This can be a rocky time of year, with visiting relatives, expanding waistlines and the endless holiday Muzak that seems to have been playing since Labor Day. But all is forgiven when it comes to New Year’s Eve, the most happening night of the year for celebrating with friends both old and new. Let’s leave 2015 in the rearview mirror and dive head-first into the New Year with costumed events, light shows, four-course dinners, your favorite band and even some comedy shows and theatrical performances. Young or in your prime, laid-back or adrenaline-fused, there’s something for everyone.
by Susie Tommaney
This European wine bar and cafe has a 1920s Midnight in Paris theme, with an amazing Champagne list that’s très chic. Ladies, dress up in your fringed dresses, feather headbands and long pearl necklaces while your man dons his favorite striped suit, fedora and two-tone shoes. At midnight, enjoy a Champagne toast and a bite of birthday cake to celebrate the restaurant’s ninth year. $25 per person for a regular seat; $50 per person for a couch seat.
18th Street Pier, Bar & Grill
Details are still unfolding, but it looks like Orgy is headlining the big shindig in San Leon, along with Bobaflex, Death Valley High, Hindsight, Hectic, Calling Chase and The Scars Heal in Time. Doors open at 7 p.m.; show starts at 8 p.m. $20 presale.
Acadia Bar & Grill
3939 Cypress Creek
On most Thursdays at Acadia, they’re getting down with 200-proof Reach Down Radio and “The Grind” with Tommy D Kat. But for this New Year’s Eve, headliners are Pulse Rate Zero (starts at 11:45 p.m.), along with BlackTop Mojo at 10:45 p.m. and Twisted KARMA at 9:45 p.m. Acadia has $3 big-ass beers and other drink specials. Doors open at 7 p.m. $10 cover for 21 and under; free for those 21 and up.
This is the place to go for original singer-songwriters from Texas and around the world. Spend New Year’s Eve with Shake Russell, Matt Harlan & Rachel Jones, plus Ken Gaines and Wayne Wilkerson. It’s gonna be a laid-back night with Texas legends, plus enjoy party favors, Champagne, cornbread and good-luck black-eyed peas. Credit cards not accepted; call for pricing. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.; music starts around 8:45 p.m.
1180-1 Uptown Park
This Uptown Park restaurant with the authenticity and soul of both Texas and Mexico still pushes the boundaries of “traditional” Tex-Mex with creative and bold touches. On the big night, there’ll be a three-course meal for two, plus tequila flights for the both of you. Savor queso fondue, fajitas (steak, chicken or shrimp) and Añejo’s famous Impossible Cake. $100 per couple. Salud!
Angelucho’s Copa Cabana
Houston Marriott Energy Corridor
16011 Katy Freeway
281-799-1922 / 832-258-4535
Veteran musician Angelucho (Angel Bermudez), known for his traditional Cuban music with a salsa dance beat, will perform with his Copa Cabana band at the Marriott on New Year’s Eve. Price includes gourmet buffet, two drinks, Champagne toast, party favors, DJ Yuka Frita, a cigar patio and complimentary cigars by Hoyo De Cuba. Doors open at 7 p.m., buffet served from 8 to 10 p.m., and dancing from 10 a.m. till 2 a.m. Cash bar open all night. $99 per person. Hotel rooms are available for $74, call 281-829-5525 and mention “Angelucho’s New Year’s Party.”
7326 Southwest Freeway
The faces may have changed over the years, but California band Maze featuring Frankie Beverly continues to deliver American soul. They gained fame in the early ’70s when the band Raw Soul opened for Marvin Gaye; since then they’ve released several studio albums, their music was featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and they’re regular closers at the Essence Music Festival. 9 p.m. $99.50 to $124.50.
Ars Lyrica at Hobby Center
Ars Lyrica’s Fire and Ice is a cultured and stylish way to celebrate the coming year. Vivaldi’s Winter sets the stage for Handel’s Apollo e Dafne in this story of love and transformation, featuring violinist Adam LaMotte, soprano Lauren Snouffer and baritone Mark Diamond. Begin the evening with dinner and cocktails at Artista, and finish with a Champagne and dessert gala at the exclusive Founders Club. Dinner at 8 p.m.; concert at 9:30 p.m.; gala at 10:45 p.m. Event segments priced separately.
