HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >


Xmas & New Year in NYC

Hi, I know this question has been done to death, however our situation is probably a bit different, so here is our story.

Family of 5 (two girls 16 & 14, boy 12) from Perth Australia, arriving New York on 24 December staying until 1 January. Husband been to NY before, about 12 years ago, the rest of the family no.

We are staying at the Marriot in Times Square, was thinking about the Tavern on the Green for Christmas day lunch, ideas? We have already booked the Lion King, nice wholesome family entertainment. Looking for ideas for other more tradional restaurants, you know the truly "Americian" style. Husband constantly travel around in Australia so he eats out often, 5 star expensive is his liking, however we would like something "different". We like seafood, Italian, Thai, Chinese, in fact we eat everything, and mexican, though I suspect our Australian mexican isn't like yours.

Any other ideas during our stay would be welcomed. Have tried to get New York Jets tickets for 30 december, but no luck, Even thinking about catching the train from Penn station to Washington DC for a day, worth it?

And of course shopping, with two teenage daughters, I'm sure they'll be in heaven!

We intend to bring empty suitcases and only one days worth of clothes, then load up big time. Any ideas in the shopping department please advice.

Of course, I suspect we'll do the normal, statue of liberty, empire state tours, any other suggestions are welcome.

As for New Years eve, as we're staying at the marriot, I imagine it's just a walk out the door and soak up the atmosphere?

Thats about it, on the 1 January we head of to San Francisco for 2 days before finishing our holiday in Los Angeles staying at the Roosevelt for a week. Hopefully be then we'll be all shopped out!

Thanks and I hope see you in the Big Apple!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. TOTG is a wonderful experience, good food and beautifully decorated for the Holidays. Warning, other chowhounds will bash this place. Fun place in time square, family oriented, is Virgils BBQ. Enjoy!

    1 Reply
    1. re: nyebaby37

      Thanks nyebaby, I've written them down.

      I was hoping for a few more responses, maybe my topic is boring. I'm new here, so I'll use the search function.

      Any other ideas for our stay, don't be shy!!

    2. Chowhound has a very narrow mission--where to find deliciousness. General travel planning questions, like shopping or what else to do while visiting a town, are off topic for our boards. Please keep your replies focused on helping the poster find great chow, as off topic replies will be removed.

      1. Eating Chinese food for Christmas dinner is a tradition for some in NYC - I'm not familiar with Chinatown places, but I know that Shun Lee West is open that day, and we quite like it, though I've not been on Christmas Day. I also like Chin Chin for "upscale" Chinese, and Wu Liang Ye is excellent Szechuan food.

        I'd recommend spending a day wandering around Soho and going to Balthazar (bustling French) for lunch - be sure to reserve ahead of time - and also stop into Kee's Chocolates for divine truffles and interesting chocolate flavors.

        You might also enjoy RGR's Lower Eastside food tour - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44980... - great chow and a good way to explore a neighborhood.

        If you are planning to visit any museums, such as the Metropolitan, up on Fifth Avenue on Museum Mile, Cafe Sabarsky, in the Neue Galerie (German/Austrian art) is a wonderful place to stop in for Austrian pastries and coffee, or a lovely lunch - no reservations though, and it can get crowded.

        It would probably also help other posters if we could have a sense of your budget for meals - the places I've mentioned are on the pricey side (other than the LES tour and Wu Liang Ye), and with a family of five I'm guessing you might also want some fun but more inexpensive options for some of your meals during your visit.

        Hangawi might be an interesting place to try - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/44587... - Korean vegetarian - v. good food, great atmosphere - you take off your shoes and sit at tables that are in "wells" on the floor - I'm not vegetarian but always enjoy it. They have a website I believe.

        You might also want to try searching the Manhattan board for "teens" and/or "teenagers" for ideas that others may have suggested in the past - I don't have children so am less in tune with what they might like!

        Edit - Re: Tavern on the Green - I've not been for about 15 years and the food was pretty lousy for the price, and nyebaby is right that lots of people bash it on the board for the food. It is beautiful in its glamourous way, and might be a fun place to stop and have a drink.

        2 Replies
        1. re: MMRuth

          Here's a recent thread on the UWS that might be of interest - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/447617# - thought of it because another fun thing to do would be to go to Barney Greengrass for bagels/lox etc. for breakfast. You could then wander back downtown - the Museum of Natural History is in the area, as are wonderful food stores such as Zabar's which are fun to browse through, and in a area with a lot of non-food stores as well.

