Holiday Fun

Festive Holiday Eating in NYC

Fill out your ugly Christmas sweater with latkes, German brandy, and coquito at these holly-jolly holiday spots.

Photo courtesy of New York Botanical Garden

You haven’t been able to avoid the holidays since the minute Halloween ended—or the middle of September, depending on which drugstore you frequent. Instead of Grinch-ing out at the sight of a candy cane, why not make the best of the most wonderful time of the year? Get into the spirit at these decked-out bars, festive restaurants, and merry events.

The New York Classic: Rolf’s in Murray Hill

Inside this German eatery’s dining room is the most over-the-top display of holly-jolly merriment you could imagine. The holiday sensory overload here includes mountains of tinsel, ornaments, evergreen garland, twinkle lights, and dangling “icicles.” Insider tip: Don’t wait for a table; just scoot your way to the bar and order yourself some potato pancakes and a glass of oak-aged plum brandy. 281 Third Avenue (at East 22nd Street), Murray Hill

Photo courtesy of Rolf’s German Restaurant/Facebook

The 19th-Century Classic: Lillie’s in Times Square and Union Square

Alternatively, if you don’t have the patience for the Rolf’s line, this Victorian establishment’s interior is equally magical. Sparkling garland and tinsel draped across the dining room, fresh Christmas pines, a variety of baubles hanging from above, and adult-size nutcracker soldiers guarding the doors will make you feel like you’re sitting in a scene from Babes in Toyland…but with steak and chicken pot pie! 249 West 49th Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue), Times Square; 13 East 17th Street (between Broadway and Fifth Avenue), Union Square

Photo courtesy of Lillie’s

The One-Night-Only: The 11th Annual Latke Festival in Prospect Heights

Latkes are flawless enough on their own—grated potatoes flavored with pungent garlic and onions, then pan-fried and served with sour cream—so a night filled with the retro standbys and interpretations catered for the 21st century is especially mouthwatering. Some of the city’s best eateries—Jacob’s Pickles, Gumbo Bros, Hànôi House, and Veselka—compete to create winning iterations of the starchy snack at the stunning Brooklyn Museum. Your nibbling goes to a good cause, as well; proceeds will directly benefit the Sylvia Center, a nonprofit battling childhood obesity on the daily. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Crown Heights; Monday, December 16, 6–8:30 p.m.; tickets start at $75

Photo courtesy of Latke Festival

For When You’re Tired of Eggnog: Coquito & Coquito Ice Cream–Making Class in Crown Heights

If you don’t know someone who makes it, chances are you’ve never tried coquito. You’re gravely missing out; the rich libation is the tropical sister of the Yuletide staple, laced with two kinds of milk (condensed and coconut) and loaded with spices and rum. This special-edition, two-hour class, hosted by Crown Heights’s Creme and Cocoa Creamery, might be your only chance to try it this year—but at least you’ll get to savor it in two forms (as a libation and freshly churned ice cream). 1067 Nostrand Avenue, Crown Heights; Saturday, December 14–Tuesday, December 17; $50

Dinner and a (Twisted Christmas) Movie: The Nitehawk Holiday Show Spectacular in Williamsburg

Some of my favorite Christmas-morning memories growing up involve gathering my family around the big-screen TV and watching A Christmas Story all day long (along with the Yule Log, but nobody stuck around to watch that with me). Nitehawk prefers its holiday movies on the dark side, so it’s hosting a monthlong midnight series with some of our favorite sinister flicks—Eyes Wide Shut, New Year’s Evil, Money Train, Gremlins—and sides of seasonal popcorn and Santa-approved cookies and milk. 136 Metropolitan Avenue, Williamsburg; through Sunday, December 29

Photo courtesy of Nitehawk Cinema–Williamsburg/Facebook

The All-in-One: Bar Car Nights at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx

The weather outside may turn frightful, but don’t let that stop you from walking through a wintry wonderland with a cocktail in hand. The New York Botanical Garden’s signature Holiday Train Show turns into a 21-plus destination after dark, fully loaded with delightful treats courtesy of the Bronx Night Market, dancers adorned with LED lights, and cozy firepits. Oh, and the enchanting replicas of New York City landmarks living underneath the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory are well worth the Metro-North trip alone. New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx; through Saturday, January 18, 7–10:30 p.m.; $38 (or $28 for members)

Don’t spend another year underneath the mistletoe without anything to do