December DC Buzz: An Abundance of Holiday Restaurant Specials & Gift Ideas

Tis the season to be jolly… because Man Talk Food is here to help you coast through the holiday madness. We have loads of holiday-themed restaurant specials and deals, along with special gift ideas, and from there, some additional events and news. Dive in.

Don’t forget to check out our comprehensive guide to D.C. Christmas & New Years dining.

Holiday Specials

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Boqueria Offering Weekday Bottomless Brunch

Boqueria is offering a full week of their unlimited brunch, from December 27th to January 4th. Their brunch includes all of the brunch tapas you can handle, and bottomless drinks, including multiple varieties of sangria, along with mimosas and beer. Highlights on the brunch tapas list include Tortilla de Chorizo, Butifarra amb MonGetes, and sweets like Churros con chocolate and Pina Inopia, and stand-bys like pan con tomate.

The brunch will begin weekdays at 11:30 am, and on the weekends at 10:30 am.

Jaleo’s Annual Clementina Celebration

Chef José Andrés is bringing back the annual Clementina celebration at Jaleo, highlighting of course, the clementine — also known as “The Christmas Orange”. Harvested in Spain in the winter, Jaleo showcases the ingredient in various specials running from December 15th-28th at all three D.C. area Jaleo locations.

The full list of dishes includes clementine gazpacho, clementine salad, a white asparagus salad with clementines, a green asparagus dish with clementine juice and Manchego cheese, seared fresh calamari with artichokes and clementines, seared scallops with butternut squash puree and clementines, and duck confit with clementine sauce.

There’s a variety of special cocktails available as well, including the Oh My Darling, Sunny Side, Clementine 75, and the non-alcoholic Clementine Soda.

Seasonal Cupcakes at Red Velvet

Red Velvet is showcasing four seasonal cupcakes this month. Unfortunately, we’ve already missed the Eggnog Cupcake, but next up is the Gingerbread Cupcake, from the 12th-18th, the Flourless Chocolate Cupcake with peppermint milk chocolate ganache, from the 19th-25th, and the Hot Buttered Rum Cupcake with French Vanilla topping from the 26th-January 1st.

Cupcakes are all available at $3.25/each or $36/dozen. Of course, a few of these bad boys could easily fall into our holiday gift idea section, below.

Holiday Fun at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner

The Ritz-Carlton Tysons has a multitude of events to keep you busy for the rest of the holiday season. You can visit the life-sized Gingerbread House on the 3rd floor of the hotel, on display until January 2nd. But then you can join a Gingerbread House Decorating class on weekend dates including the 13th, 14th, 20th & 21st. The class costs $75 per child ages 3-12. Something says there will be take home souvenirs, of course.

Another weekend event is their Nutcracker Tea service, with seatings at 10am and 1pm on the next two Saturdays, the 13th & 20th. The cost is $79 per person, and includes afternoon tea, petite sandwiches, pastries, and take-homes including pictures and a nutcracker doll for children.

Want more tea and more holiday festivities? Come back on the next two Sundays, the 14th & 21st, for the $79 per person Princess Tea service. Children will enjoy a theatrical production with Disney princesses, sweet treats, and a holiday gift bag with goodies and photos to take home.

GCDC’s Hanukkah Grilled Cheese

Hanukkah is in the house, everyone! Downtown grilled cheese bar GCDC celebrates Hanukkah with The Maccabee sandwich, a deliciously savory sandwich starring Bubbe’s slow-cooked family-recipe brisket, cheddar cheese and dill pickles served on Challah bread. The Kosher-style Maccabee was inspired by owner Bruce Klores’s mother Esther (aka Bubbe), who, at 83 years old, will be cooking the first batches of her family-recipe brisket for the restaurant.

The special grilled cheese will be served all eight nights of Hanukkah, December 16-24, for $10 during lunch service and $14 for dinner, with a side.

Dino’s Hanukkah Feast & Other Dinners

Let’s stay in a Hanukkah state of mind, shall we? Dino’s Grotto is offering a special Hannukkah prix-fixe menu on December 16th and 17th featuring latkes, matzoh ball soup, olive oil poached fish, and Tusan-style olive oil pan fried rabbit with lemon. The items are also available a la carte.