Island Bwoyz Promotions are bringing us some live reggae at Ayva, and they’re going to party late into the wee hours of the morning. For realz, they’ve booked Tarrus Riley, Dean Fraser and The Blak Soil Band. The party starts at 10 p.m. and doesn’t end until 4 a.m. — which is great because all the amateurs will be off the streets by then. VIP tickets are available by calling 832-414-5323; general admission is $55.
The Big Easy Social and Pleasure Club
International blues artist and Houston legacy Trudy Lynn, fresh off the release of her hit CD Everything Comes With A Price, is going to sing those classic songs about good times and bad men. Lynn has been performing for more than 50 years and, while she’s experimented with different music styles, she really loves the blues. What better place to ring in the New Year than at The Big Easy, a perennial winner of the “People’s Choice” award for best blues venue? Oh yeah. $10.
Big Eyed Fish
Located in a charming turquoise house just off Washington, Big Eyed Fish cooks American Southern cuisine, but with a twist. They serve local, carrying beer from Saint Arnold, Karbach, Southern Star, Shiner, Buffalo Bayou, No Label and Real Ale. Indulge in comfort food like chicken pot pie, meat loaf or chicken-fried venison, and receive a complimentary glass of sparkling wine with every entrée. 5 to 10 p.m.
This East End multipurpose haunt leans toward indie rock, punk, garage and metal, and for New Year’s Eve is bringing in punk band Pregnancy Test (“Skeezin’”) with hardcore punkers Clasp (“Damage”) and street punk Failed Project (“Anxiety”). There are rumors that it’s also a pre-birthday celebration for a certain band member, but you’ll have to see for yourself. $5.
New Year’s Eve at this cozy Montrose bar, winner of our 2014 and 2015 awards for “Best Patio,” includes a belly dancer, a live DJ and a performer. Ring in the New Year with Boheme’s Bubbles & Bites, which we certainly hope includes the club’s yummy shareables, handcrafted lavash pizzas and fabulous desserts. RSVP to Tina at 713-873-1735. No cover charge. 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Broadway at the Hobby Center
The score for Bullets Over Broadway includes “Let’s Misbehave,” “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do” and “There’s a New Day Comin’!” Set in 1929, the comedy begins with playwright David Shayne excited to have his first play produced on Broadway. The producer gets wealthy gangster Nick Valenti to underwrite the show in exchange for casting the mobster’s talentless girlfriend. Plot twists abound, with aging diva Helen Sinclair romancing the playwright, and leading man Warner Purcell coveting the gangster’s girlfriend. 7:30 p.m. $40 to $100.
Children’s Museum of Houston
In a creative shift of time, kids can now enjoy watching the clock strike 12 without having to stay up late. The doors open at the Children’s Museum at 11 a.m., with Brazilian drums at 11:15 a.m. and a parade with a jazzy brass band at 11:30 a.m. The countdown begins at 11:30 a.m. and then, at noon, there’ll be two simultaneous ball drops, plus an after party with DJ Zin. It’s hip to be a kid. $10.
City of Houston
Mayor Annise D. Parker sure knows how to throw a party; she’s partnering with the City of Houston, Houston First Corporation, the Houston Downtown Management District, the Houston Theater District and the Houston Chronicle to bring in the fabulous B-52s. Events include an earlier countdown for kids, a second countdown at midnight with fireworks, performances on an outdoor main stage (Smith and Capitol) as well as free Broadway sing-alongs and a magic show at Wortham Center and a free 7:30 p.m. performance of The Santaland Diaries at the Alley Theatre. In addition to hearing music from “the world’s greatest party band,” they’ve also booked local indie rock band The Tontons. 7 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. Free.
800 Town and Country Boulevard
The hip and trendy CITYCENTRE is a happening place to ring in the New Year, with its many restaurants, retailers and lounges offering an array of happenings. A DJ gets the excitement going on the plaza, beginning at 7 p.m., and there’s a spectacular fireworks show when the clock strikes midnight.
