Bid adieu to 2018 in style at these local restaurants and fabulous parties.
By Hannah J. Phillips
Now that Christmas is gone, that special time of year is here when no one knows what day of the week it is or what we’re supposed to be doing; all plans go out the window and everyone is sitting around in stretchy pants. Thankfully, New Year’s Eve is just around the corner, and we’ve rounded up the best restaurants and parties to help you send out 2018 in style. Warning: You may wish you could be in seven places at once.
Mattie’s at Green Pastures (a la carte)
Mattie’s may be the sweetest spot to kick off your New Year’s Eve festivities. In addition to the restaurant’s signature a la carte menu, diners can look forward to a special New Year’s sundae with vanilla-custard ice cream, bing-cherry ice cream, Momma’s fudgy brownie, brandy caramel, hot fudge and macadamia-nut brittle—and that is (literally) just the cherry on top. The special menu will also feature oysters on the half shell, Andouille-stuffed Texas quail and corn soufflé for starters, with grilled pork chop, roasted venison loin and pan-roasted cod for the main. Guests will receive a complimentary glass of sparkling wine, and don’t forget your photo opportunity with the famous peacocks on the historic grounds.
Celebrate the Italian way by gathering with friends and family for an unforgettable meal. And where better to gather than with the best Negronis in town, at Juniper? On this year’s prix-fixe menu, Chef Nicholas Yanes will serve up some specials with upgraded options to “ball out” by adding caviar or mouthwatering risotto bianco (carnaroli rice with white alba truffles and Parmesan). The fettuccini and burrata with Parmesan cream looks particularly enchanting, and the description alone of the chocolate ricotta cheesecake has us editing our New Year’s resolutions to include “Eat at Juniper more in 2019.” See the restaurant website to sneak a peek at the full prix-fixe menu and make a reservation.
A little farther east, celebrate at Contigo with an open bar, midnight Champagne and its signature charcuterie. Now in its eighth year, the Contigo New Year’s party is a staple favorite for those looking to celebrate on the more laid-back side of the spectrum. Tickets include a welcome cocktail and open bar (including a hot-toddy bar), while the buffet will feature shrimp cocktail, prime rib, roasted turkey breast and an assortment of farm-fresh sides and vegetables. Dance off desserts with a live DJ or gather by the fire before ringing in 2019 with a Champagne toast. And be sure to come back in the morning for recovery brunch.
For a themed party, don a mask and dress in your fanciest Parisian attire for Eberly’s Masquerade in Paris. This year’s three-part celebration is perfect for the partygoer that can’t quite make up her mind: In the Cedar Tavern, you’ll find paper faces on parade in the Masquerade Ball and French Circus Sideshow; recreate the Elephant Love Medley from Moulin Rougein the red-light-district-reminiscent Cannon Room; or let them eat cake in the study, which will feature a mesmerizing rendition of the Versailles Hall of Mirrors with music from DJ Andreas Santiago of Dapper Sounds. Sadly, sightings of Gerard Butler, Ewan McGregor and Kirsten Dunst are not guaranteed, but you’ll most likely be too consumed by the entertainment to notice. Admissionincludes complimentary drink tickets, endless hors d’oeuvres and a midnight glass of Champagne, plus the chance to win the best-dressed award.
If all-night tacos are your preferred New Year’s Eve party mode, head to Suerte. Created by Chef Fermín Núñez and his kitchen staff, dinner will begin with botanas (small bites), followed by nine delicious tacos. The menu features Suerte’s signature in-house masa tortillas, plus ingredients from local farmers and a few seasonal New Year’s Eve surprises. For an additional cost but zero regrets, a curated beverage pairing accompanies the tasting menu. After dinner, head down the street to Whisler’s for dancing, winter cocktails, a midnight Champagne toast and no cover.
You can always count on South Congress Hotel for a good time, and New Year’s Eve will be no exception. Start the evening with dinner at Central Standard or Café No Se, which will both stay open late to accommodate the New Year’s Eve rush. Parties of more than four will receive complimentary Champagne at Central Standard, while Café No Se will serve a special Champagne pour-over throughout dinner service. Live music in the courtyard starts at 9 p.m., featuring Los Coast and several Austin DJs. The party is free and open to the public, but to start 2019 on the same high note you ended 2018, the hotel is offering 15 percent off overnight stays with promo code nyeatsch.
If you prefer to party hop, make South Congress Avenue your hub. Head to Hotel San Jose’s Pink Armadillo-themed party, a Texas twist on the Dancing Pink Elephants on Parade from the Disney movie Dumbo. If you recall that especially psychedelic scene with Technicolor pachyderms, be prepared for an equally memorable night at San Jose. Its Champagne tour is the stuff of legends, and guests can enjoy tunes from DJ Markus. The party is free to attend from 8 p.m. to midnight, with a complimentary Champagne toast at midnight.
Plan your transportation wisely
If you are party hopping this year, be sure to plan ahead. As an alternative to notorious New Year’s Eve surge prices (and chatty drivers) on ride-sharing apps, check out Car2Go. When you sign up as a member ahead of time (Registration processes within one to two business days.), you can pay by the minute and park anywhere in the Austin home area for an easy one-way trip. Members do not pay monthly fees, insurance, parking, fuel or maintenance, and Austinites have the option to rent a Mercedes-Benz CLA/GLA for an especially grand entrance on New Year’s Eve. (Through Jan. 6, Car2Go is also offering special holiday pricing on one- to three-day packages).