Maybe you broke your ankle skiing, want to be alone with that special someone or you’re feeling particularly obese after Titi Gilda’s lechón asado on Christmas Day. In any case, this New Year’s Eve, you don’t feel like dancing, for a change you just want to eat, drink and be jolly without moving from your seat (hey, diet starts on January 1st!) So here we’ve rounded up some of Nueva York’s best Noche Vieja dinners, including the best deals and most sumptuous menus.
Plenty of Mexican restaurants made our NYE picks this year, starting with one of our favorites, Papatzul in the heart of SoHo. We like the fact there’s no prix-fixe nonsense, although Chef Julio McKay will surely prepare special entrees (usual suspects include Chile Poblano Relleno, $16, and Huachinango a la Veracruzana, red snapper in tomato, green olive and caper sauce, $19.) Además, DJ duo Clandestino (m*sco and fLp) will be spinning Mexican, electronic and funk.
Over at Tribeca’s Centrico, celebrity chef Aaron Sanchez has prepared two very special menus which makes for good options. Eat a la carte before 9pm, with select dishes such as Quesadillas de Huitlaoche (corn truffles; $10), Salmon con Arroz Negro (pan seared salmon with black squid rice; $28) or Pato en Manchamanteles (pan roasted duck with spicy red fruit sauce, $34) . After 9pm, the four-course Prix Fixe Gala menu actually varies depending on which main course you select ($59-$69 with options such as Carne Asada and Callo de Hacha, or scallops.) Downside: drinks are NOT included although at least bonus points for no obligatory times for seatings, and the service here is always warm and excellent.
Popular cheesy Mexican spot Gonzalez y Gonzalez is all about the salsa and partying on New Year’s so if you’re trying to run away from dancing madness stay clear. The $30 prix fixe menu is not really worth noting, but the open bar does run from 9pm-1am (!!!!). DJ Bravo will be spinning “hot latin music” and a live performance by Hector Ramos, “el galán de la salsa”.
Both the East and West Village outposts of La Palapa will be offering prix fixe menus, followed by a champagne toast and the traditional eating of the grapes at midnight. Regular entrées include Camarones a la Diabla (shrimp with chile ancho sauce, $18) and Plato Azteca Vegetariano (potato taquitos and grilled cactus, $14) and Barbacoa de Cordero (bbq lamb braised in chile ancho and avocado leaves, $19). Reservations are recommended: East Village: (212)777-2537; West Village: (212)243-6870.
You want mariachis? Maya will have a mariachi quintet in full force from 9pm “through the new year” (!!). Plus a special four course meal courtesy of Chef Richard Sandoval that ranges from $59 tp $99. Items include Ceviche de salmón, Osso Buco de Cordero with chayote, prosciutto and ‘tamarind-truffle jus’, and Fit Mignon with wild mushroom and achiote. Sandoval’s other restaurant, Pampano, has a similar plan for the night, at $110/person.
Midtown favorite Zona Rosa offers a three course menu for $70,as well as a la carte options, plus mariachis from 9pm to 1am. You can expect Coconut Lobster Ceviche, Cochinita Pibil (suckling pig roasted overnight with homemade tortillas, rice, beans) and Pato Oaxaqueño. Call for reservations (212)247-2800.
Un poco de todo
Rayuela was one of 2007’s hottest Latin fusion restaurants (and for us, one of the only few that does it right!) which they prefer to call “estilo libre latino” that features Tuna Ceviche in Watermelon, Paella de Coco with lemongrass and ginger, and Pulpo con Chorizo served with tostones. For the 31st, Rayuela has a four-course meal and unlimited sangria for $105. Another option is $65 for appetizers and sangria. Eso si, both include cava toast (not champagne! But Spanish bubbly) and the traditional eating of 12 grapes like they do in Spain.
Ok so there’s a LOT of dancing at SOB’s, especially tonight with three live groups (8 y Mas, Son Sublime and Matraca and the Batucada Beat Dancers), plus two DJs (La Makina + Mario Axé). But don’t forget that early in the evening SOB’s serves dinner, and tonight (dubbed “A Taste of Latin Paradise) the $150 prix fixe includes six course, some with names like “Frolic in the foliage,” and “Fishing for Complements” also with filet mignon with Portobello and gorgonzola, and ginger-spiced salmon. Party runs until 6am so there’s plenty of time para hacer la digestión.
Super cool East Village spot Esperanto isn’t doing anything prix fixe or super fancy for the 31st, but it’s always a fun place to hang out, and they’ll have their usual delicious menu available (Feiojada, $14, Carne Asada with guacamole, $17, Moqueca Bahiana –shrimp and red snapper in coconut milk- $17.50, hell yeah!) as well as a DJ Dakar and Daniel on the congas will provideLatin, Brazilian and funk music all night long.
Luz, located in Fort Greene in Brooklyn, offers up hors d’oeuvres, a special menu for $70, champagne toast at midnight, complimentary New Year’s cocktail, live broadcast of the ball drop, and plenty of party assortments to keep you going till 4am. Regular dinner options include Matambre (beef tenderloin stuffed with hearts of palm, cilantro, honey soy sauce) and Lechón Asado with authentic arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas.)
Meatpacking District favorite Son Cubano is offering a special prix fixe meal for the night, with two seatings (at 7pm and then from 9:30-10:15pm; for $135). Expect Bacalao Viscaya (cod in tomato sauce and yucca in mojo), Salmon Mango and for dessert, flan or tres leches. If you don’t want to do the whole meal thang, just drink the night away for $50. Then be prepared to dance for the rest of the night to salsa, reggaeton, and pop favorites.
Nuevo Latino but Cuban-centric restaurant Calle Ocho has a variety of dining and partying offers for New Year’s Eve, depending on what you feel like doing… with room for however many people you want to celebrate with. Try Chuleta Macho (pork chops with sour orange and sweet potato mashed) and Envuelto (red snapper wrapped in plantain leaves with pineapple rice.)
The three locations of Havana Central (Union Square, Times Square, West End Ave) are offering special New Year’s Eve menus, with several different seating options, replete with a 5-course Cuban meal, unlimited mojitos, wine pairing, live music, champagne toast, party favors, and much much more. Of course, Ropa Vieja, Arroz con Pollo, and Pernil Asado no podia faltar!
Willie’s Steakhouse has been serving comida criolla since 1977. This friendly Bronx Latin steakhouse and Latin jazz hub offers up a night of meat and music, with DJ Cisco on the ones and twos. We say give us Masitas de Cerdo, Asopao de Camarones and Empanada de Carne!
Images: Shrimp dish at Calle Ocho; partying it up at Gonzalez y Gonzalez; cocktail at Havana Central.