          1. re: MMRuth

            For Chinese, Peking Duck house might be fun; perhaps your sons would get a kick out of them carving the duck tableside. I'd also consider dim sum -- it would be cheap and also fun, bustling, etc.

            I second Balthazar and Kee's.

            Perhaps you'd be interested in some other cuisines that are not so readily available in Australia? I'm not sure what you do and don't have access to. Different types of Indian? All the various Japanese styles? Malaysian? Vietnamese? Anything South American? Middle Eastern?

            For some quintessential NY foods and restaurants check out these threads:

          2. Ok folks, this is what I have booked so far.

            Christmas day lunch at Tavern on the Green, $85 per head (12 y.o boy will eat about $5 worth!) the Cristal room was booked out ($125 per person) I intend to keep calling them in case of cancellation.

            Dinner on 26 December has been booked at "The view" at marriott marquis. We are staying there so that was an easy one.

            I intend to eat out every night at a different place, plus most lunch times as well.

            If I don't log on while in NY, I'll give you all my feedback upon my return to Australia

            Thanks for your suggestions and please keep them coming


            6 Replies
            1. re: magpie78

              I know that for Holiday meals usually what makes it great is the people there and everything else is secondary. With that being said I would suggest you take another look at your TOTG Christmas lunch. The blush has been off the rose for a while now and TOTG is not the gem it once was. It WILL be beautifully decorated for the Holidays but it will be very touristy. If you are going for the fact it's TOTG and it's Christmas in NYC then go and drink it in but if food is a key factor I think you may want to look elsewhere.

              1. re: Spiritchaser

                Thanks Spirit.

                please provide an alternative, if you can i'd greatly appreciate it.


                1. re: magpie78

                  I don't have details about thier Christmas schedule but look into Park Avenue Autumn (although by Christmas it should be be Park Avenue Winter - they change with the seasons).

                  1. re: magpie78

                    I posted this on another thread: I just had an email from what used to be the Restaurant Associates group - this site will give you their menus and hours for the holidays:
                    http://www.rapatina.com/holidays/hour... -
                    you can watch the ice skaters @ the Rock Center rink from The Sea Grill and Rock Center Cafe. Sea Grill is way better.

                2. re: magpie78

                  I would suggest you go to the bar next to The View for drinks/coffee AFTER dinner somewhere else. There are much better options for dinner than The View.

                  1. re: magpie78

                    Up scale, good food and beautiful..........Del Posto, Asiate in the Time Warner building. You can have fun checking out all the stores and restaurants there.
                    Good steak house.............if you can get to brooklyn, Peter Luger is the standard. In nyc we like sparks for steaks.
                    The chinese recs are all pretty good.
                    Have fun, enjoy our city, it is a great time of year to be here.

                  2. For a fun and different experience, try Korean BBQ! I'd recommend KumGangSan (49 West 32nd Street) or WonJo (23 W. 32nd Street). Dishes that generally please kids and people new to Korean food are:

                    "Man Doo Gui" - Pan Fried Dumplings
                    "Pa Jun" - Korean Pancakes (i like the seafood ones best)
                    "Jap Chae" - Vermicelli noodles stir-fried with vegetables
                    "Kalbi" - Korean BBQ grilled boneless short ribs marinated in special sauce

                    After your meal, you can stop by Pinkberry (7 W. 32nd) for dessert.

                    In addition, all the Korean restaurants on 32nd Street are super convenient to the Empire State Building and 34th Street / Herald Square / Macys / Manhattan Mall shopping. There will be tons of inexpensive and trendy stores for your daughters, such as Forever 21 on W. 34th St and 6th Ave.


                    3 Replies
                    1. re: KittyK

                      Thanks KittyK

                      I've made a note of them and we'll try one or two

                      I have also booked dinner at Keen's as I've read a bit about it here.

                      I intend to eat my way through NY

                      Thanks for the shopping tips!. We're bringing empty suitcases, I think we'll need them!

                      1. re: magpie78

                        If you like seafood, you might want to consider Esca which is at 43rd & Bdwy.
                        Without a doubt, you must take the kids to Serendipity for decadent desserts and luncheon fare. It is a teenage eater's dream. 225 E. 60th.
                        If you are planning on seeing The Nutcracker Ballet at Lincoln Center, Josephina's is right across the street and popular with the Lincoln Center crowd.
                        Enjoy your wonderful vacation.
                        NY is magical at Xmas.

                        1. re: idia

                          Serendipity is currently closed for Dept of Health violations.

