It’s starting to become a new tradition: celebrating Thanksgiving with “dinner out” or with home dinners utilizing restaurant takeout. More and more restaurants have jumped on this cash, uh, turkey. The list below begins with some takeout options for tackling the feast. Then comes a longer list featuring restaurants known for good food, plus some that sound like special fun. By the way, if you’re looking for dark-meat turkey as well as breast, most buffets carve whole birds; wherever possible we’ve included this detail for sit-down dinners as well.
Nearly every restaurant open for T-Day is also likely to serve meals on Christmas Eve or Day, New Year’s, Easter, Mom’s Day, Songkran, Divali, Eid al-Fitr, and Yom Kippur. (When the fast’s finished, folks feel famished!) So clip and save this article if you’re looking ahead to eat out on future holidays.
Reserve your T-Day choice today, if not yesterday. Some restaurants may be fully booked already. Many require a credit card number, which may be charged if you’re a no-show.
The restaurants listed below are arranged by geographical area, so you need not drive vast distances drowsing from turkey tryptophan. At the end of the detailed list, you’ll find groups of restaurants (that I can’t vouch for personally) appealing to specific needs and tastes. Most large hotels (check the Yellow Pages), resorts, and gambling casinos also offer Thanksgiving dinners. If you’re stuck in a restaurant-starved region, many casual-dining chains serve holiday dinners of their customary quality. (According to a recent Consumer Reports survey, Mimi’s, with many local branches, is among its readers’ favorites of this ilk.)
Prices quoted below do not include tip, tax, or beverages. “Kiddie prices” generally apply to ages 5–12 (sometimes 3–11). Rug rats usually eat free. Most prices are for multicourse meals or all-you-can-eat buffets, but a few are for à la carte entrées only.
Take-out options range from buying side dishes and desserts, to purchasing a turkey that’s more savory than a supermarket-roasted bird, on up to the entire meal. Choices include:
Authentic Flavors, 7004 Carroll Road, Miramar, 858-404-0606. Free-range turkey dinner, $200 to serve 8–10, $300 for 12–15. Turkey only, $75–$125. Trimmings only, no turkey, $200 to serve up to 15. Preorder up to November 20, pick up in Miramar, or get delivery for $50 more.
Barnes BBQ, 7820 Broadway (at Lemon Grove Avenue), Lemon Grove, 619-462-9206. BYO bird: Tote a fully thawed raw turkey to the BBQ, and they’ll smoke-cook it for you for $1.25 per pound. (They do this for Christmas, too.) Call no later than November 23 to reserve your smoking time. You can pick it up on Wednesday, along with yummy sides of cornbread, pies, veggies, etc.
D.Z. Akin’s, 6930 Alvarado Road, off 70th Street/Lake Murray Boulevard, San Diego, 619-265-0218. Turkey and trimmings, plus breads, rolls, pastries, for pickup on Wednesday. Call daytimes for details and prices; order as soon as possible.
Indigo to Go, 1536 India Street (Cedar), San Diego, 619-234-6802. Butternut-squash soup, corn pudding, and Indian bread pudding to go, in oven-ready reheatable containers. Order before November 22, pick up Tuesday or Wednesday, 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Magnolias, Market Creek Square, 342 Euclid Avenue (off Market Street), Lincoln Park, 619-262-6005. A soul-satisfying Cajun-Creole dinner is yours for $199 (to feed 10–12), or you can just pick up desserts, such as pecan pie. Call by November 20 to reserve dinner; pick it up hot on T-day.
Mardi Gras Café and Marketplace, 3185 Midway Drive, Loma Portal, 619-223-5501. Cajun-style marinated deep-fried turkey, $5 per pound ($4 per pound if you BYO thawed bird), pick up on Wednesday or early Thursday. Order up to two days before. They can also furnish tasty Louisiana-style side dishes.
Pamplemousse (see North Coast). Gourmet takeout dinners available to pick up on T-Day from this famed destination at $50 per person for a full meal. Call at least two days before T-day, minimum order for six persons ($300).
St. Tropez Bakery and Bistro, 858-404-0606. You can get the whole megillah, including roast free-range turkey to feed 8–10 for $199, or to feed 12–15 at $299, with all the trimmings and choice of house-baked pies. Turkey alone, $75 (for 8–10) or $125 (for 12–15); sides also available separately. Order 72 hours in advance, pick up Wednesday or Thursday at the Miramar location, or get delivery for $50.
Savory (see North Coast). Take-home dinner serving 15–16 people for $250, including a roast turkey with all the trimmings and dessert. Whole turkey alone is $90, a half-gobbler is $45, side dishes available à la carte. Order by Sunday night, pick up on T-Day.
Whole Foods Market, locations in Hillcrest (619-294-2800) and La Jolla (858- 642-6700) offers full Thanksgiving meals, available for ordering starting November 10, at live stands in the stores, in-store automated kiosks, or over the internet. (Free tasting in Hillcrest, November 14, noon to 3:00.) Get a natural turkey dinner for six (starting at $100, more for larger groups), a ham dinner, or the turkey-less trimmings for six for $45. Whole meals for one person (turkey, ham, or vegan) also available. Partly cooked whole natural turkeys are $3.99 lb., or $7.99 lb. for organic birds. Pickup available on Wednesday 8:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. and Thanksgiving Day 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.
Arterra, San Diego Marriott Del Mar, 11966 El Camino Real, Carmel Valley, 858-369-6032. Three-course prix-fixe dinner with fresh farm-to-table produce, several choices including boned, smoked free-range turkey roulade (light and dark meat together), sized to give diners nice doggie bags, $40, kids $20, 3:00–7:00 p.m.
Dining Room at the Inn, the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, 858-756-1131. Huge buffet in beautiful setting, $60, kids $24, under 5 free, 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
Four Seasons Resort Aviara, 7100 Four Seasons Point, Carlsbad, 760-603-6800 for all restaurants. Buffets at Argyle Cafe (on golf course) 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. and California Bistro 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m., $85, kids $42.50; the Bistro offers kids’ activities and optional kiddie buffet table. Vivace Restaurant, deluxe four-course menu, $75, kids $38, 5:00–8:00 p.m.
Grand Del Mar, 5200 Grand Del Mar Way, Carmel Valley, 858-314-2000. Addison: four courses, $98, no kiddie price, 2:00–8:00 p.m. Amaya: three-course meal noon–9:00 p.m., $65, $90 with matched wines, $25 kids. La Capella: brunch buffet (a staffer-mom’s favorite), $85, $25 kids, 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.