16 Great NYC Restaurants For New Year’s Eve That Don’t Require A Tasting Menu
Where to get a normal, à la carte meal on the last night of the year.
There are plenty of ways to ring in the new year. You could go to a ticketed event, or have a multi-course meal that would cost half as much on any other night. And plenty of people will do those things. But if you just want a normal dinner at a reliably great place, here are some restaurants that will be doing their standard à la carte menus. So pick a spot, and make this New Year’s Eve way better than the one when your friend convinced you to buy a $150 ticket for two hours of open bar at a spot you didn't like even when you could walk in for free.
photo credit: Emily Schindler
Potluck Club is a Cantonese-American spot that sits on the border of Chinatown and the LES. The fun dining room has faux movie theater displays that also dispense fortune cookies and a vibrant bar with a lighted sign that says “Here for a good time, not a long time.” Dishes like salt and pepper chicken served with chive biscuits and a chili crisp jam embody the restaurant’s concept while also being the kind of things you want to eat every day. As you enjoy the Dole Whip soft serve topped with a bolo bao crumble for dessert, smile about the fact that you're nowhere near Times Square.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Yes, this place is always packed, and it's not easy to get a table. But if you're reading this more than a week before New Year's Eve, you still have a chance to get their signature rolled lasagna before the end of the year. (Reservations are released online seven days in advance at 9am.) The Italian dishes here are more creative than at most other places, and they'll have two specials for New Year's: cappelletti with black truffles and savory zeppolis with caviar. The bar is reserved for walk-ins, and even if they quote a multi-hour wait, put your name on the list. You're going to be out all night anyway.
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Sami's Kabab House
Thanks to Sami’s, Astoria can claim some of NYC’s best Afghan food. Their lamb and beef kofta kebabs are worth traveling for, and the vinegary leek aushak is a must-order. (You can get a vegetarian version without the lamb gravy.) Large parties are usually sharing big plates of food, so you might feel like you're crashing someone's family function here. This place is perfect for bringing all your friends who would write down "putting on a bowtie or fancy dress" dead last on a list of things they'd want to do on New Year's.
photo credit: Tiffany Evering
Sona in Flatiron, partially owned by Priyanka Chopra, is a fantastic place if you're looking to do Indian fine dining. The restaurant is more sleek than it is formal, and has a long menu with sections dedicated to Mumbai classics and globally-influenced dishes like grilled chicken with chili lemon dressing and dosas with gruyère. Head here for great house gin and tonics and people-watching, but you should know they're only serving their regular menu until 9pm on New Year's Eve.
photo credit: David A. Lee
Old John's Diner
The quintessential UWS restaurant Old John’s Luncheonette reopened in the same 67th Street location, but now it has a new name and a spruced-up dining room with tons of booths. Come here when you don't feel like changing out of whatever loungewear you're in and want a thick, satisfying burger and a few martinis. But this is also a perfect choice if you're looking for a place to bring your children on New Year's because there's a kids menu with grilled cheese and lots of desserts (including amazing homemade ice cream). Despite its revamp, Old John’s has old school charm—jazz playing over the speakers, staff who have been working there for years, and egg creams at the ready.
photo credit: Adam Friedlander
The Ops team is behind Leo, a casual and spacious restaurant in Williamsburg, which stands out because it’s not only one of the best pizza spots in the city, but it’s also easy to get into. Granted, New Year's isn't just any day of the year, so we'd recommend that you make a reservation instead of trying to walk in. Leo's tangy sourdough crust is somewhere between a flatter, slightly crispy New York style and a poofy, chewy Neapolitan, and they also have a great caesar salad and soft serve.
photo credit: Henry Hargreaves
Smith & Wollensky
You could eat at a "fun" spot that has strobe lights and blasts music, but maybe you're in the mood for something more relaxing. If so, head to Smith & Wollensky, a fixture in Midtown East for over 40 years. It isn’t trying to be anything other than a classic and reliable steakhouse, and that’s exactly what it is. You’ll see white tablecloths, wine bottles stored everywhere, and servers wheeling out plates on carts throughout the large, two-story space. We love the massive juicy prime rib with an intense beefy flavor, but the bone-in, picture-perfect dry-aged filet is even better.
photo credit: Teddy Wolff
Hwa Yuan, one of the best restaurants in the city, is a reboot of a popular Chinatown restaurant that opened in the '60s and closed in the '80s. There are multiple floors with lots of big tables covered in crisp white tablecloths, so it's an ideal choice if you want to ring in the new year with almost everyone you know. Share a whole crispy Peking duck, and don't forget to start with some pork soup dumplings and cold sesame noodles.
