Deck the Halls! 7 Top Holiday Restaurants That Go All Out for Christmas

‘Tis the season to be jolly. In our book, that means sparing ourselves the dishes and dining out. A lot. Since we love reveling in the Christmas spirit, we point our proverbial sleighs toward eateries that are equally excited (and wear that excitement if not on their sleeves than everywhere else!). From festive decorations and visits from Santa himself to special menus and live caroling, here are seven top holiday restaurants that truly deck the halls.

1789, Washington, D.C.
The staff doesn’t hold back when decorating this Federal-era home turned restaurant in historic Georgetown. Every room is festooned with lights, wreaths, garlands, and festive glass balls. Dinner comes with a side of caroling. The Washington Men’s Camerata visits the restaurant December 13th through 24th from 7-9 PM to sing a variety of holiday choral classics. Pro tip: Even if you were the star of your college a cappella group, you should keep quiet and let them perform. On Christmas Eve, guests will enjoy a beyond decadent a la carte dinner with foie gras torchon perked up with orange marmalade and pickled celery, coddled egg and lobster, and bucatini topped with Nantucket bay scallops (white truffles optional, but highly recommended).

Top Holiday Restaurants 1789

Colicchio & Sons, New York, New York
Tom Colicchio and his team celebrate the season in a big way. Previously, they’ve decked out a tree in record decorations, blue lights, and miniature jukeboxes to pay homage to Elvis’ Christmas Album, which Colicchio’s father spun during the holiday season. The pastry team always outdoes themselves with extra delicious decorations. Last year, they created a gingerbread skyline of New York City topped off with Lady Liberty.

Top Holiday Restaurants Colicchio & Sons

Arnaud’s, New Orleans, Louisiana
This Big Easy institution adorns its exterior with garlands and wreaths all twinkling with little white lights. From December 1st through 23rd, guests can choose the celebratory five-course Réveillon dinner ($49, not including tax and tip). Dishes include duck rillettes enlivened with caramelized onions, radishes, and cherry confit, Creole onion soup en croute, roasted Cornish game hen with mayhaw demi-glace, and a classic tarte tatin. Good times guaranteed.

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Lafayette, Washington, D.C.
Perched on Lafayette Square across from the White House, this D.C. dining powerhouse offers a very merry buffet ($110 per adult, $52 for children 12 and under, not including tax and tip). Highlights include duck magret with a mélange of mushrooms, braised beef ravioli, and a raw bar boasting baby lobster, shrimp, and snow crab claws. Save room for an epic dessert selection from talented pastry chef Josh Short, such as peppermint white chocolate cheesecake, toasted walnut snowballs, bûche de Noël, smoked pecan brittle, cranberry panna cotta, and a heavenly host of holiday cookies. 

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Last-Minute Thanksgiving Reservations: Deals + Offers

Last-Minute Thanksgiving Reservations

ICYMI, Thanksgiving is just days away. If it slipped your mind (or your stomach), fear not. There is availability at top restaurants in cities all across the nation. To wit, we’ve rounded up a variety of deals and offers in our last-minute Thanksgiving reservations guide for restaurants in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Read on and start booking!

ATLANTA
A bit more: Le Bilboquet: With an all-day special menu, French favorite Le Bilboquet is open from 12PM-8PM and serving a 3-course meal at $65 per person and $25 for kids under 12.
A bit less: B’s Bistro: B’s is offering a traditional four-course turkey, ham or Scottish salmon Thanksgiving feast from 1PM-7PM. It’s just $34.95 plus tax and service, and $16.00 for the 12 and under crew.
A bit different: The SHED at Glenwood: Dig into an amazing Thanksgiving buffet with all the holiday classics! With seatings from noon to 7PM, it’s $50 for adults and $20 for kids 3-11.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in Atlanta.

BOSTON
A bit more: Bar Boulud: Celebrate with friends and family while enjoying a three-course, prix-fixe Thanksgiving Day spread. Enjoy seasonal classics with a French twist, from 12PM-8PM for $85 apiece.
A bit less: Amuse: Chef Martin Quinn is creating a special three-course Thanksgiving prix-fixe menu for only $28 per person.
A bit different: Club Café: Do good while digging into the sumptuous buffet at Club Café. Served 11AM-4PM, it’s $29.95 per person and 10% of food sales will be donated to The Boston Living Center and the dollar donation will be matched by Mark West wines.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in Boston.

