Where to Eat on New Year's 

Our annual guide to New Year's dining.

To its usual Mediterranean-inspired small-plate menu — which features, among other bold moves, wild-boar salami — À Côté is adding a few higher-end items including grilled lobster Thermidor and rib-eye steak. "It's pretty festive in here," we are promised, as "there tends to be dancing on the bar around midnight. And we won't close until the party's over." 510-655-6469; 5478 College Ave., Oakland, ACoteRestaurant.com

Free parking and three separate seatings — at 5/5:30 p.m., 7/7:30 p.m., and 9:30/10 p.m. — will keep the flow going at B Restaurant, whose menu will feature entrées such as oxtail-and-scallops "surf & turf" with cauliflower puree, rack of lamb and braised kale, and block-cut rib eye with white truffles and wood-oven-roasted rosemary potatoes. 510-251-8770; 499 Ninth St., Oakland, BOakland.com

Bay Wolf always serves duck on New Year's Eve, so why mess with a good thing? A $95 multicourse dinner offers diverse choices amid "very festive" holiday decor and extended hours: They'll seat diners until 10:30 p.m. 510-655-6004; 3853 Piedmont Ave., Oakland, BayWolf.com

A $95 four-course prix-fixe dinner awaits those who choose Bing Crosby's 5-5:30 p.m. and 7-7:30 p.m. seatings. But it's a $125, five-course meal with complimentary midnight champagne toast for those who choose the evening's final 9-9:30 p.m. seating — and you get to keep your champagne flute and party favors. As lavish as the retro 1930s country-club/holiday decor is the menu, whose options include seared foie gras, ahi-tuna tartare with avocado mousse, wild-mushroom turnovers, lobster risotto, champagne-citrus salad, champagne sorbet with pomegranate syrup, pistachio-fig cake, and many more. 925-939-2464; 1342 Broadway Plaza, Walnut Creek, BingCrosbysRestaurant.com

Casually elegant Bridges Restaurant and Bar, immortalized as the setting of a hilarious dinner scene in Mrs. Doubtfire, is offering a four-course prix-fixe dinner for $85. 925-820-7200; 44 Church St., Danville, BridgesDanville.com

Offering an innovative Italian menu with specials that change daily, Bucci's will offer "more special specials" and the arty, airy, lofty space will be decorated in "an even more festive manner than usual." It will also stay open later than usual, serving dinner until 10:30 p.m., and will take reservations — which it usually doesn't. 510-547-4725; 6121 Hollis St., Emeryville, Buccis.com

New Year's Eve is always "a big night for us" at Casa Orinda, where thousands of multicolored balloons and streamers further enhance the charm of a cherished favorite whose 75-year history gives it a Wild West ambience any day of the year. They'll serve their standard menu, along with a few specials, from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. 925-254-2981; 20 Bryant Way, Orinda.

Opening a bit earlier than usual and decorated to the hilt, Chez Panisse will offer a more-elaborate-than-usual prix-fixe dinner in the downstairs restaurant. Upstairs at the cafe, live music augments an à la carte menu. 510-548-5525; 1517 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, ChezPanisse.com

Vegetarian specialties are among many options in the five-course $100 prix-fixe menu at Citron. 510-653-5484; 5484 College Ave., Oakland, CitronRestaurant.com

The "Demised Fish of the Day" and "Other Dead Things" — in other words, the regular fresh-seafood menu — is on offer at the Dead Fish, where you can await 2008 with a magnificent view of the Carquinez Strait and bridge. 510-787-3323; 20050 San Pablo Ave., Crockett, TheDeadFish.com

Keep the roads safe by dining at balloon-festooned Downtown, a block from Downtown Berkeley BART, where seating for a $48 three-course prix-fixe meal begins at 5:30 p.m. and seating for an $85 four-course meal begins at 8:30 p.m. A pianist will entertain diners during the first seating. During the latter, party favors, midnight champagne, dancing, and a live band crank up the atmosphere. 510-649-3810; 2102 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, DowntownRestaurant.com

A $325-per-couple overnight ballroom package created by Faz Pleasanton in conjunction with the Four Points Hotel by Sheraton includes a deluxe room for two, hors d'oeuvres, all-night open bar, buffet dinner, party favors, midnight champagne toast, and DJs with dancing until 1 a.m. Party favors and a midnight champagne toast are included. Sans hotel room, the package is available for $225 per couple, $113 per person. 925-460-0434; 5121 Hopyard Road, Pleasanton, FazRestaurants.com

