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Hearty regular menus and prix-fixe feasts. By Anna Spiegel
Marcel's offers its regular menu, as decadent as always, for Christmas Eve. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Christmas Eve is fast approaching, and you'll find many more options for dining out than on Christmas Day. Whether you're looking for a casual meal off a regular dinner menu, a holiday special, or a prix-fixe experience, there's a little something for everyone.


Festive Regular Menus

Et Voila!

5120 MacArthur Blvd., NW

This cozy Palisades spot offers a few holiday additions to the regular menu, including foie gras terrine, lobster cocktail, Dover sole with Champagne mousseline, and a yule log cake for dessert.

Le Diplomate

1601 14th St., NW

The 14th Street hotspot looks the festive part with plenty of trees, wreaths, and sparkling lights, but the á-la-carte menu is served per usual (note an earlier closing time at 9). You can still make things extra-special with an elaborate shellfish plateau and a bottle of bubbly.

Marcel's

2401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

It's a special occasion every night at chef Robert Wiedmaier's newly renovated dining room, and Christmas Eve is no different. The regular tasting menu is offered; don't skip the classic boudin blanc with truffles.

Mintwood Place

1813 Columbia Rd., NW

This bustling neighborhood bistro always feels merry. Thankfully, the usual menu is on the table, so you can go casual with a great bacon cheeseburger or opt for more-elaborate beef bourguignon.

Osteria Morini

301 Water St., SE

The hearty Northern Italian fare at Michael White's eatery is sure to warm up a chilly night. The regular menu is served, with standouts like lasagna verde, seafood brodetto, and braised short ribs.

Sushiko

5455 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase

Christmas Eve can be served on the lighter side at this Japanese spot, which serves its typical variety of sushi, sashimi, and small plates such as seared lobster and scallop with creamy ponzu and smoked mussel miso soup.

1789

1226 36th St., NW

One of Washington's most atmospheric restaurants always dresses up for the holidays, with plenty of decorations and a wood-burning fireplace. The regular menu takes a seasonal course, with butternut squash soup perked up with pomegranate, or fried oysters with caviar.

Prix-Fixe Occasions

BLT Steak

1625 I St., NW

Guests can order a set three-course menu from the blackboard for Christmas Eve ($60 per person) or go à-la-carte. Either way, complimentary popovers prevail.

Casa Luca

1099 New York Ave., NW

While chef Fabio Trabocchi's more formal restaurants offer seafood feasts, diners can get a four-course menu of robust dishes from his native Le Marche at the more casual sibling ($85 per person; $55 with wine pairing).

Central

1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Chef Michel Richard offers two menus for Christmas Eve: a three-course pre-theater option from 5 to 6:30 with dishes such as hamachi tartare and roasted veal loin ($55 per person), or a regular five-course tasting that adds items like lobster-and-apple risotto ($105 per person).

Del Campo

777 I St., NW

Carnivores can find the meaty equivalent of Feast of the Seven Fishes with Victor Albisu's Feast of the Seven Beasts. Venison ceviche, smoked calf brains, and many shanks await ($78 per person, available December 19 through Christmas Eve).

Ris

2275 L St., NW

Guests can pick between two tastings: a seasonal three-course with dishes like oyster and Champagne stew and duck with foie gras, or a seven-course seafood option ($65 and $95, respectively).

Table

903 N St., NW

A wintry five-course menu is served at this Shaw neighborhood spot, with offerings including smoked egg with caviar, goose galantine, and hare with persimmons ($95 per person; $45 optional wine pairing).

2941

2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church

The prix-fixe menus begin early at 3:30, where the four-course offering is specially priced at $75 for dishes like lobster and scallops in puff pastry and roast pheasant breast. The price rises to $85 after 4:30, while the $25 children's menu remains the same.

Posted at 08:00 AM/ET, 12/11/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Venison and foie gras up the price of a patty from Decanter at St. Regis. By Anna Spiegel
Photograph courtesy of Decanter.

Washington boasts its fair share of pricey patties, from the $30 lobster burger at Central to BLT Steak's $27 Kobe-beef-and-pastrami behemoth. Topping them all: the venison-and-foie gras burger masterminded by chef Sébastien Rondier at Decanter, the luxe St. Regis hotel's dining room. The deer-duck concoction clocks in at $39—the priciest à-la-carte item on the menu—making it the monetary heavyweight* of Washington's haute burger bracket.

