The Rockefeller Center tree lights are on, Fifth Avenue window shopping is in full swing thanks to knockout displays, festive booths are up at Union Square and Bryant Park, and that can only mean one thing: Holiday season has officially arrived.
Restaurants across the city are also going all-in on the celebrations. Whether it’s an indoor holiday market with Czech staples in Astoria, an exciting, unusual seafood feast in Midtown, or a cozy meal in a 19th-century landmark, there’s no shortage of festive places to celebrate the holidays in NYC. Read on for a guide to nine must-visit destinations for an extra-spirited meal.
Tavern on the Green (Upper West Side)
Come for the 20-foot tree, stay for the decadent brunch. The Christmas tree lighting at this historic Upper West Side spot is just as much a tradition as the Rockefeller Center one, and though that’s behind us now, there’s still plenty to celebrate. The three-course brunch runs every weekend through December 31 and has favorites like biscuit and sausage gravy and brioche French toast. Or consider attending one of the multi-course feasts on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve—the showstopper tree will be up through it all.
Ophelia Lounge (Midtown East)
If stunning Manhattan and East River views are your way of ringing in the holidays, Ophelia Lounge atop Midtown East’s Beekman Tower is the way to go. Catch the twinkling skyline outside at one of the lounge’s four outdoor terraces (there’s sheepskin throws if you get cold) and then head indoors to feel like you’re in a snow globe thanks to a ceiling installation of shimmering beads meant to resemble icicles and snowflakes. Take it up a notch with Ophelia’s New Year’s Eve dinner that has a magician, hors d’oeuvres, and a Champagne toast at midnight.
Point Seven (Midtown)
NYC’s newest global seafood destination has a fish-focused feast fit for the holidays. Chef Franklin Becker’s Seven Seas in Seven Courses, running every weekend in December, is all about seafood from around the world. Think Japanese-style toro tartare with ponzu sauce, tart grilled octopus from Veracruz, and creamy Caribbean-style lobster with tomato and coconut. This isn’t your typical festive celebration. String lights and snowflakes make way for fish ornaments, wreaths of dried hydrangea with berries and herbs, and pops of silver and gold throughout.
Delmonico’s (Financial District)
Now that Delmonico’s is open again, there’s no better time to visit—or revisit—the legendary FiDi steakhouse. That’s because the halls are all decked out like a winter wonderland: large snow-like garlands, white poinsettias, and string lights throughout. Plus, brunch returns on weekends in December with baked Alaska, eggs Benedict, steak and eggs, and other favorites. For even more steak, there’s multi-course dinners on Christmas Eve, Day, and New Year’s Eve.
Temple Court (Financial District)
Tom Colicchio’s downtown restaurant is naturally a big draw for the holidays: It’s part of a landmarked 19th century office building that’s now a luxury hotel and residences. Expect a massive Christmas tree in the spacious bar room and lights and wreaths all along the historic atrium above it. It’s all a la carte dining in the bar room, but consider making a reservation at the restaurant on Christmas Eve or Day for a four-course meal of chestnut agnolotti, eggnog flan, and more.
Somewhere Nowhere (Chelsea)
No place is channeling North Pole celebration vibes quite like Chelsea’s bi-level nightclub Somewhere Nowhere at the Renaissance hotel. Eight outdoor igloo-like tents with Empire State Building views provide space for up to five people, dishes like Wagyu beef sliders and mushroom crostini, blankets, and a fake fireplace that emits heat. The igloos are bookable Wednesday through Saturday (until March), and a reservation for at least two people includes a bottle of Champagne.
Haven Rooftop (Times Square)
When a ski chalet in the mountains feels out of reach for the holidays, head for a little taste of that experience to Haven Rooftop at Times Square’s Sanctuary hotel. Sure there’s shimmering string lights, holly arches above every table, and flannel pillows and blankets on every chair, but Haven takes the skiing theme quite literally—shots on skis are a highlight on the lunch, brunch, and dinner menu here.
Porter House Bar and Grill (Columbus Circle)
Holiday celebrations with a side of Central Park views is on tap at chef Michael Lomonaco’s upscale Columbus Circle steakhouse Porter House. A mini Christmas tree, a snowman, and snowy garlands along the banisters set a festive mood for plates for crab cakes, cowboy steak, and mushroom risotto.
Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden (Astoria)
Holiday celebrations at this beloved Astoria joint aren’t just limited to the hearty portions of Czech and Slovak staples like goulash and creamy chicken paprikash with dumplings. Come for the restaurant’s holiday market on December 10 and 17 for a host of baked goods, clothing, toys, and, of course, the restaurant’s stellar selection of Czech and German beers. Hot tip: Bohemian Hall is selling Christmas trees on site right up until Christmas.
Tanay Warerkar is OpenTable’s NYC writer and a content marketing manager.