Although Eccolo will close for lunch, it will stay open late for dinner: from 6 to 10 p.m. Made with organic and locally grown ingredients, a four-course menu — $110 with wine pairings, $75 without — displays chef Christopher Lee's best with tantalizers like green garlic soufflé with artichokes and wild nettles; shellfish soup with scallops; mushroom fritto with gremolata; cassoulet with duck confit, garlic sausage, and white beans; and Meyer lemon éclairs. 510-644-0444; 1820 4th St., Berkeley, Eccolo.com

Open until 12:30 a.m. as usual, Fonda will feature festive decor and its regular South-of-the-border small-dish fare. 510-559-9006; 1501 Solano Ave., Albany, FondaSolana.com

"Meat" the New Year at Forbes Mill Steakhouse, whose regular menu — heavy on the prime rib, porterhouse, and Kobe Brand steak — will be augmented with some specials. 925-552-0505; 200 Sycamore Valley West, Danville, ForbesMillSteakhouse.com

If on ordinary nights chef Scott Sasaki can whip up white-nectarine flatbread and Kobe beef tartare at Garibaldi's, then imagine what might go into his $85 multicourse prix-fixe New Year's Eve menu.510-595-4000; 5356 College Ave., Oakland, Garibaldis-EastBay.com

On the waterfront, Hs Lordships is offering special menus for $40 and $70, including appetizer, soup, entrée, and dessert, with servings at 4:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. A live blues band provides the beats. 510-843-2733; 199 Sea Wall Dr. Berkeley, HsLordships.com

Reservations are strongly recommended at Italian Colors, whose New Year's Eve à la carte menu has quite the following. Dazzlers include duck-leg confit, lobster bisque, oysters on the half-shell, gnocchi polonaise, vegetable-stuffed portobello mushrooms, braised short ribs, and filet mignon. Starters range from $8-$14, entrées $20-36. 510-482-8094; 2220 Mountain Blvd., Oakland, ItalianColorsRestaurant.com

Serving at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Lalime's has devised a $100 prix-fixe meal that comprises eight courses including rabbit terrine, roast lobster, beef tenderloin, and duck with truffles and wild mushrooms, plus sorbet and cheese plate. 510-527-9838; 1329 Gilman St., Berkeley, Lalimes.com

At La Rose Bistro, a $40 three-course dinner with servings at 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. features California-French specialties; this is the place that on ordinary days brings you veal sweetbreads with Banyuls demiglace, escargot and mushroom millefeuille, and salmon tartare. 510-644-1913; 2037 Shattuck Sq., Berkeley, LaRoseBistro.com

Bistro Liaison is offering a four-course prix-fixe dinner. 510-849-2155; 1849 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, LiaisonBistro.com

The menu at Luna Ristorante is $39.95 for three courses, $29.95 for one course. À la carte options also available, with three servings — at 5 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m. 925-691-4080; 2118 Willow Pass Rd. 100B, Concord.

Hawaiian-inspired Mahalo Grille will have decor and some kind of champagne-cocktail thing going on," along with a prix-fixe meal showcasing seafood and steak. 925-462-2800; 425 Main St., Pleasanton, MahaloGrille.com

Eclectically nautical Maritime East will serve only a $75 four-course prix-fixe menu, with seatings at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. At both seatings, the price includes a glass of champagne to start the meal and party favors to rock it. 510-848-9299; 2826 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, MaritimeEast.com

There's a new rim in town: the "Mediterranean Rim," as it is called and celebrated at casual-chic Mezze, whose chef pushes the Cal-Greek-cocktail envelope. Ring in the New Year here with a $75 four-course dinner or a $100 six-course dinner, wine pairings extra and optional. Servings are at 5:30 and 7:30, but "we'll stay open as long as people are here." 510-663-2500; 3407 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, Mezze.com

Head for the hills, where the Montclair Bistro offers a special three-course meal and doesn't forget about families: While the meal is $75 for adults, it's only $37 for kids under twelve. Options include Maine lobster bisque, grilled sea bass, artichoke-eggplant-tomato Napoleon, and a praline creampuff swan. 510-482-8282; 6118 Medau Pl., Montclair Village, Oakland, MontclairBistro.com

