The way 2016 played out, 2017 surely has to be better, right? Right. We won't judge readers if they just want to stay home, play Prince records and cry, but why not kick 2017 off in style? We've scoured the web for the best local events, and whether readers are in the mood for a fist-pumping blowout or simply a quiet dinner with friends, we feel like there's something here for everyone.
Culinary Hedonism Supper Club
Patrick Ponsaty has been one of San Diego's greatest chefs for some time. This year he opened his own, eponymous restaurant: Ponsaty's Fine Dining + Lounge (6106 Paseo Delicias, Rancho Santa Fe). For this New Year's, Ponsaty's is offering two seatings—a five-course tasting menu at 5 p.m. featuring smoked wild salmon, foie gras torchon, pan seared scallops, filet mignon and a "decadence au chocolate" dessert. The 7:15 p.m. seating will add three courses: an egg surprise appetizer, butter roasted dover sole and a Roquefort Papillon Noir cheese. The dinners start at $75 per person and thereís a $30 corkage fee. Make reservations at ponsatys.com
If the restaurant scene is not what you want for New Year's but you want a superb and celebratory meal, usher in the New Year with Culinary Hedonism Supper Club. Starting at 9 p.m., the New Year's gathering is held at a private residence and features Jon Staenberg, owner of Hand of God Wines in Argentina. Staenberg will pair wine and Champagne from his vineyard with the courses. The New Year's Brunch begins at 11 a.m. and features Justin Gittelman, founder of the San Diego-based Local Juice Company, and a six-course brunch ($150 plus gratuity) featuring pairings of cold pressed, organic, vegan juices and optional champagne. To attend either of the dates, RSVP directly to the Chef at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another great option for New Years is Kitchen 1540 at L'Auberge Del Mar. Chef Nathan Lingle is offering a high end, California-inspired New Year's Eve menu ($125 per person, $40 supplemental with wine pairings, plus tax and gratuity) featuring a raw oyster amuse bouche followed by three savory courses and a dessert, all with wine pairings. The first-course options include duck prosciutto with farmer's market greens, ricotta fritters with pickles and lamb carpaccio. For the second course choose among lobster bisque, pork belly and raviolo with farm egg and truffle. Third course dishes include Baja striped bass, Iberian pork and Wagyu tenderloin. The feature dessert is caffé corretto made with dark chocolate, amaretti, espresso mousse and amaretto ganache. For reservations call 858-793-6460.
New Year's Day is, ultimately as important as New Year's Eve and at Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant Chef de cuisine Tyler Nollenberger has created a meal built around a dish with ingredients considered "lucky" to bring in the New Year. The lucky dish features ham hock-braised black-eyed peas served with buttermilk chive cornbread, Applewood smoked ham and molasses braised greens. Beans and greens are traditionally eaten on New Year's Day in some cultures to represent coins and money, respectively, leading to prosperity for the New Year. Recommended pairings for the holiday dish include BANKERS' Bloody Mary with brunch, and Sloe Ryed cocktail with dinner. You know, hair of the dog. Reserve by calling 619-231-0222 or online at bankershillsd.com.
Photo by Jeff Corrigan
On New Year's Eve, there are blowouts and there are shows that cater to more of an underground audience, but the Psychedelic Masquerade at the Lafayette Hotel (2223 El Cajon Blvd.) finds the middle ground between humble rock show and massive bacchanalia. The event features a '60s psychedelia theme, as a long list of excellent local bands—including The Midnight Pine, Wild Wild Wets, Birdy Bardot, The Schizophonics and The New Kinetics—deliver a series of appealingly trippy live sets on three stages. Masks and proper attire are requested, so class it up—within the psychedelic theme, of course. The surrealist festivities begin at 8 p.m. and the show is limited to ages 21 and up. Tickets begin at $80 and range up to $225 with packages that include drinks, dinner or both. Lafayettehotelsd.com
The best end-of-year parties are usually those where it's intimate, you know everybody there and itís close enough to your home that you can avoid either an expensive cab ride or a gauntlet of inebriated drivers. That's usually the case for most shows at Soda Bar (3615 El Cajon Blvd.), and a headlining set from local indie folk favorites The Donkeys is just the warm, familiar kind of New Year's Eve that'll feel like having a rock 'n' roll show in your living room. At least that's kind of what it's like when I go there. Your mileage may vary, but a good time is guaranteed. Tickets are $20, and the jangly fun starts at 8:30 p.m. Ages 21 and up. sodabarmusic.com
I don't know about you, but the idea of the first thing I hear at midnight on Jan. 1, 2017 being a classic Johnny Cash song sounds extremely appealing. After the Great 2016 Dumpster Fire, we could use the wisdom of the Man in Black more than ever. Cash'd Out has been holding it down in the name of the late great country troubadour for more than a decade, and they're going to carry us to 2017 at The Casbah (2501 Kettner Blvd.). No doubt it'll be a rip-roaring honky-tonk party, but there's a sense of comfort about hearing San Diego's premier Cash cover band tear through songs you know all the words to. I hear my train' a-coming at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Ages 21-and-up. Casbahmusic.com
