NYC Cold-Weather Dining Survival Guide

By James Mulcahy  |  January 6, 2014

The sub-zero temperatures that have hit NYC are no excuse to stay in. Sure, you can hunker down for a few days during a cold snap, but eventually, you're going to have to head out. And once you're ready to come out of hibernation, NYC bars and restaurants are ready to oblige with cozy environments, hearty food and a hot toddy or two. Check out our guide to surviving the arctic blast below.

  • Cold-Weather Dishes

    There's nothing like a hearty cassoluet when it's frigid outside, and this week Alain Ducasse is obliging with a special version of the one-pot meal at his French bistro Benoit. Available for lunch and dinner through January 12 for $49 a head, the white bean stew of pork and duck comes with gougères, a country salad and family-style tarte tatin.

    Earthy black truffles really hit the spot during the cold months, especially when they are worked into soup dumplings like at West Village Chinese RedFarm. $20 gets you two dumplings, and they'll be featured on the menu through the end of the season, which is usually around March. Bushwick newcomer 1 Knickerbocker has a menu that takes inspiration from the dishes that were popular during the NYC of the early 20th century, and you'll see the influence of that era's immigrant population on the menu, which features hearty cold-weather-friendly offerings like roast elk with spaetzle, chestnut and red cabbage, and smoked sablefish with potato pancakes.

  • Ski-Themed Bars

    Last year saw the debut of a number of winter-only bars where you can bundle up and have a drink in après-ski-style, even though the closest slopes are a couple hours from Manhattan. These were such a hit that they're all back for 2014: Hudson Lodge has taken over the courtyard space of the Hudson Hotel, where fake snow actually falls as you enjoy your cheese fondue and spiked apple cider. The chic Chelsea rooftop lounge at the Hotel Americano morphs into Artico, a space with wintery decor flourishes (check out those shaggy sheep skins on the chairs), and Haven, a rooftop in Midtown's Sanctuary Hotel, is decked out with snowflakes in the decor and skis around the room.

  • Après-Skate

    For those that are brave enough to hit the ice rink in Bryant Park (sadly, the McCarren Park rink closed on January 4), there are plenty of great food concessions nearby. Tom Coliccio's 'Wichcraft is operating a kiosk that serves grilled cheeses and tomato soup on the 40th Street side of the park. There's also a hot chocolate kiosk on the 41st Street side, and, of course, if it's booze over soup that warms you up, check out the libations at bi-level pop-up bar Celsius, which will be on-site through March.

    The tree may be gone at Rockefeller Center, but the skating rink remains. If you're hungry after a twirl on that iconic rink, you can scope out our guide to non-tourist-trap eats in that 'hood. A visit to Central Park's Wollman Rink provides the perfect excuse to dig into a whole chicken at Rotisserie Georgette, where a variety of meats are cooked on spits over open flames. And, perfect-date alert, start off by lacing up those skates and then head over to the restaurant for the Poule de Luxe for two, which is stuffed with wild mushrooms and served with foie gras. 

  • Fireplaces

    The crew from the Jones Wood Foundry on the Upper East Side, which is a mighty fine place to stop for a pint on a frigid night, is behind The Peacock, a new British restaurant in Murray Hill. Located in the The William Hotel, the venue serves tradition-minded fare (warm scotch egg, Welsh rarebit on sourdough toast) in a room that's meant to evoke an English gentleman's club and features a white marble fireplace. The main dining room at The Lambs Club evokes old-school New York and also has a toasty, roaring hearth. If you're just looking for a casual drink, Dublin, a pub in the West Village, has a fireplace and two pub-height tables up front, and Moran's, a Chelsea mainstay, has multiple fire places warming the joint if you want to drop by and get toasty as you toast their fifth decade in existence.

    If you still feel a chill after scoping out those options, check out a list of over 20 restaurants with fireplaces here

  • Coffee Shops and Hot Chocolate

    New Bushwick coffeehouse Dilinger's is a cold-weather double threat. The tiny outpost has a great selection of java, but the real warmth here comes from the menu of hearty Russian fare, including dumplings stuffed with ingredients like veal and pork. While they don't have a liquor license just yet, this is a Russian joint, so rest assured, vodka is on the way.

    Stumptown Coffee will warm the cups at the new Fort Greene location of Hungry Ghost (pictured), which joined sister shops in Downtown Brooklyn and Park Slope to become the third branch in the borough, and French-press specialists Daily Press just expanded from Bed-Stuy with a second location in Williamsburg. Hot chocolate fanatics should head to the UES cafe Ô Merveilleux, which serves an ultrarich Belgian hot chocolate. On the other side of the park, head to stalwart Good Enough to Eat, where they'll add a hit of peppermint schnapps to your glass for a minty-strong drink called the Peppermint Patty.

  • Hot Drinks, Adult-Style 

    Those who are brave enough to hang out in the Standard Hotel's Biergarten, which is open year-round (there are heat lamps, but still!), will be rewarded with hot buttered rum and citrusy hot toddies served from the bar - both options will loosen you up for a few rounds of Ping-Pong. In Gramercy, NOLA-inspired Bo's (pictured) has some mulled wine that's made with spiced rum, Malbec and pomegranate juice; and Union Square's The Fourth does an apple-cider toddy with blood orange, star anise and Smith and Cross rum. Yes, please.

  • And If You Must...

    You'd think that a snowstorm and temperatures hovering around the zero mark would cut down on the early-morning Cronut lines at Dominique Ansel Bakery. Wrong. During the recent snowstorm, there were more than 100 people braving the elements to score January's flavor. So, bundle up and stop by the bakery - you'll be rewarded with a peanut butter rum caramel Cronut, and also the warm glow of solidarity.