Change city

Know what’s happening in your city.

Sign up for Rally’s weekly round-up.

restaurants near Lincoln center

Seeing The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center? Here’s Where to Eat and Drink Close By

By / December 3, 2018
   New York City Ballet
   New York City Ballet

Of all the ways to celebrate the holidays in New York City, nothing is quite as magical as experiencing George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. The annual production from the New York City Ballet has been a staple of the winter season since 1954, in its home at Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theater.

If you’re one of the thousands of folks who have tickets to see the enchanting production at the theater through the end of the year, we’re here to help you make a full day or night of it, with recommendations for where to dine and drink nearby.

Atlantic Grill

Pre-event eats

For upscale seafood dishes: Atlantic Grill

Walking time: two minutes

Whether you’re seeing a matinee or an evening performance of The Nutcracker, Atlantic Grill is a upscale destination for lunch or dinner. No matter what meal you’re enjoying, start with the lobster bisque. With a seafood-heavy menu (and filet mignon for landlubbers), guests can choose from large meals like the Atlantic cod piccata or branzino a la plancha for dinner and more casual fare like the crab cake BLT sandwich or gulf shrimp Cobb salad for lunch. There’s also a kids’ menu, making this one of the nicer family-friendly spots in the area.

For seasonal tapas: Kilo

Walking time: eight minutes

If you’re in the mood for a variety of food, choose from a hand-picked selection of shared plates at this Mediterranean restaurant. While there are great meat options, both vegetarians and meat eaters will be impressed by the shiitake mushroom tacos and crostini with goat cheese and peach marmalade, and mussel lovers will indulge in Kilo’s coconut curry version. Oh, and try your best to save room for dessert — the fruit tartlet is a delight.

For iconic pub grub: P.J. Clarke’s

Walking time: one minute

Seeing an exceptional performance calls for an equally impressive meal. In business since 1884 and a favorite of famous folks like Frank Sinatra and Jackie Kennedy, P.J. Clarke’s has a storied history and serves memorable meals every time. Choose from the menu of famous Clarke burgers, or opt for an equally hearty meal like the chicken pot pie or fish and chips. Beer fans will be happy with an assortment of staples and craft varieties.

Empire Hotel

Pre-event drinks

For swanky digs: Empire Hotel Lobby Bar

Walking time: one minute

Since you’ll already be dressed to the nines for The Nutcracker, treat yourself to a fancy cocktail in one of the most posh settings in the area at this candlelit lounge. You’ll feel oh-so glamorous while sipping a dirty martini or cosmopolitan or enjoying a glass of wine from the extensive menu.

For wine and dessert: Le Pif

Walking time: eight minutes

With 65 bottles of French wine and 40 wines by the glass to choose from, there are more than enough options at this cozy wine bar, also known for its exquisite dessert menu. Keep it simple with an assortment of macaroons or indulge in sugar heaven and order the molten chocolate lava cake or homemade crème brûlée. Ask your waiter for recommendations on the wine that goes best with your chosen sweet treat.

For happy hour: D.J. Reynolds

Walking time: seven minutes

Look no further than this Irish pub to save some dough before seeing The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center, where a single glass of wine costs upwards of $15. At D.J. Reynolds, happy hour runs from 4pm to 7pm, which is ideal for those going to either a 5pm or 8pm show. Grab a seat at the bar and take advantage of paying just $5 for a light beer, well drink, and glass of house wine; $7 for a cosmopolitan; and $7 for a dark and stormy.

The Smith

Post-event eats

For creative gastropub eats: The Smith

Walking time: two minutes

In the event that you’re still full from lunch or dinner, The Smith has a great assortment of snacks and starters to hold you over until later. The sticky pork ribs, cauliflower flatbread, and hot potato chips with blue cheese fondue are all delicious smaller bites, plus there’s a raw bar menu for anyone craving oysters. Those ready for another meal have lots to choose from, with pasta dishes, burgers, and huge gourmet salads just some of what you’ll find on the menu.

For dreamy slices: Justino’s Pizzeria

Walking time: six minutes

When you’re near one of the best pizza joints in the city, you might as well seize the opportunity to chow down on that heavenly combination of cheese, bread, and sauce. A couple slices of plain are a perfect meal alone, but the buffalo chicken and vodka pizzas are also tasty choices for those looking for more flavor. Keep in mind that Justino’s is open until 4:30am on the weekend, so feel free to stumble in long after last call at whatever bar you’re at.

Erika Rasso | Rally

Post-event drinks

For a romantic night cap: Library Bar at Hudson

Walking time: six minutes

This cozy spot feels more like a millionaire’s living room than a bar. Decked out with a fireplace, a pool table, and shelves of books as its name implies, Library Bar is an elegant destination for grabbing one last drink after the show. Expertly mixed cocktails like the New Manhattan (Bacardi 8, Domaine de Canton Ginger, sweet vermouth, and angostura bitters aged in charred, American Oak barrel for five weeks) or the French Fleur (Grey Goose, St. Germain, Cointreau Guignolet, and lemon) are perfect ways to finish an evening, no matter whose company you’re in.

For a variety of tastes: Jake’s Saloon

Walking time: six minutes

If you’re with a group of friends or your family, Jake’s caters to cocktail drinkers, wine lovers, and beer fans all at once. This standard neighborhood pub located just six blocks from Lincoln Center also has a menu of bar bites if you’re looking to make only one stop post-show, and trust us, the beef chili nachos are stellar.

Want more? Follow us on Instagram and Facebook for ticket giveaways and more of the best happenings around NYC.


Melanie is a Jersey girl who now calls Brooklyn home. She’s written for Fuse TV, MTV News, Interview Magazine and more, and enjoys creating content that informs, inspires and entertains people. She’s passionate about music, running, cheese and dachshunds, and her husband fully accepts her love affair with NYC.

More articles by Melanie Gardiner



Leave a Reply