It’s the last night of the year, and there are plenty of ways to ruin it. A lot of restaurants and bars are going to be selling tickets, charging covers, and doing expensive prix fixe dinners - and if all that sounds good to you, hey, do your thing. But for those of you who just want to go out and have a normal great meal, we found some good options. All of these restaurants will be doing their standard a la carte menus, they’re all Infatuation-approved, and they should have some good vibes on hand for your final outing of 2016.
This guide is presented in partnership with the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, which earns you 2X Membership Rewards points at U.S. restaurants.
Bar Primi has a couple of things going for it as a New Year’s Eve dinner spot. First off, it’s downtown, and that’s typically where most celebrations take place. It’s also relatively large (with two floors), so if you’re with a group that’s filling up before a party, there should be enough room for everyone. The menu will be a la carte, although if your group is larger than seven, you should check with the restaurant about prix fixe options.
You have to admire The Spotted Pig for their consistency. These guys don’t take reservations, and even on New Year’s Eve, they serve their regular menu (along with some specials). So if December 31st rolls around, and you suddenly realize that you spent too much time generating theories about your favorite TV show and completely forget to book a table for dinner, you can always go to The Spotted Pig. It’s a gastropub, and you’re going to find things like rabbit rillette and pan seared skate. The burger is a classic, however, and certain people swear by the shoestring fries. For a cozy, no-reservation New Year’s, go here.
Estela can get a little cramped and a little bit noisy, but isn’t that sort of what you’re looking for? On New Year’s Eve you want a place that has good energy, a place that feels a little celebratory. So get a small table at Estela and eat some small plates. Stuff like steak tartare with fried sunchokes and burrata with salsa verde. This is some of the best small plates-style dining in NYC, and they’ll be open on New Year’s Eve serving their regular menu with a few additions.
There’s something a little cheesy about Quality Eats. Maybe it’s the birthday cake dessert that’s served in a paper cup topped with candle. Or maybe it’s the bacon that comes with peanut butter and jalapeno jello. Both of these things make you feel like a child, but in a good way. And that’s why this place is good for celebratory occasions. Technically, Quality Eats is a steakhouse, but it isn’t stuffy like a traditional one. The PB&J bacon is also, admittedly, pretty good. So come here on New Year’s Eve and eat like a kid who gets half of his or her calories from red meat and alcohol. The special French 75 cocktail fountain will help with this.
This place usually doesn’t take reservations, but they’re accepting them for New Year’s Eve. And, yeah, that’s sort of a shame (because a walk-in-only place is a novelty in NYC), but at least they won’t be serving a prix fixe. So come here and order whatever you want. The food isn’t anything you’re going to blog about, but it’ll make you happy. This place is small and cozy, and it’s on a nice little corner in the West Village within walking distance to many bars.
On New Year’s, you should eat like your doctor just told you that your taste buds are dying, and also, you’re both on the Hindenburg. So end your year with something called a “pig out." It’s crispy pork belly and sesame noodles for two. The menu at Tuome is mostly American with some Asian influences, and they do things like miso brussels sprouts. This place is on the smaller side, and you should come here if what you’re looking for is a low-key New Year’s Eve in the East Village.
If you don’t eat steak, you can stop reading this one. Actually, nevermind. St. Anselm does fish and chicken, too. That isn’t really why you come here, but you do you. This is a very casual steakhouse in Williamsburg that’s actually more like a steak room (because it’s small). These guys are known for their affordable steaks, and it gets busy every night. The good news is, they don’t take reservations. So swing by, put your name in, and jog across the street to The Commodore for an aperitif (which is how you refer to a beer and a shot in Williamsburg).
Say you’re on your way to watch the ball drop in Times Square, then you suddenly wise up and decide to get a nice dinner instead. If you’re around 31st Street, go to Her Name Is Han. It’s one of our favorite new-ish restaurants, and they’re also going to be open on New Year’s Eve serving their usual enormous menu of fresh Korean comfort food. So hang out in their dining room that feels like a young professional’s railroad apartment, drink a bottle of soju, and find a karaoke place you can go to afterwards.
There’s something about this place (high ceilings? central bar? potted plants?) that makes for consistently good vibes. It’s just the sort of place you want to eat at on New Year’s Eve. The food is modern Peruvian, and if you like ceviche, pork belly, and French fries, then congratulations - you like modern Peruvian. Llama Inn isn’t formal, but you’re still going to get seated by a hostess, and you might just spend a little more on dinner than you were expecting. And that’s because you’ll want to try everything. This place tends to fill up, so make a reservation just to be safe.
These guys are doing happy hour all day and all night on December 31st - which means $7 glasses of wine, $9 cocktails, and $1 oysters. They’ll also be showing the ball drop, if that’s something you care about. The only catch is that The Upsider is in Midtown East, and that isn’t exactly a prime destination for, well, any holiday. But if you live in the area or if you’re trying to keep things low-key, we suggest The Upsider. It’s more fun than your average Midtown restaurant, they have good fried chicken, and rather than gouge you with a prix fixe, they’re doing discount drinks.
Spanish food might be summery by default, but you should still go to Casa Mono on New Year’s Eve. They do some of the best tapas in the city, which means that you and a few friends can stop by, share a few bottles of wine, and put a lot of different things in your mouths. And doesn’t that sound like the right way to end a year? This is a semi-casual restaurant in a central location and, depending on what you have planned for the night, you can spend as much time as you want to here.