 seconds. Add the honey, then toss the seeds again until they are well coated. Spread them on a plate and let cool before serving.

Posted at 11:02 AM/ET, 10/27/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Busty pizza or naughty lobster? By Anna Spiegel

Sexy devil? Sure. Sexy cat? Been there, done that (with some regrets, only one involving Goldschläger). But when it comes to more risqué Halloween outfits, food-themed getups tend to push the limits of low-cut, high-heeled ridiculousness. Here are seven of my favorites this season, suited for every personality—except modest. Note: some, particularly one involving strategically placed gumballs, are NSFW.

The lobster o' love. Photograph via Yandy.

For fans of Lady Gaga's meat dress: Sexy bacon

Nothing says classy like a one-shoulder sheath from Walmart. Or a pork dress. Either way.

For a stoner's girlfriend: Sexy pizza

"Dude, like what if you had a hot chick, and a pizza, but the hot chick was the pizza?"

For home bakers: Sexy cherry pie

A solid clothing rule: dress your age, not your shoe size. Though the outfit description is pretty gag-worthy (“succulent,” “moaning”) thankfully there’s no mention of hand-pies.

For New Englanders: Sexy lobster

This is one costume I’d actually wear, but only if my boyfriend would go as this fine piece of meat. Sexy surf ’n’ turf, coming right up.

For wannabe jerk magnets: Sexy gumball machine

The scariest thing on Halloween: how many times any woman wearing this will hear references to blowing, bursting bubbles, and slots.

For vegetarians: Sexy corn

Thankfully not included: a sign reading "Shuck me."

For Big Mac lovers: Sexy McDonald's

What Ronald's female equivalent would look like, if she a) wore a one-piece bodysuit with a zip-up V-neck, and b) never ate McDonald's.

Posted at 10:29 AM/ET, 10/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Spooky deals, themed cuisine, and more. By Anna Spiegel
Ditch the “sexy witch” costume and opt for indulgent Halloween-themed dishes and drinks instead. Image via Shutterstock.

All Hallow’s Eve brings plenty of parties to Washington, but bars and restaurants also offer food- and cocktail-centric fun.



DIY doughnuts
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken offers “decorate your own doughnut” boxes, and does most of the heavy lifting—or baking, in this case. The kit comes with three vanilla-glazed doughnuts, a piping bag of chocolate glaze, and Halloween-themed sprinkles ($10 each). Preorder through Thursday (recommended) by calling 202-809-5565 or e-mailing

Free meals for spirited kids
Dress your kids in their Halloween best and head to Mi Cocina in Chevy Chase for free kids’ meals for any costumed child under 12 through Thursday.

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Posted at 03:31 PM/ET, 10/29/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Two party-friendly shooters that would make Bill Cosby proud. By Anna Spiegel
Bourbon-based Psych Ward Jell-O shots bring the right amount of crazy to any party. Photograph courtesy of Jack Rose.

Remember Jell-O shots in college: the ingenious combination of Jell-O packets and vodka that leave your mouth red and your mind blank? Well, now there’s an adult way to enjoy those boozy wiggle-bombs. Jack Rose barkeeps Nick Lowe and Trevor Frye took our challenge to gussy up the ol’ sorority favorite for all of your Halloween party fun, no Kraft Foods product needed. The best part: You must make both recipes in advance to let the gelatin set the cocktail, so they’re hassle-free come party time. Unless, of course, that guy in the Miley Cyrus costume takes one too many. 

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Posted at 03:04 PM/ET, 10/25/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
Not scared enough after Sandy? Here are 13 Halloween happenings around town.  By Anna Spiegel
The always delightful High Heel Race happens November 1 this year. Photograph by Dakota Fine.

Way scarier than All Hallows Eve this year was the storm that tore through our streets. If high winds and heavy rains didn’t frighten you enough, however, we have the rundown on parties, specials, and spooky meals starting Tuesday—along with information about rescheduled events.


Day of the Dead Festivals Resume

Oyamel just decided to open at 5 today, so you can catch all the Day of the Dead Festival specials, which last through November 2. Offerings include drinks such as the rum-based Zombie Apocalypse and dishes like venison heart with pickled cactus.

The newly opened Fuego Cocina y Tequileria is also reopening at 4, which means you can celebrate the end of Sandy and the Dia de los Muertos festival all at once. Special drinks include tequila-spiked Aztec Poison and the Devil’s Swamp Water with Sauza Silver and house-made kiwi-mint agua fresca.

More spooky happenings, after the jump.

Posted at 04:15 PM/ET, 10/30/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Find sour ales a little scary? Then there’s no better time to try them than Halloween. By Jessica Voelker

Taps at Chuchkey, where you can conquer all fear of sour beer this October 31. Photograph by Chris Leaman.
When you think about it, olives taste crazy—salty and intense and complex, they command attention. Pop a kalamata in your mouth at a party, and good luck focusing on the small talk for the next few seconds. Some adventurous souls may have enjoyed olives from the get-go, but many of us recall the childhood experience of biting into the soft flesh of the cured fruit and spitting it out immediately—then avoiding the oily delicacy for the next decade or so. It was too much, too soon. It took me years to come around to olives, but once I got them, they became a favorite food. Like really good funky cheese, smoky Scotch, and wee silver fish, what makes olives so good is how challenging they are, the way they sort of talk back to you. And if you like consuming stuff that talks back to you when you taste it, you’re going to want to get into sour ales.

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Posted at 12:25 PM/ET, 10/16/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()