Years past, if you found yourself stuck in the city, dinner out on Christmas typically used to be the province of sad hotel buffets, the odd greasy diner, and, of course, the traditional holiday destination for Jewish New Yorkers: the local Chinese restaurant.
Times have changed and the city is never a ghost town, not even on Christmas. Some of the city’s finest restaurants have seized the challenge of making holiday meals worthy of their stellar reputations. So whether you’re avoiding your extended family, keeping it local with a staycation, or your dreams to make it to St. Bart’s this year didn’t quite pan out, you can still travel virtually and enjoy a great meal while you’re at it. Bonus points for not having to hear about politics while your Uncle Lou talks with his mouth full.
Here where to enjoy an international Christmas in New York City:
Kurt Gutenbrunner’s flagship temple to the art of Austrian cuisine serves an elegant, visually vibrant $145 Christmas day tasting menu that’s true to its roots featuring Goose and Venison loin as the evening’s headliners. After sampling his dessert of Gingerbread Soufflé crowned in Egg Nog, good luck finding room for the Christmas cookies that follow. Somehow, you’ll manage.
Skip the long flight to Stockholm and dive into Aquavit’s annual Julboard smorgasbord table. This over the top $95 Christmas Even menu includes three types of cured Salmon, nine types of herring (pictured below) and, yes, plenty of Swedish meatballs. If, for some reason, that’s that’s not your cup of tea, you can just gorge on the assortment of 16 desserts including Kladdkaka, a rich, gooey traditional chocolate cake. [Photo courtesy of @AquavitNYC]
Mario Batali’s packed to the, ahem, gills West Village pizzeria, Otto, serves up an bargain-priced Feast of the Seven Fishes through Christmas Eve for a mere $45 per person for the whole shebang or $9 for individual samplings. The menu ranges from creamy Baccala (Cod) to a feisty Shrimp & Ceci spiked with ginger and chiles, pictured. You can wash all the deliciousness down with a quartino from Otto’s massive wine list.
Russian Tea Room
Equal parts kitsch and opulence collide here at to celebrate decadence with the Russian Tea Room’s $125 three-course holiday menu ($50 version for kids). On Christmas Day, kick off with Borscht or Blinchicki (mushroom and goat cheese stuffed crepes) followed by a classic selection of artery-clogging entrées including Beef à la Stroganoff and melted butter-spewing Chicken Kiev. You can finish with a relatively restrained Chocolate Mousse cake or just go for broke by requesting a Czarist-inspired Nougat cream parfait topped with, what else, edible gold. A caviar course is extra; fur is optional.