Concert Pub (North)
2470 Cypress Creek Parkway
Sure, both Concert Pubs boast the best damn crawfish in Houston, but it’s the Cypress Creek location that really rocks north Houston, with that killer outdoor stage. For its New Year’s Eve Bash, the pub is bringing in a Journey tribute band, Escape, plus the Cypress Rose Band. 8 p.m. Price TBD.
1 Stadium Drive
The fully ADA-compliant Sugar Land Holiday Lights features eight great themes including all the holidays and a Salute to Service with more than two and a half million lights on Constellation Field. See the new Texas Cowboy area and take your picture in front of the giant Texas flag. Listen to holiday music, do some shopping and visit the food vendors serving holiday-themed treats. Open 6 to 10 p.m.
We had to check twice, but there’s definitely no cover to see the Allen Oldies Band on New Year’s Eve; they bring back the energy and excitement of the greatest hits from the ’50s and ’60s — dance party tunes like “Louie, Louie,” “Do Wah Diddy” and also some of the mellow stuff, like “Love Potion #9.” Houston’s “best Beatles cover band” Beetle does the early show, 7 to 10 p.m.
Cuchara Mexico City Bistro
For an authentic Mexico City neighborhood party, don’t miss Cuchara’s Fiesta de Barrio, a bright and colorful gathering with live music, a four-course dinner made with the unique flavors of old Mexico and a DJ to keep the party going. Enjoy party favors and a midnight toast for just $100 per person, plus tax and gratuity. Limited space.
Cypress Creek FACE (The Centrum)
Spend New Year’s Eve at The Centrum with a special concert, courtesy of the Houston Symphony and featuring guest conductor Brett Mitchell. The evening includes The Skater’s Waltz, J. Strauss Jr.’s New Vienna Waltz and a sultry tango to heat up the night, performed by principal cellist Brinton Averil Smith. 8 p.m. $35 to $65.
Damian’s Cucina Italiana
Rich, old-world interiors and impeccable service make for a special evening at this landmark Midtown restaurant. Damian’s is serving a three-course meal on New Year’s Eve with Italian classics like prosciutto con asparagi, snapper Dievole, linguini Benedetto and a sea-salted, caramel-chocolate layered cake. There’s even a special children’s menu planned for this special night. $59.95 per adult; $16.95 per child. Thursday hours are 5:30 to 10 p.m.
25911 I-45 North
Yup, the dance floor will be open for this one. Get ready to hoof the night away at Dosey Doe (The Big Barn), which will have a special Tribute to Motown — playing the best of the ’70s and ’80s — plus the unforgettable old-school funk of the Level One Band. Doors open at 7 p.m., music at 9 p.m., and your ticket includes salad, choice of entrée, dessert, beverage and Champagne toast at midnight. $98, $118, $138. 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Dosey Doe Coffee House (Music Cafe)
463 FM 1488
Mike Zito’s recent release, Songs From the Road — Live in Texas, was actually recorded and filmed at Dosey Doe, so it makes perfect sense that he’s the headliner for New Year’s Eve. His last solo CD, Greyhound, was nominated for “Rock Blues Album,” plus he’s got a long line of accomplishments as a performer, songwriter and producer. Ticket price includes three-course meal and the awesome blues sound of Mike Zito & the Wheel. Doors open at 7 p.m.; show starts at 9 p.m. $98.
Double Trouble Caffeine & Cocktails
This Mid Main bar with a Tiki vibe serves up steaming hot coffee and espresso all day and night, and the flavorful housemade syrups provide just the right kick of sugar to keep you fueled till midnight. For cocktails, we’re partial to Captain’s Orders, The Frozen Suffering Bastard and the Betty Whizzle. The club’s NYE and Anniversary Extravaganza features JP Tiblier, Andy V, Luz and a DJ set by Fat Tony. 9 p.m. start. Price TBD.
