Fans of the Feast of Seven Fishes have several options around Baltimore this year, including Gnocco, which will serve its feast on Saturday, Dec. 23.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for dining out. Whether you have last minute shopping to do or you just need a break from wrapping gifts, local restaurants offer plenty of reasons to visit this week.

Last Minute Shopping

Still looking for a few great gifts? Local restaurants and shops have you covered.

Tomorrow, from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., stop by Dylan’s Oyster Cellar for its first annual Holiday Bazaar. The bazaar will feature great gifts like ceramics by Irene Donnelly Salmon, Vent Coffee Roasters coffee, Keepwell Vinegar and B’More Saucy’s terrific hot sauce, which pairs especially well with Dylan’s oysters.

Bird in Hand’s annual holiday market will take place on Thursday, Dec. 21. There will even be complimentary drinks and snacks available while you’re shopping for locally made gifts from companies like Jinji, Almanac Industries and, of course, the Foodshed group of restaurants. Snake Oil hot sauce makes a great stocking stuffer!

There’s also still time before Christmas to grab a copy or two of The Food Market at Home, which would be a solid gift for local food lovers. The book is available at The Food Market and La Food Marketa, plus at Trohv and Becket Hitch.

Chef/author Chad Gauss will also be at the JFX Farmer’s Market this Saturday, Dec. 16, cooking and selling books from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and at Whole Foods in Mt. Washington on Sunday from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Restaurant gift cards are always welcome gifts, too. Right now, Atlas Restaurant Group (Azumi, Loch Bar, Ouzo Bay, Tagliata) has a great deal on theirs: buy a $250 gift card and receive a $50 gift card for free.

Hanukkah at Gunther

Celebrate the fifth night of Hanukkah at Gunther & Co. On Saturday, Dec. 16, the restaurant will serve a special Hanukkah meal, including classics like latkes, beet-cured, house-smoked Scottish salmon, matzoh ball soup and brisket, paired with a Schmaltz Brewing Hanukkah beer. (The regular menu will also be available.)

Solstice Pancake Party

Also on Saturday, Gertrude’s will host a Celtic Solstice Pancake Party, starting at 9:30 a.m. The party is tied to the Celtic Solstice race – the restaurant will be ready for runners and those cheering them on with a $10 all you can eat pancake bar featuring fun options like gingerbread and candied bacon pancakes, and $10 bottomless cocktails.

Christmas Spirit at R. House

On Wednesday, Dec.20, R. House is hosting a double-feature in the garage, with back-to-back showings of “Home Alone” and “Elf.” There will be kid-friendly arts and crafts, plus fun holiday-themed cocktails for the adults.

Admission is free, but R. House will also be collecting items for the Baltimore Child Abuse Center’s holiday drive.

Indian Cooking Class at The Verandah

Need a break from the constant holiday chatter and peppermint flavored everything? The Verandah is offering a vegetarian cooking class on Wednesday, Dec. 20. The class will cover some of the Hampden restaurant’s most popular vegetarian dishes and ingredients, including instruction in how to make fresh paneer and how to prepare vegan samosas.

Coat Drive at Pen & Quill

On Thursday, Dec. 21, Pen & Quill will host a coat drive, organized by The Baltimore Beat, benefitting Youth Empowered Society. For each donation, you’ll get a chance to win a P&Q gift card and a Hotel Monaco staycation.

Holiday Giving at The Corner Pantry

Between now and Dec. 21, bring a donation for House of Ruth to The Corner Pantry and you’ll receive a chocolate chip cookie or 12 ounce coffee on the house.

House of Ruth’s needs include items like pots and pans, twin or full-sized sheet sets and cleaning supplies (among other things).

Corner Pantry also has holiday catering available for both big and small parties, with options from a dozen mini sausage rolls (they’re so good!) to a whole beef Wellington. Check out their catering menu here.