Dino’s has plenty of other holiday events and goings on, too. This Friday, December 12th, join them for a Frank Cornelissen Wine Dinner. It’s a six-course feast with eight wines for $145 per person. Two seatings are available, 6:30 and 7pm.

Then, from December 26th-3oth, they’re offering a Cena dei Bolliti dinner, aka Bollito Misto aka Tuscan Pho aka Pot au Feu. Read all about the special menu here.

Plus, we’ll stick with Dino’s and showcase a few of their holiday gifts here, instead of putting them down in the gifts section below. They’re offering all kinds of special events and deals which go well beyond your standard gift card. For instance, you can buy a custom cocktail party for 8 people ($450) or 2 people ($125). You can get an entire custom-designed 5-course menu for 8 people ($1,000) or 2 people ($300), or, check this out, the OMFG for 8 deal. It’ll set you back $2,500, but you’ll get five courses, five wines, and all of the absolute best of the best in both.

Sonoma’s 12 Days of Christmas

Sonoma Restaurant & Wine Bar is offering a Wine Lovers 12 Days of Christmas promotion from December 12th-23rd. There’s a different wine, cider or grappa available each night at 25% off regular prices, served with a paired amuse. The specials are available during dinner.

Examples include Cidre Bouche, an earthy, funky cider from Normandy, served with Grayson cheese, or a glass of dry Liu Dit Melon de Bourgogne perfectly complimented by fried oysters.

Trummer’s on Main Going Big with Turducken

Trummer’s is offering two nights of holiday celebration dinners. In addition to unique holiday-inspired dishes, you’ll also find a Turducken featuring an Ashley Farms Heritage Breed turkey breast roulade with chicken thighs and a decadent, umami-laden foie gras mousse, garnished with crispy fried chicken skins, truffled polenta, ruby chard and hen of the woods mushrooms. To end the holiday feast on a sweet note, the decadent Croquembouche is a must.

The Holiday Celebration Dinners will take place on December 22nd and 23rd. The Christmas Turducken is available for $36 and the Croquembouche serves 2-4 for $27.

City Tap House’s Santa Clause Brunch & Snowboard Giveaway

This Sunday, December 14th, bring the family to City Tap House from 11 am to 3pm for their Santa Claus brunch. Enjoy brunch dishes like Strawberry-Almond French Toast, Biscuits & Gravy, and House Smoked Salmon Hash, and pair it with specialty holiday brews, or even homemade eggnog. Of course, don’t forget to take your photos with Santa.

Additionally, City Tap House is partnering with Breckenridge Brewery and Never Summer Industries, a Colorado-based snowboard and longboard manufacturer, to host a special snowboard giveaway. Purchase a Breckenridge brew now through Sunday to fill out a raffle ticket for a chance to win a Never Summer Snowboard.  The winner will be announced at 4 PM on December 14th, and you must be present to win.

Et Voila! Offering Buche de Noel Desserts

Jay Snap | LaDexon Photographie

Et Voila!, known for Belgian-French fare, is adding a unique preparation of popular buche de noel desserts to its holiday menu. The traditional bûche is made from sponge cake, and is generally baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll pan, frosted, rolled to form a cylinder and frosted again on the outside. Et Voila!’s Pastry Chef Alex Malaise’s version is made with chocolate, almond, Poire Williams and crème fraîche.

The dessert is available from December 11-25, where the savored confection is $10 per serving, or call ahead and place an order to-go, with sizes that serve four priced at $38, and a six-person size at $48.

Copperwood Tavern’s Tavern Warmers Menu & Fire Pits

Copperwood Tavern winter beverages

At Copperwood Tavern, Shirlington Village’s farm to table restaurant, try the new Tavern Warmers menu in conjunction with the debut of two new fire pits on its outdoor patio

Diners can even snag fleece blankets so they can enjoy the fire pits and the Tavern Warmers, which include Bourbon with lemon, honey syrup, orange and clove; Spiced Rum with apple cider redux, lemon and nutmeg; Moonshine with coco-syrup, coffee and crème, as well as Apple Brandy with port-vanilla syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and orange. Cocktails are priced at $9 each.

