Last week, I put a call out to Where to Eat readers for holiday-themed questions. You didn’t disappoint, sending in a fun mix of dining inquiries. One reader wanted to know which bars and restaurants have the best holiday decorations; another was looking for a special holiday meal before Christmas Day. There was also a pressing question from a reader who’s going to the Manhattan Marriage Bureau — colloquially known as a “City Hall wedding” — in a few weeks and wants to grab a bite after saying, “I do.” (Not exactly holiday-themed, but I had to help.)
As always, keep sending your questions and comments to my inbox by emailing [email protected], and you may see yours here.
Where the Decorations Are Unrivaled
Which restaurants and bars have the biggest and best holiday decorations? — Gary B.Advertisement
First, the obvious answer: Rolf’s, in Gramercy, which goes all out. But if you want to avoid a long line and get some New York City history in, then make the five-minute walk to Pete’s Tavern, which bills itself as New York City’s oldest bar and restaurant. (McSorley’s Old Ale House would like to have a word about the “bar” part.) The ceiling is hung with red string lights, which might make you feel as if you’re in the scene where HAL turns on Dave in “2001: A Space Odyssey” — or just full of holiday cheer. You can also go for an understated Christmas vibe downtown at Fraunces Tavern (Santa will be putting in an appearance this Saturday). And add Rosemary’s, in the West Village to the list, because for a decade they’ve installed a Christmas tree on the roof, and you can’t do that just anywhere.
Feast of the Seven Fishes, Christmas Lunch and More
Hello! Are there any holiday-themed lunch or dinner events at restaurants this month (not on Christmas)? I know Scarpetta has a special brunch … thanks! — Sarah B.
I want to give you plenty of options, so here goes: Union Square Cafe is having a Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner on Christmas Eve ($175/person), as is Gus’s Chop House ($150/person), in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, in collaboration with Popina. Claud, in the East Village, the recent subject of a three-star review from Pete Wells, is serving a special prime rib Christmas Eve lunch (and Christmas Day dinner). And at Ernesto’s, on the Lower East Side, they’ve begun serving two Basque-inspired Christmas specialties: faisan asado, or roasted pheasant with brandy and caramelized onions, and pato mendizorrotz, a combination of roasted duck breast and confit duck legs with apples and potatoes.
Get Hitched, Then Get to Chinatown
My fiancé and I am getting married at City Hall in late December. Do you have any recommendations for a special, post-wedding meal that won’t break the bank? — Jennifer G.
Let me be the first to say, congratulations! The low-fuss, high-reward aspect of a wedding at the City Clerk’s office is unrivaled. Another plus? Its proximity to Chinatown, one of the finest neighborhoods for an affordable meal. I have two recommendations for you: first, Nom Wah Tea Parlor, on Doyers Street. At 102 years old, it’s as quintessentially New York as your wedding will be. The pork buns, shrimp siu mai and fried egg rolls are just the ticket. If you’re looking for a restaurant that’s a little more upscale but still affordable, consider Cha Kee on Mott Street. Order the curry beef triangles, Macao curry chicken and the fried rice — preferably in the shape of a heart.
In Other News …
No restaurant review this week, but — get your to-do lists ready! — here are Pete Wells’s favorite dishes, favorite restaurants and favorite affordable meals of 2022.
Openings: Three new restaurants, Ixta, Casa Tulum and tán, are paying homage to the food of the Yucatán Peninsula; the team behind the Vin Sur Vingt wine bars now have a bistro of the same name on East 51st Street; and a 200-seat location of the Dim Sum Palace chain will open in Chinatown on Sunday.
With 12 sit-down restaurants, including exciting new projects from some of the city’s buzziest chefs, and a spate of other spots to eat and drink, Rockefeller Center is the New York restaurant event of the year, according to Pete Wells.
From a Sonoran pretzel in Phoenix to seaweed doughnuts in Kansas City, Mo., these are the 25 dishes The New York Times Food staff enjoyed the most in 2022.
Alain Sailhac, one of the most prominent chefs of the 1970s and 1980s, and the culinary mind behind both Le Cirque and Le Cygne, died last month. He was 86.Advertisement
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