The venison burger has been on the menu since the weather turned cool in October, replacing the equally unusual "calamari burger," made from ground squid, capers, and herbs. Rondier took inspiration from one of his favorite dishes, tournedos rossini—filet mignon topped with foie gras. Instead of beef, Decanter's six-ounce patty is fashioned from ground venison and Pennsylvania deer saddle that the kitchen cuts to a thicker consistency. The meat is then cooked to the guest's preferred temperature—rare to medium-rare is recommended—glazed with black-truffle jam, and decked with a two-ounce slice of seared Hudson Valley foie. All arrives atop an olive oil bun, alongside twice-fried potato wedges and quince chutney for spreading.

So does the expense scare off customers? Rondier says orders were slow to start, but in general the price is expected at the St. Regis; orders have risen to 25 to 35 burgers per week.

"It's a celebration burger," says Rondier. "It's something original."

Look at it this way: It's cheaper than celebrating with some of America's most expensive burgers (like the $5,000 Kobe beef Fleur Burger served with a bottle of 1995 Chateau Petrus), most of which live appropriately in Vegas.

*Certain BGR locations serve a $100,9 nine-pound burger designed for competitive eaters. But that one is free for anyone who finishes "without going to the bathroom," according to one employee, which disqualifies it in our eyes.

Posted at 11:36 AM/ET, 12/10/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Caroline Cunningham

Happy Wednesday, food truck followers! Dine on bulgogi for lunch from Yellow Vendor, or grab eggnog snickerdoodles for dessert from Captain Cookie.

Read More

Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 12/10/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A bounty of Italian seafood for Christmas Eve and beyond. By Anna Spiegel
Chef Fabio Trabocchi brings a bounty of seafood to the table. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

The Italian-American tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve stems from Catholic abstention of meat, but there's nothing limiting about the Feast of the Seven Fishes. The meal, typically a multi-course affair offering an ocean's worth of seafood, is a delicious holiday tradition regardless of religion or dietary principles.

Many Washington restaurants offer the dinner on Christmas Eve, and some serve it on multiple days throughout the month. Feast and enjoy.

Al Dente

3201 New Mexico Ave., NW

The ocean-inspired holiday menu lasts all month at Roberto Donna's eatery, and is also one of the most gently priced options of the bunch.

Details: Served now through December 24; $45 per person, minimum two people per table.

Bibiana

1100 New York Ave., NW

Chef Nick Stefanelli offers a creative take on the traditional feast at his swanky Italian spot, including plates of grilled eel with onion compote, black spaghetti with sea urchin, and cod with tomatoes, capers, and potatoes.

Details: Served December 24; $85 per person.

Cafe Milano

3251 Prospect St., NW

One of Georgetown's see-and-be-seen Italian eateries serves a Christmas Eve menu with seven kinds of fish, ranging from polenta-crusted cod to sea bream in white wine sauce.

Details: Served December 24; $95 per person.

Dino's Grotto

1914 Ninth St., NW

Looking for a homey version of the feast? Try Dean Gold's Shaw spot, which offers a menu with "wedding soup of the sea," linguini and clams, shrimp scampi, and more. A limited à-la-carte offering is also available on Christmas Eve, and kids are welcome to order from a children's menu.

Details: Served December 18 through December 24; $49 per person ($59 on Christmas Eve).

Fiola

601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

The most luxurious feast of the seven fishes can be found at chef Fabio Trabocchi's upscale Italian, which offers seven courses such as oysters with Prosecco zabaliogne, scallop risotto, and halibut with porcini crema and truffles. Sister restaurant Fiola Mare also serves a Christmas Eve meal from the ocean, though not the traditional seven seafoods.

Details: Served December 24; $160 per person; additional wine pairing $80 to $110.

G by Mike Isabella

2201 14th St., NW

Once chef Mike Isabella's sandwich shop closes for the day, the cooks turn over to an evening tasting menu, which will be filled with fish on several dates this month (including Christmas Eve). Think roasted oysters, cioppino, and spaghetti with crab and uni.

