This year, the economy finally started turning around. Houston celebrated with more jobs and new people who came to experience the riches of the city's cultural, culinary, artistic and entertainment worlds. And as this year comes to a close, we arrive at last at New Year's Eve, the day when, cold though we may be, we can put our disappointments behind us, revel in our victories and look forward to even better times. Once again, here is our annual list of restaurants, clubs and bars that can help transport you into 2014 with a smile and in style.
1919 Wine and Mixology
2736 Virginia, 713-568-9197
Countdown to the New Year at 1919 with dinner specials and complimentary Champagne at midnight. Guests will have access to both the Oak Bar and the Corner Table establishments.
Angelucho's Copacabana at the Hilton Westchase
9999 Westheimer, 281-799-1922
Celebrate New Year's Eve in style at the Hilton Westchase with live music, a DJ and dancing from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., all for $50 per person. For $125 per person, the evening will include a gourmet buffet served from 8 to 10 p.m., four drinks, party favors and a Champagne toast. There will also be a cash bar open all night. Hotel rooms are available at $69 or $89, including a breakfast buffet.
908 Congress, 713-224-9500
Batanga is ringing in the New Year with a special tapas tasting menu as well as one-time specials surf and turf Grilldabeast, blue point oysters with lardo ibérico and malanga gnocchi with white truffle oil. There will be live Brazilian entertainment with Lois Albez, party favors for everyone and a bottle of Champagne on every table at midnight.
BlackFinn American Grille
1910 Bagby, 713-651-9550
BlackFinn will be celebrating the New Year with a Roaring Twenties-themed party that promises to rival those of the great Gatsby himself. Guests are encouraged (but not required) to dress accordingly. The night will include $5 Long Island Ice Teas and Manhattans, as well as the obligatory Champagne toast at midnight. A DJ will provide the music. It all begins at 8 p.m.
800 Town and Country Blvd., 713-629-5200
Starting at 7 p.m., a DJ will provide live entertainment as guests visit the many shops and restaurants in CityCentre, all of which will be offering specials and events to celebrate the occasion, followed by a fireworks display to cap off the evening at midnight. In addition, CityCentre invites guests to stay overnight at Hotel Sorella with a variety of special holiday packages from which to choose.
410 Bagby, 713-223-3474
Bring the kids in on the fun with Sharkey's New Year's Eve, staged in the Downtown Aquarium's Nautilus Ballroom. Included in this family-friendly event are a buffet, balloon drop, prizes, a bird show, and pictures with Sharkey and Nero. Guests have their choice of party and can attend from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. The buffet is $14.99 for kids and $22.99 for adults, with all-day adventure passes included in event price. Reservations are required.
8 Kemah Boardwalk, 281-969-4774
Fantasea invites guests of all ages to its family-friendly New Year's celebration. The cruise takes place from 1 to 3:30 p.m., with boarding beginning at noon to allow the younger crowd to take part. After lunch, there are plenty of games for the kids to enjoy while guests take in the scenic views of Clear Lake and Galveston Bay. There'll be a live DJ on the ship to provide music for those who wish to try out the open-air dance floor. Ticket prices range from $40 to $60.
2502 Algerian Way, 713-581-6101
For New Year's Eve dinner, Haven will be serving guests à la carte from 4 to 7:15 p.m., and will also have a prix fixe menu during a second seating from 8 to 10 p.m. The prix fixe seating costs $85 per person and includes live entertainment by Luther and The Healers, party favors and a Champagne toast. Among the menu's selections are shrimp beignets, whole-grain risotto, honey-lacquered duck breast and ambrosia.
Holiday Inn Houston
1112 Eldridge Parkway, 281-679-6900, ext. 163
A reservation for the Holiday Inn Energy Ball will include a full dinner, Champagne toast, live entertainment, party favors, DJ, photo booth, dancing, a breakfast buffet and, in a unique twist, a surprise marriage proposal from a U.S. military veteran. The event will take place from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. and costs $85 per person and $150 per couple.
