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.
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.
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.
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.
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 regular menu with a few additions.
Getting New Year’s Eve Dinner at Ops is how you end 2018 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.
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. This year is particularly festive because it’s Diner’s 20th anniversary. So treat the night like a birthday party for your close friend (or new friend, as the case may be).
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.
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.
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.
There’s something a little cheesy about Quality Eats. Maybe it’s the birthday cake dessert that’s served in a paper cup topped with a candle. Or maybe it’s the bacon that comes with peanut butter and jalapeno jello. Both of these things make you feel like a child, but in a good way. And that’s why this place is good for celebratory occasions. Technically, Quality Eats is a steakhouse, but it isn’t stuffy like a traditional one. The PB&J bacon is also, admittedly, pretty good. So come here on New Year’s Eve and eat like a kid who gets half of his or her calories from red meat and alcohol. The special French 75 cocktail fountain will help with this.
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.