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Photograph: Courtesy Antica Pesa

The best restaurants open on Christmas Day in NYC

At the best restaurants open on Christmas Day 2019, NYC's finest chefs save you from cooking in the kitchen

Emma Orlow
Written by
Emma Orlow
&
Time Out contributors
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Those looking for hassle-free dining during the most wonderful time of the year can book reservations 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 Italian favorites, 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

Red Rooster Harlem
  • Restaurants
  • Soul and southern American
  • Harlem
  • price 3 of 4

Red Rooster is Samuelsson at his most populist. While the former Aquavit chef, now a TV star with his own burger chain, mostly sacrifices elegance in favor of mass appeal, you'll still find the occasional haute cuisine flourish.

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  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Williamsburg
  • price 2 of 4

One of NYC’s best tongue-in-cheek cross-cultural projects is a rare conflation of Jewish and Japanese. Glowing on the corner of a sedate South Williamsburg block, Shalom Japan beckons like a bubbe. Its snug space displays trappings of a neighborhood hangout—warm brick walls and a sturdy wood bar backed by a genial tapster. 

  • Restaurants
  • Indian
  • Midtown East
  • price 2 of 4

Walk past the wall of cascading water and descend into Chola, where the mix of modern and traditional décor is as eclectic as the multi-regional Indian menu. Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of options, since you’ll rarely go wrong with whatever you get. Christmas specials include dishes such as dahi bhalle (lentil balls soaked in yogurt, chutneys and spices), branzino in a green coconut masala and chicken drumsticks with masala spices. Finish it all off with jaggery rice pudding. 

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ABCV
  • Restaurants
  • Vegetarian
  • Flatiron
  • price 3 of 4

Each menu at ABCV—already littered with wellness buzzwords like “restorative tonics” and divided into categories that include Energizing & Fresh and Warm & Sustaining—arrives with a supplementary insert chart detailing the health benefits of various vegetables. (Eggplant is “an ally to your arteries and circulation,” FYI.) This chia-bowl wonderland is ABCV, an expansion of Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Paulette Cole’s ABC restaurant empire inside Flatiron’s ABC Carpet & Home complex, and the V stands not for “vagina steaming” (sorry, Paltrow) but for “vegetables.” 

  • Restaurants
  • Mediterranean
  • Kips Bay
  • price 3 of 4

Restaurateur Gabriel Stulman certainly didn’t invent the concept of the neighborhood restaurant, but he’s come pretty damn close to perfecting it. And his Simon & the Whale at the Freehand Hotel is another example. The restaurant will be open on Christmas Day and will offer the menu as usual.

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  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Indonesian
  • Nolita

At Wayan, chef Cédric Vongerichten and his wife, Ochi, offer an ode to Indonesian food with French touches. Dinner service will remain a la carte for Christmas (with the addition of a bouche noel dessert). For Christmas Day brunch, the team is switching it up with a ‘Holiday Tumpeng’: a traditional Indonesian family-style dish, perfect for big group celebrating. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chinatown

Opened earlier this fall, the Bayard Street location in Chinatown still commands lines out the door. Once you’re finally seated inside the brightly lit corner space, you’ll find 16 varieties of cheong fun rice noodles, ranging from $2.95 to $6.95 each. The steamed rice noodle rolls are bursting with fillings such as plump shrimp and crispy youtiao, a Chinese cruller. It's the perfect place to try one of New York's hottest new restaurants and not break the bank. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Korean
  • Hell's Kitchen

Inspired by plates presented to the Korean royal court, chef Sung Shim (Le Bernardin, Per Se) debuts a fine-dining spot with a nine-course tasting menu. For Christmas, his tasting menu will run $150 per person, with items including truffle asparagus, tuna bibimbap and more. 

  • Restaurants
  • Midtown East
  • price 3 of 4

Danny Meyer's got into the pizza game and we're forever thankful. Along with the traditional pies (Margherita, Napoletana), the toque turns out outré renditions like an okra-and-lamb-sausage number and one with pecorino, crumbled potato and crispy guanciale. The two-level restaurant, which features a mezzanine with bird’s-eye views of the main dining room below, is anchored by an open kitchen slinging more than just pizza: Expect rabbit meatballs, beer-brined chicken and butterflied trout saltimbocca presented on hand-painted ceramic dishes and custom-made butcher blocks.

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  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Williamsburg

A sister joint to the original Antica Pesa in Rome, this 65-seat Williamsburg restaurant reworks the native cuisine of the Italian capital using local New York produce. Brothers Francesco and Simone Panella—who own the Roman location—(alongside their brother, Lorenzo) will over festive specials like a Christmas lasagna and slow cooked braised beef in Barolo wine sauce with polenta and fried leeks.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Financial District

The Seaport District was once the hub for all things seafood at the Fulton Fish Market in business. With the opening of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s The Fulton on Pier 17, seafood once again takes center stage. For Christmas Day, you can expect a prix-fixe menu at $108 per person with dishes such as yellow fine tuna tartare, shrimp and mushroom risotto and swordfish milanese. We're especially stoked about the meyer lemon pudding.

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  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Lower East Side
  • price 3 of 4

Major Food Group is a hit-making machine but they reached their apex with this showy Ludlow Hotel venture, the chain-smoking Parisian cousin to Carbone’s three-card-monte–dealing paesano. For Christmas, they're offering an $125 prix-fixe menu that includes dishes like chicken with dijon and chanterelles and desserts such as a peanut butter opera cake. 

Odo
Photograph: Courtesy o.d.o.

Odo

This holiday season, make a reservation at this 14-seat chef’s counter for a kaiseki-style dinner. Odo feels like a speakeasy, because you have to enter through its sibling restaurant, Hall. The captivating nine-course holiday tasting menu will run you $200 per person but think of it as entertainment, too.  

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Williamsburg
  • price 3 of 4

Inspired by the elegance and allure of New Orleans, this gorgeous salon—its green walls fogged with a faux patina that suggests decades of Gauloises smoke—is devoted to the twin pleasures of oysters and absinthe: two French Quarter staples with plenty of appeal in Brooklyn. For Christmas day, the team is offering their full raw bar, best enjoyed with one of their signature cocktails. 

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chinatown
  • price 1 of 4

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.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Tribeca
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • Restaurants
  • Barbecue
  • Midtown East

Hyun is located just a block north from the epicenter of Manhattan’s Koreatown on 32nd Street but feels worlds away. The dimly-lit space is sleek with dark wood-paneled walls, ceremonial brassware and diners seem to speak in hushed tones as pristine slices of Japanese A5 Wagyu beef shows up at their table. For the holidays, the team is offering their December tasting menu in addition to a la carte options. The tasting menu will run you $165 per person for 3 oz., $180 for 4 oz of Wagyu. 

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ABC Kitchen
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Union Square
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • West Village
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Central Park
  • price 2 of 4

A few yars back, this stalwart revamped the landmark as an urban farmhouse decorated with wood-beam ceilings, leather-covered tables and multiple hearths. Today, it remains one of the coziest restaurants to spend your Christmas day. The 11,000-square-foot space—nearly half the size of the old Tavern—is enclosed in a glass cube overlooking the park, with a 300-seat couryard and outdoor bar.

Looking for a bar on Christmas Day?

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