The House of Blues
1204 Caroline, 832-667-7733
Four parties, sponsored by the Houston Press, fill the House of Blues on New Year's Eve. In the main hall, there's Hayes Carll's Holiday Hangover. Mike and the Moonpies and J.D. McPherson share the bill with Carll. The all-ages show starts at 9 p.m. Admission is $30 to $45. In the Bronze Peacock room, it's the "Bombón y Top Notch New Year's Eve Bash" tropical dance party hosted by Fat Tony y La Comadre Mel. The show, for partygoers 21 and over, starts at 10 p.m. General admission is $10; VIP admission, which includes a Champagne toast, is $30. Thunderpants headlines the Totally 80s New Year's Eve Bash in the Crossroads (downstairs restaurant). This is also a 21-and-over-only show, starting at 10:30 p.m. General admission is $20 to $30. DJ Charlee Brown spins for the Ring in the New Year with Love and Passion party. Partygoers 21 and over enjoy a New Year's Eve buffet as well as priority entrance to the Hayes Carll show in the main hall. The buffet is served from 6 to 9 p.m. Admission is $100.
Hyatt Regency Houston
1200 Louisiana, 713-654-1234
The Hyatt's New Year's Eve party is back again with entertainment by two live bands and a DJ, party favors and a drop of 50,000 balloons from the top of the hotel's atrium lobby. Roger Creager, The Fab 5 and DJ 33-1/3 provide the music. The party will be accessible as part of a special package for couples that also includes an overnight stay at the hotel and eight drink tickets, all for $299. The event starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 1 a.m.
Joke Joint Comedy Showcase
11460 Fuqua, #300, 281-481-1188
For a comedic New Year's Eve, visit the Joke Joint Comedy Showcase for one of its two shows, one at 8 p.m. and another at 10:30 p.m., featuring headliner Billy D. Washington. The tickets are $30 each, but if they are purchased before December 26, there is a 20 percent discount. Group discounts are also available.
La Casa del Caballo
322 Westheimer, 832-623-6467
For New Year's Eve dinner, La Casa del Caballo is offering $45 and $65 specials, although the normal menu will also be available. The first glass of wine or sparkling wine is free, and those who reserve a table on the restaurant's second floor will be entertained with live guitar music from 6 p.m. to midnight.
905 Taft, 713-523-9958
Lucio's BYOB is serving up a New Year's Eve four-course menu with items including seared sea scallops, tuna carpaccio, dry-aged rib eye, duck breast and Chilean sea bass. Tickets are $80 and include the corkage fee.
Lucky's Pub, Warehouse Live and Mojeauxs
801 St. Emanuel, 713-522-2010
Celebrate New Year's Eve with Sports Monkey's tenth annual BLT (Black Tie, Lingerie, Toga) New Year's Eve Party at Lucky's Pub, Warehouse Live and Mojeauxs, with an inclusive bar from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., live music from Adrenaline and Soul Junkies, multiple DJs including DJ Bizonee of the Boothpimps, a midnight toast, party favors and the presence of Rockstar Photographer Tre'. Twenty-one and up; advance tickets are $79. Packages for discounted hotel rooms or tables are also available.
MKT Bar at Phoenicia Specialty Foods
1001 Austin, 832-360-2222
Join the folks at MKT Bar for their New Year's Eve Soul Celebration. Starting at 9 p.m. and ending at 2 a.m., this party features hors d'oeuvres, a Champagne toast at midnight, a $500 gift card dance contest to the doo-wop and soul tunes of Mad Maude and The Hatters as well as '60s soul, pop and rock 45s spun by DJ Tempty. Dance contestants (couples or individuals) must sign up at the bar by 10:59 p.m. Contestants will be announced and the contest will begin at 11 p.m. Three finalists will be chosen by MKT Bar judges and will then dance for the audience and judges until no later than 11:45 p.m., when the winner will receive a $500 Phoenicia gift card. Tickets are $30 in advance and $40 at the door. Guests must be 18 years of age or older.
207 Gray, 832-582-7176
Celebrate New Year's Majorca style with a gourmet buffet open from 7 to 10 p.m., a Champagne toast, party favors, an international DJ and a downtown skyline view from the patio. The cost: $39.95 per person, which includes Champagne.
