Photo: Serious Eats

By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS

So who says you have to stick to turkey or ham for Christmas and New Year’s?

Certainly not the good folks at Mexico’s Entre Fuegos restaurant group, who firmly believe that a true holiday celebration begins with a great cut of beef.

All three of the Puebla-based group’s brands are offering up eat-in-or-take-out set holiday menus this season for diehard meat-eaters who consider a scrawny turkey leg or a thin sliver of pineapple-and-cherry-adorned ham an insult to their inner carnivores.

Photo: Entre Fuegos Group

And these hardy, not-for-veggie-huggers menus have a definitive festive feel plus enough juicy, beefy flavor to quench your deepest steak cravings.

First up on the Entre Fuegos’ not-naughty list is La 3ra Ronda, a  contemporary dining hall specializing in northern-style Mexican cuisine, replete with a live mariachi and norteño music groups, and, of course, that famous third round of drinks for the price of two (hence, the name, which literally means “third round”). A year-round, party-harty depot with four lively locations in Mexico City, three in the State of Mexico, one in Puebla, one in Pachuca, one in Tlaxcala and its original eatery in Cancun, La 3ra Ronda is offering several different four-course Christmas and New Year’s packages. In a media sampling last week, the restaurant presented just one of these options, which began with a quick-seared tuna fillet in a succulent mayonnaise and chipotle dressing, topped with teriyaki sauce, avocado and fried shoestring potatoes.

The second course was a fresh, aromatic strawberry and pear salad with a bittersweet balsamic dressing that helped open the appetite for the main course, a generous, flame-kisseds Sonora beef flank steak slow-grilled over mesquite coals.

For those who still had room for dessert, there was an oversized helping of La 3ra Ronda’s signature strawberries and cream with a hint of fresh vanilla and cinnamon.

Photo: Entre Fuegos Group

The other holiday menus at La 3ra Ronda are sure to be just as tasty and just as robust, and since the restaurant is known for its party atmosphere, for a small extra fee, it is offering all its Christmas and New Year’s menus with an open bar option.

For those who prefer a more mellow setting for their dining pleasure, the Entre Fuegos group has the upscale Novorigen restaurant in Santa Fe. Specializing in sustainable gastronomy, this is a true farm-to-table tavern, with fresh ingredients sourced directly from regional farmers, and wholesome dishes inspired by traditional Mexican cuisine. For the holiday season, the chefs of Novorigen have created an exquisite three-course menu that begins with a Biscay-style cod slider, followed by a stout marrow and tomato broth simmered with guajillo chili and served with a sweet pasilla puree and tatemada tortilla.

The star attraction is a smoky black angus steak charcoal-broiled over hot coals and garnished with fresh grilled vegetables.

The group’s flagship Entre Fuegos restaurant is a quintessential Mexican steakhouse  specialized in the highest quality cuts of imported meat, from dry aged tomahawks to juicy rib eyes.

Entre Fuegos is offering three different four-course menus for the holidays.

Photo: Entre Fuegos Group

During the media preview sampling, the restaurant presented one that began with a so-thick-you-could-cut-it-with-a-knife oxtail chowder seasoned with fresh rosemary and a dash of anise-y pernod.

The second course was a tray of grilled artichokes cut into quarters and served with a creamy five-cheese sauce. And for the crowning glory, there was a flamed, ultra-tender ranch steak sliced into strips for easy dipping in an array of sauces. The dessert was a deliciously acidity Manila mango and citron mousse.

And as the pièce de résistance, the chefs from all three Entre Fuego chains have created a second dessert option, available in all of the abovementioned restaurants: a tiny caramel snowman covered with a coat of sweet white chocolate and infused with a lush crème brûlée filling.

So forget about the deep-fried turkey, skip the messy clean-up and let the Entre Fuegos group handle your holiday feasts.

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