El Fandango, Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, 2734 Calhoun Street, 619-298-2860. Whole turkey and trimmings, $25 per person for four or more, kids TBA, you take home the leftovers; singles and smaller groups get entrée plates for $25 each, noon–7:00 p.m.
Grant Grill, 326 Broadway, downtown, 619-744-2077. Lavish holiday buffet in Palm Court, beautiful room with live jazz, $65, $57 seniors, $22 kids, seatings noon–3:00 p.m. Grant Grill offers a gala tasting menu including chestnut-sausage stuffed turkey leg, three courses for $40, four for $60, all five for $80; verify hours when reserving.
Imperial House, 505 Kalmia Street (at Sixth Avenue), uptown, 619-234-3525. Four-course dinner by Balboa Park, many entrée choices including light and dark turkey, $30, kids $20, 1:00–7:00 p.m.
Inn at the Park, 525 Spruce Street (Fifth Avenue), Hillcrest, 619-291-0999. A jolly atmosphere with singalong show tunes from the piano bar; three-course T-day spread includes four entrée choices, light or dark turkey or vegetarian, $30, kids TBA, with seatings at 3:00, 5:00, and 7:00 p.m.
Bice Ristorante, 425 Island Avenue, Gaslamp Quarter, 619-239-2423. Five-course family-style dinner, partly Italian, partly American, with communal pasta course and several entrée choices including “innovative” turkey stuffed with pancetta, chestnuts, berries. Adults $50, kids up to 15 free with purchase of one adult prix fixe, noon–8:00 p.m.
Lael’s Restaurant, Manchester Grand Hyatt, One Market Place, downtown, 619-358-6735. Huge buffet includes sushi by well-known “chef Kaz,” free-range turkey, volcanic salt-crusted roast beef, $65, seniors $30, kids $10, 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Maryjane’s Coffee House, Hard Rock Hotel, 207 Fifth Avenue (L Street), Gaslamp Quarter, 619-764-6950. Fifties soda-shop atmosphere, no reservations taken, three courses for $28, kids TBA, 11:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
McCormick and Schmick’s, Omni Hotel, 675 L Street (at Sixth Avenue), downtown, 619-645-6545. Three-course prix fixe $23, kids $16, or à la carte (turkey entrée, $18), 11:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.
The Prado, House of Hospitality, Balboa Park, 619-557-9441. Three courses in beautiful park setting and garden patio, with a glass of champagne, four entrée choices including turkey breast plus leg roulade, $50, $13 kids, including beverage, 3:00–8:00 p.m.
Quarter Kitchen, Andaz Hotel, 600 F Street at Sixth Avenue, Gaslamp Quarter, 619-814-1000. Ambitious new chef Michael Liotta serves brunch until noon, then begins a five-course dinner with galantine of light and dark turkey as the entrée, $55. Call for hours and kids’ price.
Rei Do Gado, 939 4th Avenue, Gaslamp Quarter, 619-702-8464. Brazilian skewer-grilled meats including turkey breast, plus side dishes. Lunch $28.50, 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m., dinner $48, 4:00–about 10:00 p.m, kids half-price at both meals.
Sally’s, Manchester Grand Hyatt, One Market Place, downtown, 610-358-6740. Prix-fixe four-course dinner, $40, three courses, $35, kids $15; regular menu also available, 5:30–9:30 p.m.
San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, 619-557-3964 (call 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m.). Sit-down dinner at Albert’s, $38, $14 kids, 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Buffet at Treetops, $43, $16 kids, noon–4:00 p.m. Zoo admission for nonmembers is extra. Reservations required.
Suite and Tender, Hotel Se, 1047 Fifth Avenue (Broadway), downtown, 619-515-3003. Heartily sorry for their original outlandish “Vegas” vibe, their penance (community service) is to offer three courses including herbed turkey breast and shredded leg confit for only $20, 5:00–10:00 p.m. (kids TBA). Spiffy surroundings, plus seasonal specials through the weekend.