CHICAGO
A bit more: Cite: Feast with your family and friends on a hearty Thanksgiving brunch buffet on the 70th floor of the prestigious Lake Point Tower, from 10:30AM-2:30PM. Adults are $85 each, and kids eat for $38.
A bit less: Brasserie LM: Brasserie by LM will celebrate Thanksgiving with a $35 prix-fixe menu. Menu items include Roasted Chestnut Soup, Fried Ham Steak with bacon & Brussels sprout hash, and yummy Pumpkin Pie.
A bit different: Vermillion: Partake of the most unabashed innovative Thanksgiving feast that has earned raves from the Wall Street Journal, among others. The four-course global meal is big on herbs and spice with a Latin-Indian twist. Vegetarian options abound. $55 per person.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in Chicago.

DENVER
A bit more: Element 47: The three-course prix fixe Thanksgiving menu gets a luxe spin at Element. Book for the $99 per person experience with an optional $65 wine pairing.
A bit less: Hodson’s Bar and Grill-Southglenn: Enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner two ways — traditional with all the fixings for $17 or a smoked turkey with root vegetable gratin for $16. Both options are served all day, from 11AM-8PM.
A bit different: Kachina Southwestern Grill: Add a southwestern accent to your day with this family-style “Back to Our Roots” supper from 11AM-9PM. The four courses feature Achiote Turkey, Smoked Prime Rib, and traditional sides. $40 for adults and $15 for children.
Find more Thanksgiving restaurant reservations in the Denver area.

LOS ANGELES
A bit more: Carbon Beach Club Restaurant at The Malibu Beach Inn: Surf into the holiday with a beachside Thanksgiving dinner. There are three courses for $ 85 per person with wine pairings available upon request.
A bit less: The Front Yard: You don’t have to stress about cooking this year if you hit up The Front Yard! Chef Chris is serving a save-ory menu at just $39 for adults and $18 kids 12 and under.
A bit different: The Hungry Cat: It’s tender vittles all the way with offerings that include deep-fried turkey, spiced cranberry, chorizo and oyster stuffing, potato puree and more, plus dessert.
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Atlanta Dining Guide: Tried + True and Hot + New Restaurants

The dining landscape in Atlanta, the capital of the New South, has changed dramatically over the past quarter century. Beyond restaurants serving old school Southern staples, the city now boasts one of the most delicious culinary scenes in the nation. But in a time when restaurants, even in this growing city, open and shutter on a near-daily basis, it’s important to remember those that have stood the test of time and look at those newcomers who we have no doubt will do the same. To wit, we present our Atlanta dining guide to the ATL’s long-running and newly opened restaurants.

FINE DINING

Tried + True: Bacchanalia
Chef Anne Quatrano has been a pioneer in Atlanta’s culinary crusade since she opened one of the first chef-owned, fine dining restaurants in 1993. That restaurant was Bacchanalia, a spot that has remained on nearly every “best of” list for more than 20 years and only seems to get better with age.
Rave review: “I hadn’t been to Bacchanalia in 15 years. It is still as amazing an experience in 2015 as it was in 2000 — the food, the service, the atmosphere all were beyond excellent!”

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Hot + New: Atlas
Not only is Atlas one of the city’s first fine dining restaurants to open in several years, but it’s also one of the only chef-driven restaurants within a hotel in all of Atlanta (Atlas sits on the second floor of the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead). Local restaurateur Gerry Klaskala, who also owns Canoe and Aria, opened the stunningly beautiful hotspot with chef Christopher Grossman, who hails from The French Laundry, manning the stove.
Rave review: “Wonderful ambiance. Great service. Very good wine list. The food was fantastic and seasonal. It really hit all points you want when you go out to eat.”

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CONTEMPORARY SOUTHERN

Tried + True: South City Kitchen Midtown
Hungry Atlantans have been flocking to South City Kitchen for fried chicken and banana pudding since the late nineties. The restaurant was one of the first contemporary Southern spots in the city, marrying regional ingredients and time-honed recipes from granny’s kitchen with modern cooking techniques.
Rave review: “SC Kitchen has been here for multiple decades and after not visiting for over 15 years we know why: they always deliver. Wonderful meal and impeccable service. They keep their menu choices down and the quality at a high level. Our waitress said their training program is unbelievably thorough and we believe it. It’s no wonder they rank in the top Atlanta restaurants every year.”

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Hot + New: One Eared Stag
Though One Eared Stag isn’t traditionally Southern, it’s a restaurant with the heart and soul of the South. Chef Robert Phalen runs a no-waste kitchen that serves up innovative, whole-animal, root-to-leaf dishes bursting with flavor — just order his fried chicken thighs and black pepper biscuits with Anson Mills grits and marrow butter for proof.
Rave review: “I made reservations at One Eared Stag based on it making Atlanta Magazine‘s ‘Top 50 Restaurants’ list and recommendations from friends. Boy, am I glad I did. The restaurant is tucked off in Inman Park and has an atmosphere that borders on upscale and hipster simultaneously. The food was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING. I am still dreaming about it a week later. I have heard great things about OES’s brunch and will more than likely return to the restaurant this weekend to try it out.”