Vinoteca’s Mystery Gift Giveaway

During the month of December, Vinoteca diners are getting a little something extra with their meals: the restaurant’s annual Holiday ‘Mystery’ Gift Giveaway is back again! Every brunch and dinner customer receives a sealed mystery gift card redeemable for prizes such as $100 gift certificates, seats to their always-sold-out wine classes and all-night happy hour.

But there is a catch: Diners can’t open their holiday cards until after the first of the year, when they come back to dine at Vinotecaand their server opens the sealed envelope! The gift cards will then be redeemable from January 2nd-31st.

nopa Kitchen + Bar Debuts New Winter Cocktails

Nopa toddy with ameretto meringue

nopa Kitchen + Bar has added four warming winter cocktails to their happy hour menu, which is available for 2.5 happy hours, from 4:30 to 7pm Monday-Friday. Their specials include 20% of all wines by the glass, and cocktails.

The new drinks include the Kentucky Coffee, with Baileys, Jameson, coffee, and topped with house-made toasted meringue; the Nopa Hot Toddy, with cardamom-infused bourbon, lemon juice, spiced apple syrup, honey syrup and topped with amaretto meringue; the Nopa Punch, a house-made mulled wine, and Nopa Hot Chocolate, with 65% Ecuadorean chocolate, house-made chocolate toffee, cocoa, cream and Frangelico. The liquor used in the hot chocolate though will change from batch to batch.

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Holiday Gift Ideas

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Dolcezza’s Christmas Package

At Dolcezza Gelato’s Online Shop, you can purchase a four-pint Christmas package for $60, the perfect gift for the gelato lover in your life — you do have a gelato lover in your life, don’t you?

The Christmas package includes four pints of winter specialties, including King Leo Peppermint gelato, Eggnog gelato, Seville Orange Coriander Whiskey sorbetto, and Clementine sorbetto — take that, Jaleo!

Visit their shop and make your purchase here.

Shake Shack Christmas Ornaments

Shake Shack has a special collection of Christmas ornaments and gifts available. While supplies last, you’ll get a complimentary collectible ornament with the purchase of a gift card for $25 or more. The limited-edition, custom-made wooden Shake gingerbread man ornament is also available for purchase online for $9, along with other gift ideas, like a Shack Wooden Coaster Set ($15) or a Retro Burger Beanie ($22), and more. Gift cards and ornaments are available at all Shake Shack locations as well as their online store.

Soi 38’s Thai Sweet Treats

Soi 38 Desserts Bua Loy Nam King & Bean Fruits

Authentic new Thai dining destination Soi 38 is bringing one of Thailand’s most beautiful and traditional holiday sweets, Look Choup, to DC. Traditionally given as gifts during the holidays, Look Choup are miniature imitation fruits and veggies made from sweetened, house-made yellow bean paste and coconut milk, hand molded into intricate fruit and vegetable shapes and delicately hand painted.

Soi 38 is celebrating this holiday season by offering the handcrafted Look Choup in holiday boxes to go, and providing complimentary pieces to all dinner guests the week of Christmas, December 22nd-27th. Chef Mitchai spends hours (sometimes an entire day), hand mashing the yellow beans, forming them into realistic miniature versions of various fruits and vegetables and hand-painting each piece individually.

Additionally, Soi 38 is offering a 10-piece box of the handmade confections packaged in festive packaging this holiday season for $17.

Lupo Verde Gift Baskets

Lupo Verde Gift Baskets

Buy a Christmas basket filled with house-made Italian goods from Executive Chef Domenico Apollaro. Gift baskets are available throughout the entire month, and you can choose either a pre-packed basket, or customize your own.

Each pre-packaged basket will include homemade marmalade; homemade ragù; a bottle of Sagrantino di Montefalco, a bottle of Limoncello, three different cheeses, and three different cured meats from Lupo Verde’s cheese shop.  Baskets can be purchased in the restaurant, and are priced from $125-$150.