Terra, 1270 Cleveland Avenue, Hillcrest, 619-293-7088. Three-course holiday dinner with five main-course choices including dark and light turkey and vegetarian entrée, $35, kids $12.50, noon–7:00 p.m.
Vela, San Diego Bayfront Hilton Hotel, One Park Boulevard at Harbor Drive, 619-564-3333. Indoor-outdoor venue with bayfront view; three-course prix fixe includes organic roast turkey (regular menu also available), $45 per person, $60 complete with wine pairing, children six and under $15, noon–7:00 p.m.
Westgate Hotel, 1055 Second Avenue, downtown, 619-557-3655. Le Fontainebleau and Versailles Ballroom, champagne buffet, $65, kids $32.50, 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m. (last seating 5:00 p.m.). Westgate Room, four-course prix fixe, $59, kids $25 11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Coronado and South Bay
Coronado Boathouse 1887, 1701 Strand Way, Coronado, 619-435-0155. Prix-fixe dinner with traditional turkey entrée (light and dark), $35, kids $15, in casual bayfront setting, 2:00–8:00 p.m.
Hotel Del Coronado, 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado, 619-522-8490 and 435-6611. Holiday buffets in both the Ballroom, noon–4:00 p.m. and the gorgeous Crown Room, noon–6:00 p.m., $85, kids $37.50. Ice-skating rink open.
Loews Coronado Bay Resort, 4000 Coronado Bay Road, Silver Strand, Coronado, 619-424-400 x6300. Mistral features chef Patrick Ponsaty’s three-course prix-fixe feast for $39 (plus regular fall menu), 5:00–9:00 p.m. Market Cafe offers a buffet from 1:00–5:00 p.m., $55, kids $25.
Peohe’s, Ferry Landing Marketplace, 1201 First Street, Coronado, 619-437-4474. Waterfront view, tropical decor, turkey dinner with all the trimmings (dark and light meat), $28, kids $10, 11:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m.
East County and Far East
Note: Most casinos are in this area and serve lavish T-day dinners in their various venues. Barona (888-722-7662) and Viejas (619-445-5400) are especially known for good food at generally reasonable prices. Phone for details, hours, and policies regarding children.
Rongbranch Restaurant, 2722 Washington Street, Julian, 760-765-2265. Roast turkey dinner (light and dark), $20, kids $10, à la carte also available, 1:00–7:00 p.m.
Pescetarians: Most restaurants offering prix-fixe dinners include a fish entrée among the choices, and of course most buffets have lavish seafood bars. Lacto-vegetarians: Inn at the Park and Terra specifically offer vegetarian dinners. Top farm-to-fork restaurants (e.g., 1500 Ocean, A.R. Valentien, George’s Modern, Kitchen 1540, Mille Fleurs, Mistral) may be able to accommodate you with something splendidly meatless; call to inquire (and/or reserve) ASAP. Buffets typically offer numerous meatless choices, but strict vegans need be cautious as ’tis the season for heaps of butter and cream among the greens. Whole Foods has a vegan feast (for one) to go.
These restaurants offer whole turkeys for families or special features for kids and/or easy access to outdoor run-around spaces for restless youngsters: Red Tracton’s (Del Mar) — whole turkey; San Diego Zoo Safari Park (née Wild Animal Park) — it’s a jungle out there!; Rancho Bernardo Inn Aragon Ballroom (Rancho Bernardo) — free pony rides, petting zoo; the Shores (La Jolla) — easy beach access, optional kiddie buffet; JRDN (Pacific Beach) — outdoor seating at edge of beach; Baleen (Paradise Point) — monkey decor, crayons, outdoor firepit seating; Atoll at Catamaran Resort and Bahia Resort (Mission Bay) — free sternwheeler cruises; San Diego Zoo — this place is a zoo!; Cosmopolitan (Old Town) — huge outdoor patio with fireplace; El Fandango (Old Town) — whole turkey; Mary Jane’s (downtown) — no reservation needed, soda-shop decor; Hotel Del Coronado — seasonal ice-skating rink behind hotel; Peohe’s (Coronado) — indoor waterfall, fun decor, outdoor seating overlooking the bay.