How to Celebrate New Year's Eve in NYC Without Spending a Ton of Money

Published On 12/27/2016 Published On 12/27/2016
Sara Norris/Thrillist

New Year’s in New York can be stressful. Not only do you have to decide what to do, who to do it with, and how you’re going to get there with the inevitably obscene Uber surge and lack of cabs, but finding an NYE party that’s actually affordable can seem impossible. While sitting on your couch in PJs with takeout may seem tempting for the night of December 31st, we’ve scoured the city for some of the coolest New Year’s Eve experiences that a) don’t cost more than $100 and b) will actually let you have fun ringing in 2017 -- even during that dreaded countdown at midnight. Well, maybe.

Travel back to the ‘70s at a Boogie Nights dance party

Price: $50
If you’d rather go back in time than move into 2017, head to Videology where you can boogie your way through the music of the ‘70s and ‘80s before the inevitable future sets in. Costumes are encouraged and Champagne will be served at midnight.

Courtesy of Chumley's

Have a burger and a bottle at Chumley’s

West Village
Price: $100
The recently reincarnated speakeasy will celebrate yet another year of legal drinking with a burger and a bottle special that includes a Chumley’s 86’d Burger (topped with secret sauce and crispy shallots), fries, and a half bottle of Champagne (Bollinger Special Cuvee) -- which is really all you need, right? The à la carte food and drink menu will be available as well.

Get a head start on your resolutions with a midnight run

Upper West Side/Central Park
Price: $45-65 (depending when you register)
Get on those New Year’s resolutions as soon as the clock strikes midnight; that’s when the New York Road Runners will kick off their 4 mile run across Central Park as fireworks sparkle in the air. For those who need the extra nudge to exercise, a pyrotechnic display is a good incentive. Volunteers are also needed for those who are anti-running.

Enjoy an open bar at Gun Hill Tavern

Port Morris, Bronx
Price: $80
This new gastropub from the owners of Gun Hill Brewing Company will host an $80 open bar from 9pm to midnight, which includes beer, wine, well drinks, a Champagne toast, and an unlimited food buffet (so you forget all your anxieties about what 2017 may bring by stuffing yourself with spicy wings).

Evan Sung

Drink 40s and eat fried chicken at Hail Mary

Price: $40
Get nostalgic for a simpler time at Hail Mary’s pastel-hued Brooklyn diner, which will be doing a fried chicken feast including chicken skin dressed salad, biscuits with giblet gravy, chicken fat minced meat pies, and fried chicken with fixin’s, all served with gold-wrapped 40s, so you can chase down all that chicken with some fancied-up malt liquor.

Dance to old-school hip-hop

Midtown East
Price: $95 (and up)
Literally no one wants to admit that we’re moving further away from the ‘90s, so head to The Cannibal where you can forget post-millennium life and dance to ‘80s and ‘90s classics while eating burgers, wings, Reuben egg rolls, and unlimited raw bar offerings like oysters and shrimp cocktail. Be sure to queue up your Boomerang app to capture your whiskey shots from the bone marrow luge.

Travel through space and time at BangOn!’s NYE party

Secret Brooklyn warehouse
Price: $60 and up
Dance and drink your way through space and time with this party that promises to rage from 6pm to 6am on New Year’s morning with food vendors and interactive performances, fire breathers, aerialists, zip line performances, and much more keeping you entertained until daybreak. If you wanted an untraditional party to usher in 2017, this is it.

Guang Xu

Have an osechi dinner at Bessou

Price: $50, $15 additional for sake
Eat a traditional Japanese new year’s meal at this cozy Downtown restaurant, which will have special seatings at 7:30 and 9pm. Celebratory and symbolic dishes will include broiled sea bream (which brings luck), salt-grilled shrimp (for a long life), sweet potatoes with chestnuts (for wealth and financial success), and many more comforting and inspiring Japanese dishes.

Left Bank

Treat yourself to a festive French dinner at Left Bank

West Village
Price: $65 for three courses from 5pm-7:30pm, $85 for four courses after 8pm
Decked out with streamers and festive decor, this dim-lit Downtown bistro is the perfect place to strap on a sparkly hat and dig into charcuterie and cheese, homemade tagliatelle with bolognese, and crispy iron-roasted split chicken. To welcome in 2017, a 3ft-tall croquembouche (think donut hole tower covered in honey) will be paraded around the restaurant for everyone to share.

Listen to swing music at The Wayland

Alphabet City
Price: $10
It’s just 10 bucks to get into beloved Alphabet City cocktail spot The Wayland, which will have Western swing band The Brain Cloud playing live music from 9pm until midnight. In addition to food and drink specials, there will also be a complimentary Champagne toast to ring in the New Year.

