The holidays are here and I seriously couldn’t be any happier. I talk a big game about Fall, but the holiday season makes it hard to not love both just as much. New York City is truly so magical this time of year. Everywhere you look businesses have decorated. Boutiques, deli’s, restaurants, etc… Year round New Yorker’s mostly socialize in restaurants and/or bars, and the holidays are no exception.
The beautiful lights and ribbons get to me. I can’t help but feel so excited for the holidays when I see these decorations, especially in the restaurants I know and love so much! Now that we’re getting back to a more normal way of life in the city, we are going out to eat at restaurants again and I have to tell you- it feels great! I have missed it so very much.
I love the magical feeling the city gives at this time of the year. My kids love to see the festive decor all over the city and it’s way more fun to go to restaurants that get into the holiday spirit and make you feel so welcome there with their festive decorations. I originally had 10 on my list, but it just felt like there were so many choices, and I didn’t want to leave any great ones out, so I added a handful more. Here’s my full list I have put together of my favorite restaurants to gather with family and friends during the holiday season for that extra special festive feel.
There is absolutely nothing quite like Rolf’s! This German restaurant is fully decorated for Christmas all year long. Yes, all year long. They don’t take any of the festive decor down. You can expect a traditional German menu full of schnitzel, spaetzle, bratwurst, potato pancakes, and more. Evenings get busy and the bar are gets lively but this is definitely the most festive restaurant in NYC.
The Black Tap in Midtown is the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat after checking out the magical Rockefeller Christmas Tree! They have a brand new cocktail menu you won’t want to miss! Black Tap is famous for their milkshakes though, and it’s easy to see why, they are fully loaded with the yummiest sweets! This spot is also kid friendly!
This Seaport restaurant is much more than just their amazing pizza options. They have a full menu of fantastic dishes to choose from! What I love about them, is that they have a ton of outdoor space, if it makes you feel more comfortable to sit outside at this time. They even have those adorable little house/igloo setup if you want! I think they do a great job at decorating for the holidays, as well! I love these reindeer!
This place is fantastic! If you’re looking for a festive restaurant that is kid friendly, look no further! They are famous for their frozen hot chocolate, I’m not kidding when I say it’s the best thing in the world! It comes in a ton of different flavors, too. Food-wise they have everything you can imagine. Get a reservation today!
Balthazar is a true New York City staple. The epitome of a big French bistro with red leather booths, martini’s, steak frites, and delicious sweets! Whether you visit for breakfast for dinner you’re bound to have a true NYC experience at Balthazar. They also have an adjacent bakery if you just want a quick coffee and/or baked good while on the go. So not only is this one of the best restaurants in the city, but their Christmas decorations are always great!
One of NYC’s oldest bars, Pete’s Tavern is a local favorite. Pete’s was founded in 1864 and has never shut its doors since. Serving a mostly Italian American menu that its regulars keep coming back for. As soon as you walk in you notice the wall filled with old photos through its decades in service and the many celebrities who have walked through its doors. Pete’s is a NYC landmark definitely worth visiting during the holiday season. Come here if you’re searching for some holiday cheer!
NYC’s most delicious seasonal restaurant. Menu and the decor is totally based on the current season. With American fare, bottomless brunch, exquisite rotating decor, and an amazing location this is a definite holiday must! I love the concept of changing not just the menu but also the decor as the seasons change. Definitely a unique and fun concept that keeps our family going back. This spot is full of good reasons to go and it’s a local restaurant that is always great, but especially perfect to check out in the month of December.
How could I resist a gorgeous indoor rooftop with a huge Italian market downstairs? I absolutely love this winter wonderland at Eataly Flatiron during the holidays. Its the perfect place to meet a girlfriend for a festive holiday lunch. I always grab some market necessities at the market downstairs on my way out. Because the restaurant uses all fresh imported ingredients from Italy the menu is always delicious and like taking a trip to Italy itself. Its also an incredibly kid friendly restaurant and high on my families favorites list. This is one of those cozy restaurants that happens to have great indoor dining that feels like outdoor dining because it’s on a roof with delicious food!
I love a delicious French menu full of escargot, cheese, steak frites, etc…. Lafayette never disappoints for my French cravings. Similar to Paris and Parisians, theres an elegance to the restaurant and its aesthetic. As soon as you walk in, it feels grand and special and very festive for the holidays. With a sommelier on staff don’t hesitate to ask all your wine questions. They have one of my favorite bakeries in the city so I always make sure to grab a few baked goodies for the next day.
This East Village bar goes all out for the holidays! The drinks are festive and delicious, but don’t let them fool you. The food is just as good! They have great burger and American food options. This is a great place to go for a casual vibe with magical decor! If you need a quick bite or you just want to go somewhere with Christmas trees, this is the spot!
This grand bar at the Beekman Tower is a gorgeous space all year round but is extra special during the holidays. It transforms into a snow globe winter wonderland. Located on the top floor of the hotel, Ophelia is an indoor rooftop bar specializing in mixology and specialty cocktails. Perfect to warm up on a cold winter night. Ophelia is at the top of my list for the ultimate holiday beverage.
This Midtown classic establishment goes all out for the holidays! It’s part of a hotel that has a ton of great, different room options whether it’s for a family stay, with friends or a solo trip! They are open pretty late, especially on the weekends, so if you’re looking for a later option to go out, this is your spot! And it’s in Midtown, so there are a ton of sights around to visit if you’re in town! You can’t beat that view, either!
What is actually better than champagne and the holidays? Well the people at Veuve Clicquot totally agree! They have partnered with the very popular NYC rooftop bar Mr. Purple to bring New Yorkers the ultimate holiday bar pop up. Guests can be found sipping champagne in life size snow globe/ igloo like spaces. Don’t forget to order the fondue or to maybe indulge in a spike hot chocolate. This is the most Instagram worthy holiday space of the season!
This classic Central Park West spot is stunning this time of year! They bring in a huge Christmas tree every year and put it underneath all the lights outside! It really is a beautiful view while you eat and drink. This is a great spot to go to if you’re visiting, as it is near Central Park and they have a whole Christmas tree there! And check out the elves! It’s decorated so well and makes the space feel truly magical.
This spot has a more winter decor feeling than holiday, per say, but it still feels super festive! I love all the twinkly lights and greenery, it makes the space feel incredibly homey and welcoming in the winter. This terrace always has the best decorations, though! They do great florals in the summer. It’s a very instagrammable place to eat and drink! Look at those lights on the ceiling!
City Winery has revamped its menu for the winter and to say I’m excited to try it, would be an understatement! With new items like mission fig pizza, seared scallops, hot honey pizza, raspberry chipotle wings and so much more, you’re sure to be fully satisfied! Not to mention, the wine selection is some of the very best! You’ve gotta check them out!
This is definitely one of the more refined options on my list. Located in a landmarked Greenwich Village carriage house this space is so unique its often used for weddings. With a prefixed menu and a full two story tree, its a must for a formal family holiday meal or a romantic meal with a sweet someone special.
This post was originally published on November 19th, 2019.
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