The Durham House
Toast 2015 with a special five-course, prix fixe menu at The Durham House, with seatings at 6 and 9 p.m. Enjoy menu items like smoked kampachi with avocado sorbet and mignonette, charred beet salad, butter poached lobster, cinnamon rubbed pork with ancient grains, and apple tart tatin with Fat Cat Creamery ice cream and caramel sauce. An optional wine and cocktail pairing also is available. $90 per person.
El Tiempo Cantina
This Laurenzo family institution serves Tex-Mex food made from scratch using old family recipes. El Tiempo wants diners to enjoy every moment, and a good place to start is with the famous deluxe mixed grill parrillada with a potent margarita to wash it down. While there, pick up some of the restaurant’s pre-packaged fajita grill spice or Hotter ‘N Hell red habanero hot sauce — one as a gift and one for yourself. With seven locations around town, there’s sure to be an El Tiempo in your neighborhood. Open regular hours.
2706 White Oak
Since 1977, the hallowed halls of Fitzgerald’s have shaken and shimmied with the best of live music, and New Year’s Eve is no exception. The bash features indie favorite Paul Wall, who was instrumental in taking Texas hip-hop to a national level. Also performing is Lil Keke, loved by the South Side and ever expanding his fan base; Big Pokey also is on deck. Doors open at 6 p.m.; shows run 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. $30 to $100.
Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse
In addition to its standard menu of fire-roasted favorites, through January 1 this Brazilian steakhouse also is offering holiday-inspired fare, including classic slow-roasted beef roast; quentão (keen-tao), a warm mulled red wine made with fresh oranges, cinnamon, clove and ginger; sweet potato casserole; and tender New York strip steak carved tableside by gaúcho chefs. Open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, and 5 to 11 p.m. for dinner.
Genesis Steakhouse and Wine Bar
Channel your inner Jay Gatsby or Daisy Buchanan as Genesis celebrates its first-year anniversary with a Great Gatsby-themed gala celebration, accompanied by the Richard Brown Orchestra. The five-course prix fixe menu includes ceviche shooters, chicken and sausage gumbo, and choice of prime rib, sea bass, roasted turkey or mushroom risotto. Don’t miss the decadent chocolate bread pudding. Seatings at 6 and 9 p.m.
6652 Southwest Freeway
There’s a reason we named Himalaya the 2015 winner for “Best Pakistani Restaurant.” Nobody leaves hungry after dining on huge platters of saffron-tinged lamb biryani, shredded hunter’s beef sautéed to a frizzled crisp and oh-so-spicy curry. Make this a different kind of New Year’s tradition; open regular hours on New Year’s Eve, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Live entertainment gets the party started while diners enjoy a five-course black- and white-themed dinner, including roasted bone marrow, housemade burrata, seared akaushi tartar, peppercorn-crusted veal rib eye, an artisan cheese plate and Down South coconut cake. Ring in 2016 with local blues band Luther and the Healers as they set the mood for the countdown, plus enjoy party favors, Champagne toast and dancing. First seating is at 9 p.m. $125 per person.
Hotel Sorella CITYCENTRE
800 Sorella Court
The Quite the Night in Monnalisa package includes overnight accommodations, Champagne arrival gift and a pair of tickets to the Monnalisa bar New Year’s Eve party, with awesome views of CITYCENTRE’s midnight fireworks from the rooftop pool terrace, high above the crowd. The Quite the Night package starts at $379 for two; add-ons include the Mimosa New Year’s Day brunch at Radio Milano, as well as pre- and post-night stays for just $119 per room.
House of Blues
They had us at striptease. Sure, the Ruby Revue Burlesque Show is smokin’ hot, but it’s a first-class act, and the show features a variety of entertainers including singers, chorus girls and comedians. With two shows scheduled, and doors opening at 7 and 10 p.m., this has to be one of the most exciting ways to spend New Year’s Eve in Houston. 21 and up. $27 to $42.
House of Blues
The Suffers swept the Houston Press Music Awards with 11 trophies this summer. They sing about things we care about: love, peanuts and micheladas. Back in town after a U.S. and Canada tour, this Gulf Coast soul powerhouse is ready to rock HOB with its exceptional sound. To kick it up a notch, also booked are Los Skarnales, Gio Chamba, Blue Healer, KiKi’s Sordid Sideshow and Def Perception. Doors open at 8 for a 9 p.m. start. $25 to $35. ($250 VIP ticket includes midnight toast with The Suffers.)
