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 a place to go with a group of eight, follow this guide (just updated for Thanksgiving 2019) and you’ll end up with a memorable, not-sad dinner.
Every year, you cook dinner at home, and it’s perfectly nice. But yesterday you saw a video of someone swimming in an infinity pool next to the ocean in Bali, and now you want more from life. Spend your Thanksgiving at The Grill. It’s a luxurious space with high ceilings, bow-tied waiters, and white tablecloths, and they’re doing a $195 prix fixe with goose terrine, buttered dumplings, and various other things that sound like they’d be served at the birthday party of a duke or duchess. Plus turkey.
Ten 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 (it feels kind of like a hunting lodge). 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 $98 four-course Thanksgiving meal, and if you need to book a private space so everyone can talk politics, they have a few of those as well.
Even though it’s Thanksgiving, you want to eat a healthy meal. Not so healthy that you’re fully replacing turkey and stuffing with chlorophyll - but healthy in the sense that that you know and feel good about where your food came from. Hearth is an ideal place for that. Even after the prix fixe ($98) of things like turkey, stuffing, and apple crumble, you won’t have that typical post-Thanksgiving feeling of existential dread (for a food-related reason, at least).
Even your uncle George, who won an Oscar for complaining in 1996, is pretty much guaranteed to have a good time at Union Square Cafe. It’s easy to hear other people talk, the staff is helpful and attentive, and (most importantly) the food is excellent, with options for everyone. The prix fixe on Thanksgiving is $145 for adults and $98 for kids under 10.
Dirty French is from the people behind Carbone and The Grill, and like both of those restaurants, it’s great when you want a festive atmosphere with theatrical tableside service and magnums of expensive wine. But it’s also darker and louder than its sister spots, and feels more like a party. On Thanksgiving, you can get a $98 three-course prix fixe, with seatings until 9pm.
This is the restaurant in the bottom of the Jane Hotel, and despite the fact that the dining room looks kind of like a ballroom, it’s a casual all-day spot. Typically this place serves some solid, straightforward American/Italian food, but on Thanksgiving, they’re going the turkey/stuffing/cranberry sauce route. It’ll be $65 per person, and there are plenty of bars nearby for when you finish all your food and remember you have Friday off work.
From November 25th to December 1st, all three locations of Quality Eats are hosting “Franksgiving.” That might sound like something Danny DeVito’s character would invent in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, but it actually involves turkey hot dogs on sweet potato buns with stuffing and cole slaw. If the special Franksgiving offerings don’t appeal to you, you can still get any of the great (and generally affordable) steaks from the regular menu.
If you’re looking for a cozy-but-still-upscale place to celebrate with a few people, Il Buco is one of your best options. They’ll be serving a family-style, four-course prix fixe ($110) with stuff like turkey and sweet potato gnocchi, although kids will be able to order a la carte. Tables in the wine cellar are first come first served, which might come in handy if you need a last-minute place to bring your family.
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. For Thanksgiving, it’ll be doing an Italian-influenced family-style meal for $105. 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.
There’s a high chance that everyone in your family or friend group has slightly different eating habits. Maybe someone only eats fish, and another person exclusively eats things that once had hooves. At Loring Place, that won’t be a problem - there are options ranging from whole wheat pizzas and plenty of vegetables to pasta and a burger. The full dinner menu will be available on Thanksgiving, along with specials like turkey, brussels sprouts, and all the other things you think about when someone shows you a pilgrim hat.
If your family is staying in a hotel on 42nd Street because they heard it was a happening part of town (or because they refuse to go south of the 30s), get dinner at L’Amico. It’s one of your best options in a neighborhood that’s mostly just filled with tacky bars and costume jewelry stores. The dining room is big and attractive, and the Italian food isn’t insanely expensive (the family-style Thanksgiving prix fixe is $72, with a $36 wine pairing).
The food at Lafayette is good, but we mostly like this place because of its high ceilings and the ridiculous amount of booths. It also isn’t too formal, and almost feels like a restaurant you’d find in a really classy mall (we mean this in a good way). On Thanksgiving, they’re serving a $110 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.
Leuca (in the William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg) is a safe choice for a family dinner - whether the family in question includes your kids, your parents, your toddler nieces and nephews who won’t stop stealing each other’s iPhones, or all of the above. Once you finish your four-course prix fixe meal ($95) and the kids have been dispatched for bedtime, head upstairs to Westlight, the bar on top of the hotel, for a drink.
