Your family is coming to town and the thought of preparing a dinner for ten or more people sounds daunting, if not impossible. Relax! These restaurants all around Virginia effortlessly make the holidays bright and save you the trouble of cooking and cleaning for the entire clan. With seasonal décor, dishes utilizing winter ingredients, and holiday cocktails, these 50+ dining destinations will create lasting holiday memories without the hours of labor in the kitchen on your part.
Red Fox Tavern—Middleburg
The Red Fox Tavern goes all out for the holidays, with décor, drinks, and menu specials carefully crafted to reflect the season. Classic wreaths hang from windows and doors, and garland decked with ornaments, pine cones, and feathers is draped on the mantles above the crackling fireplaces and throughout the restaurant. Start your meal with a festive cocktail, like the Cranberry Moscow Mule, Hot Spiked Cider, or Santa’s Eggnog, finished with a cinnamon-sugar rim on the glass. During Christmas week, the Red Fox offers a Hunt Country Brunch, with the holiday highlight being the Cranberry Raisin French Toast. At the Christmas dinner, the restaurant serves up items like the Crispy Fried Half Duck and the Grilled Rack of Lamb, followed by decadent dessert options that include Southern Bourbon Pecan Pie.
Denson’s R&B Oyster Bar decorates for the holidays in their own fashion, with a tribute to the Chesapeake Bay. An oyster bushel basket Christmas tree sits atop the restaurant and grocery’s main entrance, and inside you’ll find their oyster shell nativity scene and a wine bottle Christmas tree. Don’t let the unusual decorations fool you, however; the food at Denson’s is some of the best seafood around, with flavors that highlight the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia’s farm-to-table style. While the menu changes weekly, you can get fresh shore seafood like wild-caught Chesapeake rockfish and Rappahannock River oysters, served with collard greens, mashed potatoes, and Brussel sprouts, all purchased from local farms. If your aim is fresh seafood with a seasonal flair, Denson’s is the place to go during the holidays.
The last thing you expect when you pull up to the quiet strip mall that houses Buckhead’s Chophouse is the elegant interior. Richly carved wood covers the walls, with dim lighting bathing the dining area in an effortless glow of luxurious style. The decorations within the restaurant are simple yet sophisticated, appearing in curated touches like the bells draped around the mounted buck, poinsettia’s placed on shelves and tables, and sparkling gold ornaments hanging in the windows.
DoG Street Pub—Williamsburg
Plan a visit to Colonial Williamsburg and stop by DoG Street Pub during the holidays for a very merry beverage or cocktail. The homemade hot chocolate will warm even the biggest Scrooge, and the Butter Beer is a delightful combination of mulled cider and caramel, topped with a caramel butter. Bows and garland add a festive touch to the windows and doors of the building, and inside, poinsettias of varying sizes and colors hand-picked by owner and Chef David Everett are placed around the restaurant.
Eat: An American Bistro—Virginia Beach
Eat in Virginia Beach is all about the menu when it comes to showcasing the holidays within the restaurant. Winter means filling, robust meals, and Eat does this best with game-centric dishes like duck and quail. Start off with a bowl of the pumpkin or butternut squash soup, and consider an order of the charcuterie for the whole table to share; you won’t regret it! For cocktails, go with the Hot Buttered Rum, then finish the meal with their famous Figgy Pudding. When it comes to décor, see if you can find the holiday gnome hiding inside the restaurant.
For a hearty taste of winter at Richmond’s Postbellum, order the homemade pappardelle pasta, prepared with venison and pork ragout, mushrooms, cippolini onions, and sage, but you really can’t go wrong with anything created by Chef Kevin Church. Their menu even includes vegan and gluten-free options for the family members with special dietary considerations. Guests that are looking for a seasonal cocktail should try Postbellum’s Cranberry Sour, made with 1843 Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey, fresh cranberry simple syrup, lemon, and egg white froth, all finished with a dusting of coriander brown sugar and dried cranberries. Other holiday drink options include homemade egg nog and hot spiced apple cider.