Speaking of catering, The Food Market has officially launched a new catering arm called Hoopla. If you’ve ever been to a party catered by the Food Market crew, you know they do a great job and make everything a little more fun.

New Happy Hour at Cosima

Cosima has a bit of non-holiday-related news: they’ve launched a new happy hour menu, including some a bunch of $5 and $6 snacks, like spicy chicken on skewers and fried ravioli.

Get Ready for The Bygone

It’s not open quite yet, but keep an eye out for announcements about the new Harbor East spot The Bygone. Located on the 29th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, the restaurant has one of the most spectacular views in Baltimore.

It’s owned by the same team that runs Harbor East mainstays like Ouzo Bay, Azumi and Tagliata, which means we can expect great things from both the kitchen and the staff.

Early Christmas Eve

The traditional Christmas Eve meal, the Feast of the Seven Fishes, comes to Gnocco a day early, in Saturday, Dec. 23. Chef Brian Lavin’s five-course meal will include dishes like baccala mantecato with grilled bread, lobster ravioli with saffron sauce and tarragon crema, and squid ink cavatelli served with n’duja and calamari confit.

Holiday Dinner Plans

Planning to dine out this year for Christmas Eve? If you haven’t already made reservations for the holiday, you should probably start making those plans. Christmas dining isn’t a time when being spontaneous is a good approach. Here’s some inspiration:

In Little Italy, Aldo’s will be serving a traditional, four course Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner, with seatings starting at 3 p.m. (the regular a la carte menu is also available).

Apropoe’s, in the Marriott in Harbor East, will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day; dinner’s prix fixe menu includes dishes like prime rib and celery root panna cotta.

B&O American Brasserie is open on both Christmas Eve and Christmas day, for regular breakfast and lunch hours. Both nights, a three-course, family-style special menu will be available for dinner.

Bar Vasquez will offer a three-course prix fixe menu (plus the a la carte menu), including some exciting dishes that aren’t always seen on local menus, like braised rabbit leg and venison steak.

Café Troia will offer its regular menu on Christmas Eve, plus some additional Italian Christmas specialties.

An a la carte menu will be available at Charleston in Harbor East, and it will be a special one, featuring dishes inspired by “the traditional Christmas table.”

At Cinghiale, the a la carte menu will be augmented by a prix fixe, three-course Feast of the Seven Fishes menu, including dishes like smoked scallop-topped bruschetta and squid ink spaghetti.

Cosima’s Christmas Eve dinner is a multi-course Sicilian feast, including courses like grilled octopus over potatoes and pan-seared black bass.

At The Elephant, a three-course meal includes choices like quail with chestnut stuffing, and short rib agnolotti.

Grano Emporio’s Christmas Eve prix fixe menu includes dishes like seafood pasta and a filet of sea bass, plus wine pairings.

Gunther & Co.’s a la carte menu will be available, plus a prix fixe menu with luxe choices like seared foie gras with red wine-poached pear, pan-roasted goose breast with roasted chestnuts, brussels sprouts and sour cherry-ginger chutney, and Maine lobster over mascarpone risotto.

Johnny’s Christmas Eve prix fixe is only $35 – a great deal – with dishes like pan-roasted rockfish and crab salad. The a la carte menu is also available.

A special a la carte menu will be available at The Milton Inn on Christmas Eve, including dishes like pan-seared foie gras, a seafood martini and braised beef short rib.

At Wit & Wisdom, Christmas Eve will feature a brunch available from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Christmas night dinner will be a three-course prix fixe available from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wit is also hosting a brunch with Santa this Sunday, Dec. 17, starting at 9 a.m.

Planning Ahead

Here are a few events to look forward to over the next few weeks:

January 12: Krautfest at Gertrude’s 

January 12: Falafelicious pop-up at The Avenue 

January 28: Comparative wine tasting at The Vineyards at Dodon 

Kit Pollard

Kit Waskom Pollard is a Baltimore Fishbowl contributing writer. She writes Hot Plate every Friday in the Baltimore Fishbowl.