Details: Served December 17 through 20 and 22 through 24; five courses for $65; optional beverage pairing $39.

Iron Gate

1734 N St., NW

Chef Tony Conte's mid-December tasting menu is inspired by the oceanic feast, and focuses on Mediterranean and Italian preparations of East Coast seafood. Look for dishes like rice-crusted Chesapeake oysters and whole roasted Atlantic snapper, all of which can be eaten by the wood-burning fireplace.

Details: Served at dinner, December 16 through 23 (closed Christmas Eve and Day); $135 per person.

Lupo Verde

1401 T St., NW

This atmospheric neighborhood Italian serves up courses like ravioli with prawns and chickpeas, almond-and-herb-crusted halibut, and spaghetti with anchovies and mussels. Note that dinner goes late, 5 to 11.

Details: Served December 24; $85 per person.

Ristorante Tosca

1112 F St., NW

Head to this classic (and classy) downtown Italian on Christmas eve for a traditional seven-course feast, with dishes such as lobster risotto and Chilean sea bass acqua pazza.

Details: Served December 24; $105 per person.

Posted at 01:42 PM/ET, 12/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Get ready for a professionally home-cooked meal. By Anna Spiegel
Uber delivers chefs to Washingtonians on Friday. Photograph via Shutterstock.

UPDATE, 1 PM: Here are the deets. App users in the Washington area can enter the promotion code UBERCHEFDC on Friday between 6 and 7 to "order" their professional chef. The cook will call to confirm details like the party size (a four- to eight-person minimum), location, and dietary restrictions. Meals come in the form of four-course, holiday-inspired menus with dishes such as braised beef short ribs and kale salad for $50 per person; the fare split option in the app can be used to divvy up the bill. All proceeds benefit No Kid Hungry, so you're dining for a cause. Or at least trying to—demand may be high; check out the blog page for more details.

Original post continues below.

Forget ice cream and kittens: Uber is delivering chefs to DC doors on Friday. The controversy-sparking transportation service is teaming up with online personal chef-finder Kitchensurfing for a promotion that benefits No Kid Hungry, sending professional cooks to Uber users' homes.

Here's how it works: App users can request "UberCHEF" on Friday, December 12, to order the service. A trained Kitchensurfing cook will arrive prepared to make a meal for four to eight guests, priced at $50 per person. A few lucky customers will receive surprise visits from notable DC talents, including Doug Alexander of Art & Soul and Bibiana's Nick Stefanelli. All proceeds benefit the charity; optional $5 donations begin today for riders using the service.

More details come out Friday morning, so stay tuned. In the meantime, call your closest eight friends and get that kitchen restaurant-grade ready.

Posted at 11:33 AM/ET, 12/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to build gingerbread houses, decorate cupcakes, and make festive cookies to your heart's content. By Anna Spiegel
Decorate holiday cookies, cupcakes, and more this week. Photograph via Shutterstock.

The holidays bring out our sugar cravings, and there are plenty of opportunities to indulge this week: beer-fueled gingerbread house contests, family-friendly cupcake decorating, and all manner of sweets in between.

Gingerbread for adults: Kids don't get all the fun at the Fairmont Washington DC, which hosts a gingerbread decorating class for adults on Tuesday at 6. Guests construct sweet homes along with plenty of libations and snacks. Reservations are $85.

Gingerbread for beer lovers: Ventnor Sports Cafe hosts a spirited gingerbread house-building contest on Friday at 7, where participants compete to construct the finest dessert home while sipping 20 holiday beers (gingerbread kits are $10). The party starts at 6, and winners are announced at midnight, so be ready for the long haul. Reserve by e-mailing scott@ventnorsportscafe.com or calling 202-234-3070.

Truffle making: Head to Black's Bar & Kitchen on Saturday from 11 to 1 and learn to make chocolate truffles. The demo is followed by a three-course Champagne lunch, and includes a box of six chocolates. Reservations are $50 per person.

Georgetown cupcake class: Sisters Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne of Georgetown's famous cupcake shop lead a holiday decorating class at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown on Sunday from 2 to 4. Each guest will frost, decorate, and gift-wrap their own dozen to bring home. Reservations are $75 for persons four and older.

