10 Thanksgiving Meals We’re Dying to Try
Tired of carving the turkey? We fully support swapping the homemade meal for a no-work-required feast at a top-rate restaurant. Here are nine spots turning out mouthwatering spreads, where all you have to do is EAT.
Marin Restaurant & Bar, Minneapolis
We all know Thanksgiving marks the beginning of a downward diet spiral, but chef Mike Rakun's healthy three-course dinner will keep you on track. Start off with a glass of Beaujolais in the downstairs library before dining on cream-free butternut squash puree topped with spiced crème fraiche and a baby greens salad mixed with poached pear, crunchy pumpkin seeds, and Amblu cheese. Instead of sugary candied yams, Rakun uses coconut milk in his sweet potatoes, and charred Brussels sprouts are a welcome alternative to a caloric green bean casserole. The free-range turkey is dressed up with a cranberry-cilantro relish, and the apple pie is made with fruit from local farms.
Café Adelaide, New Orleans
The holiday dinner at this NoLa institution is an ode to legendary socialite Adelaide (who was known among friends and relatives as "Auntie Mame and then some"). Decadent plates like the cranberry and pepper jelly-glazed Brussels sprouts and foie gras-butternut squash puree are mere introductions to the main event⎯a turducken, or roasted quail stuffed with duck boudin and turkey. A rich cheesecake drizzled with sugarcane syrup tops off the meal.
Over 40 dishes grace the Thanksgiving menu at this sleek restaurant, overlooking Austin's Lady Bird Lake. Some plates get a Texas twist--the ham is glazed with a sweet and spicy habanero honey; prime rib is oak smoked--while others are upgrades on the holiday classics. If you'd rather go light, there's a top-notch octopus and shrimp salad with radish and tomatillo. Tip: Make sure to snag a waterfront table to see Austin's famous bats flood out from under Congress Bridge at dusk.
Roka Akor, Scottsdale
At this contemporary Japanese restaurant, Chef Jason Alford whips up a turkey-centric feast using the restaurant's signature open charcoal robata grill. The result? An Asian-inspired spread that includes a whole turkey leg bathed in a cranberry glaze and served with wild mushrooms and togarashi, or Japanese chili peppers. Other highlights: muscovy duck breast with an Oregon huckleberry glaze, golden beets, and a roasted celery root puree; and braised oxtail kamameshi, a rice dish mixed with swiss chard, Vidalia onion, and daikon radish comfit.
Sambar, Los Angeles
Chef Akasha Richmond’s eponymous restaurant ALWAYS packs a full house on Thanksgiving. This year she’s extending her Indian-inspired meal to her newest restaurant, Sambar, in Culver City. The meal is a welcome departure from classic turkey day dishes and includes a Bengali five spice jalapeno cornbread stuffing, a south Indian green bean stir fry with curry leaves and coconut, and a garam masala and tomato-braised turkey. End the meal on a sweet note, with a chai spiced pumpkin pie.
Crossroads, Los Angeles
You might warm the same seats as Beyoncé, Oprah and Bill Clinton when you dine at this forest-to-table restaurant helmed by executive chef Scot Jones. His all-vegan Thanksgiving menu includes sweet potato biscuits and a hearty chopped salad (kohlrabi, granny smith apples, persimmons, and a pomegranate vinaigrette), as well as a rosemary and hazelnut scaloppini with a cranberry cabernet sauce. If you love the decadent pumpkin parfait, pick up Jones' latest cookbook, Crossroads, for the recipe.
The four-course menu at this Michelin-starred restaurant reads like poetry ⎯ and the dishes look like works of art. Nashi pear comes alongside cured Atlantic salmon topped with trout roe, and white quinoa bathes in a Tuscan kale broth with pork rillettes. The roasted turkey has a chestnut stuffing, and the pumpkin dessert is dressed up with yogurt and honeycomb.
Gotham Bar & Grill
Now in its 31st year, this iconic NYC restaurant is still a favorite for holiday blowouts. Thanksgiving is no exception, thanks to its lively atmosphere and festive menu ⎯ roasted cauliflower with dried apricot, marcona almonds, and red grapes; turkey and duck confit cherry stuffing. Book a table near the floor-to-ceiling windows for prime people-watching along Greenwich Village's tree-lined streets.
If there’s ever a time to embrace the all-you-can-eat buffet, it’s now. Or so thinks chef Jonathan Waxman, who delivers traditional dishes with a modern spin in his downtown Nashville restaurant. His turkey breasts might be roasted, but the bird's legs are braised, and Brussels sprouts are dressed up with thick-cut bacon and shaves of Parmesan. It's hard not to fill up on the homemade buttermilk biscuits at the beginning of the meal, but be sure to leave room for a trio of sweet endings: apple crumble topped with vanilla ice cream, pumpkin pie and homemade cookies.
Mercat a la Planxa, Chicago
When early settlers broke bread with Native Americans, they didn’t have a Serrano ham carving station, but we’re willing to expand our holiday horizons to justify a Thanksgiving meal at this modern Spanish restaurant. Catalan-inspired dishes include bacon-wrapped dates and a rift on New England's oyster stuffing ⎯ a winter squash bread pudding made with razor clams, saffron, and sherry pan jus.