Sweet NOLA’s decorates for the holidays in a unique and fun way, with an inflatable animal band out front (complete with a dinosaur and duck playing the banjo and electric guitar) and colorful lights strung throughout the inside. The restaurant continues their unusual Christmas homage on the menu with Christmas Present Gumbo, an authentic New Orleans-style gumbo cooked with a surprise “present” right in the middle: a homemade pie crust pouch stuffed with one of their four fillings. An often-ordered seasonal desserts is the Creole Christmas Crack, a pumpkin cake stack topped with cranberries, pecans, and cream cheese, then drizzled with white chocolate.
There are more than 200 nutcrackers displayed in Victoria’s Restaurant during the holiday season, including a nutcracker on each table and placed on pretty much every available surface throughout the restaurant. You’ll even spot life-sized nutcrackers with which your family will love to take fun pictures. Enchanting strands of lighted garland encircle the restaurant, adding an extra touch of holiday décor to the restaurant. If you have a bigger family, Victoria’s has special event seating for up to 34 people.
Waterman’s Surfside Grill—Virginia Beach
Located right on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk, which currently hosts the Holiday Lights at the Beach tacky lights tour, Waterman’s Grill is all decked out both inside and outside the restaurant. Wreaths, lights, and illuminated reindeer adorn the exterior of Waterman’s, and inside you’ll discover festive Christmas trees, endless ropes of garland, and plenty of holiday cheer. Although it is not exactly a seasonal beverage, don’t miss out on the fresh Orange Crush cocktails that the restaurant is famous for, then try one of their seafood specials like the Local Fried Flounder or the Lump Crab Cakes.
Jimmy Madison’s holiday decorations echo the Southern style that the restaurant showcases year-round, with lights, garland, and ornaments artfully placed around the interior. The restaurant’s menu specials change daily, but a few examples of dishes you can expect to find during the season incorporate Cornish game hens, duck, and venison. As a whiskey bar, Jimmy Madison’s offers a special whiskey drink of the day during the holiday season. Try the Hot Cider Whiskey cocktail that uses fresh, local cider sourced from Showalter’s Orchard as well as a whole cinnamon stick and mulling spices, or the Egg Nog Toddy, made with fresh egg nog, whiskey, and ground nutmeg. No matter which you order, the holiday cocktails at Jimmy Madison’s are sure to warm you right up!
Magnolias at the Mill—Purcellville
Magnolias at the Mill infuses the holidays into their décor, food, and drinks, creating a beautiful holiday dining experience. On December 8th, the restaurant hosts their “12 Beers of Christmas Dinner”, which features incredible seasonal dishes like Brûléed Vanilla Scallop, Ginger Cider Poached D’Anjou Pear, Wild Boar Ducken’ Porchetta, and a Sticky Toffee Pudding, all paired with some of the best holiday craft beers. While this is a one night feast, the restaurant prepares 3-4 specialty meals each night that are crafted from locally sourced ingredients, in addition to an impressive menu that changes with the seasons. Ask about the restaurant’s “Daily Fix”, a unique holiday-inspired cocktail blended up each evening.
The holidays are in full swing at Aioli in Staunton, with a Christmas tree in dining room, poinsettias placed all around the restaurant, and twinkling lights lining the wide window panes. Order the hot spiced cider, or for a beverage with a bit of a kick, sample their nightly seasonal cocktail, like the Winter Delight, made with Frangelico, Bailey’s, and vodka, then garnished with a raspberry cream sauce.
Trummers on Main—Clifton
Visit Trummers on Main during their “12 Days of Drinks”, where each day brings a new festive cocktail crafted from seasonal ingredients. The restaurant’s interior is filled with sparkling lights, ropes of garland, festive wreaths, and Christmas trees covered in ornaments. The menu features winter flavors, including a New Zealand Venison cooked with smoked barley, kale, and huckleberry, a Spiced-Glazed Lamb served with cous-cous and swiss chard, and Keystone Farms Duck with wild rice, celery root, and spiced plum. The Gingerbread Cake is the perfect ending to your meal, made using gingerbread cake, gingersnaps, ginger ice cream, and candied ginger. On December 22nd and 23rd, guests receive a special holiday menu put together exclusively for Christmas.
