With COVID-19 cases spiking in many locales and families discouraged from traveling or gathering in large groups, the number of restaurants offering Thanksgiving feasts to go seems to snowball every day. A little over a week out, it feels like operators who are not offering a holiday dinner for takeout or delivery are in the minority.
Not only is there a much greater selection of off-premise options, the creativity and flexibility of these meals is noticeably higher. There are complete family feasts for two to 10 (the maximum number recommended by the CDC), as well as inventive sides to order on their own, plenty of non-turkey entrees and a diversity of flavor profiles. Here’s a roundup of the more unique offerings in every segment.
Kicking it off with Friendsgiving
The tradition of Friendsgiving began with pals gathering for pot luck dinners prior to Thanksgiving Day—a celebration with peers before traveling off to family meals on the fourth Thursday of November. Since fewer people are traveling this year, Kimpton Hotels is keeping the tradition alive with special Friendsgiving menus for small get-togethers until Dec. 31. The hotel group is also partnering with No Kid Hungry, donating a portion of the proceeds from the meals, cocktails or menu items sold to the charity. For example, Tre Rivali at the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel is contributing $1 from every sale of the P&P (spiced pumpkin and prosecco) cocktail and Panzano at Kimpton Hotel Monaco Denver is donating $1 for every order of brussels sprouts. Select restaurants will also provide ways to gift a meal to loved ones.
Thanksgiving with an Italian accent
Three Italian chains—Brio Tuscan Grill, Buca di Beppo and Bravo! Italian Kitchen—are offering Thanksgiving dinners that reflect both all-American and Italian flavor traditions. All include roast turkey and gravy, but sides such as broccolini, stuffing made with spicy Italian sausage and mashed potatoes with roasted garlic are also on the menu. Prices range from $28.99 for an individual dinner to $68.99 for a family meal for three and $219.99 for a feast for 10.
A choice of bird or beef
Turkey is the typical centerpiece on the Thanksgiving table, and Firebirds Wood-Fired Grill has it covered. The turkey feast from the casual-dining chain includes the roasted bird and gravy, Parmesan mashed potatoes, cornbread dressing, broccoli-cheddar casserole, spiced green beans and pumpkin cheesecake, with a tray of deviled eggs to get the festivities started. The price is $139.95 for up to six and $249.95 for up to 12 diners. But for families that prefer beef, there’s also a prime rib feast ($169.95 for up to six and $299.95 for 12).
This turkey is smokin’
Mighty Quinn’s, a small fast-casual chain that specializes in barbecue, is offering up a pit-roasted turkey dinner to feed eight to 10. Included is the 10- to 12-pound bird, Southern cornbread stuffing, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato casserole, string beans, gravy and cranberry sauce for $185. Or customers can order just the smoked turkey and gravy for $90.
Spinning over a wood fire
Wood-fired cooking is thespecialty at Cowboy Chicken, and the fast-casual chain is menuing a bird prepared that way in its Rotisserie Turkey Holiday Package. The star of the package is a 10- to 12-pound wood-fired rotisserie turkey accompanied by twice-baked potatoes, country-style stuffing a dozen dinner rolls and peach cobbler. It’s priced at $109.99, but the whole turkey alone is $49.99 or $54.99 for those who prefer it sliced.
Feasting Middle Eastern-style
At Lebanese Taverna, the kitchen is turning out Thanksgiving meals that fit diverse backgrounds. Along with the usual roast turkey or chicken with gravy, the family owned Washington, D.C.-based chain has roast American leg of lamb and roasted lamb shoulder on the menu, both of which come with a three-herb sauce. They’re served on a bed of rice spiced with cinnamon, cloves and allspice and studded with toasted nuts. Favorites such as mashed potatoes and sautéed zucchini are available as sides, but there are also Lebanese-style side dishes, including roasted za’atar potatoes and fried cauliflower with pomegranate-tahini sauce.
Sticking to sides
For home cooks who want to roast their own turkey but don’t want to fuss with the trimmings, J. Alexander’s is focusing on Thanksgiving sides to go. Guests can pre-order just one or all eight for pickup on 11/24 or 11/25. There’s a choice of mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, broccoli, orzo and wild rice, roasted carrots and more. Snooze An A.M. Café specializes in breakfast and brunch, so for Thanksgiving the chain is offering a French toast meal kit to enjoy in the morning or along with the turkey. The Overnight Pumpkin Brioche French Toast Bake ($50) serves four to six and comes with a salad and fruit. There’s also a heat-and-serve Thanksgiving Harvest Casserole for $55.
Turkey goes Cajun
In New Orleans, families can celebrate Thanksgiving Cajun-style with a brined, boudin-stuffed turkey from Cochon Butcher and La Boulangerie, part of the Link Restaurant Group. The turkey is boned and stuffed, with the legs left intact. When rolled up and trussed, it looks just like a whole bird but is easier to carve. New this year is a whole turkey smoked in-house as well. Soups, sides and gravy are also on hand in small (feeds four to six) and large sizes (for 10 to 12 people.) Included in the lineup are shrimp and eggplant dressing, broccoli and rice casserole, mac ‘n cheese, smothered greens, Cochon’s parbaked dinner rolls and several desserts, such as pecan pie and red velvet cake.
Fine dining at home
This year, many couples are celebrating Thanksgiving on their own, so Michelin-starred Aquavit in New York City has curated a takeout package for two guests. The entree for the Scandinavian-influenced dinner is a smoked turkey leg and fennel and caraway spiced turkey breast, accompanied by rye and pork sausage stuffing, creamed cabbage, green bean and tarragon salad, kale and orange salad, lingonberries and apple crumble pie with vanilla custard. The dinner for two is $175 and customers have the option of adding an extra indulgence of caviar with waffle, sour cream and chives for $36 to $95 more.