                    2. I live (and often must eat) near the Times Square Marriott. The key is to go a few blocks West and you find a diversity of good, non-touristy restaurants. Here are some of my favorites:

                      Brunch: Vynl (9th betw 50&51)
                      Chinese: Wu Liang Ye (48th betw 5&6)
                      Thai: Wondee Siam (9th betw 52/53)
                      Japanese/sushi: Shimizu (51 betw 8&9)
                      Italian: Trattoria Trecolori, Vice Versa or Roberto Passon

                      All of the menus are available at www.menupages.com

                      In addition, the Time Warner Center at 59th and 8th has high end shops, a huge Whole Foods, and top notch restaurants (Per Se, Landmarc, Cafe Gray, etc):

                      And you should definitely go shopping at Century 21 downtown....check out posts about eats in Tribeca.or the Financial District for nearby dining.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: haofan

                        Great stuff Hao, we are headed for a gastronomical feast!
                        can't wait!
                        Kids want to know can they expect snow?

                        1. re: haofan

                          Actually we were in New York City for Christmas one year and Trattoria Tricolore was open on Christmas Eve. You might want to see if they will be open this year. We've always had pretty decent Italian there, tho I haven't been since they moved. On Christmas Day we took the train to Newark and had a fabulous Portuguese meal at Seabra - just a short walk down the street from the train station - if you're into Portuguese food. And ooooh - those little Portuguese expresso's and desserts...

                        2. Hello, we recently had some visitors from Sydney and gave them many recommendations including the LES tour mentioned above, which they enjoyed muchly. However, the highlight of their food experiences, the one about which they wrote to us afterwards, was having a bagel at Murray's on 8th Avenue at 22nd St. This was their first experience of a real NY bagel, and they said they'd never be able to eat a bagel in Australia again. So whatever you do, I urge you to seek out a bagel one day for breakfast--either at Murray's or, closer to you, Barney Greengrass as mentioned above.

                          Second Cafe Sabarsky, above. Also, on your ramblings, make sure to stop in Grand Central Terminal just to soak in the atmosphere, maybe a quick drink or a snack there at Cipriani Dolci. Overpriced, but in my opinion, worth it for the view of the bustling floor below.

                          If you can head down to the Union Square area, go to ABC Carpet & Home and marvel at the decor and many things to purchase, then stop in at Michel Cluizel for delicious chocolate. Down a few blocks from there is Union Square itself, where the Holiday shopping promenade will be set up--mostly just gifty items, but kind of festive--and if it's a M,W,F, or Sat, you can also browse the Union Square Greenmarket for food from local vendors--great pretzels, jams, produce. Have a cup of hot apple cider while you're there.

                          Mexican is not NY's strong point, but if you want it in an upscale setting, Rosa Mexicana is fun and the uptown location is pretty good. There is fantastic Italian in NY--search the boards. If you are willing to travel w/in the city, hit the W. Village for plenty of great restaurants and good walking. Also, you may want to have a real NY pizza--again, search the boards, and you'll turn up a huge debate.

                          I'll join the chorus and suggest you reconsider TOTG. If your husband is used to 5-star dining, do you really want to spend $85 or possibly $125 a head on mediocre food? There are plenty of places where you can get a much better meal for that price. And as far as decoration, you can either stop in as MMRuth says and have just a drink, or enjoy one of the other many beautifully decorated spots around the city.

                          Above all, I would say don't be afraid to get off the tourist beat, get a metrocard and explore the city. You have enough time here to see some of the different neighborhoods, and a lot of the great food and fun walking is further afield from where you're staying.

                          P.S. if you plan on doing the Times Square thing, make sure you get a good, filling meal before you go, because from what I've heard, once you're in your "pen," you're stuck there.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: smallfrog

                            Okay, like a dork I am responding to my own post, but I just realized--if you decide to shop your way from your hotel down 5th Avenue (everything from the Gap to Saks), a lovely way to end your afternoon/begin your evening--or stop for lunch--would be at Bryant Park. They have holiday shops like the ones at Union Square set up, but they also have an open-air ice rink. In addition, you could grab a sandwich or soup at the 'wichcraft kiosk, or stop in at that bar set up there and have a drink for you/cocoa for the kids. You'll be right next to the famous NY Public Library, so you could head in and see the reading room or just take your picture with one of the famous lions. In the early evening with the surrounding buildings lit up and the skaters on the rink, I think it's one of the loveliest spots in the city during the holidays.


                            Hope you have a very happy Christmas!

