It’s no longer difficult to find a restaurant serving Thanksgiving dinner, in part because, in these hard times, it’s a good opportunity (like Valentine’s Day) for a restaurant to reap a little profit and possibly even goodwill. And the demand is ever-growing, what with smaller, scattered families, longer working hours, and the current obsession with watching chefs cook on TV rather than trying it yourself at home.
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, Dad’s Day, Songkran, Diwali, Eid al-Fitr, and Yom Kippur. (When the fasts are 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 ASAP; some restaurants are already fully booked. Many require a credit-card number, which may be charged if you’re a no-show.
The list below begins with some takeout options for tackling the feast, presumably in finer form than supermarket versions. (Most use tastier free-range turkeys.) Next comes a long list of restaurants known for good food and/or fun atmospheres. (If you’re looking for turkey dark meat, wherever possible we’ve included this detail for sit-down dinners; buffets usually carve the whole bird.) Restaurants are arranged by geographical area, so you need not drive too far while drowsy.
Prices quoted do not include tip, tax, or beverages. Kiddie prices generally apply to ages 5–12 (sometimes 3–11). Rugrats often eat free. Alas, at many restaurants, the kiddie meal offers chicken nuggets, mac ’n’ cheese, etc., rather than a yummy mini-portion of traditional turkey and trimmings. So ask before you reserve.
Some of the listed restaurants are coded as follows: “KA” indicates a place with special appeal to children, such as special activities or runaround space outside. “VE” is for restaurants promising a vegetarian (not necessarily vegan) entrée on their prix-fixe menus. “VU” indicates a beautiful view or unique setting.
Most large hotels and gambling casinos also offer Thanksgiving dinners, and many casual-dining chains (e.g., Marie Callender’s and Mimi’s, which also do takeout) serve dinners of their customary quality.
Authentic Flavors/St. Tropez Bakery & Bistro, 7004 Carroll Road, Miramar, 858-404-0606. Free-range roast-turkey dinner, $199 to serve 8–10, $299 for 12–15. Turkey only, $125 to feed 8–10. Trimmings only, no turkey, $200, serves up to 15. Pre-order by November 21, 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 by November 22 to reserve your smoking time. Bring it in by Tuesday morning to pick it up Wednesday, along with yummy Southern sides of cornbread, pies, veggies, etc.
D.Z. Akin’s, 6930 Alvarado Road, off 79th Street/Lake Murray Road, San Diego, 619-265-0218. Turkey, trimmings, sides, rolls, pastries, all made from scratch, for pickup any day through Wednesday, or even through the following week, in case you’re stuck meeting the president of Uzbecki-becki-stan-stan on T-Day. Full feast for 8–10 for $150 ($5 extra for pecan pie, versus pumpkin); everything also available à la carte. Call one day ahead to order.
Elijah’s, 8861 Villa La Jolla Drive, La Jolla, 858-455-1461. For $100, the whole meal to feed 10, including turkey or beef brisket, trimmings, and pie. (Prime rib extra, veggie option available.) Call to order a few days ahead. (Also serving in the restaurant on T-day, a three-course turkey dinner, $20, kids $13.) Delivery available, with a charge. VE
French Gourmet, 960 Turquoise Street, Pacific Beach, 858-488-1725. Whole free-range Diestel roasted turkeys with stuffing and gravy, $218–$359 to serve 14–28. Trimmings $56–$132, serving 6–20; Complete turkey dinners from $27 for one, to $101 to serve four (each add’l $20). Beef Wellington $28 per person, $234 for whole filet. Appetizers, breads, tarts, pies, cheesecakes to order. Place order by November 18 (form available online, thefrenchgourmet.com). Pick up 10 a.m.–2 p.m. on Thursday. Delivery available for a fee.
Indigo Grill, 1536 India Street, 619-234-6802. Butternut-squash soup, corn pudding, Indian bread pudding. Order by phone before November 20, pick up on Tuesday or Wednesday before 6 p.m. VE
Mardi Gras Cafe & Marketplace, 3185 Midway Drive, Loma Portal, 619-223-5501. Cajun-style marinated deep-fried turkey, $5.75 per pound (less if you BYO thawed bird). Pick up on Wednesday or early Thursday. Order up to two days in advance. They can also furnish tasty Louisiana-style side dishes.
Savory (see North Coast for info). Take-home dinner with 16–18 pound turkey, serves 15–18 people for $250, including a rosemary roast turkey with all the trimmings (artichoke and andouille stuffing!) and two pies. Whole turkey and gravy alone is $65; all trimmings (including gravy), side dishes, and desserts available à la carte. Full dinner for one, $21 (or entrée only, $17). Order by Sunday night 6 p.m., pick up on T-Day.
Seaside Market, 2087 San Elijo Avenue, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, 760-753-5445. Full Thanksgiving feast with roast Diestel free-range turkey, $20 per person, minimum of 6 persons. Order ASAP, online at seasidemarket.com, or by phone.
Terra American Bistro, 7091 El Cajon Boulevard, La Mesa, 619-293-7088. À la carte takeout, several entrée choices (turkey $100, to serve 10). Order by 4 p.m. November 18, pick up after 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Whole Foods Market, locations in Hillcrest (619-294-2800) and La Jolla (858- 642-6700). Offers Thanksgiving meals of Diestel natural roast turkey, stuffing, mash, gravy, and cranberry sauce (other sides extra, available in store) for 6 or more, from $100–$120, or trimmings only for $40 to serve 6. Free whole meals for one person (turkey or vegan) also available in stores, along with partially cooked roasted and smoked turkeys. Raw turkeys $2.69–$6.99 (for Heritage turkeys) per pound. Order by phone or online at wholefoodsmarket.com/shop. Pick up on Wednesday, November 23, or until 4 p.m. on T-Day. VE
333 Pacific, 333 North Pacific, Oceanside, 760-433-3333. Three-course prix fixe $50, kids $14; stuffed turkey breast and six other choices, including duck and tofurkey; seaside view, 1–7 p.m. VE, VU