There’s so much stress that goes into holiday planning: travel arrangements, getting the perfect gift for your cousin’s girlfriend’s sister, and monitoring grandma’s eggnog intake. As if that wasn’t already enough, there’s also the pressure of planning a holiday-worthy meal. Cross that off your list and leave the food to the professionals this year. These five restaurants are open on Christmas Eve or Christmas day, so you can kick back under the mistletoe with a hot toddy and focus on what’s really important this holiday season. (Presents… It’s the presents.)
Open on Christmas Eve
(1038 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-350-7289; fancynancybk.com)
Fancy Nancy’s brightly-colored, funky interior offers a cheerful respite from the gray New York winter. Fancy Nancy’s alternative to traditional Christmas fare is sure to delight with a $45 prix-fixe menu featuring pepitas pumpkin soup, tahini beet salad, roasted duck, and eggnog ice cream. Wash it all down with their Summer Vacation cocktail, and you’ll be transported to warmer climes thanks to a healthy dose of tequila and mezcal. Or try the Gator Bait — it’s purple! — for something that’s as festive as this eatery’s décor.
(281 Third Avenue; 212.473.8718; rolfsnyc.com)
Rolf’s is exactly what you’d expect to see at a hoarding elf’s North Pole home — there’s holiday cheer everywhere. Ornaments hang from the ceiling in bunches, nestled in beds of holly and dangling glass icicles. Christmas lights illuminate alcoves where angels peep at diners over pine garlands. It’s a truly magical spectacle — and for those who can’t make it before the holiday, luckily the decorations stay up through May. Don’t forget to reserve a table their German Christmas Eve dinner — spots are going fast.
Open Christmas Day
(702 Union Street, Brooklyn; 718.638.4400; unionhallny.com)
Bocce ball, beer, and burgers — what’s not to love? Union Hall has two floors, a fireplace, and a rotating calendar of events that make it the perfect place to unwind with friends or family after opening presents. The Floyd Kentucky Beer Cheese (with Ritz crackers) hits the spot whether you’re cozied up in one of their library booths or celebrating Prince on Christmas Eve with rapper and ordained minister Jean Grae. Plus, Union Hall’s Christmas Day Pajama Party gives you a totally valid excuse to bust out your old reindeer onesie.
(35 East 76th Street; 212.744.1600; rosewoodhotels.com)
Bemelmans Bar is a New York institution housed in an even greater New York institution: the Carlyle Hotel. Named after artist Ludwig Bemelmans (a.k.a. the writer and illustrator of Madeline), this Art Deco oasis will serve up culinary classics like oysters and foie gras along with Caspian Sea caviar and steak frites on Christmas. The bar’s extensive drink menu pairs well with Bemelmans’ deep leather banquettes for a truly classy experience. After enjoying a Whiskey Smash, top off a Woody Allen-esque New York night with a stroll along Central Park.
Nom Wah Tea Parlor
(13 Doyers Street; 212.962.6047; nomwah.com)
What says Christmas more than eating Chinese food? This classic tea parlor serving dim sum has been a staple in Chinatown since the 1920s. Be prepared for a wait to get in: as one of NYC’s oldest tea parlors, Nom Wah has a solid reputation amongst tourists and locals alike. But for a delicious, no-fuss feast, it’s worth the wait. If you can’t make it to Nom Wah for Christmas, their menu remains the same year-round, which should be plenty of time to try their famous pork buns, spareribs, dumpling, and vintage teas.