Dining Where the Holiday Lights Twinkle


Looking for a great place to celebrate the holidays this month? Where better to dine than restaurants with twinkling lights, blazing fires and holly berries tucked in swags of pine branches?

The mantle at Equus at the Castle at Tarrytown. Mark Vergari/The Journal News

Whether your taste runs to blue and silver candles, delicate branches outlined in white lights, or inflatable Santas complete with workshop elves, you’re sure to enjoy a holiday meal that is surrounded by decorations done by a professional hand.

After the jump, a sampling of places to dine among the lights, garlands and poinsettias.

Mulino’s of Westchester
Mulino’s of Westchester channels the North Pole. Its glassed-in courtyard and waterfall is sparkling with lights, and a model train set wends around Santa, his helpers and moving reindeer. Inside the restaurant, there are four Christmas trees decked with bulbs, oversized bows and icicles of tinsel. The ceiling is covered with oversized Christmas balls, and back-lit curio cases near the entrance show off glass Christmas figures and a collection of Christmas tableware. A glowing snowman lights up every table.

NOW CLOSED John-Michael’s Restaurant
With its wide-planked floors, beautiful beamed ceilings and stone fireplaces, the atmosphere at John-Michael’s Restaurant is a draw anytime. But during the holidays, chef-owner John-Michael Hamlet and his wife and partner, Rose, decorate with red and white poinsettias, pine cones and wreaths, and tie garland and lights around the trim of the dining rooms. Outside, one reindeer grazes while the other two, “are looking around, well, like a deer in the headlights,”?laughs John-Michael. On the front porch, there’s a tree bedazzled with white blinking lights on the front porch, but the most festive decorations in this Colonial-era old homestead are the roaring fires in the stone fireplaces.

Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar
Every year, a rousing rendition of “The 12 Days of Christmas”?is the joyous finale at the holiday cabaret at X20 Xaviars on the Hudson in Yonkers. Chef-owner Peter X. Kelly knows how to do the holidays right — and that includes the decorations at his three Rockland restaurants. At Restaurant X in Congers, a series of twinkling Christmas trees, lit with white lights and adorned with traditional ornaments, are placed in all the different rooms. The entrance has poinsettias and birch branches, and the large windows looking out to the duck pond have swags of pine and cedar and oversized wreaths with fabric bows. The centerpiece of the restaurant — a crackling fire — puts everyone in the holiday spirit. For reservations for the $100 four-course dinner with performances by Ned Kelly, Mary Lou Shriber and Paul Kelly, call X20.

La Panetière
The collection of santons, traditional Provençal character figures, remains in place for the holidays at La Panetière in Rye. Owner Jacques Loupiac sets up a tasteful creche at the entrance of the restaurant. Wreaths and roping twisted with white lights highlight the charming interior, and opulent flowers are everywhere.

Le Chateau
Le Chateau, with its stunning view and opulent dining rooms, is popular during the holidays. The wooden banisters are wrapped in ivy and lights. Topiaries, wreaths and angel figures highlight the entrance, and red poinsettias and gold, green and burgundy bows deepen the elegance.


At Equus in Tarrytown, garlands and a tall tree decorated with burgundy, blue and green bows fill the entrance. The Great Hall proudly features a 20-foot tree with angels, horns and more rich-colored bows. The Garden Room is a winter wonderland: White branches, string lights and wreaths around the hurricane lamps on the tables adorn the restaurant, says general manager Gilbert Baeriswil. “Golden lights and wreaths are everywhere.” The Oak Room fireplace is draped with more garlands and small Christmas trees are silhouetted in each window. Equus is a very popular spot for Christmas parties and will serve a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinner.

Do you know of other beautifully decorated restaurants? Please let me know in the comments below so I can be sure to include them in future stories.


About Author

Liz Johnson is content strategist for The Journal News and lohud.com, and the founding editor of lohudfood, formerly know as Small Bites. As food editor, she won awards from the New York News Publishers Association, the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press. She lives in Nyack with her husband and daughter on a tiny suburban lot they call their farm — with fruit trees, an herb garden, and a yardful of lettuce, tomatoes, onions, shallots, cucumbers, zucchini, radishes, cabbage, peppers, Brussels sprouts and carrots and four big blueberry bushes.

1 Comment

  1. Liz, if the Equus photo you referred to is above, that is not it. It actually looked more like it belonged to John-Michael’s… more simple… country… very nice but not formal.

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