If you want nothing to do with a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but still want to have a fun group meal on Thanksgiving, get Indian food at Chola. The sit-down spot in Midtown East has white tablecloths and plenty of people wearing suits, but the dosas filled with lentils or bhindi sasuralwali (spiced okra) will make you thankful for more than the wine shop you always go to when you’re sad. On Thanksgiving, they’re having a $20 all-you-can-eat buffet from 12-3pm including Northern and Southern specialties, like pumpkin bharta, goat biryani, and cranberry chutney.
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 four-course, $85 family-style prix fixe with a mix of their vaguely Nordic food and your late November staples (turkey, squash, cranberry sauce, etc.).
You could spend two days watching YouTube tutorials and using all the pans in your apartment to make a fancy Thanksgiving dinner - or you could fo to one of our favorite Italian spots in NYC for a $135 prix fixe involving 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 come with a significant other.
With its blue-checkered tablecloths and wood-paneled walls covered in little pieces of art, Maialino sort of looks like a room in someone’s countryside mansion. So if you don’t have a countryside mansion of your own, get Thanksgiving dinner here. There are two prix fixe options: an Italian-American one with turkey, and a more straightforward Italian one with pork, pasta, and a few other things.
Faun is an upscale neighborhood restaurant in Prospect Heights, and you can usually come here and eat things like pork neck with apricot and broccolini. The food is all inventive, and for Thanksgiving, they’ll be doing a four-course prix fixe ($95) with dishes like salt cod ravioli and pappardelle with turkey ragu and turkey liver. This place is a little pricey, but it’s perfect for anyone who’s bored of eating the same stuff every Thanksgiving.
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 the $85 family-style holiday menu will feature all your standard squash/turkey/stuffing business. FYI, Thanksgiving reservations here have to be made by phone.
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 ($60), this is your place. It’s casual and ideal if you’re spending your holiday with a few friends.
Legacy Records was one of our favorite new restaurants in 2018, and this American-Italian spot in Hell’s Kitchen is still a great place to celebrate a special occasion, like making bail for a white-collar crime, or Thanksgiving. It’s from the people behind Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones which is to say you’ll find a lot of pasta, crudo, duck, and steak here. For Thanksgiving they’re doing a four-course dinner option that’s available from 12-6pm - it costs $98 per person with an optional wine pairing for another $75.
This is an upscale Mediterranean spot in Greenpoint that’s probably one of the most stereotypically Brooklyn spots on this list. It’s in an attractive industrial space with a large wraparound bar in the middle. And even though you could probably describe 80% of restaurants in the area with those exact words, Glasserie has been a staple of the neighborhood for a long time. Come for mezze like turkey made with za’atar, sweet potatoes with date honey, challah bread, and baklava on Thanksgiving from 2-8:30pm. It’ll cost you $68 per person.
We usually aren’t hyped on hotel restaurants, but Floret at the Sister City on Bowery makes American food that’s a big step up from your average hotel restaurant. They also have an incredible fried bread appetizer that’s essentially a plate of churros with a ricotta dipping sauce on the side. It’s a big space with plenty of large tables for you and all the other people you know who aren’t interested in cooking their own food this holiday season. Floret is offering a three-course pre-fixe menu for $68 per person or $98 with their wine pairing - it’s available from 11am-8pm.
If you’re looking for somewhere intimate to eat on Thanksgiving, Morandi is not the place for you. This Italian spot in the West Village is known for being loud, packed, and full of regulars who love the cacio e pepe. But if you’re looking for a place where you could probably sit outside and be completely comfortable thanks to the body heat provided by everyone around you, they’re offering a three-course prix fixe dinner here for $75 per person. The menu has holiday favorites like turkey, stuffing, and pie from Balthazar.
This is an American restaurant on the second floor of the Edition Hotel on Madison Square Park and the menu can best be described as “vaguely” English, with things like cod with parsley sauce. So if the idea of having your Thanksgiving dinner in a room decorated wall-to-wall with classic photographs of musicians, actors, and artists seems fun, check out The Clocktower. They’re doing a three-course prix fixe dinner for $95 per person, plus an additional $55 for the drink pairing.