Gingerbread for families: Families are welcome at Brabo on Sunday, where pastry chef Erin Reed leads a gingerbread house building class from 2 to 4. All the materials are ready, and light refreshments are served. Reservations are $30 for families of three, $40 for four.

Yule log 101: Skip gingerbread houses in favor of the holiday's other traditional treat: yule log cakes. The Gaylord offers a "yule log experience" from 8:30 to 10 on several dates between now and December 27—they include a buffet breakfast, an interactive demo, and a hands-on class where guests get to take home their yule log. The all-ages course is $49.

Italian and Greek cookie class: Head to Kapnos on Saturday from 1 to 2:30 for a holiday cookie-making demonstration focused on two types: koulourakia
(braided sesame cookies) and Italian rainbow cookies. The course includes snacks, wine, and a tray of two dozen cookies ($55 per person).

Decorating party: Cork's gingerbread house decorating party returns on Saturday with sessions at 11:30 and 3:30. Adults and children are welcome to participate, with kits available for two adults or two adults and a child per house ($40 per house).

Posted at 10:45 AM/ET, 12/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Every morning, we'll let you know where to find lunch on wheels. By Hallie Golden

Happy Tuesday, food truck followers! The rain may be falling, but a few food trucks are still serving, so try some chili-garlic tofu from BonMi or a hot grilled sandwich aboard Big Cheese.

Read More

Posted at 09:46 AM/ET, 12/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
A spiffed-up Hawaiian pizza, a killer roast-beef sandwich, and 25 more of the best things we ate in 2014. By Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Anna Spiegel
Tofu with cilantro root and peanuts at Little Serow. Photographs by Scott Suchman.

Tofu with cilantro root and peanuts at Little Serow

About halfway through the seven-course Thai menu at Johnny Monis’s tiny, no-reservations destination, your mouth will likely be searing from chili overload. Then this dish arrives, a fairly straightforward preparation with lime, cilantro, red onion, and peanuts. As with many of the dishes here, those flavors seem like they’re in Technicolor—but then you taste the richly creamy, crunchy tofu, a gift that (finally) soothes your palate.

Little Serow, 1511 17th St., NW.

Causita cangrejo at Ocopa

It’s a measure of chef Carlos Delgado’s talent that crab is only a character actor in this picture-perfect arrangement of canapés. Top billing ought to go to the potatoes, whipped to a fluff with lime and the Peruvian yellow-pepper paste known as aji amarillo. Though they could easily stand alone as a side dish, they provide a perfect platform for thin-sliced avocado, delicate crab, and the tiniest, sweetest peppers you’ve ever seen.

Ocopa, 1324 H St., NE; 202-396-1814.

Faux rib eye and fries at Baby Wale

This charcoal-grilled “faux” rib eye, fashioned from two different cuts of shoulder meat, is one of the best steaks you’ll find in Washington for less than $30—and one of the best steaks, period. Points for the rich, shallot-flecked wine reduction. And for crispy fries that actually taste like potato.

Baby Wale, 1124 Ninth St., NW; 202-450-3311.

Frisée salad with duck gizzards at Bastille Restaurant & Wine Bar

For this sly twist on the French salad of frisée aux lardons—frisée tossed with bacon and a coddled egg—chef Christophe Poteaux substitutes duck gizzards cooked in their own fat. There’s obviously nothing wrong with rendered bacon, but the gizzards, with their gamy intensity and meat-like heft, elevate the familiar to the memorable.

1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria; 703-519-3776.

Fried quail with grits at Gypsy Soul

In these parts, there may be no finer expression of Southern comfort than chef RJ Cooper’s exuberant riff on chicken-fried steak. The accompaniments are just as good as the tender brined and battered bird: creamy grits, a rich gizzard gravy, and tangy collards.

Gyspsy Soul, 8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax; 703-992-0933.

Fruits de mer plateau at Le Diplomate

In a town now swimming with decadent shellfish platters, this bistro rendition stands above the rest with bracingly fresh, meaty shellfish—thick king crab legs, citrus-marinated fluke, briny Belon oysters—plus superb house-made sauces such as horseradish-packed cocktail, rémoulade, and mignonette for dipping.

