New York is Tablet’s hometown — so if we’re not making a break for sunnier latitudes, or schlepping across the country (or around the world) to visit far-flung family members, we’re experiencing New York’s famed winter wonderland from the familiar comfort of our own homes. All the same, we can’t help feeling a bit envious of our out-of-town customers, who get to see the famed festive side of New York from the business end of one of our many excellent hotels. Here’s this year’s short list of wintertime Manhattan favorites, according to Tablet’s in-house editorial staff.
And just as a great dish demands to be paired with a fine wine, a great hotel experience demands a restaurant to match. Our friends at Saveur Magazine helped pair our picks with their favorite New York restaurants. Enjoy!
The design is cozy, with a rustic, handmade edge whose warmth makes the Greenwich a natural winter classic. And maybe this is just our Italian heritage talking, but a restaurant like Locanda Verde, with its family-style old-country fare, is exactly the sort of thing we’re craving this time of year. It also doesn’t hurt that TriBeCa is one of New York’s high-end retail centers, making this an ideal departure point for a bit of last-minute shopping. Just be sure you pick up a little something to stuff in owner Robert DeNiro’s Christmas stocking.
Masa y Agave
41 Murray Street • (212) 849-2885
A semi-secret underground bar devoted to all things agave. Tequila’s just the starting point here; a deep cocktail list explores mezcal and more obscure agave spirits you won’t find almost anywhere else. A straightforward but delicious menu of masa-based snacks (made with boutique masa from New York’s Nixtamal and Mexico’s Masienda, natch) will keep you on your barstool for more drinks.
239 Centre Street • (212) 226-0700
From 7 a.m. to midnight, Maman is a full-service French restaurant serving beef tartare burgers and first-rate croque madames, but you can grab tea, coffee, excellent pastries, and one of New York’s most popular chocolate chip cookies in the spacious, chic café up front anytime.
It’s far from a luxury hotel, but there’s something about the Ace’s rooms that feels particularly conducive to snuggling up — maybe it’s the custom-designed Pendleton wool blankets (which are available for sale, if you like them as much as we do). A cup of hot cocoa (or single-origin espresso) from the Stumptown café only heightens the effect, and as long as we’re playing the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” note, it’s worth knowing that the room-service bacon cheeseburger is an underappreciated New York culinary classic.
345 Park Ave South • (212) 686-1006
Fresh California-inspired food from Justin Smillie served in a beautiful, airy space. Equally great for a lunchtime burger or a decadent short rib dinner. Don’t miss the Caesar salad or the duck wings.
Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong
1 E 32nd Street • (212) 966-9839
You’re here for excellently marbled beef, a standout on a block blitzed with Korean barbecue restaurants. Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong is more expensive, but the experience is also more tightly controlled. Just be sure to order as much galbi as you can.
Firmdale’s fantasy of English country-house living in the heart of the city is as big a hit in New York as it was in London, and owner/designer Kit Kemp’s penchant for vibrant colors is the perfect charm to ward off seasonal depression — not to mention the sunshine that streams in through those trademark floor-to-ceiling windows. Crosby Street can keep up with the big luxury chains in the comfort department, and it’s got a coziness they can’t touch — not only in the décor, but in the warmth of the service as well.
47 E Houston Street • (212) 219-7693
Ignacio Mattos’s Estela was good enough for President Obama, and it’ll be just as good to you. This small, newly beloved restaurant wears New York hip all over, but the food is legit — just try the steak tartare.
45 Spring Street • (212) 219-0600
Enjoy your pick of outstanding Israeli falafel and smoothies (we like the date, lime, and banana best) and then take it on the road while you walk Soho’s cobblestone streets.
The New York Edition makes its home in the landmark Metropolitan Life Tower, and does its level best to split the difference between contemporary luxury and early-20th-century throwback Manhattan nostalgia. It’s a combination that’s particularly welcome this time of year, as are the famous fur blankets, which will come in handy when (or if!) temperatures in New York finally start to fall.
