Rumor has it that Thanksgiving is a holiday to be spent with friends and family, giving thanks for all of the blessings in our lives.
… And arguing in the kitchen with the-in-laws, and grumbling how we got sweet potatoes instead of mashed potatoes, and disappearing before it’s time to wash the dishes and then getting in trouble for it…
Instead, you’ll find us this year at a restaurant, keeping things relaxed, ordering whatever we want, and staying out of a messy kitchen altogether. Join us – surely one of these eateries has what you’re craving on turkey day:
Carneros Bistro & Bar, Sonoma
Chef Andrew Wilson is hardly traditional in his global-Cal cuisine, yet for the holiday, he keeps things classic (with a touch of fun) at his elegant restaurant in The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa. The multi-course, wine-paired meal features mouthwatering choices like roast butternut squash soup dotted in candied bacon, crème fraiche and croutons, “Square Pig” of pork confit, sweet potato mashers and roast Brussels sprouts, and a caramel apple bread pudding dolloped in spiced anglaise.
$55/adult, $30/children. 1325 Broadway, Sonoma, 707-931-2042, thelodgeatsonoma.com.
Alioto’s Restaurant, San Francisco
No need to build your own family tradition, when this restaurant can do it for you. Alioto’s has been in business for more than 87 years and includes four generations of family members. Enjoy a prix fixe menu for lunch and dinner, of clam chowder or salad, free range organic roasted turkey with dressing, fresh mashed potatoes, yams and peas, and pumpkin pie.
Prix fixe $34.95, plus a la carte options for under $25. 8 Fishermans Wharf, San Francisco, 415-673-0183, aliotos.com.
FIVE Restaurant, Berkeley
The dinner is served family style, but it’s prepared by ultra-talented chef Banks White instead of your own family. Settle in at this gracious space in the historic Hotel Shattuck Plaza, and craft your own feast from a wide variety of selections such as winter squash soup with toasted pumpkin bread and hazelnut crème fraiche, roasted Diestel heritage turkey or Niman Ranch glazed ham with all the trimmings like Yukon gold potato puree, Southern cornbread stuffing, turkey gravy, orange cranberry relish, roasted root vegetables, Brussel sprouts, and “just like mom used to make” hot buttered biscuits.
From noon-7pm. For $55 per person and $25 for children 5 and under. 2086 Allston Way #5 Berkeley, 510-225-6055, five-berkeley.com.
The Restaurant at Wente Vineyards, Livermore
Pack up the family and take a road trip for touring the “other” wine country, where Wente rules the land and executive chef of catering Jeff Farlow has created delicious take-home holiday dinners. Order online by Nov. 13 and pick up your order (after a day of wine tasting) on Wednesday, November 21, between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Then cart it home, and heat dinner the next day. Each TG-to-to generously serves six adults, centered around Diestel free range turkey in apricot-orange blossom honey glaze, or pan-seared salmon with citrus-tarragon aioli. Both choices include toasted bread stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, Caesar salad, brown butter mashed potatoes, braised carrots, applewood smoked bacon, spiced pumpkin pie and chocolate cake. Important note: place your order by November 13.
Turkey dinner $249; salmon dinner $239. 5050 Arroyo Road, Livermore, 925-456-2444, wentevineyards.com.
Level III, San Francisco
Ride the elevator to the third floor of the JW Marriott at Union Square, where chef Ben Mattman is waiting with a three course menu. Your choice of dinner might include butternut squash bisque with ancho chili prawn and cilantro, braised beef shortribs over potato mash, and a trio of pumpkin mini desserts in crème brule, tart and roulade.
From noon to 9:30 p.m., $49. 500 Post Street, San Francisco, 415-929-2087, levelthreesf.com.
Dry Creek Kitchen, Healdsburg
This showcase destination restaurant from chef Charlie Palmer rolls out the stops for Thanksgiving, delighting with a lavish three-course supper. Craft your own menu, from a wide array of mouthwatering selections including an appetizer of lobster risotto, an entrée of Willie Bird turkey confit of dark meat and slow cooked breast with traditional sides, and dessert of roasted cranberries and white chocolate mousse over apple cake and spiced orange segments.
From 2 to 7 p.m., $65 adult/$25 or a la carte children’s menu. 317 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, 707-431-0330, charliepalmer.com.
Tip: Make the holiday feel even more festive (and less stressful) by renting a limo or even a small charter bus to take the family back-and-forth to dinner.