December 29, 2009 | 3:00pm
So you've decided not to take any of our advice to stay home on New Year's Eve and cook a nice, memorable dinner. You're either brave or foolhardy and have somehow come to the conclusion that it's an awesome idea to ford the river of amateurs and drunks that will be coursing through the streets on New Year's Eve and want to go out.
Admit it. You're trying to impress someone, aren't you?
If that's the case (and it probably is), then these are the places to do it. Remember to call for reservations -- the sooner the better -- and get that suit of yours back from the cleaners. If there's one night a year to get all dressed up for dinner, this is it. Good luck and bon appetit!
Yelapa Playa Mexicana
2303 Richmond, 281-501-0391
If we decided to go out on New Year's Eve, this would be our first choice. Yelapa is one of our new favorite restaurants and its six-course NYE menu is a great introduction to the modern Mexican coastal cuisine. From bolinhos de bacalao and tuna tartare pozole to spiced guava pork belly and spiced Mexican drinking chocolate, this is one delicious and decadent menu. The cost is a stunning value at $78 per person or $108 with wine pairing. Two seatings are available: 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
2520 Amherst, 713.529-2420
Often overlooked, this Rice Village jewel is one of our favorite little Italian restaurants. They've been doing it right and simple for years -- something hard to come by in a world where consistency is king. The three-course NYE menu offers a selection of the kitchen's best dishes, from pan-roasted quail with grilled polenta or porcini mushroom soup for your first course to arctic char with warm spinach salad or veal chop with proscuitto and crisp sage for your second course. There is plenty on the menu to meet all palate preferences. Cost is $60 per person with dinner service beginning at 5 p.m.
1985 Welch, 713-533-0200
Tucked away like the little neighborhood bistro you always wanted by your own doorstep, Mockingbird promises a delicious yet low-key dinner on New Year's Eve. The four-course menu includes tasty treats like scallop and sweet corn chowder with marjoram, Maine lobster risotto, roasted beet salad with Texas goat cheese and a duo of Colorado lamb. Cost is $75 per person, which includes party favors and a champagne toast at midnight.
Danton's Gulf Coast Seafood Kitchen
4611 Montrose, 713-807-8883
For a slightly less expensive dinner, head to Danton's for a three-course meal that will leave enough cash in your wallet for a bottle of bubbly later. The menu includes a soup or salad to start, a choice of three main courses -- including Danton's famous crab Balinese -- and a delicious dessert. Cost is $45 per person.
Bistro Des Amis
2347 University Boulevard, 713-349-8441
Staying true to its motto of fine French food at affordable prices, Bistro des Amis is also serving a budget-friendly dinner with a whopping four courses and live music from John W. Helton. Your first course comes with a glass of champagne, while you can choose from dishes like a fig tart with goat cheese, roasted goose with raspberry chipotle cognac sauce, chateubriand with madeira or truffled ravioli stuffed with winter vegetables. Cost is only $46 per person, with four seatings throughout the night.
*17 at the Alden Hotel
1117 Prairie, 832-200-8800
If you can afford it, we recommend getting a room and watching the fireworks display downtown from the Alden Hotel after dining at *17, which is cruising steadily along under the hand of Chef Chip Hight. His four-course menu features items like sous-vide pork belly, lucky black-eyed peas, fennel and prosciutto-wrapped filet mignon, monkfish with meyer lemon caviar and an awesomely old-school baked Alaska. Cost is $100 per person.
For more New Year's Eve menus, head over to our friends at B4-U-Eat