116 Lexington Avenue • (212) 265-3663
Not your typical Indian restaurant. The food here hails from Chettinad, where the cooking is peppery, frequently pickled, and unapologetically fiery. Seek out a piquant curry with whole garlic cloves, crisp fried chicken or cauliflower 65 (so named for the number of spices purportedly added to the dish), or, if you want to live large, the towering crab roast, a massive platter of sweet crab swimming in a bath of curry sauce.
245 E 14th Street • (212) 951-1105
The new Manhattan location of this beloved Brooklyn neighborhood restaurant makes New York’s greatest hummus, hands-down. Visit Mimi’s for a casual, heartwarming meal and a taste of a Middle Eastern classic.
And if you can’t do Christmas in Paris, you can at least do the next best thing — check in at the Paris-on-Broadway that is Jacques Garcia’s NoMad Hotel. This time of year an ability to entertain is an essential attribute, and the NoMad’s public spaces are more than equal to the task, from the two-level library to the cozy fireplace nook to the atrium and its series of adjoining bars and dining rooms, all serving dishes by local culinary overachievers Daniel Humm and Will Guidara.
36 W 26th Street • (212) 206-7226
Hooni Kim’s Korean pub is one of New York’s most forward-thinking Korean destinations. The cooking here is all faithful to its inspirations, but always playful: the seafood pancake, rendered three-dimensional with fresh seafood and vegetables poking out of the batter like points on a crown, is a must-order.
17 W 26th Street • (646) 490-8240
Smoky Southern food and a lively bar scene, with a bourbon list deep enough to satisfy any brown booze enthusiast.
Dreaming of an art-world Christmas? The Mexico City–based Habita group’s first American outpost finds itself in Chelsea, perfectly placed for a gallery tour, a walk along the High Line, or a visit to the newly re-established Whitney Museum. The vibe in the interiors may tend toward the urban-industrial, but the beds, in their blonde-wood boxes, give off a certain “urban ryokan” air, which is an impressive bit of architectural conjuring.
205 10th Avenue • (212) 675-8805
A lively tapas bar with shareable small plates from chef Alex Rajj that include a fluffy Spanish tortilla and not-to-be-missed patatas bravas, served with spicy aioli. The bar scene is excellent too, if you want to stop in for a glass of sangria and a snack.
230 9th Avenue • (212) 243-1105
Pizza and Sunday meatballs from New York’s notorious bread obsessive, Jim Lahey. You may know him as the guy who revolutionized home bread-baking by sharing the widely revered no-knead bread technique. Here he’s the pie guy making not-too-authentic, unapologetically American pizza with excellent poofy crusts.
Hard to believe New York lasted as long as it did without a Park Hyatt, but thankfully this fallow period has come to an end. And for a snapshot of what the highest of the high end looks like in the Manhattan of 2015, you could do a lot worse than this Yabu Pushelberg–designed luxury hotel in the brand-new One57 residential tower, just across from Carnegie Hall. In typical Park Hyatt style its comforts are faultless, its style eminently tasteful, and the sheer professionalism of the operation is a sight to behold.
900 7th Avenue • (212) 245-9800
Big, raucous, and usually packed, this stalwart is decorated to look like an Italian artist’s studio, with a wall of famous Italian noses to boot. The chicken pepperoni parmigiana is the size of a flattened exercise ball, but far more delicious.
871 7th Avenue • (212) 582-7500
Greek classics done right, from perfectly grilled fish dressed simply with lemon and olive oil to bright mezze and sultry braised lamb shank with orzo.
If a certain sort of vintage-inspired Gotham romance is the sort of thing you’re after, there’s no better place to get it than the Bowery. Never mind that the building is scarcely ten years old — Sean McPherson creates period pieces as lovingly detailed as any Merchant-Ivory film, and there’s never an incongruous detail to break the spell. It’s proof that there’s much more to a successful hotel than amenity lists and star ratings — the Bowery is all atmosphere.
144 2nd Avenue • (212) 228-9682
This old-school 24-hour Ukrainian diner is a rite of passage for residents of the East Village. Don’t expect frills, but do expect a cool crowd—and belly-hugging pierogi and borscht.
142 Orchard Street • (646) 964-5624
If you crave a place that nails the one-two-punch of excellent wine and inventive dishes to go with it, chefs and in-the-know locals will tell you: Wildair is the place to visit right now.