There’s a reason why so many Christmas movies are set in New York (when they aren’t set in a quaint town upstate, of course)–it just has that holiday magic coursing through it. It has shows and shoppers, window displays, the tourist-packed rink and tree at Rockefeller Plaza, Union Square’s energetic Holiday market…the list goes on and on. So while you’re soaking up the essence of New York, we here at Crewfare recommend really doubling down on holiday cheer. Meet up with your besties at any of these locations, known for their holiday decorations, their Christmas spirit, and their Christmas Spirits.
Lillie’s Victorian Establishment
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Lillie’s has two locations–one in Times Square and one in Union Square–but in either location you can count on ornate Victorian excess. High ceilings, decorative columns, and all the walls bedecked with holiday garlands, wreaths and light. If you’re taking in a Broadway show, Lillie’s is a great place to grab delicious but not-too-expensive food on your way to or from the theater. If you’re down by Union Square, it’s still a great place to enjoy the elaborate displays and the joys of your best friends.
Photo courtesy of Yelp/Earnest C.
A Gramercy Park Ale House where you can play pool, watch sports, and take in all the racing and horse-themed decor gussied up for the holiday season. Paddy’s is a straightforward Irish Pub with a wide selection of beers, cider and spirits. A great place to toast to the holidays with your friends under the twinkle lights and boughs of holly, no reservation required. Pro-tip: even though they don’t have a kitchen, you can order food from nearby restaurants in case you get hungry.
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To say Papillon leans hard into the Christmas season in perhaps an understatement. Not content with just a few twinkle lights and a tree, Papillon transforms into a Christmas cavern, with every available surface and wall covered with tinsel, candy canes, stockings, and snowflakes. New York can feel so dark and cold this time of year, but Papillon brings back the warmth and the light, which makes it the perfect place to celebrate with friends over drinks or dinner. Papillon’s food is top notch and they have dedicated and attentive waitstaff, bringing that touch of holiday magic to an everyday gathering. Papillon is located in busy midtown, so make a reservation if you can!
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Rolf’s German Restaurant is positively dripping with holiday cheer–bright twinkle lights, garlands, ribbons, and Christmas ornaments are densely packed across the entire ceiling. You kind of feel like you’re inside the Christmas tree. This restaurant specializes in hearty German fare that is perfect for keeping you warm long after you have to leave a cozy meetup with friends and venture back into the cold. Located by Gramercy park, Rolfs is the perfect place to warm up after you finish up your gift shopping at the Union Square Holiday Market.
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Established in 1864, Pete’s Tavern is a bridge back in time through New York’s history. Its cozy booths and photo-bedecked walls are iconic any time of year, but during the holidays they are also adorned with Nutcracker displays, garlands, lights and general holiday cheer. Pete’s Tavern is a local spot in many ways, where you come with friends for a great burger and a beer, unfussy and focused on the important things–enjoying the holiday with your loved ones.
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Oscar Wilde seeks to channel the spirit of the famed playwright–clever, enjoying beauty, sophisticated and more than a little debaucherous. The bar and restaurant plays with Victorian maximalism–boasting NYC’s longest whisky bar, heavy wooden tables and cabinets, curios and patterned wallpaper. For the holidays they add homey Christmas touches, so it feels as though you’re walking into the happiest parts of A Christmas Carol. Oscar Wilde gets quite crowded and loud, which (in our opinion) amplifies the joy of a shared holiday drink or meal. While the Whiskey bar has obvious appeal, we also recommend trying any of the Gin and Tonics, all inspired by artists of Irish Descent (The Cranberries seem like particularly apropo drink inspo this time of year).