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Long Island restaurants for entertaining holiday guests

Specialty Christmas-themed cocktails at Miracle, a pop-up bar

Specialty Christmas-themed cocktails at Miracle, a pop-up bar within Cork & Kerry in Rockville Centre and Floral Park. Credit: Daniel Brennan

With Thanksgiving come the people — kids home from college, out-of-town relatives, far-flung friends — and you're bound to be spending time with them beyond eating turkey and pumpkin pie. Whether you're looking for a crowd-pleasing spot to entertain three generations or fun place to grab a drink with friends, there's a apropos destination.

TAKE A NOSTALGIA TOUR

Does your guest list include ex-residents pained by homesickness for this un-sceptered isle? Twist the knife with a visit to Hildebrandt’s, a Williston Park landmark that still appears largely as it did on opening day in 1927 (or 1929, they’re not quite sure), when Hillside Avenue was an unpaved road with not a single streetlight. Neon still beckons you to a luncheonette sheathed in gleaming aqua Vitrolite glass, and while there’s a full menu at lunch and dinner, it’s the ice cream concoctions — best enjoyed at one of 12 red stools lining the long marble counter — that will really take them back. The shakes might be $5.50 these days, but for that you get a fountain glassful and what’s left in the metal mixing cup, which is to say another glassful. Hildebrandt’s lime rickeys, sundaes and signature flatcars (pound cake and ice cream drizzled with hot fudge) are all served in vintage parfait glasses, its banana splits in metal dishes, and coffee and tea in you-thought-they-were-extinct hottles. Want some nostalgia to-go? Hildebrandt’s sells ice cream cakes in three sizes, as well as a wide selection of in-house chocolates to include cashew patties, peanut butter nonpareils and irresistible skipping stones of buttercrunch.

84 Hillside Ave., Williston Park, 516-741-0608, hildebrandtsrestaurant.com

GET A MUG OF CHRISTMAS CHEER

You’ve eaten the first (or second) turkey sandwich, diligently frozen the leftover gravy in ice trays and endured more than 24 hours of family … togetherness … without cracking. It’s time for both a festive cocktail and a Christmas jump-start, in one fell swoop. The two branches of Cork & Kerry (bars in Rockville Centre and Floral Park) have you covered with the seasonal cocktail pop-up Miracle, and they are the only Long Island bars to take part in the nationwide event. On Thanksgiving, while the masses are polishing off the pumpkin pie, Cork & Kerry staffers are busy transforming both spots into immersive Christmas-kitsch showcases (the decór goes far beyond holly and twinkling lights) and stocking up the bar with things such as gingerbread syrup, mulled wine puree and caramelized pecan bourbon. Starting on Black Friday, the regular menu is put to bed for five weeks to make way for drinks such as the SanTaRex (rye, oloroso sherry, hard cider, spiced apple cider concentrate, lemon and baked apple bitters) poured into whimsical ceramic mugs; even shots are laced with wintry spices. “It’s all Christmas from here on out,” said partner Doug Brickel. The catch: You need to wait until 5 p.m.

Daily from 5 p.m., starting Friday, Nov. 29, and lasting until Dec. 31 at 24 S. Park Ave., Rockville Centre and 143 Tulip Ave., Floral Park.

IF YOU WANT PANCAKES AND A THOUSAND POINTS OF (CHRISTMAS) LIGHT

There’s only one time of year when you can follow up a five-course turkey feast with fried eggs and bacon, or a slab of French toast, and no one can (nor should) blink an eye. Yep, that’s the stretch from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and since it’s a short this year (as Thanksgiving was late), best to start this weekend. The Oconee East Diner not only obliges on the breakfast front, but does so while evoking Christmas cheer via over- the-top decorations, from a life-size blowup Grinch on the lawn and giant Christmas balls on every table to a constellation of sparkly lights, snowflakes and ornaments. Owner Spiro Karagiannis told Newsday in 2018 that he hired a decorator for the first two years, but now chef Bill Thompson has creative control of not only the toy soldiers, but the pancakes and sausage. It’s guaranteed to put you in a festive mood.

749 Main St., Islip. 631-581-2663.

FOR MULTIGENERATIONAL FUN

There’s nothing quite like the warmth and closeness of a multigenerational family get-together — for the first 24 to 48 hours, that is. After the kids come down with cabin fever and just before grandma vows that this will be her last “travel Thanksgiving,” mount the SUVs and head to The Milleridge Inn in Jericho and its adjacent shops and boutiques clustered in a quaint village setting. The genius of the Milleridge is its multiple points of entry — children will love the toys and lollipops of the old-timey general store, as well as the roosters patrolling the grounds and the barn full of animals, elder statesmen will appreciate the on-site florist, bakery and year-round Christmas shop, while everyone else heads to the inn. There, Adam the bartender presides over a merry band of carousing regulars most evenings (especially during the popular, well-priced happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m.) next to a restaurant that offers brunch, lunch and dinner in a dining room that dates back to 1672. Pro tip: This Friday only, catch a performance of “Carmine & Carmella’s Wild Wedding,” which includes a three-course dinner, dancing and open bar for $95 per person (21 and over only).

585 N. Broadway, Jericho, 516-931-2201, milleridgeinn.com

MAKE A PIZZA ROAD TRIP

The little kids want pizza, the college kids want a hip, farm-to-table food-truck experience, the grandparents want a ride in the country and the parents just want to spend the afternoon drinking wine. Sounds like it’s time to head out to Macari Vineyards in Mattituck where, on Thanksgiving weekend and on Saturdays through the end of December, you can taste some of the North Fork’s most celebrated wine and sample some of Long Island’s best pizza. Avelino Pizza, a 32-foot-long repurposed shipping container that gets towed to parties and events all over the East End, spends Saturdays at the vineyard. The pies that winery scion Eddie Macari and pizzaiolo extraordinario Michael Vigliotti and pull from their wood-burning oven are classically Neapolitan, puffy-crusted and pliant, with just the right amount of char. The capo delle tutte pizze is the “arrostito,” topped with fresh mozzarella, nduja (spreadable, spicy sausage), shaved red onion and cherry tomatoes.

150 Bergen Ave., Mattituck, 631-298-0100, macariwines.com

HAVE CHINESE WITH OUT-OF-TOWNERS

Pity the residents of those benighted corners of America where Chinese food is limited to chow mein and chop suey. If you are hosting such houseguests for Thanksgiving, it’s your patriotic duty to take them out for a proper Chinese meal. Options abound on Long Island, from hand-pulled noodles at Splendid Noodles in Stony Brook to Yunnan dishes at Coco Palace in Great Neck to Sichuan scorchers at F.A.N. in Deer Park. But to sample those two great Cantonese specialties, dim sum and seafood, your best bet is Fortune Wheel in Levittown. Dim sum is available every day, but on weekends you can order it from the rolling cart. As for seafood, you'll always find superb clams with black bean sauce and stir-fried lobster. For daily specials, check out the fish tanks on your way to your table and order accordingly: live coral shrimp simply steamed, Dungeness crab in a casserole with sticky rice and sausage, fresh water fish with ginger and scallion.

3601 Hempstead Tpke., Levittown, 516-579-4700.

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