Houston Wine Merchant
2646 South Shepherd
Locally owned and operated Houston Wine Merchant wants everyone to enjoy this most epic of days, so they’re having a Champagne sale all day long on New Year’s Eve. That means 15 percent off all Champagnes, with the exception of Dom Perignon and Roederer Cristal. The experts there know their stuff, and will help you choose the perfect bubbly for your special event. Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
6200 Hermann Park
For those who haven’t stopped by to see the fabulous TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo, it’s back and bigger than ever with more than two million colorful LED lights. Don’t miss the completely lit-up African forest, oversize rotating ornaments, and lighted animal sculptures in the Enchanted Forest. Sip hot chocolate, walk through a walk-in snow globe and check out the 1958 Cadillac with vibrant, dancing lights. 6 to 10 p.m. This event is separate from general zoo admission. $14.95 (free for children age one and under).
Howl at the Moon
Kiss 2015 good-bye, ’cuz Howl at the Moon Houston has a variety of packages for the ultimate party night. Champagne Supernova and Party Rock packages offer half-priced drinks and dinner buffet till 9 p.m., plus Champagne toast and party favors; there’s a reasonably priced Just Dance package, too. There are a lot of fine-print disclaimers about the half-price drinks, but it still looks like a good deal to us. Prices start at $30, $70, $90.
Hubbell & Hudson Bistro
Step back in time with Hubbell & Hudson’s Great Gatsby-themed celebration, with three elegant dinner options. Enjoy a three-course dinner with foie gras, lamb shank and profiteroles from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; a 7:30 p.m. seating features an expanded five-course menu; or start the evening at 9:30 p.m. with a five-course dinner, plus live music, party favors and Champagne toast. $49, $79, $99.
19333 Highway 59 North, Suite 285
Fire-breathers and the drums of the Pacific are all part of the package when ushering in the New Year with a Hawaiian Luau Dinner & Show©, complete with Champagne toast and party favors. The authentic Hawaiian menu features dishes like The Big Island (Kalbi short ribs with chicken and shrimp), paniolo steak (top sirloin with golden fries) and even fried Spam musubi. The new Hukilau lounge will be serving Hawaiian drinks all night, most likely with a pineapple wedge or in a Tiki glass.
7620 Katy Freeway
Leave the kids at home, because the New Year’s Eve show at Houston Improv with nationally touring stand-up comic Tony Rock is for mature audiences only. There’ll be exclusive food and drink packages available, and a great intimate dinner theater-style venue. Laugh your way into 2016! Show at 7:30 p.m. is $30 for Champagne seating or $50 for dinner and Champagne package. The 10 p.m. show is $50 for Champagne party package or $75 for the ultimate party package.
The Joke Joint Comedy Showcase
11460 Fuqua #300
The standup comedy of Sheng Wang is coming to the Joke Joint, with his laugh-out-loud delivery of personal experiences and observations, common nonsense and illogic. He doesn’t mind a bit of absurdity or becoming his own object of ridicule. Recent TV appearances include Totally Biased with sociopolitical comedian W. Kamau Bell and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. 8 p.m. $16 to $18.
For Outer Loop fun, we give props to Kapers for its reverse happy hours, great drink specials and nice music. For New Year’s Eve, we’re digging the all-inclusive party, which includes live entertainment and DJ, hors d’oeuvre buffet stations, open bar, party favors, Champagne fountain and an awesome balloon drop at midnight. 21 and up, dress code enforced. $60 to $75 per person or $110 to $125 per couple.
Part of the El Tiempo Cantina family, Laurenzo’s serves homestyle-cooking “from the other side” of their family’s heritage. Displaying a strong Italian influence while still paying homage to Tex-Mex, the menu includes several fresh fish dishes plus grilled flavorful pork dishes slow-cooked on the hardwood grill. The holiday promotion features a $10 gift card with every $50 gift card purchase. Open regular hours.