Omni Houston Galleria Hotel
4 Riverway, 713-871-8181
The Omni is eager to contribute to your holiday happiness any way it can, starting with its New Year's Eve dinner at Noe Grill from 5 to 10 p.m. with a five-course Champagne tasting dinner, although a seasonal à la carte menu will also be available. The dinner is $89.95 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Also of interest at the Omni is its New Year's Eve party at the Black Swan Nightclub from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., which will include musical entertainment, an appearance by a magician, a Champagne toast, hors d'oeuvres, a balloon drop, a photo booth, live feed of Time Square's celebration and entry to win a complimentary stay at the hotel. Tickets are $60, or $75 at the door if the event is not sold out. After the party, feel free to indulge in the New Year's Eve Room Package, which includes deluxe room accommodations, chocolate-covered strawberries and a bottle of Champagne in your room, New Year's Day Breakfast Buffet and a 4 p.m. late checkout.
2200 Post Oak Blvd., 713-993-9898
Chef Paul of Osteria Mazzantini has created a special New Year's Eve menu that will feature such choices as steak tartare, seared red snapper, truffled spaghettini and panna cotta. The first seating, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., includes a three-course meal for $65 per guest or $100 with the sommelier's wine suggestions; the second seating, from 8 to 11 p.m., includes a five-course meal for $95 per guest, or $155 with the sommelier's wine suggestions. Tax and gratuity are not included in the price.
Pete's Dueling Piano Bar
1201 Fannin, Suite 310, 713-337-7383
The celebration begins at 7 p.m. with four piano players providing live entertainment. The party's attractions also include party favors, light hors d'oeuvres, singing and a bottle of Champagne for table reservations. Reserved seating is available for $300 per table of four, $45 per bar stool and general admission starting at $20 per person. Reservations are recommended.
2011 Ella Blvd., 713-861-8666
The Rainbow Lodge is offering a special New Year's Eve four-course menu featuring selections such as smoked-duck gumbo, grilled prime rib tenderloin filet and chocolate terrine, with sparkling wine included. Reservations are available from 5 through 10 p.m. and cost $77 per person (before tax and gratuity).
Red Oak Ballroom
800 W. Sam Houston Parkway, 832-512-6515
DJs Ebonix, Jonnie J, Aggravated, J Que and Mr. Rogers will be gathering at the Red Oak Ballroom to entertain all comers at the Rock the Clock New Year's Eve celebration. The party will feature a fireworks showcase at midnight, two party rooms filled with holiday lights, a light show, confetti, party favors and a picture booth. VIP ticket holders will also be granted access to the Remy V Casino room to play blackjack, poker and craps. Ticket prices range from $35 to $1,100 depending on degree of access. The event begins at 9 p.m.
Sam Houston Park
Free Press Houston is ringing in the New Year with live music, local food and drinks, interactive lights and art, vendors and more at its celebration, FPH NYE. See Girl Talk, George Clinton, Big Freedia and other performers on two stages. The gates open at 4 p.m. Guests must be 18 or older. General admission is $45. High-roller packages are available at $200 for one person and $500 for a couple.
909 Texas, 713-224-5299
Sambuca Restaurant will offer a special four-course menu for the evening featuring such main courses as chicken salsa verde, miso sea bass and hickory-smoked prime pork chop. Live music will be provided by the band FM, and a bar will be accessible to guests after they finish their meals. There are two seating times available, one at 7 p.m. and one at 9:30 p.m. The first seating has a two-hour limit to allow for the second seating, and tickets are $49 to $59. The second seating includes a balloon drop and Champagne toast at midnight, and will range from $75 to $100. The cheaper option at both times excludes views of the band. Tip and alcohol are not included in ticket prices.
San Luis Resort
5222 Seawall Blvd., Galveston, 800-445-0090
The San Luis Resort's New Year's theme is an Evening on the Red Carpet. The night will feature a four-course dinner, access to a premium bar, live music by the Billie Ledbetter Orchestra, party hats and favors, a Champagne toast and a balloon drop. It begins at 8 p.m. in the grand ballroom. The event itself is $199 per person, but packages including resort stays (priced from $599 per couple) are also available. Another San Luis option is the Steakhouse and Grotto, which will feature a special prix fixe menu, or the Hollywood Glamour-themed party at H2O Ultra Lounge.
