“I don’t know if there’ll be snow-Johnny Marks
But have a cup of cheer”
It’s my favorite time of the year! Christmas in NYC is truly special. The lights, the music, the decorations…everything just gives NYC an extra glimmer during the holiday season. One of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit is to visit Christmas bars and restaurants in NYC.
While most establishments will at least pull out a string of lights, there are some bars and restaurants in NYC that go all out on the festivity. With seasonal cocktails and twinkling decor, it is easy to feel cheery at these businesses.
Granted, things can get crowded at this time of year. If you can, try visiting these popular spots during the daytime or on weekdays. Some places also accept reservations, so if there’s a place you really want to go, book in advance!
Still, if ever there is a time to get to know your neighbor and make merry, it’s the holiday season! From cozy Irish pubs to extravagant cocktail bars, you can find some of the best Christmas bars and restaurants in NYC below.
Note: I’m not affiliated with, nor was I gifted anything at, these restaurants. They’re just my favorite restaurants to visit during Christmas in NYC!
10 Best Christmas Bars and Restaurants in NYC
Rolf’s German Restaurant
E 22nd St. and 3rd Ave.
You will most likely find Rolf’s German Restaurant at the top of any list of Christmas restaurants in NYC. Their decorations are so legendary that they stay up all year! We’re talking thousands of ornaments, icicles, and greenery.
At the bar, you can order delicious seasonal drinks including mulled wine and spiked eggnog.
With its Old World vibes, Rolf’s also serves up food from southern Germany, such as schnitzel and potato pancakes. This is one place at which you’ll definitely want to make a reservation if you want a table!
Paddy McGuire’s Ale House
E 20th St. and 3rd Ave.
If Rolf’s is too full, simply walk two blocks down on Third Avenue and pop into Paddy McGuire’s Ale House. You will be greeted by ornaments and decorations covering every inch of the place (except the bar, of course).
The owner, Patrick McGuire, used to be a jockey in Ireland. It’s hard to tell under all of the holiday decorations, but the place is actually equestrian-themed.
Paddy McGuire’s is a great place to cozy up with a hot toddy and watch the World Cup matches. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll also end up watching the toy train go around and around the upside-down Christmas tree!
Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge
W 36th St. and 7th Ave.
Magic Hour Rooftop Bar & Lounge is located at the top of the Times Square Moxy Hotel. This rooftop is an Instagrammer’s paradise, no matter the time of year, with Midtown views that include the Empire State Building.
They’ve created a signature look for the holidays, which is a frosty pink winter lodge. Everything at Magic House is pink, including the hot chocolate! There are lots of spots to take photos, including a gorgeous rotating carousel of seats.
Magic Hour is enclosed during the colder months, so while it may look like you’re in a snow-covered, pink chalet, it doesn’t have to feel like it.
Papillon Bistro & Bar
E 54th St. and Madison Ave.
Just a short walk from Rockefeller Center, you can find Papillion decked out in its holiday best. The Christmas vibe at Papillion is as if someone stole a bunch of lawn decorations and shoved it all inside a beautiful two-story bar.
Papillon is one of the more popular Christmas bars and restaurants, particularly for post-work drinks. To avoid the crowds, go for lunch. They even have a great lunch deal at the bar that comes with a glass of house wine or draft beer!
SERRA by Birreria
W 23rd St. and 5th Ave.
SERRA by Birreria is one of my favorite restaurants in New York, no matter what time of year. Sitting atop the rooftop of Eataly in the Flatiron District, this beautiful restaurant’s decorations change with the seasons.
If you’re looking for secular wintery decorations, this is the place! Their winter decorations are usually inspired by the Italian Alps, with snowy and alpine touches.
The roof is also enclosed during the colder months, so you’ll stay nice and warm as you enjoy some delicious charcuterie.
W 27th St. and 11th Ave.
While the McKittrick Hotel is known as the performing arts space of the immersive piece, “Sleep No More”, it also has a rooftop. Gallow Green is the McKittrick’s garden-themed rooftop bar, open all year round.
During the winter, Gallow Green transforms into an Alpine-themed place called “The Hideout”. Enjoy seasonal cocktails like “Northern Lights” or “Saddle Blanket”.
Get cozy amongst plaid pillows and wooden beams, safe from the elements, as you enjoy their winter menu.
The Campbell Apartment
E 42nd St. and Vanderbilt Ave.
If you’re looking for one of the best, hidden Christmas bars and restaurants in NYC, you’ll want to head to Grand Central Terminal. Around the corner, on Vanderbilt Avenue, you’ll find the Campbell Apartment.
Once the private office of railway mogul John W. Campbell, the space has been returned to its Jazz-Age glory. The Campbell is cozy and intimate with its hand-painted ceilings and leather seats. When they add greenery and Christmas lights for the holidays, it’s magical!
The Campbell serves up delicious (albeit pricey) cocktails, with live jazz during the evenings.
Lillie’s Victorian Establishment
E 17th St. and Broadway OR W 49th St. and 8th Ave.
Both Lillie’s Victorian locations are beautiful even when it’s not the holiday season. As the name suggests, the interior will make you feel like you’re in a Victorian manor, with high ceilings and marble columns.
Once December hits, Lillie’s becomes another of the most popular Christmas restaurants in NYC. This is mostly due to their eclectic (and plentiful) decorations. Garlands, lights, and figures hang from the vaulted ceilings, and wreaths cover the walls.
Lillie’s Victorian Establishments are known for their cocktails, but the food is also very good, especially Sunday brunch!
Molly’s Pub and Restaurant
E 22nd St. and 3rd Ave.
Another great alternative while you wait for your table at Rolf’s is Molly’s Pub and Restaurant. It may not look like much from the outside, but inside is one of the coziest Christmas bars and restaurants in NYC.
This traditional Irish pub is a great place to grab a pint or warm up with some shepherd’s pie. You’ll be seated on wooden booths, worn with use, underneath colorful strings of Christmas lights. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a quainter pub decked out for Christmas!
Ophelia Lounge NYC
E 50th St. and 1st Ave.
Ophelia Lounge NYC is not only a stunning rooftop bar, but their holiday display is beautiful as well! Stand under glistening snowflakes hung from the ceiling as you take in the city lights from the top of Beekman Tower.
The Beekman used to be a women-only club and hotel for sorority sisters in the 1920s and 30s. Today, it still keeps a lot of its Art Deco style. It’s a fun place to grab a drink in your holiday finery!
At this upscale bar, you can order inventive craft cocktails like the “Polaris express” or a “Caribbean old-fashioned”.
There are so many bars and restaurants in NYC to visit during Christmastime that it is impossible to get to them all in one season! Some others that are still on my list to visit are:
- Tavern on the Green: I hear this classic Central Park icon hosts an excellent brunch and beautiful Christmas lights.
- Watermark: I’ve been wanting to try this outdoor bar in South Street Seaport. They have individual glass houses in which you can stay cozy and warm while taking in views of the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Oscar Wilde NYC: Owned by the same folks who own Lillie’s Victorian Establishment, Oscar Wilde NYC is, of course, named for the famed playwright. The interior is also Victorian-themed and ornately decorated during the holidays.
I hope you are able to visit some of these beautifully decorated restaurants in NYC at Christmas! Come for the decorations and stay for the atmosphere (and the yummy treats).
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