Metro Weekly

Christmas Dining: 9 Restaurants that Offer Great Holiday Fare

From latkes to beastly feasts to Yule logs, these restaurants go all out

Dinner Reservation: Photo by Andrey Bayda

These days there’s Christmas mission creep in dining just as there is in retail, with many restaurants toasting the holiday with meals offered on multiple days — if not the entire month of December.

And certainly Commissary is the place to get the most bang for your holiday buck — whether you celebrate Christmas or Chanukah, or both. Starting at 6 p.m. on the seventh night of the eight-day Jewish holiday — Monday, Dec. 22 — the sustainably focused, economically minded P Street restaurant offers a two-hour Latkepalooza party with “bottomless” access to a potato pancake and deep-fried donut bar featuring traditional, sweet potato and zucchini latkes. There’ll also be Hanukkah-themed drinks and appetizers, including brisket sliders, kugel bites and lox crostini, and all for $15 a ticket. As it happens, this Latkepalooza is the special promotion for the 10th day of Christmas at Commissary — just one of 12 daily promotions by the restaurant touting the 12 days before Christmas. A couple other choice “presents” during the “12 Days of Commissary” that began on Saturday, Dec. 13: Half-price wine bottles all night on Friday, Dec. 19, and 20-percent off all takeout orders on Tuesday, Dec. 23. Call 202-299-0018 or visit commissarydc.com.

What started as a one-day splurge among Italians and Italian Americans has grown, at least at a number of area restaurants, into an all-month affair. We’re talking about the Feast of the Seven Fishes, where celebrants gorge themselves on different types of seafood — traditionally the fishier and deeper fried, the better. But this feast is not just for Christmas Eve anymore. You can enjoy veteran Washington restaurateur Roberto Donna’s eight-course take on the meal any night until Dec. 24 at his restaurant Al Dente in Wesley Heights near American University. Donna’s skilled preparation of baccala, or salted cod — to say nothing of calamari, clams and shrimp — is among the best in town, and at $45 per person, you won’t find a more affordable feast. Call 202-244-2223 or visit aldentedc.com.

But at least two other area restaurants are taking liberties with this whole feast-of-seven concept. On one extreme, Hank’s Oyster Bar offers “Feast of the Seven Oysters,” specifically intended for those who don’t want to overdose on dinner — or at least not in a pre-fixed kind of way. This “feast” presents seven different varieties of the namesake bivalve. It’s available throughout the month at all three Hank’s locations, including the original just off 17th Street in Dupont Circle. Call 202-462-4265 or visit hanksoysterbar.com.

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On the other, heavier extreme, there’s Del Campo in the Penn Quarter area, which twists the seafood theme as befits a meat-focused South American restaurant. For his “Feast of the Seven Beasts,” Chef Victor Albisu offers a menu of five courses including dessert and featuring such hearty options as venison ceviche, Iberico ham with “scallop Panzanella,” lamb tongue and neck “Bologness” and beef shank with bone marrow polenta — all surely taste better than they sound. This beast of a feast runs $79 per person and is offered at dinner only between Friday, Dec. 19, and Wednesday, Dec. 24. Call 202-289-7377 or delcampodc.com.

Speaking of hearty, Café Berlin may be under new ownership, but it continues its longstanding tradition of offering refined German fare. German-born chef Rico Glage’s Capitol Hill establishment offers three seatings for its three-course Christmas menu on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For only $39, you can pick from several starters, whether a field salad or potato pancakes, entrees ranging from venison to fish to bratwurst, and house made desserts with coffee or tea. Call 202-543-7656 or visit cafeberlin-dc.com.

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Meanwhile, famed Spanish-born, D.C.-based Jose Andres is cooking up a Roast Roseda Prime Rib with mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and Brussels sprouts with cranberries and maple anchovy jus at his temple to his new home country, America Eats Tavern, based at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner. Offered as part of the regular menus during both Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Day brunch, the prime rib runs $39. And you can finish off Christmas brunch with a Christmas cookie buffet for another $12. Call 703-744-3999 or visit americaeatstavern.com.

For a little heat to warm up your holiday, Rosa Mexicano offers a $35 prix-fixe four-course menu on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day including the chain’s famed signature guacamole prepared tableside to start and churros, or Mexican doughnuts, to finish. Entrée options include roasted turkey with huitlacoche stuffing and grilled shrimp and scallops marinated in garlic. Call 202-783-5522 or visit rosamexicano.com.

For flavor from still further south of the border, stop by Rural Society in the Loews Madison Hotel on 15th Street. Created by celebrated Philadelphia restaurateur Jose Garces, this Argentinian-themed venture offers a Christmas Day four-course dinner tasting menu featuring meaty options including prime rib and pork tenderloin for $75. Call 202-587-2629 or visit dc.ruralsocietyrestaurant.com.

Of course, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a sugar overdose or three — and while B Too offers its regular extensive menu on Christmas Eve, the 14th Street restaurant literally takes the cake this year by selling take-home variations on Buche de Noel — a Yule log popular in Quebec and other francophone countries, including chef Bart Vandaele’s native Belgium. Whether you opt for red velvet, hazelnut praline or dark chocolate with salted caramel and Grand Marnier, each cake ($29.90 to 49.90) must be ordered three days in advance. Call 202-627-2800 or visit btoo.com.

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.

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