An L.A. holiday must-do: The Tam O'Shanter!

"What the Dickens?" you ask. Why, it's the Tam O' Shanter

Since Los Angeles is a sea of concrete strip malls and steel-and-glass minimalism, you wouldn't expect to see a place straight from a Dickens novel. Oh we have a sprinkle of the soot and smog of London during the Industrial Revolution, but we don't have snowy Christmas Eves, icicles hanging off latticework windows and Christmas carolers.

Or so I thought. We have the Tam O' Shanter, right by Griffith Park. Built in 1922 and frequented by everyone from silent film stars to Walt Disney (whose sketches adorn the walls), this place is a true wonder. They offer the ultimate Scottish experience all year, but it's during Christmas that the place pities the fool. Their multiple fireplaces are roaring, garland thick with red velvet ribbon is strung from rafters and Christmas trees laden with Victorian trinkets glint with the advent of the holiday. Best of all, there are carolers! Actual Christmas carolers in Victorian attire who sing in harmony, gliding from table to table to take requests, and they know every song. They even offer a production of A Christmas Carol in a special room.

prime rib, Yorkshire pudding, creamed spinach and mashed potatoes
And the food was impeccable. As a Middle Easterner, I've taken great pride about our triumph over cuisine, despite a barren landscape. A lot of Irish, Scottish and English food is bland, though cultivated from lush and bountiful landscapes. When visiting England, I marveled at how the best restaurants were Indian, not to mention the boiled chicken and potatoes that pass for delicious. And the Brits told me to thank my stars I wasn't in Scotland, where they serve the same fare, plus haggis. But the Tam O' Shanter would have none of that. They have roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and thick gravy, and seasonal pumpkin souffle with whipped cream. Scottish salmon with mashed potatoes and buttery greens, multi-layered English trifles and more.

Between the food, the carolers like porcelain figurines and the overall look of a light-up Christmas village, this place is a must-do.

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