News & Politics

What Restaurants Are Scaring Up for Halloween

Pastry chef Anthony Chavez’s Eye Scream ($10) features two scoops of pistachio mousse blanketed in Valrhona white chocolate with raspberry-lychee coulis in the form of bloodshot veins.

Skip the tricks this year and go straight for the treats. At these restaurants, you’ll find Halloween specials that bring out your inner kid. Try a monstrous selection of tongues, brains, and eyeballs, go for a poisonous-sounding cocktail—or, for the faint-hearted, dig into a sweet jack-o’-lantern dessert.

Like a Cole Porter song, this Falls Church dining room has its eyes on you—in the form of a frozen, fruit-drizzled dessert. Pastry chef Anthony Chavez’s Eye Scream ($10) features two scoops of pistachio mousse blanketed in Valrhona white chocolate with raspberry-lychee coulis in the form of bloodshot veins. It’s available through the end of October.

Buzz Bakery
Even the most nightmarish night of the year can’t escape the cupcake craze. At this Slaters Lane bakery/cafe, indulge in autumnal flavors ($2.75 each) such as pumpkin, garnished with candied pepitas; caramel apple; and Guinness. This week, pastry chef Josh Short introduces his Ghouls and Goblin cupcakes ($4.25) along with house-made marshmallow ghosts ($1.95 a bag). There are also Halloween cookie kits with cookies, frosting, and sprinkles included ($7.95 each). On October 29 from 3 to 6, kids can decorate cookies and take part in the annual Boo-Fest party, and adults get a free hot cider.
On Halloween night, swing by this Clarendon gastropub for some grown-up trick-or-treating. Specialty cocktails include the Poisoned Apple ($9), a blend of Svedka vodka and Apple Pucker in a glass garnished with Pop Rocks and gummy worms. Zombie Punch ($9) features two rums, Triple Sec, and raspberry syrup, while the Bloody Orange Margarita ($10) has Sauza tequila, Triple Sec, lime, and a blood-orange purée. If you’re feeling peckish, try the roundup of Halloween dishes ($5 each) from chef Barry Koslow: deviled eggs, blood sausage over sauerkraut, and tacos with tongue.

The Majestic
This sedate Old Town dining room has a few teeth-rotting goodies up its sleeve this season, such as chef Shannon Overmiller’s Pumpkin-Bloody bundt cake ($7.50) topped with white marzipan ghosts and dripping with red-cherry/port sauce. On Halloween night, the restaurant’s house-made flavored sodas ($3) will be garnished with gummy eyeballs.

In Latin America, El Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a three-day holiday that celebrates the lives of deceased relatives with food, candles, and flowers. In DC’s Penn Quarter, the Mexican small-plates restaurant Oyamel extends the tradition to a week. From October 26 to November 1, there’ll be special cocktails, a tamale cart on the patio, and decor that reflects Latin traditions, including marigolds, candles, and an altar. Marigolds reappear on the special Day of the Dead menu (small plates $5 to $7.50), too—in dishes such as sopa de calabaza con carnitas, a butternut-squash soup with cinnamon, habañeros, and fried pork. Or try a Mexico City-inspired tamale with Chihuahua cheese, tomatillo sauce, and roasted poblanos. At the bar, a special cocktail, the Sloe Dead Fizz ($5), is made with Plymouth sloe gin, Presidente Mexican brandy, Chartreuse, lemon juice, and egg white.

This Halloween night indulge in the Poste Ghost Roast ($45), a special spooky version of the family-style roasts regularly hosted by the Penn Quarter brasserie. The star of the roast is a cut of capretto, or baby goat, served with polenta and Brussels sprouts. Pumpkin soup and salad with red-onion marmalade and foie gras is the first course. Pumpkin ale, naturally, is on tap, and the meal ends with some grown-up trick-or-treat booty: red-wine-caramel apples and petit fours. Dinner starts at 6:30.

Leave it to Todd Thrasher’s Old Town speakeasy—a sibling of Restaurant Eve—to conjure up some otherworldly cocktails. The swank bar is serving the Black Ghost, a mix of squid ink, black-olive juice, and vodka, which arrives with a halo of smoke from dry ice. The 110 Ghost—celery bitters, celery-root juice, white truffles, and vodka—is based on a real-life ghost story. “When we first moved into Restaurant Eve,” says Meshelle Armstrong, a partner at PX, “we experienced some really out-of-this-world scariness: wine boxes moving in front of the door inside a locked wine room, knocking on doors and no one there. The building is from 1810!”

Since the release of Zombieland—or maybe after that vintage screening of Night of the Living Dead—aren’t you feeling hungry for some brains? You’re in luck: They’re on the menu on Halloween night at Tallula. The Clarendon eatery is serving up calf’s brains meunière ($11) plus tamer holiday specials such as pumpkin soup with toasted pepitas and crème fraîche ($8) and pumpkin bread pudding ($8.50). The regular à la carte menu will also be available.

Chef/owner Richard Sandoval is making Halloween even more fun by offering guests a “trick” or “treat” when the server arrives with the check. From Monday, October 26, through Saturday, October 31, diners can choose a complimentary dessert upon their next visit or select from an unknown assortments of tricks, which may include a free cocktail, dinner for two, a bento box or—boo!—nothing at all. Each customer gets one trick or treat per visit.