Road Trip: Top 10 Restaurants for Thanksgiving Feasts

Published in Gourmet Live 11.16.11
As part of our monthly collaboration with BlogHer, we’re hanging up our aprons and going cross-country to find the top 10 restaurants serving up Turkey Day feasts

Boulder, Colorado: The Greenbriar Inn

This year the Greenbriar Inn, not to be confused with West Virginia’s Greenbrier, tucked in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just north of Boulder, is serving a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The farm-to-table cuisine served in this quaint country restaurant is paired with your choice of 1,200 award-winning wines from Australia to Argentina and beyond. And the best part about making the short trek just north of downtown Boulder is the 20 acres of open pasture surrounding this historic gem. It’s not uncommon to witness deer, elk, and hawks gracing the view while you dine.

Columbus, Ohio: G. Michael’s Bistro

G. Michael’s Bistro serves amazing Southern-inspired dishes that are perfect for a special Thanksgiving meal. Even my born-and-raised-in-the-South husband raves about the authenticity of G. Mike’s (as locals sometimes call it) shrimp and grits and fried green tomatoes. Set in a renovated home in German Village, it exudes hospitality and charm in the heart of Columbus.

Enjoy a gourmet twist on Thanksgiving with G. Michael’s grilled butternut squash, prepared with fennel, pears, and Maytag blue cheese or their sautéed Brussels sprouts served with toasted almonds and ham hock. Aunt Ethel has never prepared Thanksgiving sides as tasty as these, and when they are paired with their braised short ribs or the more traditional roast turkey, they make for an amazing feast.

Los Angeles: Akasha

Los Angeles may well deserve its rep as the land of fruits and nuts, but chef Akasha Richmond isn’t having any of it. The former celebrity chef’s restaurant in Culver City is known for its use of locally grown organic produce and bold twists on healthy, vegetarian-based fare. But I can dine with serenity knowing I am safe from the dreaded tofurkey on T-Day because Akasha embraces sustainably farmed beef, chicken, and fish. Every year for the past three years, the restaurant has served a Thanksgiving Day meal to hungry Los Angelenos with a three-course prix fixe menu featuring humanely raised, organically fed turkeys. Dude. Gobble gobble.

New York: DuMont

If I wasn’t cooking my own Thanksgiving dinner, I would absolutely want to go to DuMont in Brooklyn. Located in the hipster paradise that is Williamsburg, DuMont is a local institution. Ask anyone and they will be sure to go on and on about how they adore it. From the food to the service to the ambience, it really embodies the essence of the neighborhood. For Thanksgiving this year, they will be sharing comforting classics like pan-roasted quail, turkey with cranberry compote, and corn bread stuffing, as well as nontraditional holiday plates like diver scallops with parsnip puree. I want to feel like I’m a part of the family when I’m eating my Thanksgiving meal, and what better place to experience that than in Brooklyn?

Northampton, Massachusetts: Bluebonnet Diner

Western Massachusetts is no stranger to the noble roadside diner. After all, we are home to the popular Friendly’s franchise! For Thanksgiving, the Bluebonnet Diner in Northampton shines bright as a surprisingly sprawling restaurant with classic diner charm. Perfect for a family of 4 or a group of 40, Bluebonnet has banquet space for large groups and offers both classic and diverse entrées.

The diner serves roasted, stuffed turkey with cranberry sauce, as well as a more casual roast turkey submarine sandwich with grilled peppers and onions. But their real house specialty is the broasted chicken, which is made by marinating and breading chicken and then frying it in a pressure fryer. The process seals in moisture while creating an extra-crispy crust. The chicken is served with cranberry sauce and Waldorf salad. It’s unusual but oh, so delicious.

Philadelphia: City Tavern

The Colonial Thanksgiving menu at Philadelphia’s historic City Tavern is based on accurate re-creations of early-American dishes. Servers dressed in period costumes pass family-size platters of shrimp Newburg vol-au-vent, wild mushroom toast, and mallard-duck sausage appetizers, which are followed up by slices of locally raised, free-range turkey. Recipes in Martha Washington’s own handwriting are the basis for the dessert selection served with Madeira wine. On other nights of the year, City Tavern can feel like so much kitsch, but on the fourth Thursday in November, the 18th-century landmark seems just right.

Sacramento, California: Lounge ON20

With incredible talent from executive chef Pajo Bruich and pastry chef Elaine Baker, the most exciting restaurant in Sacramento at the moment is bringing modern cuisine to California’s capital city at long last. Sacramentans now have the chance to enjoy dishes like lime-cured hamachi with Fresno chile pearls and compressed watermelon alongside comforting classics like fried mac and cheese, all on the menu at Lounge ON20. The restaurant’s artisanal cocktails hold their own with creative flavor profiles and dramatic presentation. It’s a safe bet that Lounge’s modern approach to classic Thanksgiving favorites like sweet potatoes, stuffing, and pumpkin pie will make for an unforgettable holiday meal.

Salt Lake City: Log Haven

Log Haven, one of Salt Lake City’s most celebrated and charming restaurants, sits nestled among the trees in Millcreek Canyon. Although the setting makes you feel as though you could step outside and wrangle your own turkey, Log Haven’s food and wine list are far from rustic. Every Thanksgiving, the restaurant serves a four-course feast featuring your choice of turkey (complete with all the fixin’s), beef, or fish, as well as vegetarian options. The ambience is warm and inviting and sets the stage for a memorable holiday with family and friends.

Woodinville, Washington: The Herbfarm

Imagine Thanksgiving Day at your grandparents’ house—the one with the gourmet chefs, the on-site herb garden, and the best local-food sources. That’s the Herbfarm, a blend of tradition and innovation that inspires me with every meal I enjoy at the restaurant. Around the holidays, the usual tasting menu gives way to turkey dinner with all the classic trimmings. And the best part? Leftovers to take home for a midnight snack!

Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina: Bridge Tender

Traveling south during Thanksgiving? Make your family’s dinner reservations at the Bridge Tender restaurant located just northwest of Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina. You can dine al fresco and take in the beautiful scenery by the water at this spot nestled along the Intracoastal Waterway. The restaurant’s holiday menu is an eclectic mix of local ingredients and Southern coastal flavors. If you can’t be home for Thanksgiving, spend it watching serene blue waters lap against marsh grasses while savoring bites of cinnamon and white chocolate bread pudding—all served with a side of the finest Southern hospitality.

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