Have you suddenly found yourself planning to stay in NYC for Thanksgiving? Are you unskilled in the kitchen and/or lacking anyone willing or able to host you? Is your family coming into town and expecting you to plan the entire meal?
Things could be worse. You live in the greatest food city in the world, and a lot of great restaurants will be open on Thanksgiving. Whether you’re looking for the perfect spot for you and one other person, or place to go with a group of eight, follow this guide (just updated for Thanksgiving 2017), and you’ll end up with a memorable, not-sad dinner.
This year, Il Buco will be open for Thanksgiving for the first time. So if you’re looking for a cozy-but-also-upscale place to celebrate with a few people, it’s one of your best options. They’ll be serving a prix fixe with stuff like turkey and sweet potato gnocchi, although kids will be able to order à la carte. There’s also a first-come-first-served wine cellar, which might come in handy if you need a last-minute place to bring your extended family.
The meal: Family-style, $95 prix fixe
Il Buco Alimentari is the sister restaurant of Il Buco, and it’s just a little more casual - with some communal bar seating and a little café up front. Here, they’ll be doing the same type of Italian-influenced turkey-and-brussels sprouts sort of meal. Stop by if you’re curious about what Thanksgiving would be like if the Mayflower had been filled with Italians, and eat some farro and pancetta.
The meal: Family-style, $90 prix fixe; $40 prix fixe for children
10 months out of the year, Freemans is a good restaurant. But in November and December, it’s a great one, and that’s thanks to the atmosphere. During the holiday season, you want to hang out in places like Freemans - it feels like a hunting lodge filled with taxidermy. It’s also pretty big, so it’s great if you need a place that can fit your family of eight that finally decided to visit you this year. Freemans is doing a traditional four-course Thanksgiving meal this year, and if you need to book a private space, they have a few of those as well.
The meal: Four-course, $90 prix fixe
The food at Lafayette is good, but we mostly like this place because of its size. It’s huge, with high ceilings and a bunch of nice booths. It also isn’t too formal, and it almost feels like a restaurant you’d find in a really classy mall (and we mean this in a good way). On Thanksgiving, they’re serving a set menu of mostly French stuff with some American things thrown in, and it should be a good option if anyone in your party wants both turkey and steak tartare.
The meal: Three-course, $110 prix fixe
Locanda Verde is for when you decide to spend money on a Thanksgiving dinner that would’ve taken you two days and several Youtube tutorials in order to make. This is one of our favorite Italian spots in NYC, and on Thanksgiving they’ll be serving stuff like squash-filled pasta, their usual (great) ricotta, and turkey with chestnut stuffing. Bring your parents if you’d like to reward them for creating you, or just come with a significant other.
The meal: Family-style, $110 prix fixe
If you’re in Williamsburg, and you need something that feels a bit more upscale than most places in Williamsburg, try Leuca. It’s the restaurant in the bottom of the William Vale Hotel, and it looks like the sort of place you’d find in downtown Manhattan. If you’re with parents or the parents of the person you’re dating, this is a safe choice. It’s also casual enough for kids or young cousins who are typically loud and annoying, so feel free to bring the family. Although if you don’t bring minors, you can go up to Westlight after dinner. That’s the bar on top of the hotel, and it’ll be open as well.
The meal: Four-course, $75 prix fixe with some à la carte options
If it’s just you and one other person, and you don’t feel like turning on an oven that will inevitably make your apartment feel like Death Valley, get dinner at Joseph Leonard. It’s tiny, so it’ll be like you’re eating in someone’s home, but you won’t have to do any dishes. They also specialize in the type of food you typically want to eat on Thanksgiving - heavier and comforting - and the restaurant itself is on a nice quiet corner of the West Village.
The meal: Three-course, $65 prix fixe
When someone needs a nice place to eat with their parents, Maialino is usually one of our first suggestions. It’s kind of fancy, but it isn’t the sort of place where you’ll have to whisper and avoid eye contact with the other tables. They’re even offering a kid’s prix fixe, so you won’t have to spend $115 on a child who won’t finish his or her pasta.
