I love roaming around New York City during the holiday season. During that time, the city feels so warm and cozy. The twinkling lights, festive decorations, and joyful atmosphere make it a perfect time to create lasting memories with loved ones. 

One of the best ways to experience the holiday spirit is by dining at one of the city’s many festively decorated restaurants.

Here are the 10 best holiday restaurants in NYC for families. 

1. Rolf’s German Restaurant

Rolf’s Bar and Restaurant

Rolf’s Bar and Restaurant

If you’re looking for a restaurant that goes all out for Christmas, go to Rolf’s German Restaurant. This Gramercy Park establishment is famous for its over-the-top Christmas decorations that stay up all year round. The restaurant has over 200,000 lights inside. Also, most of the decor is vintage. 

According to Business Insider, Rolf’s spends an estimated $60,000 annually on its holiday decor, which includes thousands of sparkling lights, ornaments, icicles, and even creepy Victorian-era dolls.

While the decorations are undoubtedly the main attraction, Rolf’s also offers a traditional German menu with kid-friendly options like schnitzel and bratwurst, ensuring that there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

2. Tavern on the GreenTavern on the Green

Located near Central Park’s Strawberry Fields, Tavern on the Green is a great location for a family holiday meal. This iconic restaurant hosts an annual Christmas Tree Lighting event with complimentary treats and drinks, live music, and a performance by the Manhattan Holiday Carolers.

It was originally a sheepfold in the 1880s. Later, in 1934, Robert Moses turned it into a restaurant. After a hiatus in 2009, the city selected new owners, Jim Caiola and David Salama, who reopened the restaurant in 2014. They revamped the restaurant with inviting décor reminiscent of its origins.

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In addition to its festive ambiance, Tavern on the Green offers a range of menus, including a dedicated children’s menu, ensuring that even the pickiest eaters in your family will find something to their liking.

3. Pete’s TavernPete's Tavern

Pete’s Tavern is NYC’s oldest continuously operating bar and restaurant, established in 1864. Built in 1851, Pete’s Tavern began as the Portman Hotel’s “grocery and grog store” in 1864. It was renamed “Healy’s Café” in 1899, and it acquired its current name when it was purchased by Peter D’Belles in 1922.

Pete’s Tavern maintains its original fixtures, including a forty-foot rosewood bar, tin ceiling, and tile floor, offering a glimpse into New York City’s history. Just perfect for the holiday effect. 

But that’s not all – this historic establishment has a literary connection as well. It’s alleged that writer O. Henry wrote his famous short story “The Gift of the Magi” (one of the greatest Christmas stories of all time) at Pete’s Tavern. While you’re there, be sure to try their homemade eggnog and explore the kid-friendly menu options.

4. Papillon Bistro and BarPapillon Bistro & Bar

Papillon Bistro and Bar is located just a short walk from the famous Rockefeller Christmas Tree. Papillon Bistro & Bar is situated in the vibrant neighborhood of Midtown Manhattan, on 54th Street, close to Central Park, the Museum of Modern Art, and renowned shops on 5th Avenue. It is a perfect stop during the holiday season. The restaurant is covered from floor to ceiling in decorations, including giant animatronic teddy bears, larger-than-life ornaments, garlands, and more.

Papillon Bistro and Bar offers a festive dining experience that both adults and children can enjoy. They have a varied menu suitable for all family appetites, including kid-friendly options.

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5. Frosty’s Christmas Bar

Frosty’s Christmas Bar is a seasonal pop-up that’s back for every holiday season. They offer a unique and immersive experience for families. In addition to seasonal cocktails, Frosty’s features interactive holiday photo experiences, festive lights, and music, creating a truly magical atmosphere.

While the bar area is strictly for guests 21 and over, the dining portion of the experience, Bacall’s, allows all ages, making it a great option for families looking to soak up the holiday spirit together.

6. Smith & Wollenskysmith and wollensky nyc

If you’re in the mood for a truly unique holiday dining experience, look no further than Smith & Wollensky. As part of its annual tradition, this famous steakhouse transforms itself into the “city’s largest Christmas gift” by wrapping the exterior in a massive red bow from Thanksgiving through the beginning of the new year.

While Smith & Wollensky doesn’t offer a dedicated kids’ menu, its portions are generous, making it easy for families to share dishes. And what could be more festive than dining inside a giant present? Regardless, they have a few must-try exotic foods on their menu. 

7. Oscar WildeOscar Wilde NYC

The restaurant and bar Oscar Wilde is victorian-inspired. They take its holiday decorations to the next level. Inspired by the Irish playwright, Oscar Wilde showcases antique treasures, including pieces from Hope Castle, stained glass from Milan, and Victorian chairs from Mexico.

During the holidays, the restaurant is covered from head to toe in festive decor, creating a truly immersive experience. While Oscar Wilde doesn’t have a dedicated kids’ menu, the brunch menu offers a nice variety of options, and the high-top tables make it a suitable choice for families.

8. 230 Fifth Rooftop Igloos230 Fifth Rooftop Igloos

The Igloos are located at the 230 Fifth Rooftop, the largest rooftop in NYC. It is a perfect place for families to eat. Made of plastic and PVC pipe, each igloo has colorful party lights, tables, and chairs. The whole vibe provides a warm and festive escape from the chilly winter weather.

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While the igloos can’t be reserved in advance, they’re first-come, first-served. And don’t worry – guests under 21 are welcome to visit with their parents, except during specific evening hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

9. The Lodge Bar + Food HallThe Lodge Bar + Food Hall

The Lodge Bar + Food Hall is a casual eatery located in Bryant Park’s Winter Village. They offer stunning views of the famous ice rink and tree, providing a festive backdrop for your family meal.

Separate food counters offer everything from sandwiches and sweet treats to a s’mores station. There’s something to satisfy every craving. And what could be more magical than a warm, gooey s’more while taking in the holiday sights and sounds of Bryant Park?

10. Lafayette Grand Café & Bakery

Lafayette Grand Café & Bakery

Lafayette Grand Café & Bakery is billed as “an everyday grand café and bakery in ceremony of French cooking”.  The whole place is filled with an inviting holiday vibe with large Christmas wreaths and garlands strewn throughout the space. But it’s not just the decorations that make this NoHo eatery a standout – its delicious holiday desserts, like lemon meringue tart, are sure to delight the whole family.

In addition to its festive ambiance and sweet treats, Lafayette Grand Café & Bakery’s proximity to nearby holiday markets in NYC makes it a convenient stop for families looking to soak up the holiday spirit in the city.

Conclusion

With so many festive and family-friendly dining options in New York City, the holiday season is the perfect time to create lasting memories with your loved ones. These 10 best holiday restaurants offer something for every family’s taste and budget.

Before you decide on a restaurant, research timings, reservations, and menus that fit all of your family members. Happy dining! 

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