Love it or hate it, New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. Time to bust out the noisemakers and confetti, chill the Champagne, soak the black-eyed peas and plan your evening.
If you’re brave enough to head downtown for the citywide celebration, you won’t be alone. Each year the giant, free party takes place on South Alamo Street between West Market and East César Chávez and draws more than 250,000 visitors and residents. There will be three stages presenting live music, a massive fireworks show illuminating the sky around the Tower of the Americas, and plenty of food and drink (but that part’s not free, mind you). Things will get rolling at La Villita at noon on December 31 and the official kickoff is at 5 p.m.
Be sure to plan your downtown travels ahead of time because driving and parking arrangements will be a bit tricky for the holiday. Streets around Hemisfair Park will be closed starting at 8 a.m. on Dec. 31 through 7 a.m. on Jan. 1. South Alamo Street will be closed from West Market to East César Chávez, and Nueva Street will also be closed from Alamo to Presa Streets.
The free “Downtown Tuesday” (DTT) parking program will be suspended on the Tuesday of New Year’s Eve, so posted rates for downtown lots, meters, and garages apply. DTT resumes on Jan. 7.
For a luxurious, almost all-inclusive firework viewing option other than the outdoor party, check out the Fairmount Hotel’s New Year’s Eve package, which begins at $499 just across the street from Hemisfair Park. Overnight guests are privy to a parking space, wristbands for four friends or family to share in the celebration, party favors, late checkout on Jan. 1, and a prime firework viewing spot. Call 210-798-3575 for further details and reservations.
Food-focused NYE options abound. Liberty Bar (serving “serious food” at 1111 S Alamo St.) will celebrate 2014 as well as their 30-year anniversary on Dec. 31. Live music, food, and drinks (four drink tickets a person plus a midnight toast) will run aplenty, with Michael Martin & the Infidels opening up and Sauce Gonzalez & the West Side Horns and Beto and the Fairlanes playing later sets. The party kicks off at 8 p.m. For $125 per person or $200 per couple, Liberty Bar offers party-goers a serious(ly) good time. Call (210) 227-1187 for reservations.
A stone’s throw up the street, Feast (1024 S Alamo St.) will host a party worthy of royalty with a five- or six-course meal at 7 and 9 p.m. respectively. Absinthe-cured Scottish salmon, Alaskan king crab bisque, Italian black truffle lasagna… the mouth-watering menu goes on and on.
The earlier five-courser runs $95 a person, while the later seating goes for $120. You can add wine pairings for $45 or $50, depending on the time. Call (210) 354-1024 for reservations, and hurry, because the 9 p.m. seating is filling up fast.
Continuing north, Bliss (926 S Presa St.) will take a more relaxed route to ring in the new year, diverging from the NYE standard prix fixe in favor of serving their standard menu with a few “‘luxury’ additions.” As usual, both sparkling and still wines will be available by the glass and bottle, with some nicer bubbles throw into the mix. Dinner will be served from 5 to 10:30 p.m., and you should definitely make reservations: (210) 225-2547.
At Pearl, you have several options for New Year’s revelry:
Arcade Midtown Kitchen (303 Pearl Parkway Suite 111) is taking reservations [(210) 369-9664] for their four-course prix fixe dinner, though ordering a la cart offerings will also be an option. Dinner will be served between 5 and 10:30 p.m.
Nao New World Flavors (312 Pearl Parkway) will offer a six-course tasting menu paired with libations for $85 a person at 7 p.m. Make your prepaid reservation by calling (210) 554-6484, and take a look at the tasty offerings here.
Boiler House Texas Grill & Wine Garden (312 Pearl Parkway, Building 3) will be open all day, with the regular menu available between 5 and 11 p.m., live music from 8 p.m. ‘til just past midnight, and a fixed five-course menu for $75 (add $35 for wine pairings). Reserve your spot by calling (210) 354-4644.
Far beyond the Southtown/Midtown bubble, Bin 555 (555 W. Bitters Rd), transitioning to Asian concept restaurant Umai Mi next year, will offer five-courses of menu favorites for $65 a person or $100 with paired wines. A few mouth-watering options include seared diver scallops or blue crab croquettes, veal meatballs or pan seared salmon, and one of the dessert options is a Nutella torte… need I say more? Make your reservation for 6, 6:15, 6:30, 6:45, or 8 p.m. and the same 15-minute increments by calling (210) 496-0555.
And finally, at Gruene Hall, “Texas’ oldest dance hall,” you can ring in the New Year with Kevin Fowler and special guests The Rankin Twins. Doors to the $60 show open at 7 and the show starts at 8 p.m.
So what are you going to do? Let us know in the comments. Whatever you choose, have a very happy and safe start to 2014!
Miriam Sitz is a freelance writer in San Antonio. A graduate of Trinity University, she blogs on Miriam210.com. Follow her on Twitter at @miriamsitz and click here for more stories from Miriam Sitz on the Rivard Report.