NYCGuide

10 Restaurants And Bars With Over-The-Top Holiday Decorations

Scrooge would hate the 10 spots on this guide.
10 Restaurants And Bars With Over-The-Top Holiday Decorations image

photo credit: Rolf's

Whether you identify as the office coordinator keeping Ugly Sweater parties alive, or a brooding Sexy Scrooge, New York’s Christmas spirit will get you like it got Home Alone's Pigeon Lady, and you’ll need somewhere fun to drink that eggnog craft cocktail. A bunch of restaurants and bars are known for going all out with elaborate holiday decorations, special holiday cocktails, and treats. Here are 10 places you can feel festive this month—before you go full Grinch again at that one dive with a single string of lights across the bar.

The Spots

photo credit: Rolf's

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Gramercy

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Some people put up Christmas lights as soon as the Thanksgiving table has been cleared, and then there’s Rolf’s. This German restaurant in Gramercy is decked out in colorful lights, wreaths, ornaments, and dolls year-round, so by the time you add a fresh dusting of Christmas cheer in December, it fully transforms into the Grinch’s 7th circle of hell. And we’re here for it. Rolf’s should definitely be on your New York bucket list, but if you don’t already have a reservation for dinner this month, you should plan to wait for a spot at the bar or try your luck with lunch. They only take reservations by phone.


photo credit: SERRA by Birreria

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Serra by Birreria

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Serra by Birreria’s whole thing is changing their decor with the seasons, so this rooftop restaurant at Eataly Flatiron is the first spot we seek out when we want to live inside a postcard. This year the look is less Frozen and more lightly frosted. Instead of evergreens, you get sage, icy lavender hues, and red winter berries that look like ornaments made by Mother Earth herself. No Santa-shaped drinkware here, but this is an ideal spot to come eat a warm bowl of housemade pappardelle and wild mushroom ragù and pretend you’re in the Italian countryside.


If Rolf’s is like a Martha May Whovier joint, then The Springs is more of a Charlie Brown Christmas. This Greenpoint Bar goes all out every year with their Holiday Lounge pop-up, when they fill the whole space with a hodgepodge of lights, trinkets, and stockings at every booth. The whole thing feels a bit more scrappy (and far less crowded) than the spectacle of Rolf’s, like it’s a labor of love they’ve gifted to their Greenpoint regulars. Come during Happy Hour for a spiked hot cocoa and other special holiday cocktails, and check their Instagram to see when Santa is stopping by for a nightcap this month.


Pete’s Tavern is getting festive with toys, trinkets, and an absolutely bonkers amount of ruby red Christmas lights. The bar’s tin-pressed ceilings and rosewood booths have been around since the 1800s, and even the silver bells lining the shelves in the bar room have been part of their holiday decorations for decades. Covered in a trillion neon strings, it feels like you’re in some kind of Marty McFly spaceship traveling between two time periods—or just incredibly cheerful. If you’re hitting the Union Square Holiday Market, this is a good place to relax with a beer and a burger afterwards.


photo credit: Meredith Truax

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Miracle on 9th Street

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You could go caroling or put reindeer antlers on your dachshund, but if you really want a tutorial in spreading holiday cheer, look at Miracle. Since 2014, this pop-up has been taking over bar spaces all over the world, making them look as festive as Santa’s workshop, and serving cocktails like the “Bad Santa″ with mulled red wine, port, and Christmas spices, along with some festive snacks. They’re currently operating out of 9th Street in the East Village.


photo credit: Tymel Young

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Lillie's Union Square

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Around this time of year, both the Union Square and Times Square locations of Lillie’s Victorian Establishment aren’t just festive, they’re chock-full of colorful ornaments, antique trinkets, and various nutcrackers watching over the scene. It’s already a beautiful space year-round, adorned with stained glass and old world artifacts, but now it feels like a Christmas episode of Antiques Roadshow (or a particularly cheerful episode of Hoarders). Our favorite time to stop by is at brunch for an Irish coffee and the Grand Marnier French toast.


Wear an especially good winter coat to Loreley Beer Garden’s Holiday Winter Wonderland pop-up, because the best experience is outside. The whole space is covered in tangled string lights and candy cane couch covers, but the picnic tables in the back are always a bit of a scene, and there’s a whole family of blow-up snowmen and reindeer hanging out there that sort of look like your dad did the best he could while he was on a crooked ladder, which we love. And the LES restaurant has plenty of heaters and hot holiday cocktails, so you won’t have to wear your entire HeatTech collection to hang out there comfortably. They’re open for Happy Hour, brunch, and dinner.


photo credit: Sunday in Brooklyn

As much as we love seeing 50,000 lights on an 11-ton Christmas tree, Christmas is supposed to be cozy, and we’d like to stay on the warmer side of those frosted windows for most of it. Preferably in front of the fireplace at Sunday in Brooklyn’s bar room pop-up. The feel at this Williamsburg restaurant is more West Elm holiday catalog than Whoville, but we don’t mind. Sometimes you just need a peaceful moment during a hectic holiday season, and this is where you’re going to find it, in addition to some wish list-worthy french onion soup.


In Narnia, “it’s always winter but never Christmas,” thanks to the self-appointed Queen of Narnia, the White Witch Jadis. But was she a villain or was she a misunderstood girlboss with impeccable taste in white clothing? Whatever you may think of her, take a cue from this sty-con and wear your fabulous winter whites to Ophelia’s stunning Snow Globe in the Sky. Strings of blue lights with snowflakes hang from the ceiling like icicles and every piece of furniture on the Midtown rooftop wears a fur stole. Come before or after dinner for cocktails and snacks like baked brie and sea bass skewers. There are no chestnuts or teddy bear Santas on this rooftop, but this is the most glamorous place you can drink a martini this winter.


If you want to impress an out-of-towner with a waterfront view of the Brooklyn Bridge this winter—without freezing your ass off—take them to Watermark. The bar and restaurant has taken all 10,000 square feet of its outdoor space on Pier 15 and turned it into a true winter wonderland, with candy cane hallways and heated glass houses where you can sip on a special “ornamentini” and take in the skyline. Bundle up and bring the kids too—they can explore Mrs. Claus’ Candy Bar and Santa’s Game Room, and take pictures with Santa himself, seven days a week.

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