The Boat House—Various Locations in Downtown Richmond, Midlothian, and Short Pump
The Boathouse has three locations within the Richmond area, each decorated with unique holiday attire. From the Boathouse at Rockett’s Landing, you’ll get an unbeatable view of the illuminated skyline of downtown Richmond, while the Sunday Park waterfront location makes for a stunning sunset and the Short Pump location is convenient for those further west. An impressive holiday menu is complemented by handpicked wine suggestions for each dish. Start with the Pig and Pearl, an appetizer made with fried oysters, braised pork belly, and collards that is dressed with a roasted garlic aioli. Entrees like the Winter Squash Risotto and Rack of Lamb topped with an apple-mint puree continue the delicious dining experience, and for dessert, don’t miss out on the 6-Layer Cake, towering tall with chocolate devils cake, peanut butter mousse, chocolate ganache, Virginia peanuts, and sea salt.
Steinhilber’s Restaurant—Virginia Beach
Decked out in crimson bows, conifer garlands, red roses, sparkling globes, and warm holiday lights, Steinhilber’s Restaurant in Virginia Beach sets a welcoming tone for customers this season. Faint music in the background and a roaring fireplace add the final touches to the old world charm created by the holiday décor. If you arrive for dinner before nightfall, take a walk on the grounds behind the restaurant to see a stunning sunset over the water.
Cedar Knoll in Alexandria decorates with classic holiday accents, utilizing minimalistic yet elegant décor to create a refined seasonal setting. Visit on Christmas Eve for their special holiday dinner, featuring the raved-about Chesapeake Rockfish, caught just off the Chesapeake Bay at the mouth of the Potomac River, and served with gratin of celeriac and a carrot butter. Littleneck Clams harvested near Chincoteague Island are steamed and mixed into the fish, resulting in a flavorful seasonal dish.
Located in an historic log cabin off of Route 6 west of Richmond, Tanglewood Ordinary provides southern, family-style meals that you would expect to come from your grandmother’s kitchen during the holidays. Their signature dish is the fried chicken, which may not seem very seasonal, but start with a cup of their hot cocoa and end with a slice of Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie, and you’ll leave happy and full. The restaurant puts out an 8-foot tree for the holidays, wrapped with countless strands of lights and adorned with ornaments that have been collected from patrons and employees alike over more than 30 years. Wreaths, garlands, and lights finish off the quirky yet charming holiday display at Tanglewood Ordinary.
Looking for more holiday dining? Check out a few more of these festive foodie destinations around the Commonwealth.
- The Roosevelt—Richmond
- Mill Street Grill—Staunton
- Café Provencal—Williamsburg
- Creek Bottom Brews—Galax
- Fossett’s at Keswick Hall—Keswick
- Blue Talon Bistro—Williamsburg
- Lemaire at the Jefferson Hotel—Richmond
- Swan Terrace at the Founders Inn—Virginia Beach
- Island House—Wachapreague
- Fat Canary—Williamsburg
- The Old Mill Room at Boar’s Head Inn—Charlottesville
- Swinging Bridge Restaurant—Paint Bank
- Bill’s Seafood—Chincoteague
- Clifton Inn—Charlottesville
- Amuse at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts—Richmond
- Field & Main—Marshall
- Food for Thought—Williamsburg
- Court House Café—Chesapeake
- White Dog Bistro—Mathews
- Claire’s at the Depot—Warrenton
- The Wine Kitchen—Purcellville
- Craft 31—Williamsburg
- Doc Taylor’s—Virginia Beach
- The Regency Room at Hotel Roanoke—Roanoke
- L’Auberge Chez Francois—Great Falls
- Tobacco Company—Richmond
- Clyde’s Willow Creek Farm—Ashburn
- 2941 Restaurant—Falls Church
- Macado’s—Various locations in Radford, Marion, Galax, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Farmville, Salem
- Liberty Station—Bedford