A Procrastinator’s Guide to New Year’s Eve 2014

Casual meals, no-cover bars, fun brunch, and other low-key last-minute options.

Find a casual restaurant or no-cover bar, or stock up on plenty of bubbly for New Year's. Photograph via Shutterstock.

When it comes to New Year’s Eve, there are the people who’ve booked their prix-fixe dinner and masquerade ball before Thanksgiving weekend is over. And then there are the rest of us. Whether you have loose plans or none at all, here’s how to get through December 31 and New Year’s Day in casually festive style.

No reservations? Head to a restaurant serving its regular menu.

Places with set meals tend to require reservations, and pricey ones at that. Luckily, there are numerous restaurants offering their normal, delicious menus and many take walk-in customers. Our roundup includes several of the top 20 restaurants from this year’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list, such as Little Serow and Izakaya Seki.

Or don’t go out to eat at all.

The number-one rule of our expert’s guide to New Year’s Eve: Don’t go out on New Year’s Eve. Buy a good bottle of Champagne, find some tasty takeout, and save your money for a delicious meal in 2015 without all the hassle.

Pick a no-cover bar.

Skip the $70 all-you-can-drink-except-the-bar-is-so-crowded-you-can’t-get-a-drink “deal” and find a watering hole doing its normal, boozy thing. Here’s our list of several options, plus a few more from WaPo.

Find a fun New Year’s Day brunch.

As much as NYE dinner can be a pricey pain, NYD brunch is generally gentler on the wallet and just as fun. Think bottomless mimosas, all-you-can-eat tapas, pajama parties, live music, and the added entertainment of gossip from the night before.

Nurse that hangover.

Pedialyte, chili mac, or a half shot of Fernet? The experts—that is, restaurant industry insiders—have all the best cures.

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.