Photo by Casey Lorz
Big Night San Diego
REALLY BIG PARTIES
At Big Night San Diego, there's no shortage of all the confetti, balloons, noisemakers, glitter and hype that goes into New Year's Eve. With five dance floors, 10 party areas and 12 DJs, the San Diego Hilton Bayfront (1 Park Blvd.) presents Countdown City, a maze of drinking, eating and dancing. With a cocktail in hand, wander between a 91X rock stage, an '80s-themed area, a club dance ballroom, a 93.3 room and a hip-hop zone. Main Event tickets run between $119 and $159 with all-inclusive food and drink. For perks such as premium liquor brands, quicker access to upgraded catering and entry to exclusive stages, there is a VIP ticket option for $189 to $229. Or, go all out with a Velvet Rope Ticket that offers an extra hour of open bar (8 p.m. to 9 p.m.) and private entertainment. Discounts on rooms at the Hilton are also available to keep drivers off the road. bignightsandiego.com
Considering 2016 has been such shit, Infinity NYE knows a double-day farewell is in order. Big names are set to headline both nights with G-Eazy, Illenium and Joyride kicking it off Friday, Dec. 30, from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. On New Year's Eve there's two extra hours of partying with Dada Life, Dillon Francis and Flux Pavilion performing between 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. More than 40 DJs will play on four stages throughout the two-day event at Town and Country Event Center (500 Hotel Cir N.). Rooms at the hotel are available as well, offering late checkout because there's nothing like a New Year's Eve hangover. In the words of Dada Life: "Get ready to arrive beautiful and leave ugly." Tickets range from $43.12 to $169, or check online for bottle service packages. infinitynye.com
When a two-day celebration just isn't enough to shake 2016, LED comes to the rescue with three-day event OMFG! NYE. Dubstep and trap-centric artists DJ Snake, Adventure Club and Jauz will party later into the night than any other New Year's bash. From 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 29, Friday, Dec. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 31, speaker huggers can dance into the early hours at the Valley View Casino Center (3500 Sports Arena Blvd.). As if the main lineup wasn't already stacked enough, Anna Lunoe, Slander, Bro Safari, G.T.A., Jack Beats and more will also be joining in. In case there are some kiddos in the group who haven't reached the drinking age, this is one of the rarer NYE events that allows 18-year-olds and over to attend. Single day tickets are sold out but three-day passes are going for $195. omfgnye.com
Photo courtesy of San Diego Hornblower
New Year’s Eve Dinner Cruise
OTHER COOL EVENTS
Boats and booze aren't always a good mix, but hey, it's not like we'll be the ones steering the thing so why not double fist it? First up, Hornblower Cruises (1800 N Harbor Drive) in Downtown is going with a '20s theme for its Gatsby New Year's Eve Cruise. The four-hour cruise around San Diego Bay includes themed cocktails and music from local jazz talents Sue Palmer and the Bee's Knees. A $209 ticket might seem steep, but keep in mind that includes unlimited Champagne, a reserved table, a four-course dinner and one of the more romantic settings for the requisite midnight kiss. Flappers can board at 8 p.m. and tix are available at hornblower.com. Flagship Cruises (990 N Harbor Drive) has a New Year's Eve Dinner Cruise of its own. For $124.50, it includes a three-course dinner, live music and a hosted bar for an extra $50. It's also kid-friendly ($66 for ages 4-12 and free for babies and toddlers), but they, naturally, must be accompanied by an adult. See flagshipsd.com for full deets, but whatever happens, make sure to yell "I'm on a boat!" at least once.
For readers who just want to have a nice laugh at the expense of 2016, local comedy clubs offer a nice way to laugh your way out of an otherwise suck-ass year. American Comedy Co. (818-B 6th Ave., Downtown) is hosting Big Jay Oakerson, who has appeared on Inside Amy Schumer and is the co-host of "The Most Offensive Podcast on Earth." He plays two shows at $30 each and tickets are available at americancomedyco.com. Another option is The Comedy Palace in Clairemont (8878 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.), which will be hosting its annual New Year's Eve show with Erik Knowles and CityBeat fave Zoltan. The $100 ticket includes a DJ, a Champagne toast, an open bar and, for $25 extra, a dinner buffet.
New Year's Eve hasn't always been the greatest holiday for craft beer lovers. After all, it's usually all about that Champagne and mixed drinks. But Stone Brewing's New Year's Eve Celebration at its Liberty Station location (2816 Historic Decatur Road #116) appears to be some kind of beer-lovers paradise, with dozens of varieties of hoppy creations available. Tickets are $125 and include three glasses of beer (additional beers can be purchased), live music, a cigar lounge and food stations showcasing some of Stone's signature dishes. It starts at 8 p.m. and tickets can be purchased at stonebrewing.com. There will be even more beers to choose from at The Beer Company's Brew Year's Eve. The Gaslamp spot (602 Broadway) will be offering $4 drafts, as well as two-for-$16 premium drinks all night. Best of all, there's no cover.