"Don’t cook for Thanksgiving this year,” said Patrick’s mother.
“You know what?” I answered. “I’m not going to fight you on that. It’s been a long year.”
“So, where should we go? Our treat.”
I started lining up options: “If you’re in the mood for a late-fall ocean breeze, we could take a Hornblower harbor cruise (888-467-6256, hornblower.com). The Thanksgiving buffet dinner cruise [$84 per person] departs at 3 p.m. and runs two and a half hours. The outing starts with a glass of champagne or sparkling cider upon boarding, and they serve up carved turkey breast with cranberry–mandarin orange relish.” (The apple-plank black-pepper salmon with cabernet wild rice also caught my eye.)
“If you’d rather stay on land, over at the Grant Grill downtown [619-744-2077, grantgrill.com] there’s a gourmet buffet [$72 adults, $27 kids ages 5–12]. So many choices! Your turkey can be accompanied by chestnut apple stuffing, cranberry sauce, and roasted acorn squash, plus a myriad of salads, soups, and other selections.” Seatings are at 12:30 p.m., 2, and 3:30.
“If you’re not quite that flush, we could still look down on the little people from Bertrand at Mister A’s in Bankers Hill [619-239-1377, bertrandatmisteras.com]. The $59.50 [$20 kids 2–12] prix fixe gets you three courses. There’s turkey, of course — heirloom birds with croissant-apple-cranberry stuffing. But there’s also a Brandt Farm prime rib. And we could finish up with pumpkin bread pudding or Julian apple tarte tatin. A feast for belly and eye,” served from 12:30 p.m. till 9 p.m.
“Down in the Gaslamp, Bice [619-239-2423, bicesandiego.com] has a four-course dinner from 5 p.m. till 10. [$52; $25 for kids 10 and under]. I love that they’re opening with Italian style — cold cuts and burrata cheese before the opening pasta course. Even the turkey is gussied up with pancetta — plus chestnuts and berries. And we could finish with pumpkin custard topped with whipped cream and salted caramel sauce.
“And if you want to eat early, we could make a brunch of it at Humphrey’s on Shelter Island [619-224-3577, humphreysbythebay.com]. It runs 11 a.m. till 4 p.m. [$53.95 adults, $19.95 kids 4–12]. They’ll have seafood and breakfast stuff alongside the Thanksgiving fare.”
Moving on to the midrange: “We could stop into the Prado restaurant [619-557-9441, pradobalboa.com]. They’re seating from 1 p.m. till 7 p.m. The three-course dinner [$49.95 adults, $12.95 kids 12 and under] offers butternut-squash soup, braised maple turkey leg with chorizo stuffing, and pumpkin-pie brûlée. Then we could walk around Balboa Park to wake up!
“Or what if we walked around the zoo after dinner? We’re members, so we can stroll in admission-free and visit Albert’s restaurant [619-685-3200, sandiegozoo.org/zoo/alberts]. Seating begins at 11 a.m., and the three-course dinner includes carved free-range turkey and pumpkin strudel [$37.95 adults, $13.95 for kids 3–11].” Other options are available for those who don’t prefer turkey on Thanksgiving. And for those who favor buffets, there’s one at the Zoo’s Treetop Banquet Room [$42.95 adults, $15.95 for kids 3–11]. You can choose from turkey, prime rib, traditional sides, and a dessert bar. Seating is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“Closer to home” — we live in La Mesa — “Terra American Bistro in the College Area [619-293-7088, terrasd.com] will be offering a three-course meal [$39 adults, $15.95 for kids 12 and under] that starts with squash bisque before moving on to the rosemary-and-thyme turkey with mushroom-champagne gravy. Finish with apple-persimmon cobbler or pumpkin-mousse tart.” Seatings at noon, 2:30 p.m., and 5 p.m.
On the under-$35 end of things, “The Butcher Shop Steakhouse in Kearny Mesa [858-565-2272, butchershop.signonsandiego.com] has a buffet [$32.95 adults, $14.95 for kids 3–12]. You got your house champagne, sparkling cider, eggnog, or fruit punch to drink, and a choice of turkey with apple-cider gravy and fixin’s, ham, prime rib, salmon, or lamb. There’s also a seafood station with crab legs and shrimp.” Open 11 a.m. till 9 p.m.
And, finally, “Hexagone in Bankers Hill [619-236-0467, hexagonerestaurant.com] will be serving Thanksgiving dinner from noon till 8 p.m. No prix fixe, but appetizers are $7; an entrée featuring turkey, stuffing, yams, and cranberries runs $22; and you can get tarte tatin or pumpkin pie for $6.”