If you want to spend an upsetting amount of money for dinner on New Year's, we don't know why you're still reading this guide. The omakase at Uotora (one of the best sushi spots in NYC) in Crown Heights is $75, and for 10 pieces of high-quality fish (plus a handroll and appetizers), it’s a relatively great deal. You can also order à la carte here (if you don’t sit at the bar), and there are a few different sushi/sashimi plates that are around $40. And, while this place is nicer than your average neighborhood sushi spot, it’s still casual and friendly.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Celebrate the year that was 2022 with olive oil cake instead of kissing a stranger in front of other strangers. And L’Artusi in the West Village is where you should be doing that. Unlike a lot of rustic downtown Italian spots, the decor here is modern with upholstered seating and gray tile floors. Eating here on any day of the year feels special, so it’s an especially great choice for meals on actually-special occasions. Get one of their top-notch pastas, a crudo, and the roasted chicken in a sauce that tastes like pure brown butter.
This Thai restaurant is a Woodside classic, and, after all these years, it’s still where you should be sharing a large plate of soft-shell crab with a table of your very best friends (or a few people who you just kinda like). We can't think of many other casual places we'd rather spend New Year's Eve with a big group. The large menu doesn’t stick to one region of Thailand, and you should order a bunch of seafood as well as fragrant, fall-apart tender pork leg. Keep in mind that this place is cash-only, and it closes at 8:30pm.
photo credit: Teddy Wolff
Nonono is owned by the same people as Palpal, and instead of Korean tapas, this place specializes in Japanese food—specifically yakitori. The space—with exposed pipes and ducts—makes you feel like you're eating in someone's industrial loft. Our approach to eating at this Nomad spot involves ordering a ton of different skewers and a few larger plates from the binder-sized menu. Everything comes out quickly, so don’t be surprised when your meal suddenly starts to look more like a banquet. It is New Year’s Eve, after all.
Get a table at this charming Cobble Hill spot with lots of exposed brick on New Year's if you'll be in the mood for Moroccan-Spanish tapas. We love the food at La Vara—especially the fried artichokes with ibérico de bellota sausage and Galician octopus submerged in citrusy olive oil. You’re bound to have a memorable meal here—just know that the portions aren't huge, so it can get a little pricey if you're very hungry. Good thing your new year’s resolution to spend less money won't start until the next day.
Really good barbecued meat on a stick is hard to beat. At Dhom, a Lao spot in the East Village, they've pretty much mastered the form. They have three types of skewers: duck heart, hanger steak, and chicken thigh, all marinated in a sweet-and-smoky sauce. Get them with a side of sticky rice, served with a garlicky chili sauce that will make your lips buzz. Pad out your order with spring rolls and a crunchy coconut rice salad. The food here is snacky and designed for drinking, which we suspect you might be doing on New Year's.
We're into the cornbread and fried chicken at this Harlem restaurant, and there are other Southern staples like fried catfish and shrimp and grits on the menu. But you come here mainly because few restaurants in this city feel as alive as Red Rooster. The bar area is mobbed, the DJ is spinning funk and soul, and people generally appear to be having a blast. You basically have a ready-made New Year's Eve party as soon as you step in the door.
Cafe Spaghetti serves simple, quality Italian food, and the look of the restaurant fits right in with every other place in Carroll Gardens—there's a very nice backyard with a garden and a baby blue Vespa. Start with the cacio e pepe arancini (their best appetizer), then get the spaghetti pomodoro with tomato-and-basil sauce on handmade pasta. It tastes like your everyday spaghetti if it went through an episode of Rustic Rehab on HGTV. Sure, it'll be chilly on New Year's, but the backyard is heated, and you'll definitely make a mental note to come back for the outdoor area on the first warm day of 2023.