60 Degrees Mastercrafted
2300 Westheimer, 713-360-7757
60 Degrees Mastercrafted will have a special four-course prix fixe menu with offerings such as Akaushi beef tenderloin-oyster purses, lobster bisque, Dover sole filet grenobloise and baked Alaska. The event includes a complimentary Champagne toast and has two seatings, one at 6 p.m. for $75 and one at 9 p.m. for $115. The second seating will include live musical entertainment.
10505 Cash Rd., 281-208-6900
Head to the Stafford Centre for the Rockin' New Year's Eve Bash featuring a performance by Password. Guests can dance, enjoy the live musical entertainment, and help themselves to the party favors and midnight Champagne toast. The price is $55 for regular admission. Dinner, which is included in the ticket price, is a four-course meal with dishes such as caviar and prime rib served from 7 to 9 p.m. The revelry continues until 1 a.m.
Stark Naked Theatre
Studio 101, Spring Street Studios, 1824 Spring, www.starknakedtheatre.com
Stark Naked Theatre Company presents its second annual New Year's Eve celebration hosted by Artistic Directors Philip Lehl and Kim Tobin. The festivities begin at 8 p.m. in STUDIO 101 at Spring Street Studios, and the $25 ticket price (available in advance online at www.starknakedtheatre.com or at the door on the night of the event) includes beer — furnished by Saint Arnold — and wine, food from Mockingbird Bistro and Torchy's Tacos. There will be dancing to live music provided by Instrumental Surf Rock Band The Neptones. Guests can have their caricature drawn by cartoonist Tom Rye, and experience a midnight balloon drop and champagne toast. As an added surprise, Tobin and Lehl will announce the title of the play that Stark Naked Theatre will produce in the spring. Door prizes, silent auction items and more.
6400 Richmond, 832-251-9600
NightCulture.com and Disco Donnie Presents will be having their Sixth Annual New Year's Eve Ball at Stereo Live. Myon and Shane 54 will perform as the night's DJs. Customers 18 years and older are welcome. Regular tickets are $30, and VIP tickets are $45. Party-booth packages and other specials are available.
Sugar Land Town Square
15958 City Walk, 281-275-2885
There will be a free New Year's Eve party in Sugar Land Town Square, broken up for everyone's convenience into a children's celebration from 7 to 9 p.m. and an adult celebration from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. The party will feature live musical entertainment as well as a fireworks display.
Sylvan Beach Pavilion
1 Bay Shore Dr., 832-643-4422
Make a reservation for the Copacabana New Year's Eve Dance at the newly restored 1956 Sylvan Beach Pavilion. Gene Keen's Stellar Dance Unit Orchestra will provide live music. Dance aficionados will be able to whirl and twirl on its circular dance floor in a historic 10,000-square-foot glass curtain-walled ballroom. High-end hors d'oeuvres, luscious desserts and a Champagne toast at midnight are all on the agenda, and guests will have access to a cash bar. A single ticket is priced at $62.50, and a reserved ballroom table for eight is $450. The event will take place from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
8944 Clarkcrest, 713-661-9505
Theatre Southwest stages How the Other Half Loves by Alan Ayckbourn for its New Year's Eve Gala play this year. The celebration includes food and party favors. Prices are $55 per person or $105 per couple. Reservations are required. The performance begins at 8 p.m.
1111 S. Shepherd, 713-522-7654
Tila's Motown New Year's Eve has returned for its third year with a live band playing Motown music to accompany its three-course dinner, which will be served from 5 p.m. to midnight.
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Zilkha Hall (Hobby Center)
800 Bagby, 713-622-7443
This New Year's Eve, experience the Venetian Carnival tradition with help from the performers at Ars Lyrica, who plan to entertain with exotic music from the City of Masks including chamber duets and sonatas from Monteverdi and his contemporaries and Vivaldi's evocative "La Notte" concerto. Sopranos Melissa Givens and Blair Doerge will share the stage with violinist Yung-Hsiang Wang, Baroque flutist Colin St. Martin and guitarist Richard Savino. The concert begins at 9 p.m., followed by a New Year's Eve Gala where guests will enjoy flowing Champagne, delicious hors d'oeuvres from Artista Restaurant, a cash bar, Venetian masks and the opportunity to bid at a distinctive silent auction. At the stroke of midnight, everyone will join in singing "Auld Lang Syne." Tickets are $75.