It's about that time of year so I'm rolling out my holiday guide once again for the Rockefeller Center/ Times Square Area.
NYC is a wonderful and magical place to visit around the holiday season. The Rockefeller Center tree is gorgeous, all the hotels are decked out in red and gold, holiday pop-up shops fill the parks- what could be better?
Unfortunately you have to be prepared for what I can only describe as controlled chaos. You will be wrangled like cattle to see the tree, stand in line at a Starbucks for 30 minutes, not for a caffeine fix but to use the single smelly bathroom and you’ll probably be so tired out from all of your shopping and touring that you’ll see a TGI Friday’s or Olive Garden and think it’s an oasis in the storm. Two hours later (because you’ll have to wait for a table like all of the other tourists who thought the line at McDonald’s and Subway were too long) you’ll wonder why the food and service were so crappy and suddenly your wallet is empty as well.
It’s the holidays in NYC folks and one must be prepared to weather the season. If you’re from the city you should know this and already be prepared but for you out of towners here’s a few holiday food recommendations to make your stay a little more jolly.
Family Meal - Bills Bar and Burger
The location only a block from the tree can’t be beat and the laid back friendly service, reasonable prices and awesome burgers pretty much seal the deal. They have a separate kids menu with tater tots and chicken fingers as well as vegetarian friendly options like fish taco’s and one of the city’s best veggie burgers. They also have cocktails, wine and an extensive beer list. Believe me you’ll need a drink after braving the tree crowds with the family. Oh and they take reservations!
Bills Burger Bar Review
Italian Steakhouse with a Twist- Quality Italian
The sprawling space overlooking 7th Avenue right by Central Park is the perfect place to spend an evening sipping on wine an enjoying some old fashioned Italian favorites done NYC style. The menu has items like Lobster Fra Diavlo rolls, Grilled Octopus and an enormous Chicken Parmigiana pizza that could almost feed a whole family.
Quality Italian Review
Upscale Meal- The Modern
Located inside the Modern Museum of Art this restaurant exudes both the arts and fine dining. Expect flawless French cuisine, an extensive wine and cocktail list and the impeccable service expected of all of Danny Meyers restaurants. Don’t skip the desserts which are just as delicious as they are beautiful.
The Modern Bar Room Review
Classic Steakhouse with a Twist- Quality Meats
Right around the corner from the Plaza Hotel this steakhouse creates the most delicious Steak Tartare I’ve had to date. Not that you need to have tartare, all the classic cuts of meat are there with delicious sides and whimsical desserts. The Twist? Although it’s certainly a steakhouse the ambiance is much softer and more refined than the old school joints. Imagine powering through a Porterhouse and still feeling elegant as you’re doing so- that’s Quality Meats for sure.
Quality Meats review
Cheap Adventurous Meal- Sake Bar Hagi
Hidden down some stairs right outside the madness of Rockefeller Center and Times Square is this cute little Izakaya. Don’t expect a quiet relaxed meal however- it’s loud, noisy and fun. Order some skewers of meat, yellowtail collar and a couple Sapporo’s and enjoy the experience. It’s great for groups but the space is tiny so head right when they open or expect a long wait for more than two people. They take your phone number and call when a table is available so head over to Jimmy’s Corner and have a couple drinks while you wait.
Sake Bar Hagi Review
For incredible baked goods head to Momofuku Milk Bar on 56th Street. This place has everything you could want in a bakery- cookies and cake, ice cream and pie, all done slightly over the top. Things like Crack Pie, Birthday Crack truffles and Cereal Milk Soft Serve are great for both children and adults. Take some home as a holiday gift that's sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Momofuku Milk Bar Review
Assorted Chocolate Treats Along the Way
Right in Rockefeller Center this little shop explodes with bright colors and little figurines all about Switzerland, but don’t forget about the chocolates. The truffles and pralines have a rich, creamy flavor.
La Maison du Chocolat
Just walking into La Maison you can tell at once that it’s a different level of chocolate shop. The well suited staff and trays of perfectly shaped ganaches and pralines almost make me feel like I’ve been transported to a fancy Parisian boutique. The Figaro is one of my favorite but don’t leave without trying out a pastry as well like the Romeo; a coffee chocolate macaron that is the perfect pick me up after a long day of shopping.
La Maison du Chocolat
Teuscher Fifth Avenue