There are plenty of ways to ring in the new year. You could drop a basketball in your living room and shout at no one in particular. You could buy tickets to an expensive prix fixe dinner, or pay a cover for a bar. And plenty of people will do those things (well, probably not the one with the basketball). But if you just want to go out and have a normal (delicious) meal, here are some great options. All of these restaurants will be doing their standard a la carte menus, and most of them don’t require reservations ahead of time. So pick a spot, and make this New Year’s Eve way better than the one when your friend convinced you to buy an $80 ticket for a bar you never even liked when it was free.
People have been celebrating New Year’s Eve with plates of pork chop parm and clams casino at Bamonte’s in Williamsburg since the ball in Times Square first became a thing. The old-school New York charm, which you’ll be able to see in the form of Italian statues, wooden walls, and tuxedo-wearing waiters, is the main draw of this place. The only catch about New Year’s dinner here is that they’re serving a set-menu dinner starting at 9pm, so if you want to do a la carte you should come before then (and call ahead).
Bahari’s restaurant ethos feels similar to that of Bamonte’s. It’s old-school, it could plausibly exist in the suburbs, and you could take your entire family or friend group here. The difference is this place is Greek and in Astoria. When you walk in, you’ll see nothing but a set of fish tanks, but there’s an entire two-room dining space behind it. Take over a table a few tables with a group and order enough lamb chops and fried shrimp to go around. Just know that they’re going to kick everyone out at 11:30pm (presumably so the staff can party together).
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 it’s dinnertime, you’re probably about 12 hours too late to claim your Times Square spot anyway.) Stop around 31st Street and go to Her Name Is Han. It’s one of our favorite restaurants in the area, and you’ll be able to choose from the usual enormous menu of Korean comfort food. So hang out in the 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.
Getting New Year’s Eve Dinner at Ops is how you end 2019 on a high note. Between the great sourdough-crust pizza, the high-ceilinged space, and the elegant little circular tables, this restaurant has pretty much everything you want from a special-but-relaxed evening. It’s so relaxed, in fact, that there’s no official menu for wines by the glass, so you just tell your server what kind of wine you’re looking for and they’ll help you decide. Have a somewhat classy dinner here to balance out the less-classy-but-still-fun Bushwick bar scene you’ll hit up later.
Estela can get a little bit cramped and a little bit noisy, but isn’t that sort of what you’re looking for on New Year’s Eve? Get a table here and eat some small plates like steak tartare with fried sunchokes and burrata with salsa verde. They’ll be serving their a la carte regular menu with a few additions (as well as a $95 prix-fixe dinner option).
After that Santa Claus-related incident in 2014, you now refuse to go to Manhattan anytime within a three-day span of the holidays. The good news is that Al Di La is located on a nice street corner in Park Slope, and dinner here will be better than most of what’s happening in the rest of the city on NYE. This is the ultimate comfort Italian restaurant, where the food is simple and delicious and the world feels more adorable than it really is. It’s walk-in only (unless you have more than six people), but there’s a wine bar next door where you can wait. If you did nothing else with your evening besides going to dinner here and watching Anderson Cooper on mute, you’d go to sleep fulfilled.
Kiki’s feels like a New Year’s party every night of the year. Actually, it’s probably more fun than most bars you pay a $75 cover to get into. For such a popular party spot, the Greek food here is shockingly not expensive and also shockingly delicious. We’d recommend showing up early, securing a table, and hanging out until you can’t eat any more octopus or drink any more wine. And, since it’s New Year’s, they’ll be doing a champagne toast at midnight.
Diner is a restaurant in a train car under the Williamsburg Bridge, and if you haven’t been yet, you’ll want to fix that ASAP. Use this opportunity to go - as long as you’re in the mood for a party. They host a huge one every New Year’s Eve, but it’s not a fancy prix fixe package situation. They serve their a la carte menu, and it’s mostly walk-in only.
We’re starting a campaign to celebrate 2019 with olive oil cake instead of kissing a stranger in front of other strangers. And L’Artusi is where you should be doing that. Eating here on any day of the year feels special, so it’s an especially great choice for meals on actually-special occasions, and they’ll be serving their regular a la carte menu of excellent pastas, crudos, and homemade ricotta (that you definitely need). You’ll just have to make a reservation ahead of time and let them know if you want to stay until midnight.
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 can technically order those things. This is a very casual steakhouse in Williamsburg that’s actually more like a steak room, because it’s pretty small, and the $24 butcher’s steak here is one of our favorite meals in the city. St. Anselm always draws a crowd, and the good or bad news, depending on how organized you are, is that 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).
