Eat, drink and be merry at local eateries this season

Eat, drink and be merry at local eateries this season

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RACINE COUNTY — At a time when many people are decluttering, downsizing and donating their “stuff” to charity, why not give your family and friends the gift of an evening together at a good restaurant, instead of something that will take up space in their closet?

Whether you treat someone to a meal, give a gift certificate or decide to dine out with family in lieu of gifts, here are three suggestions for places to go to celebrate the season.

The Coffee House at Chestnut and Pine, 492 Pine St., Burlington, 262-661-4394, www.burlingtoncoffeehouse.com.

The Coffee House at Chestnut and Pine is the perfect spot to warm up on a frosty day. Enjoy a flatbread pizza, pretzels and cheese, a gingerbread latte and more in the cheerful eatery. The Coffee House serves casual breakfast, lunch and dinner items and — true to its name — coffee drinks featuring Milwaukee’s very own Andodyne Coffee.

“We are a great venue to stop at for the much-anticipated Burlington Christmas parade,” said general manager Carly Hurley. “You can grab a hot chocolate to keep you cozy during the parade.”

Live music is performed on Friday and Saturday evenings, and if you’re in the mood for something other than coffee, the Liar’s Club Bar on the second floor serves an array of wine, beer and cocktails.

The coffee house also has a private event space with space for 50 that can be booked for holiday parties, Hurley said.

Toad Hall, 611 Wisconsin Ave., Racine, 262-632-6389.

Toad Hall is a place to go if you’re looking for the ambience of a Dickensian English pub.

“It’s very cozy and has a European feel,” said Corey Szaryc, who co-owns the pub with Jaimie Utley.

Bring your appetite: Toad Hall offers an array of comfort food like burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches, as well as about 100 craft beers.

Because the holiday season is a time to show appreciation to others, Toad Hall thanks its patrons with its quirky and interactive Franksgiving. In early December, the restaurant staff hides a plastic hot dog in or around a Downtown Racine landmark every day for a week, explained Szaryc. Clues are posted on Toad Hall’s Facebook page at a different time each day.

“We encourage (participants) to come into the restaurant or just do some Christmas shopping while they wait because most wieners are found within 30 minutes,” said Szaryc. “It’s a lot of fun and we’ve been surprised by the response we’ve gotten.”

At the end of the week, Toad Hall celebrates “Franksgiving,” the pub’s anniversary, with a free hot dog buffet; this year it will be on Dec. 9. The clever patrons who find the plastic dogs can bring them in to receive $50 gift certificates.

If you’re looking for a unique gift for a beer-loving friend, Toad Hall sells membership to its beer club for $40. Members receive an engraved mug that they can keep at the bar to use when they visit.

Yardarm Bar and Grill, 920 Erie St., Racine, 262-633-8270, www.yardarmbargrill.com.

The Yardarm is the perfect place to celebrate the holidays with sailors and landlubbers alike. For 35 years, the restaurant has been offering fish fries, sandwiches and sand dollar fries served up with an inviting nautical-inspired ambience and live music on Wednesday and Saturday nights.

The Yardarm gets into the spirit of the season with ice cream pies in festive flavors and holiday-inspired martinis, noted Lauri Tomasek who co-owns the restaurant with her sister, Lisa Caffery.

“We also have some additional music (such as) Bill Sustachek’s Family Holiday Special on Dec 14,” said Tomasek. Young Strings will perform Dec. 21, and another group may play Dec. 7, she added.

The Yardarm is offering two gift certificate specials this holiday season: buy a $100 gift certificate in November and get a $25 holiday certificate (good through February) for free or purchase a $100 gift certificate in December and get a $20 holiday gift certificate.

The Yardarm has a separate room seating 40 that can be booked for private events, she said. But don’t make plans for the first week in January: the Yardarm is closed Dec. 31 to Jan. 10 for its annual cleaning and remodeling.

Whatever your tastes, there’s a place nearby to give your friends and family — and yourself — the gift of a delicious food and friendly company. For more ideas on pubs and restaurants to visit this season, go to www.realracine.com or www.downtownracine.com.

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