New York City loves the holidays. Christmas lights are hung on storefronts, lampposts are tied up with wreaths and bows, and public spaces transform into winter wonderlands. Set in some of the most festive spots, these four restaurants will get you in on the action—and a great meal.
Every winter when it gets too cold to relax outdoors, Bryant Park sheds its greenspace persona and transforms into the Winter Village. Gift stalls are lined in rows where normally there are picnic tables, and a giant ice skating rink fills what’s normally a lawn. Backed against the New York Public Library, Bryant Park Grill sits as the best place to look out over all of the holiday hubbub. A menu of healthy American favorites fused with Asian and Moroccan notes—organic lemon chicken, sweet and spicy monkfish, rack of lamb with lentil ragout—is complemented with an extensive selection of whiskies and cocktails and some mean desserts that are surely well deserved after some laps around the rink. (40th St. nr. Sixth Ave.)
Most people traveling during the holidays have a love-hate relationship with Grand Central, when the typically hectic icon of a train station escalates to complete chaos. But down below the main terminal, the vaulted, tiled dining room of Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant is a place of refuge and respite. Since 1913, it’s been serving one of the city’s oldest, most venerated seafood menus, divided into 14 categories ranging from “Today’s Catch” to “Stews and Pan Roasts” and “Beers of the World,” of which there are some 25. Despite its affordability, Grand Central is known for having some of the most consistently high-quality seafood in the city, exemplified most notably by—of course—the incredibly fresh oysters shipped in from wherever in the world they are the best at any given time. (Grand Central Station, lower level)
With the department-store window displays, Radio City Music Hall shows, and the towering Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza, nowhere in the city feels more festive than Midtown Manhattan during the holidays. Matching the surrounding spirit, The Sea Grill at Rockefeller Center puts holiday-themed specialties in addition to its spectacular menu that’s earned it a reputation of one of Midtown’s top eateries. Its Breakfast With Santa extravaganza with omelet and crepe stations, a chocolate fountain, and elves delivering gifts to children has become a holiday tradition in many families; its sushi bar and fine-dining seafood dishes have become staples in the diet of many a discerning diner. And during the winter months, meals are made all the merrier with the entertainment of skaters circling the Rockefeller ice rink right outside the windows. (49th St. nr. Sixth Ave.)
Like the Birkin bag of New York steakhouses, Porter House New York is at once fabulous, classy, and always a safe choice. On the fourth floor of The Shops at Columbus Circle, the classic chophouse never looks better than during winter evenings, when its warm Jeffrey Beers-designed interior of cherrywood, leather, and gold tones is matched with chilly views out over Columbus Circle and Central Park. Helmed by chef Michael Lomonaco, formerly of Le Cirque and The 21 Club, the kitchen here sends out a steakhouse menu in its most pure form with all the requisite cuts, sides, and seafood options, forgoing frills for perfect execution. The same can be said for the expertly chosen wine list, which has previously been awarded by Wine Spectator. It’s the perfect place to refuel after a day of gift-buying in the stores below. (Columbus Circle at 59th Street)
(Photo Credit: Bryant Park Grill)