Where To Eat On Thanksgiving When You Want To Avoid Dry Turkey And Politics
Embrace your anti-Thanksgiving stance and eat at one of these restaurants, none of which will be serving turkey.
If you think about it, there are more reasons to skip Thanksgiving altogether than there are ways to justify a schlep to the suburbs to eat dry, under-seasoned turkey while listening to your family’s cringe-worthy takes on the midterm elections. For those who choose to treat this holiday like a four-day staycation, here are places where you can have a great meal with people you actually like to be around, no cranberry sauce required.
There’s no better place to simmer in your feelings about avoiding family gatherings than a Jewish deli. On Thanksgiving, you can probably avoid waiting in a hellish line at Katz's, which is a major plus. Order a massive pastrami sandwich, obviously, but also matzo ball soup and latkes and hot dogs and egg creams and whatever else you want—because you might as well make it a feast.
This rooftop spot is known for their over-the-top omakase, and we suspect that their Thanksgiving take will have a lot of bells and whistles in the form of things like caviar, gold flakes, and wagyu. The space is drenched in string lights and has a decadent feel, so you can lean back on a barstool while draped in a fur coat you bought at L Train Vintage and text glamorous selfies to your siblings who were too scared to skip the family gathering.
Sign up for our newsletter.
Be the first to get expert restaurant recommendations for every situation right in your inbox.
Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ
If you want to eat a lot of meat and get the vague sensation of having “cooked” without actually going through the hassle of preparing food and cleaning up afterward, Gyu Kaku is an excellent choice. Yeah, it’s a chain, but it’s consistently good, and you can make s’mores at your table for dessert. All of their locations are open on Thanksgiving, and each one is ideal for a big group of friends who find the colonial implications of the holiday troubling.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
You know what’s more comforting than digging through the dresser in your childhood bedroom desperately searching for a pair of post-dinner sweatpants? Eating a bowl of phở at Hanoi House. Come with friends who are also skipping the boring festivities at home and order a ton of small plates to round out your meal.
Sometimes the impulse to drink away a holiday is too strong to ignore, but the thing is, you’ll also need food. That’s where The Wayland, a spot that expertly straddles the line between dive bar and cute place for a light meal, comes in. Cocktails are the main attraction, but the kitchen churns out excellent burgers, pernil sandwiches, and snacky things like anchovies and butter on toast.
photo credit: Teddy Wolff
Pretend it’s just a regular Thursday at the West Village outpost of Nami Nori, where you can relax in a soothing beige room while you’re served a procession of increasingly delicious temaki. This is a particularly great option if you prefer a plant-forward meal, since some of the best bites here are part of the vegan set.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Instead of feeling your emotions, feel the pleasant numbing effects of Szechuan peppercorns and other spicy things at MaLa Project. Come with a squad, get a dry pot with all of your favorite things in it, and spend a few hours in the fugue state of an excellent meal. We love the East Village location because it’s close to a high concentration of great bars for a post-dinner hang,
If you want to ensure that you can occupy a big chunk of time on Thanksgiving, Insa in Gowanus is an excellent choice. Bring your friends and cover an entire table in Korean comfort food, then book a karaoke room and disappear for hours. You’ll be conveniently unable to hear your phone ring when your cousin tries to FaceTime you to complain about football or whatever.
The HiHi Room
For an extremely casual alternative to regular Thaksgiving things, enjoy elevated diner fare at HiHi Room. If the weather is good, their backyard is a great place to feel like you’re in the suburbs without actually having to go to the suburbs. This place is run by the Court Street Grocers team, so anything served on bread is going to be good.
Citrico Cafe blurs the line between a place to grab dinner and a place to drink and hang out all night, making it perfect for an anti-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving. Focus on the taco menu, and order more than you planned to as one round of drinks turns into three or four.