Le Diplomate, 1601 14th St., NW; 202-332-3333.

Chicken himmapan at Thai Taste by Kob

If you’ve grown bored with too many mail-it-in preparations of Kung Pao chicken, think of this dish—a long-ago Thai-Chinese mash-up—as a thrilling alternative. It’s rare to find a stir-fry as addictive as the grease-free toss of crunchy battered chicken, toasted cashews, and chili paste.

Kob, 11315 Fern St., Wheaton; 301-942-0288.

Lamb-brain karahi at Khan Kabob

If you’re squeamish, don’t think of them as brains. Think of them as curds, or scrambled eggs, sizzled in a fragrantly zesty sauce of tomatoes, onions, garlic, chilies, and ginger. With fabulous, sesame-seeded naan for scooping.

Khan Kabob, 4229 Lafayette Center Dr., Chantilly; 703-817-1200.

Uni panini at Barmini

In truth, this small sandwich at José Andrés’s whimsical cocktail lounge (adjoining Minibar) amounts to about three bites. But what bites! The meringue-like bread, so light as to be insubstantial, is simply there to hold together the lobes of uni, or sea urchin; thin slices of avocado; and crushed corn nuts.

Barmini, 855 E St., NW; 202-393-4451.

Charcuterie pizza at Vin 909 Winecafé

This Craftsman-style bungalow slings the best pizzas in the area, and of all those we feasted on here this past year, this is the one that made us want to pick up the phone and invite everyone we know to come over and taste. Topping a pie with soppresatta, mortadella, and wild boar might have spelled doom for other pizza makers, but this is miraculously not overly rich. And the glorious crust—thin, crunchy, and salty—is never lost amid all the meat.

Vin 909 Winecafé, 909 Bay Ridge Ave., Annapolis; 410-990-1846.

Butterfish three ways at Sushi Sono

The plate of flayed fish arrives with a skewer through its midsection. On either side of it are nigiri—with (yes, buttery) white fish layered atop a pad of rice and garnished with ginger and green onion—and sashimi. When you’re done, the server will take away the carcass, returning it five minutes later hot from the deep fryer. Salt the bones and munch ’em like popcorn.

Sushi Sono, 10215 Wincopin Cir., Columbia; 410-997-6131.

Gnocchi with crab, fenugreek, and snap peas at Komi

It’s hard to best the tasting menu’s most climactic course—a platter of roasted goat or suckling pig—but these velvety gnocchi manage to do it (chef Johnny Monis played with the pasta formula for seven years before putting it on the menu). Although the sweet blue-crab topping is available only during crustacean season, the ethereal pasta often makes a showing with different accompaniments.

Komi, 1509 17th St., NW; 202-332-9200.

Malt sundae at BLT Steak

Gratis popovers and gargantuan portions make saving room for dessert difficult at this power steakhouse. Still, you don’t want to miss the playful old-fashioned sundae with malted ice cream, crunchy cocoa nibs, whipped cream, and a cherry on top.

BLT Steak, 1625 I St., NW; 202-689-8999.

Beef-and-cheddar sandwich at Red Apron Butcher

Banish all thoughts of gray cold-cut roast beef and picture instead juicy, crimson slices of steak. Now add a riff on Cheez Whiz that actually tastes like aged cheddar and a slathering of ranch-dressing-seasoned mayo. There you have it: the stuff of frat boys’ (and our) dreams.

Red Apron Butcher, Union Market, 1309 Fifth St., NE, 202-524-6807; 709 D St., NW, 202-524-5244; 8298 Glass Alley, Fairfax, 703-676-3550.

Basque stew at Restaurant Eve

Imagine a bouillabaisse—a dish, by the way, that chef Cathal Armstrong has mastered in his decade in the kitchen here. Now make it heartier and lustier, with a richer stock and more garlic, and punchier with the addition of espelette peppers. On a cold winter’s day, there are few dishes we crave more.

Restaurant Eve, 110 S. Pitt St., Alexandria; 703-706-0450.

Fish and chips at the District Fishwife

For her take on the pub staple, Fiona Lewis often eschews the usual cod and goes for the more flavorful blue catfish from the Chesapeake. Like the rest of the fish sold at her seafood counter, it’s supremely fresh. And its sheath—a beer batter fried to a golden-brown crackle—accentuates rather than obscures it.

