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Ultimate New York Holiday Guide

Here, star New York chefs reveal the city’s best places to visit during the holidays, from a historic Harlem theater with gospel music to the top spot for Christmas-day Chinese food.

Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Jean-Georges: Christmas Entertainment at the Apollo

“If family comes into New York from Europe, they always want to listen to gospel, either at The Apollo or at a church in Harlem. Going to church in Europe is very boring; nobody makes any noise, it’s very austere. At many Harlem churches they dance and chant. I probably would have gone to church more often growing up if they had played music.” apollotheater.org

Daniel Boulud, Restaurant Daniel: Roberta’s for Brunch

“For brunch it’s fun to go to Brooklyn. Last time my parents were here—they’re 84 and in great shape—I took them to Roberta’s. Perhaps the best moment was when my father noticed the pizza oven. At home in France, since he retired as a farmer, we turned the chicken coop into a pool area with a big pool house and a wood oven to make pizza. At Roberta’s, my father spent half an hour watching the cooks, to see how they made pizza and to see what else they cooked in there. He was passionately interested in that.” robertaspizza.com

Tom Valenti, Ouest: Chinese Food at Shun Lee West

“This restaurant is enormously popular, especially for those who don’t celebrate the Christmas holiday. They have a restaurant dining room as well as a café where they serve dim sum. Their dim sum is well liked, but my wife and I are both creatures of habit, and have always gone to the dining room. It’s horribly gaudy but that’s part of the fun; this 100-foot-long dusty dragon looking down on you as you eat. We always get the pickled pig’s kidney. I don’t even know how they prepare it, I don’t want to know, but it’s fantastic. From there I just take the lead from the waiters or manager about whatever they think is good.” shunleewest.com

Myers of Keswick
Photo courtesy of Myers of Keswick.

April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig:
English Specialties at Myers of Keswick

“You can pick up anything English there: mince pies, potato crisps, and any kind of English condiment. If you want some sausages for breakfast for Christmas morning, theirs are delicious and classically English. They also have really nice bacon. I like to get my Christmas pudding there, and they also have Christmas pies.” myersofkeswick.com

Union Square Greenmarket
Photo courtesy of GrowNYC.

Floyd Cardoz, North End Grill:
Holiday Essentials at Union Square Greenmarket

“They have the wreaths, the dried flowers and all the foods that you want to serve, everything you associate with the season.” grownyc.org

Karen DeMasco, Locanda Verde: Ornaments at ABC Carpet & Home

“I love to check out the beautiful decorations here. I could spend so much time in there looking around at all the tiny details. It’s expensive, but we usually will get one or two Christmas ornaments as a special treat.” abchome.com

Scott Conant, Scarpetta: Cocktails at King Cole Bar

“Obviously you can’t go to New York in the holidays and not stop at the St. Regis’s King Cole Bar. It just gives such a sense of arrival, and it’s got such a festive environment, yet it’s still darkly lit, it’s got a nice feeling of the holidays.” kingcolebar.com

Matt Lewis, Baked Brooklyn: German Christmas at Rolf’s

“I love to take people to this overly decorated German restaurant on the East Side. The food is OK, but they go over the top with the Christmas scene. It’s very tongue in cheek, but I get the sense they take it very seriously. It’s a good-natured place and everybody has a good time.” rolfsnyc.com

Marcus Samuelsson, The Red Rooster: Late-Night Adventure in Koreatown

“You’ve got to go to K-Town, Koreatown, for some karaoke and kimchi. I’d suggest a place but part of the point is to get lost in translation—to end up at some random karaoke joint where they tell you ‘fourth floor, on the left, booth No. 29!’ Nothing beats being a foreigner in the city where you live. You discover something about your own home.”

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