The meal: Four-course, $115 prix fixe; $65 prix fixe for children
At Root & Bone, you typically order the fried chicken. That’s what these guys are known for - so it makes sense that, on Thanksgiving, they’ll be making fried turkey. They’ll also be serving their exceptional biscuits and other things like green bean casserole and mashed potatoes. The space isn’t the biggest, but if you book ahead, you can also get a group in here. There will be pie.
The meal: Three-course, $75 prix fixe
If your family is staying in a hotel on 42nd Street because they heard it was a happening part of town or if your Westchester-based family refuses to travel below 32nd Street, get dinner at L’Amico. It’s one of your best options in a part of town that’s mostly just filled with tacky bars and costume jewelry stores. The dining room is big and attractive, the food is Italian, and it isn’t insanely expensive.
The meal: Family-style, $72 prix fixe
Houseman is like the best friend in a teen movie that the lead character eventually falls in love with. It’s on a quiet block below the West Village, and when it turns out that every hot new restaurant is booked, you might decide to grab dinner here. And you’ll be surprised by how much you like it. This Thanksgiving, they’re doing a family-style prix fixe with a mix of their vaguely Nordic food and your late November staples (turkey, squash, cranberry sauce, etc.), and there will also be a flag football game in the street. You read that correctly.
The meal: Family-style, $85 prix fixe
Cookshop is an old reliable for both groups and parents. The Thanksgiving prix fixe will include some sides like sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts for everyone to share, and there will also be a few vegetarian options for anyone who doesn’t want meat. It’s also pretty casual here, so you can bring your uncle who only ever wears clothing purchased from the New York Jets gift shop at MetLife Stadium.
The meal: Three-course, prix fixe
Harold’s Meat + Three is the restaurant in the bottom of the Arlo Soho, and they specialize in Southern-style American comfort food. This is a straightforward place to eat things like mac & cheese and green bean casserole, so if you need somewhere that won’t add to your familial drama, this is a good choice. Typically, you choose one protein and two sides here, but Thanksgiving dinner will be served family-style, which essentially just means that you’ll be eating more.
The meal: Family-style, $52 prix fixe
Faun is an upscale neighborhood restaurant from a guy who used to be at Vinegar Hill House, and it’s a place where you can usually eat things like pork neck with apricot and broccolini. The food is all inventive, and at Thanksgiving you can expect stuff like salt cod ravioli and pappardelle with turkey ragu and turkey liver. This place is a little pricey, but it’s a nice, relatively quiet spot in Prospect Heights, and it’ll be a good choice for anyone who’s bored of eating the same stuff every Thanksgiving.
The meal: Four-course, $110 prix fixe
Covina is like a better version of The Smith - it’s good for a lot of different situations. It’s also pretty big, so if you need to find a spot for a group this Thanksgiving, it’s there for you. Typically, this place does stuff like pizza, pasta, and kale salad - but their holiday menu will be served family-style, and it’ll feature all your standard squash/turkey/stuffing business.
The meal: Family-style, $70 prix fixe
Narcissa is another utility spot that everyone will like. It’s fun, but it isn’t rowdy, and there are lots are options for anyone with dietary restrictions. On Thanksgiving, they’ll be doing a prix fixe with a selection of mains including fish, turkey, and their surprisingly good (and vegetarian) carrots wellington. There will also be a bunch of sides for the table, in case anyone is really attached to their once-yearly stuffing.
The meal: Three-course, $84 prix fixe
We probably take The Smile for granted. It’s in the part of Noho that’s filled with multi-million-dollar condos, but it’s actually pretty affordable. Plus, the space feels like an antique store you’d find upstate. So if you want a relatively inexpensive traditional Thanksgiving prix fixe, this is your place. It’s casual and ideal if you’re spending your holiday with a few friends.
The meal: Three-course, $60 prix fixe