District Fishwife, Union Market, 1309 Fifth St., NE; 202-543-2592.

Garlic and shiso fried rice at Izakaya Seki

Just as it’s customary to end a Japanese kaiseki tasting with rice, we can’t leave a freeform parade of chef Hiroshi Seki’s stellar small plates without an earthy bowl of grains sprinkled with toasted garlic and bright slivers of citrusy shiso.

Izakaya Seki, 1117 V St., NW; 202-588-5841.

Mushroom tacos at Chaia

Some of the best tacos in Washington are coming from this farmers-market stand, where fresh corn tortillas are griddled to or-der, then stuffed with a kaleidoscope of vegetables. Our favorite is the mix of local mushrooms, tangy feta, and salsa roja.Thursdays at the White House Fresh Farm Market (810 Vermont Ave., NW) and Sundays at the Dupont Circle Fresh Farm Market (20th St. and Massachusetts Ave., NW).

Crabs at Wild Country Seafood

This Eastport seafood shack serves the best crabs in the Chesapeake, harvested by the father-and-son watermen owners. Massive, crispy soft-shells come at a bargain $14.95 for two, while pricier hard crabs are the heaviest and sweetest we’ve found.

Wild Country Seafood, 124 Bay Shore Ave., Annapolis; 410-267-6711.

Loukamades at Cashion’s Eat Place

John Manolatos dabbles in a variety of cuisines on this Adams Morgan bistro’s new small-plates menu, but these Mediterranean-style yeast doughnuts—on the menu for eight years—hark back to his childhood, when he cooked at the annual Saint Sophia’s Greek festival. The fried dough is dressed up with cinnamon-spiked yogurt and honey.

Cashion's Eat Place, 1819 Columbia Rd., NW; 202-797-1819.

Haneeth at Saba

This Yemeni standard is a lamb dish, but in this instance in name only. The reason you keep picking at the plate long after you’re full is the rice. The chef, Taha Alhoraivi, makes sure that every grain is fluffy and that the juices of the slow-cooked meat have penetrated them to the core.

Saba, 3900 Pickett Rd., Fairfax; 703-425-1130.

Lobster with citrus and crab at L’Auberge Chez François

Inside this Old World cottage, you’ll find such antique recipes as Châteaubriand, venison with roebuck sauce, and, most memorable of all, this gently poached lobster dish. The plump and sweet crustacean is stuffed with lump crab, then bathed in an elegant vermouth-butter sauce. A scattering of grapefruit and orange segments cuts through the richness.

L'Auberge Chez François, 332 Springvale Rd., Great Falls; 703-759-3800.

Pineapple Express pizza at Graffiato

Mike Isabella’s Italian spot gives the ho-hum Hawaiian pie—typically made with canned pineapple and lackluster meat—a winning makeover using country ham, charred slices of sweet fruit, scallions, mozzarella, and Virginia-made Korean hot sauce.

Graffiato, 707 Sixth St., NW; 202-289-3600.

Corn with Manchego and lime at Estadio

Amazing corn in December? Not gonna happen. Luckily, Haidar Karoum’s deconstructed elote (Mexican street-style corn) comes back every summer. We can’t wait for the mix of super-sweet kernels, cilantro, and grated Manchego bound with aïoli and a good dose of chili powder.

Estadio, 1520 14th St., NW; 202-319-1404.

“Under the Sea” at Fiola Mare

Fiola Mare is the steakhouse of seafood places, and you can think of this big, bountiful bowl of languoustines, clams, mussels, prawns, and fish (with a lobe of foie gras, just to luxe it up a little more) as the piscatory equivalent of the cowboy cut—the big-ticket item on a menu of expensive indulgences. It also happens to be the most fully realized expression of chef Fabio Trabocchi’s globe-spanning ideal, a seamless synthesis of Italy, France, and Japan.

Fiola Mare, 3050 K St., NW; 202-628-0065.

Maple custard at the Red Hen

Picking a favorite on chef Michael Friedman’s rustic Italian menu is tough, so let’s just say the best way to finish is with this silky maple custard topped with roasted hazelnut crumble. Get an order of house-made amaro, the bitter after-dinner sipper, alongside it.

