New Year's Eve and birthdays share the same curse: with high expectations comes a high chance of being disappointed. If you're looking to hedge your bets and ensure a nice dinner to celebrate the end of 2015, here are some options that can save you the indignity of waiting for hours outside a restaurant or bar because you forgot to snag a spot in advance. You can never be disappointed with complimentary champagne.
Bara: For a unique blend of flavors and cultures, check out this East Village French-Japanese fusion tavern's five-course tasting menu. Each course has symbolic meaning for the new year in either French or Japanese culture: salted sea bream will bring you success in 2016, while chestnuts will encourage you to reflect on the highs and lows of the past year. For $75 (with an optional $45 beverage pairing), enjoy chestnut egg custard, smoked fish omelette with creme fraiche, rooster stew, salted sea bream and cauliflower curry, and white miso pana cotta with rosemary. Each dish comes with a traditional Japanese table snack, and beverage pairings range from cider to sake. 58 East 1st St., 917-639-3197.
Bustan: This Mediterranean restaurant has been spicing up the Upper West Side's food scene since last year, and is introducing a new executive chef specializing in breads just in time for the New Year. For $75, enjoy a family-style menu full of items such as beefsteak tomato tart, taboon charred octopus, lamb terracotta, and raspberry champagne gelee. Toast 2016 with spicy apricot margaritas or lavender martinis (or, if that's just too out there, spring for a bottle of Baron Fuente Champagne Grande Reserve). 487 Amsterdam Avenue, 212-595-5050.
Cafe Mogador: This Saint Mark's Place restaurant will serve a special menu of Mediterranean and Moroccan food on New Year's Eve, offering delicious-sounding items such as homemade sage gnocchi, Moroccan seafood tagine, and flourless orange almond cake. The prix fixe menu runs at $60 for three courses; at the Williamsburg outpost, that's $70 and includes a glass of champagne. 101 Saint Marks Place, 212-677-2226.
Chefs Club (Navid Baraty/Gothamist)
Chefs Club: Treat yo self to a Food & Wine-approved New Year's at Chefs Club, where Ducasse-trained Didier Elena will conspire with a team of guest chefs to create Instagram-worthy dishes. Seatings are offered from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for a four-course meal that runs at $125 and features items like chestnut veloute with black truffle and champagne baba with lichee and pomegranate. For $228, you can buy your way into the second half of celebration after 8:30, during which Chefs Club will serve more dishes along with Cremant du Jura bubbly while a DJ spins you into the New Year. 275 Mulberry St., 212-941-1100.
El Original: Sing in the New Year with a live band at Rock Star Karaoke, hosted from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at this Hell's Kitchen Tex-Mex eatery. Advance tickets are $85 ($100 at the door), and include beer, wine, well drinks, and Tex-Mex small plates, as well as a midnight champagne toast. Get your tickets by emailing or calling 866-811-4111. 735 Tenth Avenue, 917-382-5512.
Kimoto Rooftop: Ring in the New Year at this Asian rooftop beer garden 25 stories up in Downtown Brooklyn. The menu features delicious items items such as roasted shishito peppers, Shibuya disco fries, and portabello sliders in soy marinade, and the outdoor (heated) terrace offers beautiful views of Brooklyn. Tickets range in price: just $21.49 gets you guaranteed entrance and complimentary midnight champagne, while $308.49 buys you a VIP table for 6, a bottle of liquor, two mixers, and three complimentary hors d'oeuvres. Tickets are on sale here. 216 Duffield St., 718-858-8940.
Roberta's square pizza at Humboldt & Jackson. (Facebook)
Humboldt & Jackson: This Williamsburg tasting room typically offers a selection of meats and cheeses alongside its extensive drink menu, but is upping the ante this New Year's, bringing in square pies from Roberta's and tacos from Oaxaca Taqueria. For $100, you'll get unlimited food; an open bar from 9 p.m. til midnight serving tap wine, tap beer, and cocktails; and a midnight champagne toast. The bar is cash-only after midnight, and DJs P.U.D.G.E. and The Hidden Hand will be spinning until 2 a.m. Buy tickets here. 434 Humboldt St., 718-349-3355.
Maya: The upscale Mexican restaurant and tequileria is offering two seatings on New Year's Eve, one from 5-7 p.m. for $69 and one from 8:30-10:30 p.m. for $99 (the latter includes a champagne toast). A mariachi band will offer a soundtrack to a meal consisting of zucchini flower and poblano quesadillas, chicken mole, and chocolate tres leches, while a separate drink menu offers a wide variety of margaritas and house-infused tequilas. The restaurant is also offering a bottomless brunch on New Year's Day: $45 for unlimited small plates and cocktails. 1191 First Avenue, 212-585-1818.
Semilla: The self-described "vegetable-forward" restaurant in Williamsburg is offering a special tasting menu with three seatings on New Year's Eve. The first two seatings will be $110, while the third will be $125 and includes a champagne toast (champagne is a vegetable, right?). The space only seats 18, so email quickly to reserve your spot. The menu won't be revealed in advance, but Semilla has been known to serve items such as beets with bone marrow and frothy beer and celery root soup. As the website warns: "come hungry." 160 Havemeyer St. No. 5, 718-782-3474.
Treadwell Park: For a less formal and prix-fixed experience, check out Treadwell Park, a new beer hall on the Upper East Side. Tickets start at $19 (and go up to $209 if bottle service and VIP entrance is more your speed), and the hall will be offering ping pong, pinball, and free popcorn. The location has a menu of 20 rotating beers and ciders, and will be also serving creative cocktails. For eats, there are hearty options ranging from bratwurst sausage to beef brisket and beer floats made with blue cheese and chocolate goat's milk ice cream. Whichever package you choose, you'll get a complimentary midnight glass of champagne and party favors. A percentage of proceeds will go to The Robin Hood Foundation, which fights poverty. Buy your tickets here. 1125 First Avenue, 212-832-1551.