A New York City Christmas not only guarantees festive hordes of shoppers and tourists, but also chestnuts and hearty holiday feasts. For those who can’t possibly squeeze everyone into their pint-sized apartments, restaurants kindly open their doors and kitchens on Christmas Eve and Day. Whether you celebrate with suckling pig or Chinese, there’s a charming cornucopia of options.
Chinatown Brasserie – Chinese restaurants have been keeping the “open on Christmas day” policy long before it was fashionable. Try tweaking this year’s tradition and head to this sleek Noho Chinese. Authentic dim sum is prepared with a greenmarket-fresh outlook – chop suey this is not.
380 Lafayette Street, (212) 533-7000
Bouley – A lavish holiday spread of modern French cuisine
awaits at this bastion of fine dining. Indulge
in a $130 six-course menu and have your way with their unmatched bread basket at David Bouley’s Tribeca flagship.
120 W. Broadway, (212) 964-2525
Bolo – While Spanish cuisine doesn’t immediately harken Santa, it couldn’t be more appropriate to savor an ephemeral holiday at a restaurant that might shutter in 2009. Celebrate in Bobby Flay’s Gramercy digs: chorizo-studded paella and black squid ink risotto should be a welcome change to the traditional Christmas ham.
23 East 22nd Street, (212) 228-2200
Benjamin Steakhouse – Two Peter Luger alums have joined
forces to create this midtown nod to opulent steakhouse nostalgia.
Displaying full-on Christmas spirit, Benjamin Steakhouse will offer
homemade eggnog to accompany its $69 prix fixe menu, which includes
velvety lobster bisque, rack of lamb roasted with fresh herbs, and a
chef’s selection of holiday-themed desserts.
52 East 41st Street, (212) 297-9177
Brasserie 8 ½ — Though this sleek, subterranean lounge may seem a bit un-Christmas, the swanky atmosphere certainly makes for a convivial Christmas Eve party. Sup on suckling pig confit, but save room for dessert – this brasserie excels in the pastry department. Take your sweets in the 8.5 Lounge, where they offer a $30 prix fixe pastry menu that includes a specialty cocktail and amuse bouche. Dig in to an expert crème brulee or caramelized banana split.
9 West 57th Street, (212) 829-0812
Cafe at Country – While the main dining room will be closed, Country’s casual half will thankfully stay open for business. Expect French bistro staples, such as warm Gruyere cheese puffs, gold potato-truffle ravioli with winter truffles, and striped bass with apples and pomegranates. Dinner is served in this grandiose, David Rockwell-designed room with mahogany paneling and marble-topped tables.
90 Madison Avenue, (212) 889-7100
davidburke & donatella – This playful New American eatery specializes in inventive preparations and quirky presentations. Christmas dinner apparently doubles as a game with an entree of “Duck, Duck, Goose” – a tongue-in-cheek ode to fowl featuring seared breast, confit leg ragout and foie gras custard.
133 East 61st Street, (212) 813-2121
Dawat – One of New York’s finest Indian spots is an alternative way to spend Christmas. This well-priced midtowner manages style and highly seasoned and spiced plates. Order up a lavish spread of lamb vindaloo, Cornish hens with green chiles, lemon rice.
210 East 58th Street, (212) 355-7555
Jojo – Celebrate Christmas Eve where Jean-George Vongerichten first broke Manhattan ground. This midtown brownstone is a perfectly cozy, yet posh, spot to spend the holiday and dine like a gourmand on celebrated French fare.
160 East 64th Street, (212) 223-5656
Aquavit – Marcus Samuelsson’s Christmas Eve feast is served
up in classic Scandanavian style, replete with pickled herring,
meatballs with lingonberries, and housemade, house-infused vodkas.
Sleek modern décor and 60’s mod furniture round out the distinct holiday experience.
65 East 55th Street, (212) 307-7311
Kittichai – Head to this hip Soho enclave for Christmas Eve and dine on sophisticated Thai cuisine. You can even call it a night and grab one of the pricey rooms upstairs at 60 Thompson Hotel.
60 Thompson Street, (212) 219-2000
Allen & Delancey – The warm, cave-like interior (accented
with a studied collection of knick-knacks and
dripping candles) forms a near-perfect setting for celebrating a chilly
Moulard duck magret and lamb chops persillade aptly fit the occasion.
115 Allen Street, (212) 253-5400
Until we eat again,
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