Red Hen, 1822 First St., NW; 202-525-3021.

Duck, Duck Dog at Haute Dogs & Fries

When fusion goes wrong, it goes very wrong. But these whimsical dog joints nail it by marrying two of our favorite things—Peking duck and hot dogs—inside a toasty, buttery bun. The dogs are split and crisped on the griddle, then slicked with hoisin and laid with sliced cucumbers and scallions. The result is a little salty, a little sweet, and ridiculously good.

Haute Dogs & Fries, 610 Montgomery St., Alexandria, 703-548-3891; 609 E. Main St., Purcellville, 540-338-2439.

This article appears in the December 2014 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 06:20 PM/ET, 12/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Elegant buffets, casual meals, and family-friendly fun. By Anna Spiegel
The Four Seasons offers an even more elaborate version of its dessert display on Christmas. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Where should you eat after unwrapping all the presents? A large number of Washington restaurants serve Christmas Eve dinner, but much fewer open for Christmas Day dining. Fortunately you'll find plenty of variety here, from elegant brunches to casual meals and prix-fixe dinners.

Blue Duck Tavern

1201 24th St., NW

The Park Hyatt's seasonal American restaurant offers an appetizer buffet with salads, raw-bar fare, charcuterie, and more, followed by a choice of plated entrées and sides. Guests return to the kitchen for a dessert display.

Details: Served 11:30 to 9; $100 for adults; $45 for children six to 12; free for children under six.

Cafe Berlin

322 Massachusetts Ave., NE

Looking for a more affordable Christmas Day option? Head to this quaint Capitol Hill German restaurant, which offers a three-course menu for $39.

Details: Served for seatings at 2, 4:30, and 7; $39 per person.

Corduroy

1122 Ninth St., NW

You won't find any high chairs in chef Tom Power's Shaw dining room, so the three-course menu is a good option for the adult crowd.

Details: $65 for three courses.

Decanter

923 16th St., NW

The upscale dining room at the St. Regis offers a three-course menu with dishes such as crabcakes with truffled celeriac, beef short ribs, and chocolate-croissant bread pudding.

Details: $85 per person.

Founding Farmers and Farmers Fishers Bakers

1924 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 12505 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac; 3000 K St., NW

Anyone looking for a more casual Christmas can head to this trio of American restaurants, which offer their regular all-day menus. A "something for everyone" approach from the kitchen also makes it a good option for families.

Details: Served noon to 8; à la carte.

The Grille at Morrison House

116 S Alfred St., Alexandria

This Federal-style mansion in Alexandria offers brunch with festive items like figgy pudding beignets, reindeer carpaccio, and corned beef hash with local eggs.

Details: Served 11 to 3; $50 per person.

Juniper

2401 M St., NW

Christmas brunch returns to the Colonnade with a festive buffet of fruits and salads, an organic egg omelet station, a dessert display, and more. Guests can also opt for a seasonal dinner menu with four courses.

Details: Brunch served 11 to 2; dinner 5:30 to 10. Brunch is $99 (includes valet parking); dinner $60 per person, or $75 with wine pairings.

Pinea

515 15th St., NW

Chef Barry Koslow's new venture in the W Hotel offers Christmas specials in addition to the regular à-la-carte menu. Festive dishes include a feast of the seven fishes in appetizer form and a goose breast entrée.

Details: Served 2 to 8; $60 prix-fixe or à la carte.

Plume

1200 16th St., NW

The Jefferson Hotel's elegant dining room offers an all-day three-course menu from chef Ralf Schlegel, including dishes such as truffle lobster bisque, roast duck, and pistachio petit gateau. The restaurant is also open for a multi-course Christmas Eve dinner.

Details: Served from 11:30 to 8:30; $98 per adult; $45 per child.

Lincoln Restaurant/Teddy & the Bully Bar

1110 Vermont Ave., NW/1200 19th St., NW

Both PRG Hospitality restaurants offer farm-to-table Christmas buffets, including carving stations with turkey, ham, prime rib, and more, plus options from the à-la-carte menus.