"A night in Venice" is the theme at Oliveto. The 6 p.m. seating features a four-course meal ($85 upstairs, $75 downstairs) and the 8 p.m. seating features five courses ($130 upstairs, $100 downstairs). Canal-city specialities such as lobster-wild mushroom risotto, winter root vegetables with black truffles, spit-roasted duck, pork-and-chesnut sausage, and blood orange-pomegranate sgroppino. Live band upstairs. 510-547-5356; 5655 College Ave., Oakland, Oliveto.com

Even if they didn't feed you, the view from Paragon Bar and Cafe would almost be worth the price. But they will feed you — a four-course prix-fixe meal for $100, with the last diner seated at 10 p.m. 510-549-8585; 41 Tunnel Rd. in the Claremont Hotel, Berkeley, ClaremontResort.com

Spanning five rooms in a sprawling historic brick-walled, slate-roofed former post office, atmospheric Postino is serving a prix-fixe menu in addition to its regular menu. 925-299-8700; 3565 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, PostinoRestaurant.com

Riva Cucina's chef-owner Massimiliano Boldrini has crafted an eight-course prix-fixe menu whose options include three different kinds of oysters, crab claw with avocado and blood orange, butternut-squash ravioli, chestnut pappardelle, grilled striped bass, and fruit cooked with honey and mustard seeds. Also on the menu is a specialty from Boldrini's native Ferrara: sausage long-cooked in broth, served with mashed lentil, chestnut, and balsamic reduction. Servings, at 5:30 and 8:30 p.m. 510-841-7482; 800 Heinz Ave., Berkeley, RivaCucina.com

Known for its small plates and vegetarian specialties, Six Degrees on Solano plans a New Year's Eve menu featuring pan-seared sea scallops with blood-orange reduction, escargot gateaux with white truffle oil, torchon of foie gras with pomegranate gastrique, duck à l'orange, grilled Niman filet mignon with chanterelles, salmon with lemon caper beurre blanc, signature cocktails, and more. Three shows feature East Bay performers: guitarist-composer Matthew Charles Heulitt, vocalist Moorea Dickason, drummer David Flores, and multi-instrumentalist Tarik Ragab. 510-528-1237; 1403 Solano Ave., Albany, SixDegrees6.com

At Skates on the Bay, gaze out the windows for a dazzling view or gaze at the party favors and complimentary champagne. Expanding its hours and menu — adding customer favorites such as crab-stuffed mahi, prime rib, and peppercorn salmon — Skates will open for dinner at 4 p.m. instead of the usual 5, and will serve until 11 p.m. The bar will stay open until midnight. 510-549-1900; 100 Sea Wall Dr., Berkeley.

Spenger's Fresh Fish Grotto will augment its regular à la carte mainly-seafood menu with some holiday specials. It's a tradition here to watch the televised festivities in New York City's Times Square, culminating at 9 p.m. 510-845-7771; 1919 Fourth St., Berkeley, Spengers.com

Serving until 11 p.m. instead of its usual 9:30, the historic Townhouse Bar and Grill will serve its usual menu along with some holiday specials, amid an eclectic atmosphere in a space dating back to 1926. 510-652-6151; 5862 Doyle St., Emeryville, TownhouseBarAndGrill.com

Renowned as the place that invented tropical kitsch, Trader Vic's is finalizing "a small special menu" of "high-end à la carte specials," and will be open its usual hours. 510-653-3400; 9 Anchor Dr., Emeryville.

"Everybody's getting dolled up" at Venus, where balloons and other decor augment a $75 prix-fixe menu, with or without wine pairings, whose many choices include grass-fed beef tenderloin, Dungeness crab salad, and made-from-scratch cognac-flamed lobster bisque. 510-540-5950; 2327 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, VenusRestaurant.net

"Everybody's gonna be here and it's gonna be a great night" at the Warehouse Bar and Grill, where a DJ will get the party started and keep it movin', movin', movin'. 510-451-3161; 4th and Webster streets, Oakland, TheWarehouseBar.net

A glass of brut comes with the main course, and well-qualified staff members offer their assistance on pairings for the others at Wente Vineyards, where an $85 four-course prix-fixe menu (price doesn't include wine) is in the works at press time. Lacking "midnight fanfare," Wente offers "more of a soft, quiet, romantic New Year's Eve." 925-456-2450; 5050 Arroyo Rd., Livermore, WenteVineyards.com

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