Those looking for hassle-free dining in NYC can save time cooking and cleaning by dining out at one of the best restaurants open on Christmas Day. NYC has plenty of traditions to cross off your holiday to-do list—including visiting the Rockefeller Christmas tree, going broke on bespoke gifts at holiday markets or gathering around the table for a home-cooked meal. And yes, you can really find that last one at these places! From boisterous Indian restaurants to classic American joints, here are the best NYC restaurants open for Christmas dinner.
RECOMMENDED: See the full guide to Christmas in New York
Restaurants open on Christmas Day
Thanks to Bagatelle, yuletide enthusiasts can celebrate the holiday in Saint-Tropez style with a side of joie de vivre—because this French restaurant and Mediterranean standby will be serving a special Christmas menu complete with roasted Guinea hen, pan seared scallops, black truffle-porcini risotto and terrine de foie gras.
Traditions have to start somewhere, and we can think of no better ritual than spending Christmas Day with comforting, cooked-to-order dim sum. Keep it classic with crispy scallion pancakes and pan-fried pork dumplings, then test the waters with tender stuffed eggplant filled with spiced shrimp and squid.
April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman’s Ace Hotel endeavor is an understated knockout. Tall stools face a raw bar stocked with a rotating mix of East and West Coast oysters, all expertly handled and impeccably sourced. For both Christmas Eve and Day, the restaurant will offer a six-course traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes.
Michael White strives to continue the comeback that began at Convivio and Alto with the seafood-centric Marea, his third and most ambitious venture with partner Chris Cannon. An upmarket shrine to the simple pleasures of the Italian coastline, the project is a gutsy gamble from a chef with bravado to burn. The high prices and opulent dining room—with silver-dipped seashells and rosewood walls—suggest a restaurant with the loftiest auteur ambitions.
Noah Bermanoff's Montreal meets Manhattan sandwich shop is among the city’s most cultish, with locations in both Manhattan and Brooklyn. On Christmas Day, a $65 Jewish Christmas Chinese Feast will offer courses like smoked-meat bao topped with creamy slaw, shiitake-stuffed eggplant with ponzu sauce, and hand-pulled wide noodles with chili oil, cashews and shaved ginger.
RedFarm is indeed groundbreaking: an interpretive Chinese restaurant with high-end ingredients and whimsical plating that have packed the dining room since opening night. Dressed in farm-to-table drag with potted plants in the windows, blond wood pillars and gingham booths, the place could easily pass for another seasonal New American restaurant, but don’t be fooled: RedFarm offers a glimpse back into the golden age of Chinese fine dining.
Georges Vongerichten’s hippie restaurant, as he’s taken to calling it, is a stunner, as artfully merchandised as the shop that surrounds it. Everything, including the antique armoires, reclaimed-wood tables and chandeliers entwined with flowering vines, is gathered from local artisans. But the cooking, based on the most gorgeous ingredients from up and down the East Coast, delivers one message above all: Food that’s good for the planet needn’t be any less opulent, flavorful or stunning to look at. It’s haute green cuisine.
This newly opened LES restaurant and lounge will be serving up modern Mediterranean tapas and craft cocktails on December 25. Indulge in executive chef Kevin O’Connell’s (Veranda, Pop Burger) holiday offerings of prime beef tartare, spicy lamb sliders and grilled octopus salad. And don’t forget to wash it all down with a large format cocktail punch bowl, courtesy of renowned mixologist Rael Petit (Mulberry Project, Loft 45).
No one does 24-hour comfort food better than Coppelia, Chelsea’s epochal Havana-inspired NYC diner. Reward yourself with a holiday surf and turf of blue cornmeal crusted calamari and pork chop adobo, or gratify a guilty pleasure with challah French toast topped with a hearty helping of sliced bananas and dulce de leche. After all, breakfast is served all day.
The name means “grandma” in Yiddish, but to celebs, hipsters and stroller-pushers who wait all morning for a table, it means the best brunch. The fluorescent dessert cases and gaudy floral wallpaper will fade after one of the signature loco cocktails (the Slow Comfortable Screw blends Southern Comfort, champagne and OJ). Just don’t forget to top off your buzz with Bubby’s mile-high apple pie.
Looking for a bar on Christmas Day?
Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant
It may be sacrilege to say it, but it seems that the legendary 96 -year-old Grand Central Oyster Bar, located in the epic and gorgeous hub that shares its name, is running on fumes. The surly countermen at the mile-long bar (the best seat in the house) are part of the charm, but the fishy lobster roll, overly breaded fried clams and ketchup-tasting pan roast are not. Play it safe—and classic—with a reliably awe-inspiring platter of iced, just-shucked oysters (there can be a whopping three-dozen varieties to choose from at any given time, from Baja to Plymouth Rock) and enjoy the vaulted-ceiling view. As long as the station is abuzz and the oysters good—they are—the other food is really beside the point.
Venue says: “For over 100 years we have been serving the freshest oysters & seafood in NYC! Our Oyster Happy Hour features Bluepoint Oysters, $1.25/each”