What To Do in NYC Over the Holidays
Eat, Drink and Be Merry
If you’re like me and you haven’t made dinner plans yet, remember — no Christmas is complete without a good old fashioned holiday dinner …right? Not to worry, if there’s one thing NYC is definitely not lacking in, it’s the number of quality restaurants in this city. From an Italian feast at A Voce Columbus to sophisticated French dining at Tocqueville – you will be spoiled by all the choices for hosting your Christmas dinner.
My Personal Favorites
If you’re in SoHo, Balthazar (which I used to go to twice a week when I lived in SoHo – great oysters) is a classic, and takes walk-ins, or… (if you have some pull) you could try your luck at The Waverly Inn, which is another one I used to go to weekly when I lived in the West Village.
Oh, and you can’t beat the memorably delicious vegetarian food at Candle 79 on the Upper East Side — it’s my #1 favorite restaurant in the city. Or just stop by for dessert… their chocolate brownie with caramel, nuts and vegan ice cream (made with nut butter) is out of this world – must be tasted to be believed. I’ve also been dying to try the Michelin star restaurant on East 39th called Kajitsu. If you’re in BK, you could head out to uber-hip Reynard in Williamsburg or The John Dory Oyster Bar. Other good options are Rouge Tomate (modern farm to table), Zen Palate (fresh vegetarian) and Bell, Book & Candle (cozy atmosphere with organic, free-range food). Want more suggestions? Check out this great list.
Restaurants with Holiday Decor
Looking for restaurants decked out in holiday spirit and decor? Try these suggestions from Gotham:
Polo Bar: The Polo Bar might be one of the city’s trendiest restaurants, but expect the holiday decorations to take on Ralph Lauren’s classic elegance. Tuck into the resto’s all-American fare in an atmosphere full of holiday-perfect touches like evergreen boughs, flickering candles, fireplaces, dark wood paneling, seasonal floral arrangements, and tartan plaid pillows. 1 E. 55th St., 212-207-8562
21 Club: This iconic New York spot gets even cozier when it’s filled with garlands and red ribbons during the holidays. Throughout December, the ‘21’ Club also plays host to the Salvation Army Band for lunch and dinner on certain days with special prix-fixe menu promotions. On the designated dates, a chorus and band will serenade guests with Christmas carols and help raise funds for charity. 21 W. 52nd St., 212-582-7200
Tavern on the Green: The 300,000 lights, fragrant spruces, and life-size reindeers only heighten Tavern on the Green’s romantic vibe. Add some of the restaurant’s seasonal fare to the mix and you’ve got the perfect holiday celebration. 67th St. and Central Park W., 212-877-8684
Miracle on Ninth Street: Mace Bar transforms into a seasonal pop-up for the second year in a row as Miracle on Ninth Street from after Thanksgiving until December 24. Bartender Nico de Soto’s cocktails will be just as festive as the space’s strands of Christmas lights and blue-and-silver-decked Hanukkah Hideaway nook. A dozen specialty cocktails will make their debut: from the Jingle Balls Nog (a brown butter fat-washed cognac-based drink) to the Bad Santa (a hot clarified milk punch with Jamaican rum and a host of tropical ingredients). 649 E. Ninth St.
Rolf’s: Rolf’s over-the-top winter wonderland-like décor brings in the masses this time of the year. Wreaths cover the ceiling and countless lights surround the dining room of this Alsatian-German restaurant in Gramercy, which has been serving a delicious schnitzel for over four decades. 281 Third Ave., 212-477-4750
Park Avenue Winter: On December 2, Park Avenue Autumn becomes Park Avenue Winter. The bare twigs, white flowers, and gentle lighting give the dining room an austere winter vibe. Tuck into the new American dishes and you’ll feel right at home. 360 Park Ave. S., 212-951-7111
…and more great suggestions from Eater:
The Breslin Bar & Dining Room: Ken Friedman has great taste in tchotchkes and quirky lighting. So, naturally, all of his restaurants look awesome during the holidays. Around Christmas, The Breslin feels like a mountain-top lodge from a Rankin & Bass special.
The NoMad Hotel: The Library at The Nomad has the best restaurant Christmas tree in New York City. It’s strategically positioned in the middle of the space so that you can see it no matter where you’re sitting. The only tricky part is getting a table back there…
Gotham Bar & Grill: Even with the Christmas trees and wreaths, Gotham Bar & Grill still feels like a class act. Head here if you want to spend your Christmas bonus on a meal of terrific New American fare.
Rosemary’s Enoteca & Trattoria: You can see the massive Christmas tree that sits atop Rosemary’s from three blocks away. The dining room also has some tasteful holiday lighting, and another, smaller tree. Rosemary’s is still one of the best date night restaurants in Manhattan.
Lucky Strike: The Keith McNally restaurant that everyone forgets about, is best enjoyed during the month of December, when the dining room is wrapped in garlands and twinkling lights. And it’s an especially jolly place to visit during happy hour, when Manhattans are just $8 and snacks are $6.
Like I said, eat, drink & be merry!