UPDATED: Procrastinator's Guide To New Year's Eve Celebrations

Leslie Kelly
best holiday restaurants date night
You work too hard. Treat yourself to a night out on the town this holiday season.

What are you doing New Year's Eve? Still don't know?

Well, you're in good company. I'm one of those adrenalin junkies who likes to wing it on big going-out-on-the-town type holidays. So what if most of the tables at those special dinners listed below have already been booked up? If you've got a honey who's game or a group of buddies who feel comfortable rolling the dice on finding something good to eat/drink on this busy night, spontaneity can lead to some special memories. Last NYE, my date and I went appetizer/bar hopping, starting with slurping oysters at Blueacre and ending up crammed into a spot at the bar at Palace Kitchen, splitting a burger. Surf-and-turf.

There are scads of restaurants that don't take rezzies that make for terrific candidates for taking a shot at getting a table. The Palace for one. The Walrus and Carpenter. Dick's Drive-In. Linda's on Capitol Hill has got TJ Cowgill set to spin and there's no cover.

Still not comfortable with no plan? Well, early Monday morning, there were still more than 100 restaurants with availablity on OpenTable.com. Yes, even Altura. Though, that slot is at 9:30. But, so what? Take a disco nap before you head out.

Here are some additional options to chew over, though the pickings might be slim at this point:


Monsoon is offering a special four-course, multi-option meal on the final evening of 2012. (For the record, I would so start with the lobster congee, following by the grapefruit, jicama and watercress salad before diving into a main course of seared sea scallops with butternut squash and pickled radish. At that point, I might have to ask them to wrap up the dessert to go!) The festive feast is priced according to when you book a table: $60 during prime time between 6:30 and 8, and $48 before 6:30 or after 8. Book a table by calling 206-325-2111 or online

In the mood for something sweet? Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery is staying opening until 1 a.m. on 12-31, and rolling out its brand new five-layer smoked whiskey cake. The instant smash-hit butter beer, will also be served and sparkling wine will be available, too.

Ethan Stowell restaurants -- Rione XIII, Anchovies & Olives, Tavolata, How to Cook A Wolf, Staple & Fancy -- will offer special multi-course menus on New Year's Eve. Guests will have several options for each course. Check the Web site for the full scoop. Dinners will run between $65 and $75 per person and reservations are essential.


Blind Pig Bistro's chef Charles Walpole is going to lavish the whole menu treatment on all guests Dec. 31. For just $50, revelers can feast on 10-12 sharable dishes that are sure to make you so sated that you'll certainly want to buy a round of beer for the kitchen crew. Dinner service begins at 5. Reservations: 206-329-2744.


Chef Holly Smith is creating an eight-course meal for the occasion, a lavish spread available between 5:30 and 10:30 on the final evening of 2012. It's $135 before tax and tip. Wine pairings are offered at an additional charge.


Il Bistro will serve a special four-course menu for $85 that features various options for the antipasti, primi, secondi and dolce. Though it might be tough to choose because it all sounds so good. Reservations: 206-682-3049 or book online through OpenTable.com.


Hunger is focusing on the warm flavors of the Mediterreanean with its four-course menu that includes a smoked pork belly starter, a red wine braised chicken and a dessert sampler. New Year's Eve dinner is $100 a couple, with optional $25 wine pairings. Reservations: 206-402-4854.


My family has a tradition of starting the celebration early in the day, meeting up over dim sum. Nothing says Happy New Year like munching on an order of chicken feet! Check out this informative article in the Northwest Asian Weekly, a guide to some of the better known as well as a couple of off-the-radar spots in the ID.


James Beard award-winning chef Maria Hines is making her first restaurant, Tilth, a dining destination this holiday season. Open on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve from 5-10 p.m., guests can choose from all sorts of appetizers, entrees and desserts on a four-course menu for $85, excluding tax and tip. Oh, I’ll have the rabbit rillettes, chicken roulade, Snoqualmie Valley lamb ravioli and bourbon pecan pie please! Wine pairings are offered for an additional $40. Call 206.633.0801 to save a spot.


So many New Year's Eve celebrations come with hefty pricetags, but there's one that's absolutely free. It's the dance party at the Seattle Center Armory. Well, first you're probably want to get fueled up eating at one of the coolest food courts anywhere. Yes, there's Skillet Counter, Elanta Wood-Fired Bagels and Mod Pizza. Cover band extraordinaire Rhythm Nation starts at 8:30 and keeps on ticking until after midnight. This Winterfest party draws a wildly ecletic crowd, young and old. And did we mention? It's FREE! 

Lloydmartin is encouraging indulgence on New Year's Eve with Perigord truffles, lobster, foie gras, caviar and more. Chef/owner Sam Crannell will create a five-course dinner for $145, excluding tax and tip. Reservations required! Call 206.420.7602.

At Café Flora on December 31, each vegetarian dish served will be symbols of luck in the New Year. Diners will enjoy Asia long noodles, which signify a long life, along with lentils and collard greensboth lucky foods from the South. There will also be a nod to the Spanish New Year tradition of eating 12 grapes as the clock strikes midnight, as well as the Vietnamese tradition of offering kumquats and other citrus. Dinner is $50 per person; reservations required and run between 5:30-10 p.m. Add wine pairings for an additional cost. Call 206.325.9100 to reserve.