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ITALIAN

Tried + True: no. 246
For nearly five years, Italian food lovers (although, does anyone really not love spaghetti and meatballs?) have been booking tables at Ford Fry’s no. 246 in Decatur to get their pizza fix. Chef Drew Belline’s margherita pie is simplicity at its best while his ricotta agnolotti is the stuff of legend.
Rave review: “Love going here! While the menu changes a bit, I know the food will be amazing no matter what. The service level is the best and this is one of Ford Frye’s best teams. I can come here for any meal and bring anyone — picky family, vegan colleagues, friends, etc. My go-to spot! And the wine list is amazing, too!”

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Almost Famous: 5 Southern Chefs to Watch

It used to be that the majority of America’s most talented chefs were all cooking in New York City kitchens. But today you can eat in almost any city in the country, from Pittsburgh to Orlando, Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine, and find skilled, revolutionary chefs worth their salt — especially if you choose to dine in the South. With the country’s most historic (and easily most storied) cuisine and a slew of accomplished chefs pushing the envelope as they marry tradition with innovation, Southern food has never tasted so good. Here are five Southern chefs to watch.

Raleigh’s Cheetie Kumar of Garland
James Beard winner Ashley Christensen may have put Raleigh on the culinary map, but Cheetie Kumar, the guitar player for Birds of Avalon and the mastermind behind Asian hotspot Garland, is keeping the City of Oaks on every foodie’s radar. Far from passé fusion, Cheetie dishes up authentic Korean plates (don’t miss her Heritage Farms pork shoulder rice bowl with housemade kimchi pickles and daikon-collard slaw, topped with a fried egg) alongside Indian specialties (the turmeric-yogurt glazed cauliflower spiked with curry leaves, chiles and cilantro packs an incredible flavor punch), all made with local Southern ingredients. [Photo by Tierney Farrell]

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Charleston’s Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh
Sean Brock and Mike Lata get most of the national attention when it comes to Charleston restaurants (and for good reason), but three-time James Beard semi-finalist Jeremiah Bacon, who helms the kitchen at The Macintosh, is making diners take notice. Bacon has a knack for fusing local, in-season ingredients with avant-garde-yet-approachable techniques, resulting in one-of-a-kind dishes (did someone say grouper charcuterie seasoned with bologna spices?) that will linger on your taste buds long after your meal.

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Houston’s Luis Roger of BCN Taste & Tradition
Diners have been flocking to Houston for a taste of James Beard winner Chris Shepherd’s Southern-meets-Asian creations, and with good reason. Stay for chef Luis Roger’s exemplary haute cuisine at Houston’s hottest Spanish destination, BCN Taste & Tradition. Bona fide bites of boquerones (pickled anchovies) are served up in an intimate villa setting, alongside Barcelona classics, such as green peas sautéed with prized Ibérico ham and crispy artichokes, decadent foie gras terrine, and buttery lobster bouillabaisse.

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Atlanta’s Zach Meloy of Better Half
Though Bacchanalia and Restaurant Eugene have been on the top fine dining restaurant lists for more than a decade, they’re not exactly affordable options (though they are worth it, if you can spring for the splurge). So when you’re craving the same level of food (read: precision, finesse, creativity, passion, and quality) and want to avoid spending your monthly mortgage on dinner, head to chef Zach Meloy’s unassuming, but big on delivery Westside restaurant, Better Half. Exclusively serving prix-fixe menus (available in three-, five- and nine-course tastings, priced at $35, $55 and $75, respectively), Meloy’s food—he rarely cooks the same dish twice—is fresh and thrilling, always with a profusion of contrasting flavors, textures, and temperatures. [Photo by Rebecca Stanley]

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Nashville’s Brian Baxter of Husk
When Sean Brock brought his legendary Husk restaurant to Nashville, the city’s restaurant scene exploded with excitement. But as all multiple-location restaurants go (especially those with a celebrity chef like Brock), it’s the lesser-known, but no-less-talented kitchen crew who runs the day-to-day show. Here, chef de cuisine Brian Baxter—he’s been with Brock on-and-off since 2008 at McGrady’s—mans the stove, cranking out Southern-to-a-T plates of hominy griddle cakes with pimento cheese and chipped beef, crispy chicken skins in white BBQ sauce, and Carolina catfish and okra in a West African peanut sauce.

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Are you already a fan of these up-and-coming chefs? Let us know here or on FacebookG+InstagramPinterest, or Twitter

Kate Parham Kordsmeier is a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications, the Atlanta Expert for About.com, and the author of Atlanta Chef’sTable: Extraordinary Recipes from the Big Peach. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.