Joey Wehner

Hit the open bar at Sweet Afton

Price: $75
Astorians don’t need to leave the neighborhood to celebrate the new year in style. This neighborhood bar will be hosting a party starting at 9pm which will include an open bar with beer, wine, and legit cocktails including Old Fashioneds and Manhattans (it will be too easy to drink your money’s worth... ), along with pub food like fried pickles, sliders, grilled cheese, fries, and more. Proceeds from the party will go to poverty relief organization Concern Worldwide, so you can feel good about drinking the night away.

Head to the Greatest New Year’s Eve Party Ever

Price: $40-$80
Forget the ball drop -- a ball pit drop will ring in 2017 at the Brooklyn Bazaar’s quirky NYE event, complete with a musical performance by Titus Andronicus along with additional artists and DJs throughout the night. Shred a paper with your worst memory (or multiple) of 2016 for an angsty confetti-throw at midnight and make new year’s great again.

Jon Bilous/shutterstock

Participate in a New Year’s Eve bike ride

Various meeting points
Price: Free
Hop on your bike, unicycle, or rollerblades to join in on this annual bike ride hosted by Time’s Up. The ride will cross the Williamsburg Bridge and venture through Washington Square Park and Madison Square Park before the midnight finale at Belvedere Castle (feel free to make that your only destination, via subway) for a dance party. Bring a flask.

DW labs Incorporated/shutterstock

Scarf down the end of an era at Carnegie Deli

Midtown West
Price: Depends on what you order, but a hot pastrami sets you back $19.99
Carnegie Deli closes its door forever at midnight on December 31st, so bundle up to wait in what will inevitably be a long, long line for your very last Carnegie pastrami sandwich. Grab a knish and slice of cheesecake to go to make it last until 2017.

Eat like royalty at Sunday in Brooklyn

Price: $100 for two
It’s Sunday, you’re in Brooklyn, and you’re ringing in 2017 with a festive seafood feast -- a special wood-roasted lobster with mussel butter and lobster raclette custard will be served to share, and a Pét-Nat toast will take place at midnight.


See a movie at iPic

South Street Seaport
Price: $28 for Premium Plus tickets
If you’re looking for something low-key (but still indulgent) settle in at this fancy new movie theater, where you can watch movies while drinking prosecco ($12) and Champagne ($17), and eating Baked Alaska ($8) from your premium reclining seat.

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Melissa is a writer based in NYC who stayed inside and ordered Seamless last New Year’s Eve. It was great.

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1. Sunday In Brooklyn 348 Wythe Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249 (Williamsburg)

It just may be possible to spend an entire Sunday in Brooklyn at this three-story Williamsburg culinary complex housed in the former Isa space. From veterans of Eleven Madison Park, Catch, and Sadelle's, Sunday in Brooklyn combines a market, bar, coffeehouse, and sit-down restaurant into one all-day spot. Chef Jaime Young (Atera) helms the kitchen of the second-floor dining room, where the modern American menu follows a no-waste principle and focuses on smoked fish, fermented vegetables, and freshly baked bread. In the first-floor marketplace, you'll find many of the unconventional ingredients from the chef's pantry for sale.

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2. Videology 308 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249 (Williamsburg)

Williamsburg's Videology is a gathering place for film buffs and drinkers to commingle in a non-traditional movie theater format. With a full bar in the front that leads to a 40-seat screening room -- filled with tables, chairs, and shelves lined with VHS tapes -- Videology is the kind of place you go to drink a pint and watch a film from the Hollywood canon (no of-the-moment blockbusters here). The packed programming schedule includes everything from Lord of the Rings marathons and screenings with live scorings to Twin Peaks and Wes Anderson bingo.

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3. Chumley's 86 Bedford St, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

The beloved West Village speakeasy, known for its literary following since 1922, is in its second incarnation after being felled in 2007 by a fallen chimney. Don’t expect a clone though: restaurateur Alessandro Borgognone of Sushi Nakazawa turned it into a full-scale restaurant with an upscale edge that's most obvious in the food and drink. The menu features elegant takes on American classics, like a burger made with bone marrow and fried chicken with cognac consommé. There are hints of the past in the decor, though, with black-and-white photos of the writerly cats who frequented the old joint, like F. Scott Fitzgerald, and book jackets from their famous novels.

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4. Gun Hill Tavern 780 E 133rd St, Bronx, NY 10454 (Bronx)

At Gun Hill Tavern, a celebrated Bronx brewer and distiller fulfills its highest purpose: providing a space of its own for people to eat and drink… and drink some more. The industrial-feeling tavern is larger and better equipped than the taproom at Gun Hill's Williamsbridge production house, and is augmented by beers from nearby partner, Port Miller Distillery. A horseshoe-shaped bar is outfitted with 20 draft lines, 14 of which pour the brewer's own labels. The food and drink go hand-in-hand: weekend brunches are beer-filled, and the brand's whiskey is used to spice up bowls of ice cream -- how else would a distiller do dessert?

