A late-October treat doesn’t have to be limited to a fun-size candy bar. This Halloween, Washington restaurants and bars are serving everything from “brain parfaits” and “edible eyeballs” to a bevy of pumpkin-inspired dishes and drinks. Many spots have also created kid-friendly items, so the whole family can take part in the fun.
The Butcher’s Block, A Market by RW
Learn how to make the most quintessential of fall treats on October 30 at 3 PM when Brabo pastry chef Kate Baltren leads an apple-dipping course. Kids can get their requisite sugar rush from the caramel variety, while the over-21 set can enjoy a red-wine-dipped version of the classic confection. Apples are $6 each, and the demonstration is free.
Tricks and treats are no longer just for kids, especially at this swanky restaurant’s Potions and Brews event October 30. Come dressed as your favorite villain and try the spooky sips the bartenders have designed: Devilish Sake Sangria, Bloody Halloween Brew, and pumpkin-spice martinis ($4 to $8). The best-dressed guy or gal gets a $500 gift certificate for the restaurant. 10 PM to 3 AM.
Get an early start on Halloween at Columbia Firehouse’s family brunch. Kids can munch on “brain” yogurt parfait and decorate their own cupcakes while parents relax with a made-to-order Bloody Mary. The brunch is from 11 to 3; call 703-683-1776 for reservations.
Columbia Room at the Passenger
With its frightening ingredients and storied past, El Zombie—a mix of Mezcal tequila, overproof rum, and infierno—is perhaps the perfect Halloween cocktail. Legend has it that the drink was concocted by Dr. J. Duran, a chemist working in Mexico, with the hopes of bringing the deceased back to life. But when the potion turned imbibers into zombies, he was forced to flee the country. On October 29, El Zombie rises from the dead at Columbia Room, where the beverage will be served in a room designed to look like Dr. Duran's lab. There'll also be a Mariachi band, roasted pork tacos, and drink specials. $10 entrance fee.
This downtown DC nightclub (1716 I St., NW) is scaring up some very creative cocktails. Try concoctions such as Vampire’s Blood (red berry Ciroc vodka, Chambord, and lime juice) or the Seven Deadly Sins (vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and vermouth). The cocktails are available for the whole month.
The cupcake craze continues at Frosting this month, where seasonal varieties ($2.75 per cupcake) include pumpkin pie iced with vanilla cream cheese; double maple; and apple topped with vanilla and caramel butter cream.
The Grille at Morrison House
Story Time Tea at the Grille goes festive this month with a reading of Corduroy’s Best Halloween Ever, written by Don Freeman and illustrated by Lisa McCue. Chef Dennis Maron created two special tea menus—one for adults ($38) and one for children ($28)—to accompany the reading. Call 703-838-8000 for reservations. October 30 at 2.
Mon Ami Gabi
Located in Reston and Bethesda, this restaurant pushes French cuisine aside to make way for the annual Pumpkin Festival. From October 21 through October 27, enjoy dishes such as roasted-pumpkin-and-garlic soup; bacon-wrapped halibut with pumpkin-white-bean-and-sun-dried tomato stew; and pumpkin sorbet with a pine-nut brittle. The restaurant is also holding a pumpkin-carving contest October 23. Mon Ami Gabi is providing everything you need to make the jack-o’-lantern of your dreams, plus free cider and fall snacks. Call 703-707-0223 to make a reservation in Reston, 301-654-1234 for Bethesda. Reservations are also required for the carving contest.
El Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) is a traditional Mexican holiday that honors those who have passed on by offering their souls food, drink, and intricately decorated altars. To celebrate, Oyamel chef Joe Raffa has crafted a special menu (items range from $4 to $13) that takes inventive approaches to traditional Mexican dishes. A different mole is featured each day, including a green version made from pumpkin seeds, epazote, tomatillos, and cilantro and served with pork shank. Two new tacos will debut on the menu as well as a sweet-potato flan served with cinnamon ice cream ($7). Finally, toast the dead with special cocktails ($10 to $12): El Diablo Nuevo (cassis with tequila, lime, and ginger-beer “air”), the Sagrado Corazón (a tequila gimlet with cilantro and coriander), and the Sangre y Fuego (sangria, mezcal, and vermouth).
The annual Poste Ghost Roast is back at this Penn Quarter brasserie. The three-course meal features an heirloom-pumpkin soup with duck confit and red-onion marmalade; wood-roasted goat served with polenta and Brussels sprouts; and a dessert. Each course is paired with a seasonal beverage, such as the house-made Linus cocktail (roasted pumpkin, aged Flor de Cana and Bacardi Coco rums, milk, and nutmeg). The customer with the best costume receives a gift certificate for a dinner for two at Poste. October 30 and 31 at 6:30. Call 202-449-7062 for reservations; $48 per person (not including tax or gratuity).
At both the Penn Quarter and National Harbor locations, Rosa Mexicano is celebrating Day of the Dead from October 27 through November 21 with a special menu and free cooking demonstrations. Some of the traditional fare includes pozole de langosta, a lobster stew with chilies and hominy; and galletas y leche de arroz, Mexican cookies with nutmeg horchata milk. Stop by October 30 at 10 to learn more about the holiday and how to prepare seasonal dishes.
In what has now become a Halloween tradition, pastry chef Anthony Chavez brings his Eye Scream dessert to the table at this Falls Church restaurant. The “eyes” ($15) are made of pistachio mousse coated in Valrhona white chocolate and feature raspberry-lychee coulis “veins.” They’re presented on a bed of dry ice so that smoke swirls around them. The dessert is available through October 30.
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