Risotto with Prosciutto and White Truffle Oil
Urbanna Oyster Festival

Dining Out in DC on Thanksgiving, 2008

I don't think I am out of line when I say that Washington is a town of workaholics. With their crippling workloads and often far-off families, for a lot of locals, the chances of enjoying grandma's green bean casserole this Thanksgiving are slim. Fortunately for them, the DC restaurant scene is equally hardcore -- dozens of area restaurants will remain open on the 27th, their staffs shunning friends and kin to serve you, the dining public. Below are my picks for Thanksgiving 2008 -- bear in mind, the OpenTable reservation status is based on availability at the time of the publishing of this article. Although, if OpenTable says that the restaurant is booked, you may want to try calling, because restaurants sometimes hold back tables.

For those looking for classic American fare in one of the classiest joints in town, Chef Daniel Giusti will be offering a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings for $54 per person. Considering the meals I have enjoyed here in the past, I am sure that the meat will be spectacular, and the desserts sublime... just don't forget your sports coat, as jackets are required.

Open 12 to 9
1226 36th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 965-1789
Reservations: Looks like it's booked! Try Calling or try OpenTable

Though I haven't had the pleasure, 2941 has a magnificent reputation for innovative cuisine, and has an undeniably great wine list, as recently confirmed by the Wine Spectator. The six course tasting menu looks particularly patriotic, featuring all the bounties of the east coast, including Maine lobster, Hudson Valley fois gras, and Maryland turkey. Damn!

Open 12 to 8
2941 Fairview Park Drive
Falls Church, VA 22042
(703) 270-1500
Reservations: Plenty available. Make reservation

Bistro Francais
In addition to its normal menu, M St's premier cute little French bistro will be offering a three course turkey meal for both lunch and dinner, for $19 and $26 respectively. I love the chicken frites here, so I imagine they can do wonders with a turkey.

Open 11 to 10
3124-28 M Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 338-3830
Reservations: Plenty available. Make Reservation

Blue Duck Tavern
This relatively new addition to DC's thriving "American Cuisine" market has made its reputation on the merits of its fowl, fish, and duck fat fries. Expect copious amounts of decadent food at Blue Duck's holiday buffet (10 am to 4 pm), with the normal menu served thereafter, along with the chef's take on a turkey blue plate special.

1201 24th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 419-6755
Reservations: A handful available for brunch, then booked until 9:00. Make Reservation

Charlie Palmer Steak
Though I am a bit wary of chain steakhouses regardless of price, Charlie Palmer looks like it is going to be putting out quite the spread. For $65 a head ($20 per child), CPs offers a diverse menu, featuring a selection of six firsts ranging from sashimi to fois gras, and a selection of hearty main courses, including pheasant, turkey, venison, and even a pan roasted sea bass for the odd vegetarian out.

Open 12 to 8
101 Constitution Ave.
NW Washington, DC 20001
(202) 547-8100
Reservations: Good availability. Make Reservation

Chef Geoff's
Chef Geoff's is an obvious weekend choice for its obscenely well priced bar food and beers; for the holiday, it might just be the perfect choice for a group of friends to enjoy a casual Thanksgiving in the absence of home and hearth. Both uptown and down, CG's will be offering an array of festive soups and starters, along with the usual assortment of gussied up meats and fishes. If you plan to head up New Mexico Ave, sausage-brioche stuffed turkey will be on the menu.

Open 2 to 8
3201 New Mexico Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 237-7800
1301 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20004
(202) 464-4461
Uptown: Make Reservation
Downtown: Looks booked. Make Reservation

While Michel Richard's cuisine is kind of the antithesis of mom down home cookin' (my mom never cooked with "g's"), he certainly has a pretty healthy spread out for the 27th. For $80 ($37 for children), Citronelle is offering a holiday buffet, including such classics as potato salad, lamb au jus, glazed ham, cranberry sauce, turkey, and the like. There are not a lot of places where I would spend $80 to try some guy's interpretation of baked beans and candied yams; Citronelle just happens to be one of them.

Open 2 to 7:30
3000 M St NW
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 625-2150
Reservations: A few spots still open. Make Reservation


Clyde's will be open at all of its six area locations, offering a well priced traditional Thanksgiving meal at $23 a head. Given my experience with this  DC area institution, expect authentic but unexciting food which will leave you plenty full, and a seat with an unobstructed view of Detroit and Dallas getting the crap kicked out of them.

Numerous Locations.
Gallery Place Make Reservation
Tysons Make Reservation
Leesburg Make Reservation
Reston Make Reservation
Georgetown Make Reservation

Commonwealth Gastropub
Though one might imagine British food to be at odds with the spirit of our American holiday, I have little doubt that you carnivores out there would get over that juxtaposition real quick.  Commonwealth will be featuring a prix-fixe roast beef and turkey dinner — featuring sweet potatoes, oyster-mushroom stuffing, and housemade pies — for only $25. Judging from previous experience, I expect the portions to be more than ample for the price, and the quality of the meats to be superb, though I suggest leave the vegans at home.

Open 1 to 8
1781 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 265-1830
Reservations: Plenty available. Make Reservation

The first Thanksgiving in a new home can sometimes be a lonely experience -- not so for Tom Power at his new Shaw area digs, as Corduroy is already nearly completely booked for the holiday. Expect Power's usual commitment to freshness and innovation in his take on the classic turkey dinner, prix-fixe at $55 per person. Call now! Their menu is on their web site here.