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Openings, Buzz & Announcements

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RareSweets Opens in CityCenter, Plus Holiday Cakes & Gifts

RareSweets, a bakeshop and dessert company, opens on Monday, December 15 at 8am at the new CityCenterDC development. After over a year of operating out of the food incubator Union Kitchen, and hosting various pop-ups, RareSweets’ founder and pastry chef Meredith Tomason will open her first brick-and-mortar bakeshop.

Tomason, who has held high-profile pastry roles in New York such as pastry chef at Tom Colicchio’s lauded Craft Restaurant, was inspired to open RareSweets by her late grandmother. Family recipes for gingersnap cookies and cocoa crinkles have earned a spot on RareSweets’ opening menu, which also features recipes inspired by Tomason’s vast vintage cookbook collection—some dating back to the 1850s.

On opening day, the first 100 people in line will receive a complimentary hot cocoa with purchase.

The opening menu includes breakfast choices such as Buttermilk Biscuits, Cinnamon Rolls, Cheddar Chive Biscuits, Seasonal Coffee Cakes, English Muffins,Egg in a Basket, Chocolate Cake Donuts, Seasonal Glazed Donuts; cake to go choices such as Classic Cake Slices, Double Chocolate, Black & White, Red Velvet Beet, Black & Yellow; Seasonal Cake Slices $5.50, Ginger & Lemon, Vanilla & Eggnog, Apple Stack, Chocolate Malt; Mini Cakes, Classic Coconut, Chocolate Peppermint, Toasted Almond, and full-sized Party Cakes. There are also a variety of cookies, bars, ice creams, sorbets, and a coffee and tea program.

Plus, to celebrate the holiday season there’s an array of delicious holiday themed cakes and treats to bring home. Try the Snowflake Cake, a Vanilla or Chocolate Cake, covered in vanilla orange blossom icing and decorated with sparkly fondant snow flakes for $80; a Traditional Yule Log, Brown Butter Almond or Vanilla Cake, covered in chocolate sour cream icing and decorated with meringue mushrooms and fondant elves for $85; the  Naughty or Nice Yule Log, Brown Butter Almond or Vanilla Cake, covered in chocolate sour cream Icing and decorated with meringue mushrooms and mischievous fondant elves for $85; or the Gingerbread & Lemon Cake, Spicy and delectable gingerbread cake covered in lemon butter cream and decorated with candied ginger for $70.

You can also order a Christmas Morning Breakfast gift basket, with an assortment of breakfast items, including a sour cream crumb cake to slice, banana chip bundt cakes, apple cider doughnuts, and buttermilk biscuits with apple butter. Serve up to 10 for $70, or get the large for $95, and serve up to 16.

Smaller to-go holiday gifts from RareSweets include  Hot Cocoa Mix & Handmade Marshmallows, Coconut Macaroons, Chocolate Snowflake Cookies, Cookies for Santa,  Cookie & Bar Tins, and stocked Gift Baskets.

Pizza Vinoteca Opening in Ballston

The New York-born Pizza Vinoteca will open at 800 N. Glebe Road in Ballston, tomorrow, Thursday December 11th with an Italian-inspired menu prepared on a custom-made grill and paired with food-friendly wines none priced more than $10 a glass.

Pizza Vinoteca uses a Jade Range grill which reaches 900 degrees via 16 burners, infrared heat, and three wood chip smoke boxes. The goal is to create thin and crunchy pizzas with just the right amount of tender chewiness.

The pizza menu will include Classic Pizzas and more unique Crafted Pizza choices, and diners will also find salads, entrees and dessert, with five flavors of bomboloni, the Tuscan-style doughnuts.

DC Chefs Collaborating with Montreal Counterparts; DC Featured at Montreal En Lumiere Festival

The Montreal en Lumiere festival, which lasts from February 19th-March 1st, has selected Washington, D.C. as its featured American city. The festival highlights music, art and cuisine, and as part of the festivities, six notable DC chefs will cook at restaurants in and around Montreal.