                            1. re: smallfrog

                              Thanks Smallfrog

                              yes, i believe i do need to re consider TOTG

                              thanks for all your suggestions, i'll let you know how it all ends up

                              1. re: magpie78

                                Definitely nix TOTG. All the other suggestions are great. I'll throw in Hill Country for a taste of real Americana. As close as you can come to Lockhart Texas in Manhattan.

                                1. re: magpie78

                                  I wouldn't necessarily nix TOTG. It's very pretty, it's in Central Park, it's Christmas, and with two kids it might be just the ticket.

                                  I would, however, nix the Boxing Day dinner in the Marriott (two "t's.) Essentially, that's a nice cocktail lounge with a pretty spectacular view, but I haven't heard anyone rave about the food.

                                  Hill Country is FABULOUS. You would really enjoy that. I also think you would enjoy eating at a Sarabeth's (again, I'm thinking about what the kids might enjoy.) There's a branch on Central Park South and others on the upper east and upper west side. I love the one at 92nd and Madison; you can walk one block over to Fifth Avenue and work your way downtown.

                              2. I am a big fan of RGR's LES tour, MMruth already posted the link. Unfortunately the Essex Street Market is closed on Sundays. Economy Candy is fun. LES tour should not be missed if this is your first visit to NYC. The Chelsea Market might be fun for eating and food shopping. Check it out at www.chelseamarket.com.

                                1. Bryant Park Grill - not tooo pricey, in a gorgeous setting behind the Public Library- you can check out Grand Central and be near the Xmas windows of Lord and Taylor and not too far from Saks's windows and Rock Center. The food is good - pleasant service. And open on the 25th - my birthday is Christmas and with twin daughters (turning 13 soon) we have always enjoyed going there (we will be there this year, most likely) - there are choices for them and the "grown ups" are happy too. Very accomodating staff - I think they were 3yrs old the first time we went!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: RRZ

                                    I had one of the worst t. burgers in my life at Bryant Park Grill. Salads are pretty decent. Order carefully. Definitely atmosphere and location over food.

                                  2. I second to those who said Park Avenue Winter and Shun Lee West

                                    Landmarc( Time Warner Building/Tribeca) very good...great wine prices..

                                    The Mermaid Inn (One location in Tribeca, one on the Upper West side)

                                    If you want to try some great bagels....Absolute Bagels...On Broadway between 107th and 108th..Very yummy..

                                    Good Brunch-- Good Enough to Eat- (Amsterdam Avenue..around 83rd street)

                                    For meals, I'd try to stay away from Times Square..too crazy, way over priced, and not that many great places!!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: alsta65

                                      The two Mermaid Inn locations are East Village and Upper West Side.

                                      I would skip Good Enough to Eat brunch for Sarabeth's or Neptune Room.

                                    2. There doesn't seem to be much Brooklyn endorsement here - but I'd say try to make it if you can. If nothing else, if you are looking for something other to TOTG and want something NY - The River Cafe, would be a great alternative. They have a Christmas Day menu (4 courses for $125) Great food and the view of Manhattan (right under the Brooklyn Bridge) cannot be beat. It's beautiful in there, I'm sure will be amazingly decorated for the holidays and the menu looks great for that day. http://www.rivercafe.com/

                                      The cab fare from midtown (I live right near the restaurant in a neighborhood called DUMBO) will be about $16 + tip (you might have to take 2 with 5 ppl - but some of the minivan cabs will take you), otherwise you can take the A train (right near your hotel) to the first stop in Bklyn (about a 20 min ride) which is about a 3-4 minute walk to the River Cafe.

                                      HAVE FUN!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jasbet07

                                        Hey, jasbet07,

                                        The reason there hasn't "much Brooklyn endorsement" on this thread is because discussions on this board are supposed to be Manhattan-centric. Discussions about Brooklyn options take place on the Outer Boroughs board. That said, your River Cafe suggestion is a good one.

                                      2. I just happened to see your post about TOTG - checked open table and this is what is available:


                                        I'd snap up that Danube reservation if I were you!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          magpie78, we went to Danube and posted a review if you want to do a search. It's gorgeous ambience over food. Service was excellent. The Harrison (American cuisine) nearby had better duck than Danube. Danube is so gorgeous you might want to go before dinner for cocktails. Since your kids are older and there is seating besides the bar it might work.

                                        2. When you're all feeling overfed and just want a nice pizza, I suggest Angelo's Pizza (thin crust) on 57th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues (north side of street). It's a couple of blocks south of Central Park and other things you might like to do. A walk through the lower part of the park on a nice winter day is a special treat - it's about the skyline and relative quite from the traffic. The Apple Store is at 59th & 5th. Pizza and computers - how could any teenager resist?!