Open 1 to 8
1122 9th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001
(202) 589-0699
Reservations: A small number available in the early afternoon. Make Reservation

The Manor House Restaurant
Okay, I've only eaten here once, but I can safely say that this little inn outside of Warrenton makes the best she-crab soup I have ever tasted. Period. The Thanksgiving menu looks outstanding, with several entrees featuring something-or-other confit, which as everyone knows is the best way to cook anything. The optional wine pairings actually look like a real deal, and feature some well thought out, esoteric wines, including a New York State Champagne, a Gigondas and a New Zealand Chardonnay. $72 Adults ($99 with pairings), and $25 for children.

Open 1 to 6
9245 Rogues Rd
Midland, VA 22728
(540) 788-3400
Reservations: Good Availability. Make Reservation

Old Ebbitt Grill

DC's oldest bar and grill will be offering much the same menu as its brothers in the Clydes group, at the same low-low price of $23. Old Ebbitt stands out from its siblings in terms of ambiance and service. The OEG is easily one of the coolest restaurant spaces in Washington DC — being all cavernous and full of marble and dark wood — and I have always found that the level of service far surpasses the price. Incidentally, if you are planning a meal at home but are short on time, Old Ebbitt can hook you up with the sides.

Open 12 to 11
675 15th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 347-4800
Reservations: Availability limited. Make Reservation

Eschewing the prix-fixe route, chef Jeff Buben will instead feature a variation on his typical menu with an array of Thanksgiving themed dishes, including milk-poached Amish turkey breast, Southern-style cassoulet, and an assortment of pies and torts.

Open 12 to 3, 5 to 8
1990 M Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036

(202) 659-1990
Reservations: Good Availability. Make Reservation

In the fratty and chain-driven neighborhood of Ballston in Arlington, Willow is a much loved oasis of good wine and quiet sophistication. On Thanksgiving, Willow will be offering a combination turkey dinner/ dessert and appetizer buffet for $75 a head (full menu here). For an additional $38, enjoy a selection of paired wines with each course -- I know the price sounds a little steep, but the bar and kitchen work phenomenally well together at Willow, so I'm sure the matches will be excellent.

Open 2 to 6
4301 N. Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22203
(703) 465-8800
Reservations: Some Availability. Make Reservation

For a (nearly) complete list of restaurants open on Thanksgiving, check out OpenTable's promo page here.


Trabocchi Fan

Citronelle for Thanksgiving - buyer beware!
For those who may be considering Citronelle as their dining choice for Thanksgiving, think twice. I dined there the year before last and was expecting a meal worthy of kings. Though the atmosphere was great and the food plentiful, the quality did not stand up to my expectations. One of the menu items listed on the website was missing ; the salmon en croute was actually panko-breaded salmon filets; and the lamb (as well as some other dishes) had as much flavor as a plain baked potato. All in all, VERY disappointing! The worst part of all had to be the salmon - that was pure deception! Perhaps this year will be different and I will be curious to read the experiences of experiences of others!

Easy Diner

To piggy back on Trabocchi Fan's comment...
I had Thankgiving dinner at Citronelle about 3 years ago. My expectations, at dining at the restaurant of a chef as creative as Michel Richard, was met with disappointment as well. Along with the "faux" en croute and flavorless lamb, the menu also listed haricot verts...which I was told by one of the servers behind the buffet, they didn't have "...this time." Unfortunately, not being a huge fan of turkey, these were the three menu items I was most eager for. That and the anticipation of how Michel Richard would interpret traditional Thanksgiving fare was why I agreed to celebrate at Citronelle. It was also dishearting, to realize that the green salad (lettuce) was the only thing that wasn't self-serve (except of course for the carving station) so that they could PILE it on the plate in hopes that the diners would take less food.

Despite disillusionment by the quality of the food, I would have been open to returning to Citronelle on another night to experience the regular menu, if not for the disdainful attitude of our sommelier. This expressed to us at the head and tail of our meal. Upon our seating, he asked if we would like water. We said "Yes.", he nodded and began to walk away. A server pouring water for a table near by overheard this exchange and so made his way toward us. The sommelier attempted to stop him; he seemed annoyed when we intervened by asking the server to continue pouring the water. In short, rather than ask us whether we wanted Perrier or water from the pitcher, his intent was to "trick" us into purchasing the bottled water. If not for that stunt, I might have purchased a bottle of wine for the table.

After we paid the check, we passed the sommelier on our way out. My dining companion, who was in front of me, said goodbye. Before I could speak, the sommelier gave a rye chuckle and said "Enfin" and turned away with a roll of his eyes...he assumed we did not speak French. "Enfin" is french for "Finally". Apparently, we had over stayed our welcome. Since the two incidents that I described above were the only two interactions we had with him, I can only assume he deemed us unwelcome on first sight.

Though I've never met Michel Richard, I have heard him speak live on a panel. I know the sommelier's elitist attitude does not reflect that of the owner, however the owner is not the one I have to chance dealing with upon patronizing Citronelle.

I must end this with relaying that the buffet servers and hostess were very kind and respectful.

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