Details: Both serve from 1 to 8. Lincoln: $58 per person; $21 children 12 and under. Teddy: $55 per person; $21 children 12 and under.

Seasons

2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Expect a generous brunch at the Four Seasons in Georgetown with a menu of carved meats and crabcakes, an omelet station, a raw bar, and a Southern section featuring "grits, greens, and bbq."

Details: Served 10 to 3; $110 per person.

Posted at 01:41 PM/ET, 12/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus a dessert and Champagne buffet at the Ritz-Carlton Washington DC. By Anna Spiegel
Wear your holiday worst and head to an ugly sweater brunch or brew party. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Winter bar party: Iron Gate debuts its patio winter lounge on Monday with a party from 5 to 7. Check out the new furniture, fire pits, and heat lamps while snacking on canapés and two complimentary cocktails ($35 per person). Love drinking outside, even in the cold? Peruse our guide to Washington's al fresco winter lounges.

Pork and brews: The Pig throws an appropriately pork-filled beer dinner on Tuesday with Devil's Backbone Brewing Company at 7. Five courses such as ribs with black truffle barbecue sauce are paired with six brews ($50 per person).

Shop, sip, and snack: Taste of the Nation DC and the newly opened Salt & Sundry in Logan Circle team up for Sip & Shop on Wednesday from 6 to 8. Barman Adam Bernbach and chef Haidar Karoum of 2 Birds, 1 Stone prepare drinks and bites, while shoppers can browse holiday gifts. Ten percent of merchandise sold goes toward No Kid Hungry, and anyone who spends $200 can enter a lottery for free VIP tickets to Taste of the Nation. Punch lovers can head to the Union Market location on Thursday for a class with barman Dan Searing, which includes tastes, recipes, and the oppotunity to stock up on bowls and cups ($60 per person).

Tacky sweaters and tasty brews: Roofers Union gets in the holiday vibe with a tacky sweater and local beer party on Wednesday at 6. There's no fee, though donations are encouraged for the Mary's Center Toy Drive. Don't forget to wear something festively awful; outfit contest categories include best sweater, tie, socks, and mystery outfit.

Calling all kilts: The Black Squirrel channels its Scottish side on Friday at 5 with a kilt party featuring Devil's Backbone Wood-Agd Kilt Flasher. The kitchen whips up dishes like a Soctch-egg burger and oyster stew to pair with the beer and ten other brews from the Virginia producer. Anyone dressed in a kilt receives 10 percent off the bill.

Winemaker dinner: Dino's Grotto chef/owner Dean Gold is pretty jazzed about winemaker Frank Cornelissen's vino, and hosts a dinner with him on Friday at 6:30. Expect plenty of pours from the Italian vineyard and a six-course menu ($145 per person).

A sugar lover's buffet: The Ritz-Carlton Washington DC throws its annual sweets buffet on Saturday from 7:30 to 11 in the lobby (and again on Saturday, December 20). The spread includes plenty of chocolate desserts, holiday candies, a candy "bar," and Champagne cocktails. Reservations are $45.

Bring the kids: Chef Michel Richard hosts Sweet Hope on Saturday from 1 to 3 at Central, a dessert reception benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Bring an unwrapped toy or monetary donation and enjoy desserts from Richard, caroling, an elf balloon artist, and more. RSVP to pdr@centralmichelrichard.com.

More truffles: Chef Roberto Donna whips up a truffle dinner at Alba Osteria on Saturday at 7, starring white truffles over six courses paired with Italian wines. Reservations are $160, and can be made by calling the restaurant.

Pig bomb: Every tried a mortadella-stuffed "suckling pig torpedo"? Now you can during a prix-fixe wine dinner with celebrity chef Jose Garces at Rural Society on Saturday, starting with a reception at 6:30. The five-course meal is limited to 50 guests ($150 per person). Call Robert Esplen at 202-587-2617 for reservations.

Bad-sweater brunch: Don your holiday worst and head to STK for an ugly-sweater bottomless brunch on Sunday between 11:30 and 6. The party includes a dejay, $18 all-you-can-drink brunch cocktails, an à-la-carte menu, and a contest for best/worst outfit (the prize: another brunch for two).

Posted at 11:22 AM/ET, 12/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()