February 23, 2024

How DC’s Top Restaurants Are Celebrating Christmas

Le Diplomate turns up the holiday cheer with its decor. Photograph by Nicholas Karlin.

1319 Rockville Pike, Rockville

One of the few restaurants on Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list that’s open on Christmas Day, Rockville’s beloved northern dim sum parlor is a tradition for DC area Jewish families on the holiday. Plan ahead, though: the queue for dan dan noodles, pan-fried pork dumplings, and cucumber salad can be especially long on Christmas. 

 

79 Potomac Ave., SE

The hip Jersey-style pizzeria’s Capitol Riverfront location is hosting a Santa Brunch fundraiser, now in its fifth year, to benefit St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a pediatric cancer research charity. The brunch ($10 per person, not including food), held on Saturday, December 16, includes a photo with Santa, hot chocolate, and holiday crafts. Book a spot here.

 

974 Palmer Alley, NW

Chef and owner Amy Brandwein of Centrolina. Photograph by Scott Suchman

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Chef Amy Brandwein brings her refined approach to the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a Christmas Eve tradition. For $150 per person—reserve your space here—the family-style spread includes focaccia with anchovy; baccalà alla Veneziana; fritto misto; squid ink pici; and swordfish with chicory in caper/lemon broth. For dessert: a chocolate/chestnut yule log cake. 

 

724 Ninth St., NW

Chef Pepe Moncayo’s Spanish-Japanese menu expands to include a special takeout-only holiday feast all month long. Choose between a crispy roasted suckling pig for two ($150) or a braised veal shank for four ($225)— both prices include sides like squash miso purée and wild arugula salad. Pastry chef Anna Glockl’s Basque cheesecake is a special dessert option. Order here.

 

122 Blagden Alley, NW

“Dabnog”, a rich, boozy concoction of bourbon, rye, madeira, black rum, sorghum molasses, eggs, milk, and spices, has become a holiday tradition at DC’s top restaurant. Order it by the quart on Tock for $50, or get a three-quarth package for $140.

 

1401 Okie St., NE

The industrial Ivy City tasting room is celebrating Christmas Eve with brunch ($75) and dinner ($155 and up) takeout menus and optional wine pairings— find details and place orders here. You can also preorder treats like a holiday cookie box and an eggnog kit with rye.

 

309 Middle St., Washington, VA

A dining room at the Inn at Little Washington. Photograph by Scott Suchman

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The region’s only triple-Michelin-starred restaurant makes for a luxurious holiday getaway. Book prepaid reservations ($348 per person) for dinner on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.

 

200 Massachusetts Ave., NW

Hamachi crudo will be on L’Ardente’s Feast of the Seven Fishes menu. Photograph by Alexi Manfredi.

Chef David Deshaies’s extravagant Italian eatery is partaking in an extravagant Italian-American tradition from Sunday, December 17 through Christmas Eve: the Feast of the Seven Fishes. The meal ($250 for two) includes two glasses of Veuve Clicquot, oysters on the half shell; hamachi crudo; seafood campanelle; and charred dorade, among other dishes. 

 

331 Springvale Rd., Great Falls

The warm, traditional Alsatian-style inn gets especially festive around Christmas, with over-the-top holiday decor and a variety of specials. Chez Francois prepares a seven-course Christmas Eve dinner (prices vary) with main course selections like rack of lamb, beef wellington, and Maine lobster with Sauternes/butter sauce. There are also take-home menus and a classic bûche de noël (serves 12). 

 

1601 14th St., NW

The Logan Circle bistro breaks out the classy coniferous decor and string lights for its gorgeous annual holiday display. Le Dip also hosts family-friendly visits with Mrs. Claus on Saturday, December 16th and Sunday, December 17th, with hot cocoa and cider, Pets de Nonne donuts, and crafty activities. Plus, the restaurant is open all day on Christmas. 

 

2401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Robert Wiedmaier’s elegant French-Belgian tasting menu destination transforms into a kid-friendly holiday crafting zone on Saturday, December 16 as pastry chef Zarmina Khan leads a gingerbread house workshop. The $90 activity (free for kids under 6) makes use of Khan’s own freshly baked gingerbread and includes holiday punch, champagne, hot cocoa, and light snacks. 

 

1337 11th St., NW

The farm-to-table corner restaurant in Shaw is taking part in several Christmas traditions this year. On Tuesday, December 12, the restaurant hosts a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, and on Christmas Eve, chef Colin McClimans will lead a traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes ($90 per person; family style) with dishes like scallop rosette crudo; squid ink sorpresine with braised squid; and monkfish piccata. Even the dessert course incorporates trout roe. Throughout the month of December, the restaurant’s heated patio is done up with holiday decor and fire pits, and there are special cocktails like mulled wine and Amaretto-spiked Mexican hot chocolate.

 

2017 14th St., NW; 403 H St., NE

Pastelles, a Trinidadian Christmas tradition, are available at St. James. Photograph by Reema Desai.

The 14th Street Trinidadian outpost and its sibling eatery, H Street’s Cane, are bringing a holiday tradition from the islands to DC this year. St. James’s pastelles—similar to tamales—are stuffed with ground beef, olives, raisins, and capers, and steamed in banana leaves. Order them here at $100 for a dozen, or $80 a dozen for the vegetarian alternative. If you’re dining in at St. James and Cane, you can also sip a ponche de crème ($15), a traditional milk-and-rum punch popular around the holidays in Trinidad. 

 

1207 Ninth St., NW

Holiday fare, including a bûche de noël, at Unconventional Diner. Photograph courtesy of Unconventional Diner.

The refined comfort food spot in Shaw is often a great place to find holiday fare available for takeout. From Friday, December 15 through December 31 (excluding Christmas Day), pick up a three-course meal ($75 per person) made up of a crab bisque, beef wellington with string beans and mashed potatoes, and chocolate-hazelnut bûche de noël. Reserve your holiday meals at least four days in advance here

Ike Allen