The lineup and collaborations include:

Kyle Bailey of Birch & Barley, ChurchKey, GBD and The Arsenal, will be hosted by David Monette at Les Cons Servent; Bertrand Chemel of 2941 Restaurant will be hosted by Anthony Joyce and Sylvain Levaillant at Verses; Frederik De Pue of Table and 42˚ Catering will be hosted by Jean-Baptiste Marchand at La Fabrique; Todd Gray of Equinox, Watershed Restaurant and Muse, will be hosted by Olivier Perret at Renoir; Mike Isabella of Kapnos and Graffiato will be hosted by Daren Bergeron at Apollo; and Marjorie Meek-Bradley of Ripple and Roofers Union will be hosted by Bryan Labchuk at Pullman.

Winter Restaurant Week Jan 19th-25th

Speaking of RAMW, the dates for DC’s Winter Restaurant Week have been announced, January 19th-25th.

Over 230 restaurants will offer three-course prix fixe dinners ($35.15) and/or three-course prix fixe lunch ($20.15) menus. Find the full list of participating restaurants here.

BBQ Joint Opens at Union Market

Chef Andrew Evans is bringing The BBQ Joint to Union Market. The restaurant opens officially tomorrow, December 11th, and joins his two previous locations, in Easton, Maryland, and Pasadena, Maryland.

The menu will feature ribs, pork butt and brisket, along with sides like collard greens, baked beans and cornbread. Evans will also treat Washingtonians to smoked Sriracha and beer sausage, which will be sold exclusively at Union Market. Other special offerings will showcase Chef Evans’ passion for rubbing down meats and dialing them in with smokers, to get just the right bark, juiciness and smoke flavor to pluck anyone’s primal caveman chord.

Evans has been recognized for his previous work at The Inn at Easton. He has graced the cover of The Washingtonian, been featured in The New York Times’ food section, earned three-stars from The Washington Post and has recently appeared on The Food Network going head-to-head with Bobby Flay on new, hit television show, “Beat Bobby Flay.”

Evans pivoted from fine dining to BBQ after being asked to judge the Jack Daniels BBQ competition a decade ago. Now, he creates competition-worthy barbecue that borrows the best traditions from Texas to Kansas City, while revealing layers of flavor that honor Evans’ culinary training.

The BBQ Joint at Union Market will be open Tuesday-Sunday from 11am to 8pm.

Cafe Deluxe Launching New Cocktail Menu

Cafe Deluxe is launching a new cocktail menu at all five of its DC-area locations. The lineup includes the Blue Lemonade – house infused lemon Vodka, lemon juice and blueberries; the Berry Mango Mojito – Cruzan mango rum, muddled blueberries, cranberry juice and club soda; Cucumber Martini – Hendrick’s Gin, St-Germain and fresh cracked pepper; and Island Cosmo – Bacardi Limon, cranberry and pineapple juice, and fresh lemon juice. Traditional staples with an innovative twist include the GT 500 – Roundhouse Gin, Jack Rudy South Carolina Tonic and club soda; Bourbon Re-Fashioned – Buffalo Trace Bourbon, cherried sugar cube and Jamaican bitters; and The Mint Julep – Bulleit Bourbon, muddled mint leaves and hand-crushed ice.

Not to be missed are the smoky flavors found in the Bacon and Bleu Martini – locally distilled sustainable vodka with bacon and bleu cheese stuffed olives and Yuengling Bacon Bloody Mary – Yuengling Beer, housemade bloody mary mix, vodka, Applewood smoked bacon finished with bacon and bleu cheese stuffed olives.

Lou Di Palo Book Signing & Tasting at Via Umbria

lou di palo book signing

Lou Di Palo will be visiting Via Umbria in Georgetown on Tuesday, December 16th, for a book signing and guided food tasting. Di Palo is the author of the “Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy”, and copies of Lou’s book are now available at Via Umbria to read for their monthly book club and will also be available the day of the event on Tuesday, December 16 for purchase.

Participants are encourage to prepare a dish from the book and bring it for an impromptu put luck where Lou will continue the conversation.

The event will last from 5:30-7pm, but the pot luck will continue until 8pm.

Attendance is free but RSVPs are encouraged. Email events@viaumbria.com.

