Sometimes the prepping, cooking and cleaning are just too much. Let these local spots take care of your holiday dining this year.
There’s a classic moment in The Santa Clause (1994) where Scott Calvin (Tim Allen) burns the turkey that his son, Charlie (Eric Lloyd), and he were meant to share.
The movie never really acknowledges how the father, now single and hosting his only son for the holiday, is able to create an impressive Thanksgiving-style spread for the two of them in such a short period of time, but after the turkey is burned, they end up at an American fail-safe: Denny’s. Yes, the diner.
Rather than burning your own turkey this year, head to these local spots for a holiday meal worth leaving the house for.
Christmas Eve at 2941 Restaurant
There’s a good chance you weren’t planning on making a three-course prix fixe menu for your family and friends this year. Instead, let the crew at 2941 handle it. The menu features delectable items such as black truffle falafel, Japanese madai tartare, warm Maine lobster and more … and those are just the starters. For entrees, indulge in truffle-roasted Amish chicken, Creekstone Farms filet mignon or winter petits farçis, with mushroom-stuffed Cipollini onion, patty pan squash, Swiss chard, truffled potato and spinach. For dessert, you won’t find miscellaneous Christmas cookies on a plate. Grab a bûche de noël (gingerbread spice cake with apple compote and maple chantilly), eggnog créme brûlée (with bourbon ice cream and maple cookies) or a chocolate bauble (moist chocolate cake served with dark chocolate mousse and a créme anglaise). // 2941 Restaurant: 2941 Fairview Park Drive, Falls Church; noon-9 p.m.; $95 per person
Christmas Eve at Bastille Brasserie & Bar
How could one not be in the mood for a four-course prix fixe menu on a holiday, especially if it’s prepared just for you? Make your reservations now at Bastille Brasserie & Bar to get all the foods: Maine lobster bisque and smoked salmon and caviar toasts to start, followed by salads and entrees meant to make your mouth water. The salad of roasted mushrooms, arugula, celeriac, carrots, apples, whipped goat cheese, hazelnuts and sherry vinaigrette could be a fresh start, or the endive and frisee salad with Asian pears, walnuts and Roquefort dressing. Larger plates will include grass-fed beef filet with cabernet truffle sauce and Brussels sprouts, organic Amish guinea hen roasted with chestnuts and foie gras stuffing, as well as riesling-poached Maine lobster with smoked trout, bay scallops, mussels, braised cabbage and more. To end the night on a sweet note, the gluten-free buche de noël à la pistache will feature pistachios, white chocolate orange marmalade and amarena cherries, and the crème caramel will feature vanilla- and cardamom-scented custard, espresso ice cream, candied orange and white chocolate. So much to choose from that everyone is sure to leave even happier for a memory-filled Christmas Day. // Bastille Brasserie & Bar: 606 N. Fayette St., Alexandria; 5-10 p.m.; $79 per person
Christmas Eve Dinner at Brabo
Letting your family enjoy a three-course meal in honor of the holiday is easy at Brabo, where there’s something dressed up and festive for everyone to enjoy. To start, grab a plate of the chestnut veloute with lobster, croutons, whipped cream and armagnac, or the pan-seared day boat scallops, with sweet gem lettuce, sun dried tomatoes, crispy bacon and a mustard reduction. Main courses include a braised duck leg with fingerling potatoes and grilled broccolini, a baked barramundi with cauliflower, beets, gremolata, brown butter and lemon, or the grilled New York strip steak with potato mousseline, mushroom fricassee and black truffle sauce. To end the meal? A buche de noël (vanilla cake and raspberry cream), Gianduja chocolate tart and a pistachio panna cotta. Cheers to a great holiday meal (and no kitchen sink full of dishes). // Brabo: 1600 King St., Alexandria; 5:30-9:30 p.m.; $65 per person
Christmas Eve at Gadsby’s Tavern
A simple holiday meal that’s made well is the way to go, especially when celebrating Christmas. If you’re looking for a solid meal with a few choices and a great atmosphere, book your seat at Gadsby’s Tavern. Appetizers start with Smithfield ham biscuits and Surrey Co. peanut soup, as well as the Tavern salad. Entrees range from prime rib, “George Washington’s Favorite Duck” (served with citrus cherry glaze with scalloped potatoes and corn pudding), herb-crusted rockfish filet and Vegetable Napoleon (flame-roasted seasonal vegetables with brie, topped with roasted red pepper puree and jasmine rice). Desserts include New York cheesecake, English trifle and mixed berries served with whipped cream. Simplicity with elegance, just the way tradition has it. // Gadsby’s Tavern: 134 N. Royal St., Alexandria; 5-8 p.m.; $55 per person, half-price for children 12 and under
Christmas Eve at Tuscarora Mill
We love a good excuse to head to one of the 50 best restaurants in Northern Virginia, and Tuscarora Mill is no exception. Start the Christmas Eve off with “The Fruitcake,” a holiday-exclusive cocktail with vodka infused with cranberry, orange, ginger and pear, served with orange bitters and soda. For starters, get a bowl of the smoked mushroom bisque and truffle mousse, or a plate of the truffle mousse pate as the star served with toasted ciabatta. Entrees include pan-seared halibut, organic chicken with smoked Gouda polenta, slow-roasted angus prime rib, a rack of lamb or pork chops served with wild mushrooms, marsala, smoked cheddar and more. Desserts to finish the evening are yet to be determined, but with a filling meal on the night before Christmas, everyone might be caroling the whole way home. // Tuscarora Mill: 203 Harrison St., Leesburg; 3-10 p.m.; $50-$85 per person
For more food & drink stories, subscribe to our weekly Food newsletter.