A Short Guide to Restaurant Thanksgiving

Don’t feel like cooking? Not a problem, if you plan ahead.

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By Nikita Richardson

The countdown to Thanksgiving has officially begun. And while most people gather at a loved one’s house for dinner (4 p.m. or bust!), a brave, avant-garde few forgo the headaches and the dishwashing and their worst relatives, choosing instead to leave the work to the professionals.

Whether you’re a restaurant Thanksgiving lifer, or you’re just ready to put more emphasis on the “thanks” than the “giving,” I’ve got six stellar dinner recommendations to share.

A Fine Dining Lover’s Thanksgiving

As I’ve said before, holidays are the best time to get into the restaurants you’ve been waiting to try, like Barbuto 2.0. The chef, Jonathan Waxman, and his crew are putting an Italian twist on the holiday with braised turkey ragù and stuffing made with ciabatta as part of a $125 prix fixe menu. But the real draw is the Barbuto classics on offer, like “the One True Kale Salad” and the JW potatoes that are “roasted to a crisp flakiness that almost no other kitchen seems able to achieve,” as Pete Wells put it in his review. Book on Resy.

Or maybe you’d love to experience the sheer elegance of the dining room at Ci Siamo as well as the culinary bona fides of its chef, Hillary Sterling. The restaurant’s $138 four-course prix fixe menu pretty much disregards Thanksgiving (with the exception of a turkey saltimbocca). Enjoy the incredible, bellywarming caramelized onion torta, followed by the oxtail cappelletti, and finish with the chocolate budino. Did I just give you a cheat sheet? Why yes I did. Make reservations on Resy.

For the Thanksgiving Traditionalists

If you believe in an unbreakable Thanksgiving menu code — turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, stuffing, pumpkin pie — consider a reservation at Friend of a Farmer in Gramercy. The interior serves country house chic, and the restaurant will be serving oven-roasted turkey with gravy, cornbread stuffing, mashed potatoes and maple sweet potatoes alongside crostini, corn chowder and deep-dish apple pie, for $71 per person. You can grab a table via Resy.

In Harlem, Melba’s has a proper feast planned for $69 per person. Again, there are plenty of traditional options (turkey with sausage stuffing, candied yams, mac and cheese). But most important, Melba’s will be serving ham, the once and future main of all great Thanksgiving spreads. Reserve a table on the restaurant website.

Alternatively, there’s Celestine in Dumbo, where the meal comes with stunning views of the Manhattan Bridge. Expect the usual turkey, brussels sprouts, sourdough stuffing and pumpkin pie, but also whole branzino, and vegetarian and vegan pasta. This is a great option for parties with different diets. The meal is $125 per person ($60 per child), with an optional $50 wine pairing per person. You can book a table on its website.

No Prix Fixe, No Rules Thanksgiving

If Olive Garden hadn’t already coined it, I would encourage Uncle Lou to adopt the slogan “when you’re here, you’re family.” The place just has a warm glow about it. And luckily for Thanksgiving nontraditionalists, it will be open on Thanksgiving, with Uncle Lou himself pacing back and forth, directing the wait staff like a symphony conductor.

Reservations are available for parties of six or more (just call the restaurant). Over the garlicky pea shoots, a heaping platter of ginger fried rice and the poached chicken in a rich, flavorful broth, see if you don’t give up Thanksgiving at home all together.

In Other News …

If you’re most definitely cooking this year, you can start building your menu with this New York Times Cooking collection of Thanksgiving recipes.

Pete Wells reviewed Claud, the restaurant from two Momofuku vets that’s part French wine bar, part fine dining establishment and “one of the most impressive new restaurants that the East Village has seen in several years.”

Openings: The Greek restaurant Molyvos moved to a smaller space on 43rd Street; Naro, the latest restaurant from the Atomix and Atoboy team is now open at Rockefeller Center as is Tatiana, the chef Kwame Onwuachi’s new restaurant at Lincoln Center.

Major Food Group (Carbone, The Grill, Sadelle’s and more) may be New York-grown but its founders’ ambitions are decidedly global, reports Julia Moskin.

Brett Anderson followed members of the powerful Las Vegas-based Culinary Workers Union 226 as they canvassed ahead of the midterm elections.

Gael Greene, the inaugural restaurant critic for New York magazine and a co-founder of Citymeals on Wheels, died this week. She was 88.

Julie Powell, the writer and author best known for chronicling the year she spent cooking the recipes of Julia Child as part of her Julie/Julia Project, died on Oct. 26 at 49.

New York’s most unlikely hot spot might just be the Bar at Moynihan in Penn Station, reports Becky Hughes.

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