Top places to eat Thanksgiving dinner in the U.S. (not counting your house)
What beats defrosting a turkey for two days, laboring over creamed kale recipes, frantically cleaning house and awaiting a crush of family members gathering around a crowded table with a sharp knife, dull grudges and the usual stale debates about college football?
If a reservation feels like the best thing you could ever make for Thanksgiving in 2012, you’re not alone.
According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), 14 million Americans will be opting to dine out for the biggest meal of the year. That’s not including the additional 16 million takeout customers on November 22 or all the happy soloists giving thanks at places at Thanksgiving bastions like Taco Bell, Burger King or KFC.
The top reason for moving Thanksgiving to a restaurant, according to NRA consumer reviews, is convenience and the chance to enjoy family without the pleasures of dish-cleaning -- not to mention complicated math formulas to decide the appropriate turkey cooking time. But that doesn’t mean the pleasures of good eating (cooked and served by attentive strangers) isn’t right up there too.
We scoured up-high and down-low for some of the tastiest looking November 22nd out-of-home, prix fixe feasts across the United States.
Turns out there are lots of contenders -- enough for at least 14 million hungry local folks and their families, with plenty of extra tables for out-of-towners looking to partake in all of this grateful gluttony. Here are some finger-licking standouts from coast to coast.
These five will get you started, but please add your suggestions or recommendations in the comments below.
Washington D.C. -- Georgia Brown's
Was it only two weeks ago that the United States was polarized over another national election?
Never mind. A reassuring cast of Washingtonians will all be joining hands and giving thanks together at this Low-Country Cuisine institution that’s been hosting one of the heartiest Thanksgiving Feasts just two blocks away from the White House for the last 20 years.
Start with the She Crab soup, fried green tomatoes or catfish fingers. Choose from one of five entrees -- including turkey of course (roasted or fried), pan-fried trout, prime rib, pork loin or black-eyed pea cakes for vegetarians. Load up on soul food sides. Save room for the cobbler.
Note to non-Americans: Entrees means mains. Starters means entrees. Got it? Salad is something you have before either. Obviously. A glass of water comes before all.
950, 15th St., NW Washington; +1 202 393 4499; $40 (children’s menu, $18); www.gbrowns.com
Boston -- 75 Chestnut
Deep in New England blue-blood country, this converted redbrick-townhouse-turned-cozy-local-bistro-where-everyone-knows-your-name doesn’t shy away from serving old-school American comfort food faves like quahog chowder to its regular Beacon Hill clientele on the fourth Thursday of the month -- or doing something equally creative with a goose.
This year’s Thanksgiving meal (between noon and 6 p.m.) leans a little more standard, kicking off with Harvest pumpkin bisque, and reaching a crescendo with turkey and walnut stuffing, giblet gravy and Pilgrim cranberry-orange sauce, before eventually concluding with rum raisin pudding with fresh berries and chocolate sauce.
Or just go with the pumpkin pie.
Either way, see you next week for Wine Wednesday.
75 Chestnut St., Beacon Hill, Boston; +1 617 227 2175; $55; www.75chestnut.com
Los Angeles -- Akasha
Eating relatively healthy on Thanksgiving might seem totally pointless before entering this hip Culver City restaurant renaissance leader, specializing in New American comfort food staples with all the organic, sustainable, locally-sourced fixins that’ll make you want to stuff your face in Birkenstocks.
Akasha’s creative and relatively guilt-free Thanksgiving feast (not to worry, they offer a mac and cheese side dish) features starters like cauliflower bisque with truffle salt and toasted sage leaves and a fuyu persimmon salad with arugula, Midnight Moon goat cheese, red walnuts and a pomegranate vinaigrette. Herb-roasted turkey comes from the local farm, and is accompanied by chestnut stuffing and cranberry chutney.
Or if that’s too irresponsible, stick with the herb and peppercorn crusted tofu with roasted chanterelle mushrooms before closing with a slice of vegan pumpkin-cashew pie.
9543 Culver Blvd., Culver City, California; +1 310 845 1700; $65; www.akasharestaurant.com
Mountain View, Arkansas -- The Skillet
The most inviting-looking public Thanksgiving event in the heart of Arkansas Mountain Country (because we know you were wondering) will be in full force again this year at Ozark Folk Center State Park -- a living history facility dedicated to preserving the rich natural and cultural heritage of the Ozarks and the scenic town of Mountain View, aka “The Folk Music Capital of the World.”
Come for the huge Thanksgiving buffet (11 a.m.-2 p.m.) at the park’s restaurant, The Skillet, for a no-nonsense, priced-right assortment of artery-shocking staples -- fried chicken, beef tips, ham steak with grilled pineapple and onions, candied yams and buttered carrots. Come back at 7 p.m. for the Gospel Concert, featuring an equally hearty lineup of local musical guests.
1032 Park Ave., Mountain View, Arkansas; +1 800 264 3655; $15.95 ($8.95 kids under nine); www.ozarkfolkcenter.com
That is our starter list for Thanksgiving. What are your recommendations?