Nonono is owned by the same people as Her Name Is Han, but instead of homestyle Korean food, this place specializes in Japanese food - specifically yakitori. Our approach to eating here involves ordering a ton of different skewers and a few larger plates from the binder-sized menu. Everything comes out really quickly, so don’t be alarmed when your meal suddenly starts to look more like a banquet. It is New Year’s Eve, after all.
This Cobble Hill spot will be serving its regular, Moroccan-Spanish influenced tapas menu, with a bunch of special add-ons for New Year’s Eve. The only catch is that you need a reservation. We love the food here (especially the fried artichokes and the salt cod carpaccio), so you’re bound to have a memorable meal - just know that it can get a little pricey. Good thing your new year’s resolution to spend less money starts tomorrow.
Bar Primi has a couple of things going for it as a New Year’s Eve dinner spot. First off, you can eat lots of pasta. Secondly, the space is relatively large (with two floors), so if you’re with a group, there should be enough room for everyone. The menu will be a la carte only, and you don’t technically have to make a reservation, but we’d suggest it.
If you know you want to go out with a group on the Lower East Side, but haven’t worked out the part of your night where you actually eat something, consider Pig & Khao. It’s one of the more high-energy choices in the neighborhood, which means you’ll be listening to very loud hip hop and sitting next to other people you might end up seeing at a bar later. The food is a combination of Filipino and Thai, and it’s all really, really good. Order a bunch of plates to share (including the pork sisig and whole fish), and get the night started with some shoulder dancing in your chair.
Spanish food might be summery by default, but you should still go to Casa Mono for tapas on New Year’s Eve. This is a good, upscale but low-key-feeling option if you’re with a few friends who want to share everything. They’re reserving counter space for last minute walk-ins, but if you’re with a group and want to sit at a real table, you should make a reservation ahead of time.
Joseph Leonard 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 Eve, they’ll be serving their regular menu of things like duck breast and seared scallops, with a few special additions. Split a bottle of wine with someone you enjoy before continuing on to your night out, and your brand new life in 2019.
Out of all of the hot pot places we like downtown, Hometown is the best deal. And that’s pretty much why you should bring your friends here before any New Year’s party in lower Manhattan. For $27.99, you get unlimited meat, veggies, noodles, and broth. It’s usually busy, but there are two floors so you have a decent shot at getting a table (if you’re coming with a group of six or more, you have to call ahead for a reservation). Fair warning: you will leave smelling like steamed meat. Just tell all the strangers you meet at your friend of a friend’s apartment that pork perfume is your calling card.
At Four Horsemen, you should at least learn the difference between pinot grigio and chardonnay before acknowledging that you still haven’t learned your limits by ordering a glass of both. This light-wood covered natural wine bar in Williamsburg is a great place to spend New Year’s Eve drinking things you’ve never tried before, and truly delicious eating small plates that you probably have, like clam toast and potato gnocchi.
The Uptown Garrison is open all day, so you can use it for almost any casual situation. That includes an early dinner before you go home and watch Anderson Cooper waste time on national television for three hours, and your actual new year’s party destination. Whenever you go, order their chili-honey coated fried chicken and the burger with raclette and onion.
Maybe you and the person you’ve been dating for a decade (or, at least, it feels like a decade) have decided that you’ve experienced enough New Year’s related sh*tstorms for a lifetime. What you need this year is Melba’s, an iconic Harlem restaurant that serves some of the best soul food in the city. It’s comfortable and relaxed without being boring, and it’s the perfect place to nostalgize about all of the best parts of 2019 (New Year’s Eve dinner being one of them, obviously).
If devouring a seafood tower with your one true love sounds like the perfect New Year’s Eve plan, head to Cervo’s. This seafood spot on the LES is serving three-tiers of shellfish in honor of the new decade, plus a la carte dishes from their regular menu. And even if you haven’t met the love of your life yet, the two of you might sit near one another in the dimly-lit dining room here, which is essentially one long bar. So order every edible aphrodisiac known to man and start a conversation with the person next to you drinking a pet-nat.
There’s nothing wrong with popping your own bottle of champagne on NYE, but it’s objectively more fun to do it at a Turkish restaurant than in your tiny railroad-style apartment. So skip the dinner party and just bring all of the people you would have invited to Lokanta, a BYOB Turkish spot in Astoria. You’ll be too focused on the dips, cheese bourekas, and lamb dishes to worry about all of the things you’re planning to do over the next decade.