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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Where to Eat (and Drink) on New Year's Eve

Posted By on Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 12:00 PM

If you're still navigating all the holiday parties and dreading the possibility of a delayed flight for travel on or around Dec. 25, don't forget that there's still another holiday to plan immediately afterward. Mercifully, the Bay Area's galaxy of restaurants has made the planning easy. Here's where you can have a Sweet '16.

Cliff House
The westernmost restaurant in San Francisco (probably) will ring in the new year with sweet and savory hors d'oeuvres, party favors, and a Champagne toast at midnight, in a jazzy Deco atmosphere with music by DJ Eric from Spintronix. It's $55 in advance, $75 at the door, and it sold out last year, so get on it. (9:30 p.m. - 1:30 a.m.)

The Advocate
While Berkeley's Comal has a dance party, its sister restaurant The Advocate will be open regular hours on New Year's Eve, so you can pre-game on a celebratory menu of rotisserie prime rib with Sangiovese-marrow butter and crispy spigarello salad, or shrimp on the plancha with almonds, preserved lemons and mint.

The Boxing Room
Hayes Valley's Boxing Room has a $63/person New Year's Eve prix fixe with an optional wine pairing. The swampy, Southern menu includes Louisiana crawfish pie, a black truffle cavatelli with Louisiana blue crab, and Bananas Foster.

Virgil's Sea Room
For the third year in a row, the La Lengua bar will draw everyone who loves '60s soul. DJ's Paul Paul, Lucky, and Phengren Oswald will join DJ Carnita from 9 p.m. - 2 am., with the traditional Fernet Branca toast at midnight. And it's only $5!

In America, we wear Dame Edna-style glasses with "2016" framing our eyeballs, but in Spain, people eat 12 grapes at midnight with each toll of the bell. Aatxe's five-course, $95 tasting menu reflects this, with lots of grape-y pintxos, like ajo blanco raw scallops with pickled green grapes, and even a clever use of 'grape nuts cereal. 

The brand-new Mint Plaza restaurant will have a five-course, $100/person family-style dinner (with $75 wine pairing) including Dungeness crab, a foie gras terrine, monkfish, and chocolate mousse.

With seatings at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., Cockscomb's $110 prix fixe gives you plenty of time to digest and wait behind a velvet rope at the club of your choice. Each course comes with a number of choices, giving you flexibility to choose among a foie gras torchon, sunchoke soup, goose breast a la orange, pork belly with clams, and a branzino with sea urchin. 

There's New Year's Eve, and then there's The Last Feast of Tonalli in the Year of the Aztec Blood Moon. If you'd rather do the latter for a change, Calavera's Chef Christian Irabien has an a la carte menu including a Blood Moon Punch, bistec asado for two, and mar y montaña tacos. Additionally, Calavera will have two special dishes: martini and caviar, and foie and huckleberries. The bar stays open until 2 a.m., with a DJ and dancing starting up at 10:30.

Roka Akor
The Jackson Square Japanese restaurant has booked jazz artist Aspen Jordan starting at 9 p.m., and better yet is the comparatively inexpensive late-night menu of yellowtail sashimi, yuzo miso marinated black cod wrapped in a Japanese magnolia leaf, and a six-inch cut of Wagyu sirloin. The three courses are only $58, and pair well with Roka Akor's shochu infusions.

MINA Test Kitchen
The Little Italy pop-up at MINA Test Kitchen is going all out for a $125, family-style feast including burrata zeppola, a frutti di mare, insalata of roasted squash, veal saltimbocca, and mint chocolate tartufo. There's an optional wine pairing and a $95 supplement of whole-roasted turbot with beuga lentils and black truffles. For a test kitchen, that's pretty polished.

El Techo and Lolinda
Trade in your Champagne toast for a tequila version at El Techo, where heat lamps and windscreens will keep you warm several stories above the Mission. Empanadas, octopus and potato pinchos, and mini braised beef arepas will keep your belly full as you await 2016, Pisco Punch in hand. For the first time, El Techo is partnering with Lolinda downstairs for a family-style Argentine meal, 7:30-9 p.m, with ribeyes, pork chops, churros, and more. Tickets to El Techo are $125, and it's $160 for the combination.

Citizen Fox
Although it's not formally open yet as a full-time restaurant, Mission vegan joint Citizen Fox will serve saffron arancini, a sunchoke salad, bucatini tossed in Umbrian Tartufo sauce, and a chocolate huckleberry cheesecake from 6-10 p.m. on New Year's Eve. Want a prix-fixe? It's only $50. 

If you want to eat well but also eat like an old-school San Franciscan, consider A16's $110 Southern Italian feast with cioppino and baked cannelloni. There is an optional wine pairing as well as a truffle supplement.

SoMa cocktail bar Novela will be going full on 007. DJ Walt Liquor will be spinning retro classics as patrons in black tie dress sip on martinis and cocktails like the Miss Moneypenny (mulling spices, Drambuie, pear, lemon, honey, and vodka), plus special reserve whiskeys. The $40 admission includes two drinks and easy access to a midnight balloon drop, a Champagne toast, and party favors. 

If you're a caviar connoisseur, you'd best go to the place that does it right: Farallon. With a $160, five-course caviar and truffle tasting menu ($90 for wine pairing), the Union Square restaurant embodies midnight decadence. Additional tasting menus are available in the dining room and at the Jelly Bar, including items like a cauliflower panna cotta, seared Maine diver scallop, and that most glamorous of cocktails, the French 75.

Central Kitchen

If a six-course tasting menu you seek, look no further than Chef Thomas McNaughton's $125 roster of California sturgeon, caviar, matsutaki mushroom and sunflower porridge, beef with sunchoke fonduta, and more. Wine pairings begin at $75/person.

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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