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5. Hail Mary 68 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222

From husband and wife culinary duo Hisham and Sohla Wel-Waylly, this Greenpoint restaurant is reimagining the classic American diner in an upscale but laid-back way. Aside from classics like bacon and eggs, an American cheese-topped burger, and a turkey club, the menu features more experimental dishes like duck hearts and spaghetti with uni butter. The 74-seat space includes an old-school soda fountain area up front. You'll know you're in the right place when you see the painting of two Virgin Marys wearing diner hats at the entrance.

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6. The Cannibal 113 E 29th St, New York, NY 10016 (Murray Hill)

This cozy, low-key spot is tiny on the inside, with only wooden stools and metal counters for seating, but opens up to a heated patio with an additional 40 seats. The meat-heavy menu focuses on tapas-style plates and charcuterie with remarkable exceptions like an entire pig's head. The beer and wine menu is extensive and includes a broad range of both domestic and European options. Refrigerators full of beer bottles line one wall, and patrons are invited to pluck their choices right out. This is a great date spot as long as neither of you are into the whole veggie-only thing.

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7. Bessou 5 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012 (Noho)

Japanese comfort food gets the New York treatment at Bessou, which translates roughly to "second home" in Japanese. After working for contemporary artist Takashi Murakami, owner Maiko Kyogoku was inspired to share her own love of Japan's culture with food, instead of art, as her medium. The menu is a conglomeration of Kyogoku's Upper West Side upbringing as a child of first-generation immigrants, and much of the recipes are influenced by her mother's cooking. Expect homestyle fusion dishes like scallion pancakes with tofu aioli, cold udon noodles with an assortment of tempura, and Japanese fried chicken.

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8. Left Bank 117 Perry St, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

It’s appropriate that this pan-European bistro from the team behind The Mermaid Inn and The Red Cat bears the name of Paris' Left Bank neighborhood: its West Village locale has the same once-bohemian, now-upscale air as the artsy, gallery-laden streets near the Seine. This isn't strict brasserie food though -- Italian and French flavors mingle in dishes like bacon-tossed scallops, Bolognese tagliatelle, and a burger with fontina cheese and caramelized onions. The calm neighborhood atmosphere and a rotating collection of modern artworks (curated by a friend of the owners) beg you to linger as you slowly sip your wine.

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9. Sweet Afton 30-09 34th St, Astoria, NY 11103 (Astoria)

Sweet Afton steps into the neighborhood bar role on Astoria's 34th Street with an old-turned-new feel accentuated by mismatched chairs, recycled tables, and a bar made out of shipping crates. Local beers and whiskeys please locals who come by in the evenings, as does a menu of reliable comfort foods like mac & cheese, deep-fried Brooklyn pickles, and Pat LaFrieda burgers with state-made bacon. Sweet Afton rises above simple beer bar status with a buzzy cocktail line-up, among which the spicy The Monarch (with tequila mezcal, pineapple, and lime) is a standout.

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10. Brooklyn Night Bazaar 165 Banker St, Brooklyn, NY 11222 (Greenpoint)

It's impossible not to find something you're into at Brooklyn Night Bazaar, a flea market/restaurant/concert venue mash-up housed in a 15,000sqft space right off the Manhattan Ave G stop in Greenpoint. Once a Polish catering hall, the three-floor building now has an Art Deco sensibility with multiple performance spaces, wacky carpeting, and mirror-plated walls. An onsite bar and restaurant churns out fried chicken and cocktails, sating shoppers on the hunt for vintage goods and local crafts. Don't come without a trip to the basement where karaoke, arcade games, ping-pong, and mini-golf complete the funhouse experience.

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11. Carnegie Deli 854 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019 (Midtown West)

Carnegie Deli is a city food landmark in Midtown West that can get a little clogged with tourists (and New Yorkers, if we're being honest), but is still well worth your time. Pick up the half-pastrami, half-corned beef Woody Allen, which was named in the director's honor after he featured the deli as the backdrop in Broadway Danny Rose. Pair your sandwich (on rye, always on rye) with pickles and matzoh ball soup and you're golden... and incredibly full.

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12. iPic Theaters at Fulton Market 11 Fulton Street, New York, NY 10038 (Financial District)

iPic Theaters offers one of the most over-the-top indulgent movie-going experiences in New York. The deluxe megaplex features eight screening rooms, where premium seats are synonymous with La-Z-Boy recliners and lobster rolls, filet mignon sliders, and unlimited popcorn replace king-size bags of M&Ms and the slightly stale, artificially colored popcorn of traditional movie theaters. Wines-by-the-glass and entire shakers of cocktails round out of the beverages, and all food and drink is served to your seat by discrete staffers throughout the flick. That's only if you opt for first-class seating though -- less prime seats are available and though they're still cushy, you'll have to buy your own snacks at the concession counter (an unimaginable burden).



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