Legal Sea Foods Offering $1 Cups of Chowder for Chowda Day

Legal Sea Foods Chowder

In honor of National Soup Month, Legal Sea Foods is making a new “Legal” holiday, Chowda Day, on Thursday, January 15th. On that day you can enjoy a $1 cup of their New England Clam Chowder with the purchase of any entree. Online, you can also pick up a quart of the clam chowder for $11, which is half off its normal pricing.

Chowda Day will be celebrated at all four DC-area Legal Sea Foods.

Bibiana Names Jake Addeo Executive Chef

Jake Addeo has been named the new executive chef of Bibiana-Osteria Enoteca. Addeo brings 16 years of distinguished experience working at some of the most acclaimed restaurants in New York City and Hong Kong.

Most recently Jake Addeo served for three years as executive chef and partner in Trattoria Doppio Zero which opened in Hong Kong in 2011. Previously, he served as executive chef BLT Steak and BLT Burger Hong Kong, from 2009 to 2011, under celebrity chef Laurent Tourondel.

Freshfarm Markets Introduces Winter CSA in January

FRESHFARM Markets is introducing their first winter CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program at the Dupont Circle market in January. CSA shares are distributed each Sunday for 12 weeks, starting on January 11th. The winter CSA will be one-size only and offer seasonal produce in addition to various pantry staples from the Dupont Circle farmers and producers.

A typical week’s share might include: acorn squash, turnips, lettuce, onions, apples, eggs, yogurt, pickles, and oats. There’s also a meat add-on with two servings of meat, including sausage, charcuterie, pork chops, chicken, ground bison, etc. You can even drive right up to market to pick up your CSA and it will be delivered directly to your car.

Price is $45 per week, with the meat add-an an additional $20. You can find more information on the Freshfarm CSA here.

Blue Duck Going Big With Champagne Magnums

Check out Blue Duck Uncorked at the Blue Duck Tavern on Tuesdays throughout December, where the restaurant will feature rare magnums of champagne by the glass, with 4-ounce pours available throughout the evening until the bottle is kicked.

On December 16, a Dom Ruinart 1998 will be poured; on December 23 a Gaston-Chiquet Blanc de Blancs Grand Cruwill be featured, and on December 30th a Dom Perignon 2004will be offered. Each pour will be priced at $30, and the event starts at 5:30pm.

Early Bird Dinner at Arcuri

Head to Arcuri in Glover Park for a new early bird dinner promotion from 5:30 to 7pm. For $25, you get a three-course dinner, and select from a rotating list of dishes.

This month, you can find options such as Foie Gras Crostino with pickled red wine shallots on brioche paired with a White Juniper Berry Cocktail with Tanqueray No. Ten Gin, ginger and white cranberry, followed by Squash Agnolotti with amaretti, sage, brown-butter and balsamic paired with a 2013 La Staffa Verdicchio de Castelli di Jesi Classicoand Smoked Heritage Pork with winter vegetable caponata and a bacon vinaigrette paired with a 2011 Vajra Langhe Rosso. For dessert, try a Pear and Apple Crostata for two with Fior di Latte gelatopaired with House Made Lemoncello. (Drinks are not included in the $25 price)

Capriotti’s Opening in Georgetown on December 15th

Capriotti’s is opening its 3rd DC area on Monday, December 15th, at 34th & M Street in Georgetown. To mark the occasion, the first 100 people in line at 11am will get a free Bobbie sub, their signature menu item.

Known for roasting whole turkeys daily and making sandwiches to order, Capriotti’s has hot and cold sub sandwiches in three sizes, sandwiches made to order, a selection of salads and four vegetarian subs, plus a kid’s menu make up the offerings at Capriotti’s. The best seller, The Bobbie, was recently named “best sandwich” in the Washington Post’s World Cup of Sandwiches competition, is made with in-house roasted turkey, homemade stuffing, cranberry sauce and a touch of mayo.

Author: Jake Emen

I’m Jake, and I’m your host on this journey. I'm the man doing the eating and the talking around here. I’m a writer based outside of Washington, D.C., and I'm also talking whiskey, local events, travel, and other assorted misadventures. Follow me on the Tweet Machine - @ManTalkFood, or send an email to jake [at] mantalkfood.com.

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