Few nights send more people to restaurants than New Year's Eve. After all, who wants to wake up on New Year's Day to a sink full of dirty dishes, empty champagne glasses and who knows what on the rug? In addition, New Year's Eve is one of those nights restaurant staffs work as a point of pride. They're highly motivated to deliver a great experience to diners.
But knowing where to go can be tricky. After all, pretty much every high-end place in town will run special menus to celebrate. Consider the options below. They all offer delicious food, smooth service and reasonable value. All prices are independent of beverage, tax and gratuity.
Where: Free Press NYE Gastrodome
What: As part of the Free Press NYE concert, eight Houston restaurants will compete in the Gastrodome to demonstrate their twist on classic fair food. Uchi is serving hot dogs, Nara is bringing Korean rice dumplings and Lowbrow will have a twist on Hoppin' John. And George Clinton is playing, which is awesome.
Cost: $50 for a ticket to the event, food items priced $4 to $10
Where: The Pass & Provisions
What: Both of the restaurants under one roof are offering special New Year's Eve Menus. At The Pass, it's a nine-course extravaganza that includes plenty of champagne. At Provisions, there's a four-course prix fixe featuring some of the restaurant's signature dishes.
Cost: The Pass, $195; Provisions, $75.
What: Chef German Mosquera will serve his regular ala carte menu with a couple of special New Year's Eve additions: An amuse bouche of langoustine mushroom broth and smoked foie gras; an entree of langoustine browned in layla butter with Petrossian caviar aioli; dessert made with vintage 1990 Crystal champagne.
Cost: Varies by entree. Expect to spend about $100 per person plus tax and tip, depending on wine.
Where: Kris Bistro
What: The restaurant inside the Culinary Institute LeNôtre offers a five course menu of French classics with two seatings. Start with a selection of seafood, continue with beef tenderloin in bordelaise sauce and finish with classic crepes Suzette.
Where: Artisans Restaurant
What: Six courses of classic French favorites in one of Houston's most beautiful dining rooms. The menu includes foie gras torchon, beef and venison Wellingtons and a classic bouche de Noel.
What: The underrated Montrose seafood spot offers a three-course menu of familiar favorites. Start with a half dozen oysters on the half shell or one of Danton's signature gumbos. Entree options include a 14-ounce ribeye and grilled fish. Finish with white chocolate bread pudding, creme brulee or key lime pie.
What: This Houston institution will serve a three-course menu of Creole classics and provide some of the best service in Houston. Everyone starts with classic Hoppin' John for good luck before choosing from dishes such as turtle soup, asparagus salad, filet mignon, crabcakes and, of course, bananas Foster prepared tableside.
Cost: Varies by menu choice
Where: 60 Degrees Mastercrafted
What: No $200 burgers on the menu, but chef Fritz Gitschner's tenure at the Houston Country Club ensures he knows how to please a crowd. Both the early and late seatings feature a four-course menu with options that include lobster bisque and Dover sole, but the late seating also comes with live music and goes until 1 a.m.
Cost: $75 for the early seating, $115 for the late seating
Where: MKT Bar
What: This restaurant inside the Phoenicia grocery store downtown is moving the tables out and bringing a dance floor in on New Year's Eve. In addition to light bites and a champagne toast, revelers can groove to the melodic doo-wop sounds of Mad Maude and the Hatters as well as '60s soul, pop and rock 45s spun by DJ Tempty.
Cost: $30 in advance, $40 at the door.
What: The three-course menu at this wine bar/restaurant features foie gras torchon to start and butter poached lobster as an entree. Dance until midnight with DJ DelSur. Not hungry? Join in the party and still participate in the champagne toast.
Cost: $55 for dinner, $20 to party
What: The elegant restaurant will serve a five-course menu for seatings until 6:30 p.m. and an eight-course menu for seatings after 8 p.m. After dinner, stick around to hear DJ Sun spin starting at 10 p.m. and sip some of the 10 different champagnes that will be available by the glass.
Cost: $65 for five courses; $120 for eight.
Where: Sparrow Bar + Cookshop
What: Party with the Pope at this Midtown restaurant that always features the best locally-sourced ingredients. The four-course menu includes vanilla bean cured salmon, beef cheek tagine, Gruyere beignets, duck "sirloin" and much more.
Cost: $75 for the meal, add wine pairings for $30.
What: Hugo Ortega's newly launched Galleria seafood restaurant is already drawing raves. Feel ultra-trendy by going there right now.
Where: Brenner's on the Bayou
What: This elegant dining room provides the right setting for a top-notch celebration. The four-course menus breaks with the usual steakhouse fare by including lobster rolls, blackened duck breast and chestnut soup.
Where: The Hay Merchant
What: Keep is casual at this Montrose craft beer bar. Hay Merchant will run happy hour prices all night and will open a nine-liter bottle of Belgian beer St. Feuillien Triple. Champagne toast at midnight.
Cost: Varies by beer, food, etc.